You may be parched, famished, and you might be sick of driving. Salt Lake City lies about 500 miles to the east; and Black Rock City is another 150 miles to the west. Yes, you’re almost there, but you still got a ways to go.
Set on the western edge of “Cowboy Country,” Lovelock is your only pit stop on I-80 for another 60 miles before you hit Fernley, so you may want to fill up on some gas, maybe grab a bed, a shower and some food, and even load up on many of the supplies to be found here at the local enterprises who enjoy our company and know our needs.
Why Stop in Lovelock
Well, the few reasons to stop are obvious — you need gas, food, some Lock Love, or one last shower before hitting Burning Man.
But another, really good reason is that Lovelock is the seat of Pershing County — the same county where Burning Man takes place — and therefore the town is an important and close neighbor to Black Rock City. If you have some time, stop in Lovelock, visit the sights there or nearby, and enjoy some of the local restaurants. Show them some love. While it is reported by some that 20% of this community has been to Burning Man, Lovelock is by-and-large still a somewhat conservative agricultural, mining, and services community of 2400 people — but they are increasingly coming to love us and our arts and culture. So please remember that we are all Black Rock City diplomats and be respectful of and kind to our close neighbors.
And of special note to Lovelock’s and Burning Man’s growing relationship, major solar arrays have been installed at the Lovelock Elementary and High Schools, and at the Pershing County General Hospital by Black Rock Solar!
There are three exits into Lovelock off of I-80: Exit 107 is on the east side of town; Exit 106 goes to downtown; and Exit 105 leads to the west end.
In terms of bearings, Sturgeon’s Casino is on the east side of town. Golden Gate Truck Stop and the Safeway are at or near the town’s center. And Two Stiffs Selling Gas is on the west side. Most of the businesses in the town can be found along the main stretch through town, which is Cornell Avenue; on Dartmouth and Broadway Streets, parallel to Cornell on either side; and on Main Street, which straddles all three of these streets and forms the town center.
Worth Checking Out
Lovelock’s historic round courthouse (401 Main Street) is said to be the only one of its kind in the nation still functioning as a courthouse, built in 1920-21 by Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps.
There is also a really kind of cool activity to be found here for people in marriage or other partnerships: You can “Lock your Love” in the park next to the courthouse. A nice ritual for those so inclined, you just bring/buy a lock and “Lock Your Love” onto a fence designated for such purposes. It’s free beyond the price you pay for the lock and the infinite value of your love.
You also might want to check out the Marzen House Pershing County Museum — formerly the showplace and home of a wealthy rancher, now restored and chock full of nifty artifacts from Lovelock’s early days.
And, finally, where did the name come from?! Lovelock is named for George Lovelock, a Welsh immigrant who, in 1867, donated eighty-five acres for a town site and right-of-way for the transcontinental railroad and railway depot. And love stories have gathered there ever since…
For further information on Lovelock and the environs, here are some helpful links:
Explorations in the Area
Tufa rock formations are a sight to behold. These intricately textured shapes of towers, ledges, pillars and archways were geologically formed by algae in nearby prehistoric Lake Lahontan in the same way that blue-algae forms coral reefs. From downtown Lovelock drive north on Central Ave. Turn left on to Pitt Rd. and travel two and a half miles to an unmarked gravel road and then turn right. Drive slightly over a mile until you see the Tufa formations.
Lovelock Indian Cave, aka Bat Cave or Sunset Guano Cave is a limestone cavern, created by the waters of prehistoric Lake Lahontan. Home to indigenous peoples as far back as 2000 B.C., the oldest dated duck decoys in North America (1,250 to 1,980 years ago) were discovered here. It’s 160 feet wide by 40 feet deep. From Main St. in Lovelock go south on Amherst Ave., which turns into S.R. 397. Continue south until 397 dead ends into Derby Rd. Turn left and go east on Derby Rd. Eventually the road will turn right and go south. Shortly thereafter turn right on East Rd. Continue until this road dead ends at the cave.
A great place to stay is Rye Patch State Recreation Area: camping, picnic areas, hiking and water sports. Located 22 miles east of Lovelock off I-80, (775) 538-7321. Also in Rye Patch is the Oasis Saloon and Pizza restaurant. Burner friendly, the Saloon sports a very good selection of beers and a photo gallery on the wall. 2210 Rye Patch reservoir Road, Exit 129, 22 miles east of Lovelock, (775) 538-7499.
Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder Memorial: Feast your eyes on another fine roadside example of radical self-expression replete with statues of naked women and concrete totems. Created by Chief Thunder over a period of twenty years beginning in 1968, it is considered Nevada’s equivalent to the Watts Towers. He meant it as a tribute to Native Americans. Its main feature is a three-story house, composed of concrete, bottles, and assorted treasures retrieved from a nearby junkyard.
Located across the freeway from Imlay, about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca. Access is free, donations accepted for a volunteer effort to save the site from crumbling away.
Check out the Ghost town of Unionville, a mining boom town in the 1860’s with upwards of 1500 fortune seekers including reputedly, Mark Twain. Nestled in a region of mesmerizing high desert mountain ranges and remote valleys is a B&B—the Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn. 2805 Unionville Rd, Unionville, NV 89418 (775) 538-7585 or (800) 538-7556. Located on State highway 400, off I-80 about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca.