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Located in the western inland of the United States, the Winnemucca Destination comprises the southeastern corner of Oregon and the northwestern portion of Nevada. As the primary constituent of the destination’s geographic formation is desertland, tourists are drawn to the Winnemucca Destination to undertake outdoor recreational activities, more specifically ATVing, camping, and hiking, among other pastimes. A particular place where visitors can engage in all of these previously listed activities is the Winnemucca Sand Dunes, which sits at an elevation of approximately 4,400 feet. Generally speaking, temperatures in Winnemucca vary between the range of 19 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year. Warm-weather activities tend to be more accessible from late June to late August, so many former tourists of the area recommend visiting the city of Winnemucca between these months. Aside from being the destination’s namesake, Winnemucca is the county seat of Humboldt County and is often nicknamed the “City of Paved Streets.” One of the most prominent attractions within the city, which typically receives visitors who take interest in Winnemucca’s history, is the Humboldt Museum. This site was established above a historically significant area where thousands of wagon trains forded the Humboldt River on the trek to California.
The Winnemucca Destination’s northern half encompasses a part of Oregon to the north and a section of Nevada to the south. A number of towns and small villages are established throughout the destination, namely Denio, McDermitt, Golconda, Quinn River Crossing, and Paradise Valley, to name a few. The destination’s namesake, Winnemucca, is the only incorporated city in Humboldt County, Nevada, and it additionally serves as the county seat. Winnemucca’s population has increased by 3.70% since the last census in 2020, which recorded 8,431 residents. Currently, an estimated total of 8,743 people reside in the city, and an annual growth rate of 1.20% presently affects the population. Regarding the racial composition of Winnemucca’s population, the majority of residents are white individuals, which account for nearly 82.71% of the total populace. The remaining percentage is constituted by those who classify as “other race” (8.35%), those who are two or more races (5.64%), Native American residents (1.92%), and African American individuals (1.38%).
A particularly notable aspect of Winnemucca is the Basque traditions that were adopted into the city’s culture. Every June, the city hosts an annual festival that celebrates Basque culture through Jota dancing and games such as weight-carrying. The Basque hotels and dining options in Winnemucca also frequently draw a number of visitors to the area, as the Basque cuisine is considered “a highlight for most travelers and locals alike.”
Several tourists utilize the desertlands that are found in and around Winnemucca for outdoor activities. The Winnemucca Sand Dunes, located north of the city, is an area where people can go camping and ATVing. Reportedly, these sand dunes are “Nevada’s largest sand dune fields,” as it covers a desert landscape of about 40 miles. Similarly, in the Water Canyon Recreation Area, found south of Winnemucca, tourists can go camping, hiking, biking, and ATVing, all of which can be engaged in without a fee.
Desertlands and hills primarily characterize the topography that surrounds Winnemucca. The city itself is situated on the Humboldt River. Other bodies of water that can be found in various parts of the Winnemucca Destination include Alvord Lake in the destination’s central regions; Malheur Lake and Mud Lake, positioned adjacent to each other in the north; and Antelope Reservoir in the northeast. A considerable number of natural areas additionally contribute to the destination’s geography, namely Steens Mountain Wilderness, Sheldon National Antelope Refuge, and the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Conservation Area.
The Steens Mountain Wilderness area covers an expanse of 170,200 acres of land in southeastern Oregon. The site is often frequented by outdoor enthusiasts who undertake recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, picnicking, horseback riding, and sightseeing, to name a few. Trailheads and hiking areas wind near Page Springs and South Steens Campgrounds in the wilderness's eastern and southern regions. Redband trout are commonly sought after by fishermen, as a notable inhabitation of this species can be found in the Donner and Blitzen Rivers. Outdoor recreation is available to tourists year-round, with the winter season offering opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Visitors to the Steens Mountain Wilderness should be aware that the prohibition of motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is enforced on all federal lands that are designated as wilderness areas.
Those who have previously visited Winnemucca have described the summer season to be somewhat “hot,” “arid,” and “mostly clear.” The hottest month of the year, July, usually has an average high that reaches about 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures gradually drop during October and November, as an average high of 49 degrees Fahrenheit is typical throughout the cold season, which generally lasts from November to February. Concerning rainfall, the city often experiences the most amount of precipitation in May, with an average of 0.8 inches of rainfall that occurs in the month.
The city of Winnemucca was originally referred to as French Ford by the first settler, the Frenchman Joseph Ginacca, who also served as a ferry operator on the Humboldt River. In the 1860s, the city became a supply hub for the Central Pacific Railroad. The officials of this railroad eventually renamed the city “Winnemucca” in 1868, with the intent to honor a prominent leader of the Paiute Indians who neighbored the city. The term “Winnemucca” translates to English as “one moccasin.”
A Chinatown was formed in Winnemucca throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Initially, the Chinese came to the area as employees of the transcontinental Central Pacific Railroad. This railroad reached the city in 1868. Many of the Chinese workers stayed in Winnemucca or returned to the city to settle, accumulating nearly 400 Chinese residents who formed the community in the 1890s. Significant structures, such as the Joss House on Baud Street, were constructed and utilized by the community.
Basque immigration first took place in Winnemucca circa 1850 due to the California Gold Rush. This led to the Basque immigrants becoming a fairly important presence in the western sheep industry. The term “sheepherder” then became closely related to “Basque.” Over the course of their residence in the Great Basin, the Basque would serve as sheepherders and cattlemen; however, in present times, the sheep industry in Winnemucca has diminished. Even still, the Basque play a role in the livestock industry as stockmen, and many of them are also business and community leaders.
On September 19th, 1900, Butch Cassidy—a relatively well-known American bank robber—and his gang robbed the First National Bank of Winnemucca. Approximately $32,640 was stolen from the bank. The Winnemucca State Bank and Trust building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several other historic sites are established throughout the city, the Humboldt Museum being one of them. The museum regards much of Winnemucca’s history as it pertains to the Native American inhabitants who formerly lived there. Some of the items that are showcased at the museum include beaded and quilled regalia from an American Indian collection, remains from the Ice Age 13,000 years ago, vintage automobiles, and keepsakes from the city’s “art Nouveau” period.