Sunset on the Truckee River in MCCarran Ranch Preserve

McCarran Ranch Preserve

Man Restoring Nature Restoring Man

Southern Pacific Railroad bridge on the Truckee River in MCcarran Ranch Preserve
Southern Pacific Railroad bridge on the Truckee River in McCarran Ranch Preserve

The McCarran Ranch Preserve is a swath of land running below the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along the Truckee River in Lockwood, Nevada. Our research indicated that while the preserve is small in size, it’s big on getting away from it all, even if only for a few hours. Of course, it also helped that many of the trail reviews by past visitors said they had spotted wild horses. We do love our wild horses here in Nevada. So, we grabbed our cameras, the dog and went to check it out.

The trail running through the preserve is a nice easy hike along the riverbanks of the Truckee River. It offers mirror glass views of the surrounding scenery in the calm sections of the Truckee River, as well as wildlife viewing. On our hike, we spotted wild mustangs, mule deer, Canadian geese and mallards. The preserve also offers some interesting trainspotting vantage points where the tracks cross the river over a steel truss bridge.

When you think of a “preserve,” what usually comes to mind is land protected from development and set aside to be enjoyed for generations to come.  The McCarran Ranch Reserve had to work a little harder to protect that natural beauty. Over the years, the Truckee River’s natural course had been straightened in the name of progress. Altering the water course wiped out a lot of the natural vegetation as it lost its source of water. In turn, this forced much of the wildlife to seek out new homes. The result left the area looking rather desolate.

The Making of a Preserve

A wild mustang munches on grass as the last rays of daylight set on the McCarran Ranch Preserve.
A wild mustang munches on grass as the last rays of daylight set on the McCarran Ranch Preserve

Upon acquiring the land, The Nature Conservancy worked to restore the natural course of the river. This allowed the vegetation to recover, restoring the scenic beauty to the area. With the vegetation again providing the food and shelter necessary to support an indigenous population, wildlife returned as well,. The end result is a small oasis bordered by I-80 to the north, Sparks, NV to the west, and an industrial complex to the east.

We only headed out with our cameras and dog, but we came back with something more. The real beauty of this preserve is visitors, like the animals who call it home, can immerse themselves in a land restored to its former glory. They can restore themselves in the same way. The preserve affords an opportunity to forget about the hassles of life for a short time. In a world where progress so often intrudes on nature, its refreshing to see the tables turned. Here one can see nature being allowed to take back a little of what we stole in the name of progress. Now that is REAL progress. Hopefully, those who also visit, bring some of that REAL progress back with them as well.

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