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Ghosts and Fossils in Central Nevada

by Eugenia Lazaris

Jan 18, 2023

© James Feliciano | Dreamstime.com


Looking for ghosts of the past or ghosts of the really ancient past? Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park gives family travelers the best bang for their buck all in one spot. Located deep in the desert of central Nevada in what is now the town of Austin, this park gives visitors a glimpse into bygone eras with a well-preserved ghost town dating back to the 1890s and a massive collection of ichthyosaur fossils, the remains of ancient marine reptiles that swam in a sea that once covered central Nevada during the Mesozoic Period.


Today, visitors can explore the past by visiting this park where many of Berlin’s original buildings remain in various states of decay and age. They offer a glimpse of yesteryear with a self-guided tour telling the story of daily life for the people who once called Berlin home. There are also guided tours available of what remains of the Diana Mine, where silver was once mined from the mountain.


The Fossil House, also located in this expansive park, offers guided tours of the dig site where nearly 40 ichthyosaur fossils have been uncovered and preserved. The tours run for approximately 30 minutes on days when the dig is not operating (for example, during the winter months). Guests can also do a self-guided tour and observe fossils through protective glass.


The park is open to visitors 24/7 and admission is just $10 per vehicle ($5 for Nevada-based vehicles). Camping at the park costs $20 per night, per vehicle ($15 for Nevada-based vehicles). There are a total of 14 campsites, which include fire rings, barbecue grills, covered tables, restrooms and access to fresh drinking water (depending on the season). These sites are perfect for tent or RV camping and can accommodate RVs up to 25 feet long, but the sites cannot be reserved and are only available on a first-come-first-serve basis.


The best way to check availability for campsites is by calling the park at  775 964 2440. Due to the desert terrain, the area is highly susceptible to extreme weather conditions, so the best time to visit the park and campgrounds is in the spring or fall when temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold.


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