Today on All-Terrain Family, we ride the Bronco. All the way down…
Nevada is rippled with mountain ranges forgotten except for the passes they necessitate, the light they block on short winter days and a thin name on a map. Such is the Virginia Range that blocks morning light in Reno and is so small that most people just drive around them. But with it’s colored canyons, feral horses, buzzing OHVs and crack of small arms fire, it’s very much the modern evolution of the wild west.
Hidden back in the Virginia Range, not particularly well advertised, lies Bronco Canyon. If you’re a 4-Wheeler you may have seen this on various YouTube videos and social media posts here and there. It’s been featured on the Wayalife channel a couple of times as well. It’s in an area I know well, and though I’ve been out there a number of times heading to the Lagomarsino Petroglyphs, I’d never made it all the way into Bronco Canyon. Until now…
There are more than a few ways to get into this area but this time, for no particular reason, we chose to come in from Lockwood, NV on Lousetown Road. For conservation purposes the features mentioned here aren’t really noted on maps, so if you’d like a GPS track of our route, please consider subscribing to our Patreon page. Your support goes a long way toward me being able to take these trips and make these videos.
The direct approach off Canyon Road is a little challenging, It’s right through the gut of Long Valley Creek and gets a little crossed up. But there is a bypass that your average rugged 4×4 should be able to get through. Traction control or some kind of locking differential will be helpful. In our group, all made it through without [significant] carnage.
We had 13 vehicles and a whole mess of kids and families on this excursion. If you’d like to join us on an adventure like this, the best way to go about that is to join the All-Terrain Family group on Facebook, or our Patreon Page. This route heads south on Lousetown Road along Long Valley Creek up and climbs up Washington Hill.
Washington Hill Mine is a nice place to stop and look around. There are many other artifacts and historic sites in the area that we’ll go back and explore again sometime. Roads criss cross this area. Some lead to piles of perforated appliances, some lead to ruins of an old settlement, some lead to 4×4 trails, and there’s only one good way to find out.
Lousetown road joins Lousetown Creek and heads our towards SR 341 and Virginia City, but to get to Bronco Canyon turn left on an unnamed road at the intersection.
The Lagomarsino petroglyph site is an incredible site with thousands of petroglyphs etched into the volanic canyon rock from the creek to the cap rock. If you want to learn more about this please check the video we posted here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM7XA77alM4). As always, please remember that it is not acceptable to damage, deface or remove any artifact of any kind from public land. These petroglyphs are a wonderful cultural resource that will survive for generations of families to experience as long as we don’t mess them up.
After exploring the petroglyphs for a while we had some lunch, took an aerial selfie and split up. Half the group took either the Long Valley or Lousetown routes back out and the rest of us turned left at the old stone wall and headed into Bronco Canyon.
We attempted Bronco Canyon in a previous video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6wELhib1cw) and expedition we went in this way but got stopped at the Mud Hole. Video evidence shows that the mud hole is not passable unless you have a tracked vehicle. Do the bypass, or be prepared to winch through or back out of it. Mike (@themikewemberly) was the only one to try to get through this mud hole. Fortunately his friend with a stock JK was able to recover him. The favor was later returned.
The trail is right in the creek in a lot of places so Shawn had to do some manscaping to get the Power wagon through the willow thickets. Even stil he was barely able to get through with out damage. Well, too much damage…
Keep in mind that if you approach this way, there is a lot of challenge before you get to Bronco Canyon proper. In most of the videos you’ll see of the area they don’t show any of that approach other than the mud hole. So Just know that the approach is an adventure in itself, especially if you are in a Power Wagon.
I don’t like to spot drivers and shoot video at the same time, so the video footage gets a little shaky as I help Shawn squeeze through a tight spot. Once shawn got through he came back to help get everyone else get through.
One new friend, Chrissy, came along in a stock Jeep JK Unlimited. She was a little overwhelmed at times and the open differentials make things challenging, but she did a stellar job following her spotter and driving it out.
We had another small recovery as Steve got his Jeep hung up on a hidden tree stump. My dad was able to winch him off it with the new winch we installed on his RZR. Eventually the thicket opened up and we were in Bronco Canyon for real. Lower Bronco Canyon is a straight shot bedrock stream bed at the base of two steep slopes, and we hit it really late in the day, the sun going behind the mountain as we entered.
Once we got into the thick of it, the Power Wagon really did well. Completely on his own, Shawn was able to crawl through it all and run back to help others with spotting and rock stacking.
UTVs are becoming more and more common in areas like this as they offer a unique off road driving experience and capability. My dad came along in his RZR. Despite the weird transmission engagement, it does surprisingly well. He has installed a lift kit, winch and front bumper. After this trip it also needed all new control arms.
Steve got his Cherokee high -entered on some rocks and quickly self-recovered using the high lift to elevate the truck so he could stack rocks underneath. At the same time, Mike got himself stuck again by trying an optional obstacle and managing to get his EVO JKU in 40s high centered.
So around this time it was getting dark, and cold, and people and kids were getting tired and testy. When it comes down to it, I don’t really want to have an epic all-nighter with kids and families and a bunch of new friends who might not be up for it just for the sake of a YouTube video. When I’m trying to shoot video, I’m pretty useless, or ineffective at least, at helping move things along, so I put the camera away, grabbed some gloves and a head lamp to help get everyone through. Keep in mind this is only LOWER bronco canyon and there’s another section of rocks even worse than what we’d done.
The halfway point exit/entrance crosses the creek bed and heads up to Long Valley Road. It’s a continuous challenge still though and is definitely not an easy out. Mike went first and had no trouble. Shawn went next and I was able to spot him up the creek exit it in the near darkenss. That Power Wagon is really cool, and I’ve gotten to the point where I understand how it’s going to behave and what it can do. Shawn is a great driver as well, very slow and controlled and precise. So it was a really cool problem to work on.
Chrissy went next in the stock JK and though we might have been able to get up it, we opted to winch in the interest of time and safety. Next was the RZR which had no rouble, and then three JKU Rubicons. I spotted them through exactly the same each time. I can see now how spotters can get a train of jeeps down a trail at a Jamboree. They’re all the same. And if the driver can follow directions, it’s no problem at all.
From there, It stayed hard for about a quarter mile. Chrissy and I worked together to get her Jeep up the trail. A couple times I was ready to pull cable, but thought, “well, let’s try one last thing,” and it worked every time. Jeep Wranglers really are a great 4×4 platform. They work so well and are so capable, that when you have them lifted and locked, honestly, it’s kind of boring. I suppose I may eat those words at somepoint, but that stock JK Was much more interesting to work with than the other jeeps. Though that may just be because all went well and we were able to get through this one challenge with no drama.
It was fully dark when we got back up to Long Valley Road and started the drive back to pavement, airing up well after dark as usual…
Thanks for joining us on the adventure again. Happy Trails.
Other videos from this area: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM7XA77alM4&list=PLNSs9UDOLlny4eAvxfzbhKWWJOOPvJ_EX
History of The Area