The Pah Rah mountain range is a C-shaped range running north south from Pyramid Lake to Interstate 80, approximately 30 miles in length. It is a prominent feature on the east side of Sparks, east side of Pyramid Way, and the west side of NV 447 from Wadsworth to Nixon. The three highest peaks are Spanish Springs, Pond, and Virginia Peaks (Pah Rah Mountain is a knob 3 miles from Virgina Peak sometimes considered second highest peak). This range has provided many back road adventures, I am close to feeling like an expert. After exploring Spanish Springs and Pond Peaks I wanted to bag Virginia Peak with the only question being how to approach the summit road, Microwave Road from Pyramid Way.
Iron Wood Rd won the toss up over Whiskey Springs Rd, which took me past the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley . While the issues around managing this historical symbol of the West and its impact on our wildlands can be a contentious topic, the visitors kiosk and these social beasts are quite entertaining.
I zig-zagged my way through the rural dirt roads of Palomino Valley. One local asked where I was going and if I needed directions. I don’t think he ever heard of someone riding a bicycle up there. After admiring miles of beautiful properties I came to a fork in the road indicating Microwave Rd. The other give away that I was on my way was the never ending climb. The vistas of canyons in 180 degrees around me made me wonder if there were routes from the north or a route to Pond Peak from here. I feel like there might be some private road access issues in this area.
I climbed to a saddle that collected recent snow melt and sticky slick mud. But this football field sized obstacle gave way to the final switchback to Virginia Peak. The structure near the summit is a National Weather Service NEXRAD doppler weather radar station. The golden globe atop a radio tower is quite the focal point of this summit. We have the maintenance and power of this weather station to thank for this well maintained road to exceptional vistas.
I back tracked on my return route though there looked to be a return route to the north but with time constraints I decided to return on a sure route. The alternate route will be a future ride.
There is some confusion with the many uses of Virginia in our local geography. Virginia City is a fantastic historical mining city to the south east of Reno located on the Virginia Range. The Virginia Mountains are an irregular mountain range above the south west shore of Pyramid Lake. Today’s ride was to seek out Virginia Peak in the Pah Rah Range.