This High-Desert Host is Changing How Campers View the Nevada Outdoors

Pat doesn’t want people to think of lifeless sand dunes when they see her Hipcamp listing for Stagecoach Acres in northern Nevada. Her lush, 15-acre property is covered in sagebrush, and wild horses (among other wildlife) roam free. If you ask Pat about her land, she’ll tell you all about how Nevada has much, much more to offer than Las Vegas, including seasonal wildflowers, singing coyotes, and breath-taking starry nights. Hipcamp sat down with Pat to hear more about her high-desert hotspot and her experience as a Host of one of Nevada’s most popular Hipcamps.

Hipcamp: Tell us about your land and what makes it special.

Pat: I have 15 acres of high-desert land in the Great Basin. “Desert” is a meteorological term — 10 inches or less of rain annually — and has nothing to do with sand dunes. My land is covered in sage and other vegetation. There is an 8,000-foot peak on one horizon and hills of more than 5,000 feet all around. Deserted Highway 50 is the gateway to tons of outdoor adventures in under-visited Nevada.

How many people know we have more than 400 named mountain ranges and the highest number of U.S. peaks over 10,000 feet? Almost 90 percent of our land is not privately owned, and 67 percent of that is public land, mainly Bureau of Land Management country that you can freely explore. Nevada has the highest number of wild horses, and my land is full of their hoof-prints and trails they’ve cut through my sage. Your likelihood of seeing mustangs here or on the drive on Highway 50 going west is very high.

I want to offer folks a quiet, private place to camp…

Hipcamp: Why did you decide to join Hipcamp and allow campers on your land?

Pat: I am a passionate camper myself, mostly backcountry because I hate campgrounds. I want to offer folks a quiet, private place to camp with their own bathroom that is not the horrible experience so many other campgrounds offer.

Hipcamp: How would you describe your experience so far?

Pat: It’s been a lot of fun to chat folks up from all over the country who have come out west for adventures. Every camper I’ve had has been charming and courteous.

Give the desert a chance. People are astounded as to how beautiful my desert mountains are.

Hipcamp: What are some of your most memorable experiences with Hipcampers?

Pat: Two teens were thrilled to find a horned lizard here. They later posted a photo of it in my gallery, which I thought was so cute. I asked two women heading to Salt Lake if they had any laundry. I was showing them how the machine operated when I realized they were exhausted from driving. So I said, “Okay, I’ll just do it for you. It’ll be hanging on the line when you’re ready to leave.” So now I joke that I offer “concierge laundry service!” Once, two young women from Tennessee on a cross-country road trip came. Another time, I had a mom and daughter en route to the young woman’s summer job as an intern in the Sierra National Forest.

Hipcamp: What do you tell campers about your land?

Pat: Give the desert a chance. People are astounded as to how beautiful my desert mountains are. It’s not flat, hot, and boring here. Nevada is so much more than Las Vegas. Multiple coyote families live in the arroyo near the campsite, and you will hear them at night.

Hipcamp: How would you describe your land in three words?

Pat: Silent, isolated, sage-covered.

Hipcamp: What kind of activities do campers participate in at your Hipcamp or near your Hipcamp?

Pat: You can walk or ride your bike for limitless miles on BLM fire roads right outside my door. I am about an hour from Lake Tahoe, two hours from the Black Rock Desert and Burning Man, 45 minutes to an hour from skiing at Mount Rose and the Sierra resorts, 30 minutes from the historic Virginia City mining town and 45 minutes from our lovely, historic state capital: Carson City. You can paddle and bird watch on nearby Lahontan Reservoir. I am 45 minutes from Highway 395 running down the highest part of the Sierra and very close to Highway 95, heading to the national parks of the Southwest.

Hipcamp: Why is sharing your land important to you?

Pat: I was fortunate to have been able to buy a big, private chunk of land for a reasonable price in a small rural town. Most of my campers are city dwellers, so it is a different home-owning option for them to see.

Hipcamp: What is your favorite part about listing your land on Hipcamp?

Pat: Chatting campers up and giving them advice about activities. Once, four young Silicon Valley workers from four different countries spent two nights here. I loaded them up with maps and hiking guides for their trip to Tahoe. They had a ball.

Hipcamp: When is the best time to camp at your property and why?

Pat: Early spring, to see the wildflowers and new growth on the sage, plus nearby snowy peaks. Full moon here will blow your mind, as will nights with no moon so you can see the marvelous stars. Northern Nevada has the least light pollution of anywhere in the country.

Hipcamp: What’s one thing you want visitors to take away from your property?

Pat: An appreciation of Nevada wilderness opportunities, although most people are just passing through en route to someplace else.

Hipcamp: Do you engage in land stewardship or restoration efforts? If so, how?

Pat: I’m a birder, so I have about a dozen feeders and water installations. This has attracted 35 species to my yard, plus mammal freeloaders like ground squirrels, nocturnal rodents and cottontails and jackrabbits. I also attract predators such as raptors, snakes, lizards and coyotes — all of which I welcome. So much for the “lifeless desert.”

Hipcamp: Anything else you’d like to add?

Pat: I’m always happy to see young women setting off on adventures alone. I think women have been sold a bill of goods about how dangerous it is to do that. I tell them that in 35 years of hiking and camping alone in the middle of nowhere, I’ve never had a problem. I also say you are in more danger 10 minutes from the trailhead — or a paved road — than you are 10 miles from it.

Inspired by Pat’s mission and experience hosting? Open your land to campers who care about your land:

Shane Downing

Shane is an award-winning journalist based in Oakland. As a freelance writer, he’s passionate about covering the LGBTQ+ community, at-risk youth and local news. He's a former Hoodline editor, and his work regularly appears in Oakland Magazine and The San Francisco Business Times. When he's not writing, Shane is an avid baker, gardener and tennis player.

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