TL,DR: The Lagomarsino Petroglyph site is easy to get to if you have a proper 4 wheel drive vehicle. It’s about 9 miles out Lousetown Road from SR 341 (Geiger Grade Road) Near Virginia City in Storey County, Nevada. Thousands of petroglyphs, lots of mud, your phone won’t work, don’t mess around in mines, pack out your trash. SUBSCRIBE TO THE CHANNEL
- Difficulty: 3 (of 5)
- Distance: 10 miles
- Time: 1:15 one way
Exploring Public Lands in the West
One of the things I love most about living in Nevada is the easy access to the backcountry. Reno, NV is surrounded on all sides by public land that we can all access any time of the day or night for recreation and exploration.
This is something those of us who grew up in the west may take for granted, but last year we took a family trip to Austin Texas, and learned that those opportunities just don’t exist everywhere.
The Virginia Range
Case in point. If you live in central Reno, a modern urban city that’s about to boom” in some estimations, you can still get to the middle of nowhere and be back in time to wash the mud off your truck for the Symphony.
Virginia City lies in the middle of the Virginia Range mountains. This range extends from Carson City in the south to Interstate 80 in the north. It’s almost completely undeveloped, crisscrossed with dirt tracks and starkly beautiful in a way only the high desert can be. And for those of us who crave remoteness and isolation, it’s a quick and easy fix from the depths of suburbia.
Lagomarsino Petroglyph Site
As we all know, North America, particularly the area that for the last tiny fraction of the Holocene epoch we’ve been calling the United States of America has mostly been sparsely populated by indigenous peoples.
Likely these petroglyphs predate the modern Great Basin Native American populations, and the thousands of individual images span the last 12,000 years.
The surreal images with the backdrop of the stark high desert landscape is amazing. The petroglyphs are etched into of the volcanic rocks leaving light colored lines in the ochre patina. That patina develops with exposre to the elements over tens of thousands of years, so they aren’t going away any time soon.
Always remember that it is illegal damage or remove any artifacts from a cultural site like this. Please respect it.
How To Get There
Info and directions on how to get to Lagomarsino are intentionally vague. As a mostly undeveloped cultural site, there are no facilities or staff to regulate visitors and precent theft or damage of the petroglyphs. That said, the site is pretty nice. There isn’t a lot of trash, nor is there obvious signs of the kind of shenanigans that usually go on in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada, namely, shooting and off-roading.
From Reno, take SR 341 (Geiger Grade Road) towards Virginia City. Past the summit you’ll find Lousetown Road. Turn left here. The petroglyph site is about 9.5 miles out and takes a little over and hour each way. Follow the most traveled route. Past the fire station the route stays in the canyon bottom.
Once through the first canyon, bear right at a major intersection. From there cruise down the switchbacks and follow the route under power lines into Long Valley canyon. You’ll find a wrecked pink car. Ford the creek here and proceed to the small parking area behind a locked gate.
A short hike will get you to the petroglyph site, though there are petroglyphs all along the North side of the canyon.
This trek requires true 4 wheel drive. All wheel drive crossovers and SUVs will likely not make it due to clearance issues mostly, though in wet or muddy conditions traction will also be a limiting factor. There is little to no phone coverage out there. That means the maps on your phone won’t work, even if your GPS still knows where you are, you won’t be able to download the map.
Getting up those two switchbacks will be a challenge in the mud. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon here has mud tires and locking differentials front and rear. My 4Runner has a locker in the rear. Don’t assume that because you have Jeep or a 4Runner that it’ll be that easy for you. It may not be.
Even still I managed to take a bad line and smash my skid plate on a boulder. That’s never a good sound to hear, but there was no damage, and I was able to back off it and crank through the switchback.
More Info on Lagomarsino Petroglyphs
- Lagomarsino Canyon 10,000 Years of Art
- Wikipedia Article
- The Nevada Rock Art Foundation
The video above was written and directed and produced by Arborglyph, a Reno video producer.
Additional videography and imagery was provided by David Calvert, CalvertPhoto.com, and Lightning Dragon.