A Landing a Day

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Big Smoky Valley, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on June 14, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much an every-third-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2023; A Landing A Day blog post number 441.

 Dan –  I’ve landed in my 50th double (two landings a row in the same state); unfortunately, it’s a double-OSer with this landing in . . . NV; 80/73; 6/10; 7; 151.2. 

 I had a couple of water landings (waterings?) before I made it to dry land.  First, I just missed the coast of Washington:

 sv miss 1

Then, I landed way down south in the Gulf of California:

 sv miss 2

In the above shot, you can see a couple of ignored Baja landings along with my posted Yuma AZ landing.  Anyway, When I hit the lower 48, I was a measley 125 miles from my last post (Cherry Creek).  Today’s landing is the one on the left:

 sv 2 nevadas 120 miles apart

Moving right along . . . you may remember that two landings ago (Walkermine CA), I mentioned that it marked the first time that my titular town wasn’t on my StreetAtlas map.  Well, I’m doing myself one better – I’m not using a town at all.  Here’s my closer-in landing map, and you will see that it is devoid of features over quite a large area:

 sv landing 2

Note the 56.55 mile line.  You can see a series of mountain peaks to the west, as there are to the west.  So, the line on the map marks the approximate center line of (you guessed it!) a valley.  And the valley is, of course, the Big Smoky Valley.  It’s actually longer than 55 miles, more like 75.

 The valley is big and impressive, of course dominates the regional landscape in the vicinity of my landing, and almost nobody lives there, so I figured what the heck – Big Smoky Valley gets the post title.

My GE shot shows a predictably arid landscape:

sv ge 1

 Here’s an oblique GE shot looking northeast:

sv ge 2

Drainage is pretty simple.  Here’s a vertical GE shot, showing the central part of the Valley:

sv ge 3

 I landed at elevation 6100.  Water at my landing would head west to the center of the valley (elevation 5525).  It would then head south to the middle of the big white patch on the above photo, which is the lowest point in the Valley (elevation 5460).   Once there (if there was enough of it), it would form a temporary lake and then either sink in or (more likely) evaporate . . .

 From ExploringNevada.com, this travelogue describes the drive south to north through the BSV:

Starting from the South, the first dozen miles or so of the drive are rather boring, although the hulking mountains in the background do offer some tantalizing hints of what lays before you. To the left (or the west) when heading north are the Toiyabe Range, a mountain range with a massive vertical rise and which is home to the seldom visited Arc Dome Wilderness Area. And to the east are the Toquima Range, a mountain range that isn’t quite as impressive when visually seen from the road since they sit further back from the highway and have their western flank blocked a bit by foothills.

The Big Smoky Valley defies all the conventional stereotypes of Nevada. The Big Smoky Valley is a big, massive valley that extends for more than 60 miles in length and averages from 5-20 miles in width – depending on where you are within it. The mountains, particularly the Toiyabe Range, rise abruptly off the valley floor and dwarf everything around them, with the taller peaks having a 5000 foot vertical rise (to well over 10,000 in elevation).

Numerous side roads cut off from Highway 376 and head toward the mountains. Most of these roads tend to “start out good” before tapering off to 4×4 type roads as they enter National Forest lands. However, a few of these roads do have National Forest campgrounds on them. These roads are – usually – safe for all types of vehicles (at least until you reach the campground!).

Traffic on this scenic drive is light to non-existent, depending on what time of year you visit the valley.  Most of the local traffic runs between Hadley and Tonopah. Thus, once you get north of Hadley, what little traffic there is often tends to disappear entirely.

 A fellow geologist, “Silver Fox” writes a blog called “Looking for Detachment.”  She wrote about a road trip down the Big Smoky Valley.  Great photos.  Click HERE to check it out.

Now (of course) for some pretty pictures that will give you a feel for the place.  First, this spectacular shot from the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection:

 sv  NevDEP

Here’s a Wiki shot:

sv - wiki 800px-Smoky_Valley_NV_S

And this, by Tom Schweich (who has webpage on Eastern Mojave Vegetation, Schweich.com).  We’re looking south into the valley:

 sv tom schweich toquimas to the left and the Toiyabes to the right

I’ll close with this lovely shot by Warren Willis, posted on NevadaMagazine.com:

 sv _©Warren_Willis  nevada magazine

 That’l do it.

KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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