Galena Creek Recreation Area and Visitor Center

The mission of the Galena Creek Recreation Area and Visitor Center is to encourage understanding, appreciation and wise use of the natural, cultural, and historical resources of the Galena Canyon area and the Mount Rose Scenic Byway.  This area is full of local culture and history. Interpretive panels and exhibits housed here tell the story of Galena.

HISTORY OF THE AREA: In the 1860s, a nearby township was founded and developed as a gold mining property called "Galena." Due to high contents of lead sulfate mix in the gold, it was not economical to mine here and the town grew into a lumbering center, shipping timber to the Comstock silver mines in Virginia City. Galena housed sawmills, stores, schools and saloons. Two devastating fires wiped out the Galena Township and timber trade in the late 1860's, when the town was finally abandoned, but remnants of this former town are still evident today.

Innovative snow surveying techniques used around the world also began here. In 1906, the 10,776-foot Mt. Rose, was used as an "outdoor lab" by Dr. James E. Church, Jr. Dr. Church, a Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, perfected a method of measuring depth and water content of snow, now known as the "Nevada System," which is still used today. In 1980, the north summit of Mt. Rose was officially named "Church Peak."

Washoe County purchased the property in 1931 for $10/acre, is the former site of the Holcomb Ranch, and is the oldest park in the Washoe County Park system. A campground was built along with the stonehouse warming hut, located at the south end of the property. In 1948 the Galena Creek Fish Hatchery was built, but only operated for four years as a working hatchery. A devastating flood damaged the building, closing the hatchery. It has since been renovated and is open for use as a community building and is a State Historic Structure.

In the 1960s the University of Nevada's Ski Team ran a training/ski jump area here, which was also a back up location for the 1960 Olympic Games at nearby Squaw Valley. Today, this area is still used for winter recreation activities including snowshoeing.

In 1980, Camp We Ch Me Lodge was constructed for the Campfire Girls, which has since been renovated and is available to the public as a community building.

PRESENT DAY: This Galena Creek Recreation Area was constructed with hopes of acquainting locals and visitors with the unique history of the Galena area, while encouraging natural habitat preservation, through stewardship.

Over a $3.9 million project, the Galena Creek Recreation Area, a cooperative venture between Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space, and USDA Forest Service consists of a 2,500 square foot Visitor Center, pedestrian and equestrian trails/trailhead, restrooms, group and individual picnic sites and access to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Mount Rose Wilderness. Funding was provided through a voter approved bond issue and numerous grants, including National Scenic Byway and Recreation Trails Programs funding from the Federal Highways Administration.

The Recreation Area is constructed on United State Forest Service property and Washoe County operates and maintains the facilities through a Special Use Permit. Washoe County has sub-leased the Visitor Center building to Great Basin Institute (GBI), a local-private/non profit organization. GBI is staffing the Visitors Center and offers diverse public education and interpretive programming. The Center also includes a weather station, interpretive exhibits, gift shop and book store. In November of 2010, permanent exhibits will be installed informing visitors about the culture and history of this unique area. Residents and visitors are invited to utilize the new recreation facilities throughout this remarkable landscape. Citizen participants are needed to hold exhibits, teach educational and interpretive programs, volunteer to work at the store, work with the County's Adopt-A-Park/Trail program and many other interesting opportunities.

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Latitude: 39.3635512 Longitude: -119.8511624 Elevation: 6097 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Jennifer Budge


How to Participate

To participate in the Washoe County Adopt-A-Park/Trail program, contact Stephanie D'Arcy, Volunteer Coordinator at 775.823.6514 or e-mail at To work with Great Basin Institute at the Galena Visitor Center, contact Stephanie Givens, Visitor Center Director at 775.849.4948 or email at For information on the construction, planning or funding of the facilities, contact Jennifer Budge, Park Planner at 775.823.6513 or email at


This is such a fabulous park, and the addition of the Visitor Center will allow others to experience the beauty in Reno’s backyard.

Galena Gal, 6/29/2010

This is a fantastic facility offering a wealth of recreational opportunities and access to tremendous wilderness and abundant open spaces. A beautiful place to stop along a picturesque Scenic Byway, one of the gateways to Lake Tahoe.

Park Pal, 6/29/2010

This is such a beautiful place. The continued support will allow us all to enjoy the beauties of Nevada.

Tracie, 6/29/2010

It is important for our community to share the rich history and the beauty of the Mt. Rose Scenic Corridor, "Highway to the Sky", a gateway to Tahoe. This visitor center tells the story for residents and visitors to area. See our one room school house on the way to fish at the stone fish hatchery, learn about snow surveying, hike the numerous trails and don’t forget to stop for a picnic during the fall colors. There is nothing better.

Galena Resident 30 yrs, 6/30/2010

This is such a fabulous park and the addition of the Visitor Center will allow others to experience the beauty in Reno's backyard. We have had the joy of using this facility many time this year since Bob Harmon introduced us to it for the first event of the year. I suggest everyone sign up for notifications from him at and give him a big thumbs up and a huge "thank you." This gentleman is fabulous. Pat and Bud

Pat and Bud Coyner, 7/8/2010

This is such a wonderful area -- why not share it! We’re lucky to have such great wildlife and natural environs in our backyard.

Judi Kleidon, 7/8/2010

I'm especially blessed to experience this beautiful part of Nevada, thanks to the efforts of many volunteers and nature-lovers. I live in Vermont, a state known for its beauty, and I also lived in Reno. I'll certainly visit Galena Creek when I arrive in Reno again.

Mrs. Janet Manning, 7/10/2010

I just visited the new Visitor Center and was so impressed! What a magnificent facility! I can’t wait to check out the permanent exhibits when they are installed this fall! Locals and visitors to our area should definitely stop here!

Reno Resident 35 years, 7/29/2010

Nice facility. The director has put on several events already that have been really great. Kudos to Stefanie Givens.

Greg Hamilton, 10/25/2010

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