Management of Subterranean Ecosystems in Extreme Environments
Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park is a public recreation area occupying more than 4,000 acres in the Schell Creek Range, adjacent to Humboldt National Forest, in White Pine County, Nevada. The state park is located at an elevation of 7,300 feet 20 miles southeast of Ely and is accessed via U.S. Route 50 and Success Summit Road. It features a 32-acre reservoir for fishing, flat-wake boating, and camping.

Although the lake is currently drained for dam reconstruction, we hope it will re-open in time for the 2025 NCKMS conference.

Recreational Opportunities

Audio Tour: Cave Lake & Ward Charcoal Ovens

The park is popular for brown and rainbow trout fishing, ice fishing, crawdadding, camping, and picnicking. Hiking is offered on four developed trails, three to five miles in length. For overnight stays, the park offers a yurt and two designated campgrounds, Elk Flat and Lake View, with modern facilities. Winter activities include ice fishing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

Ely's annual Fire and Ice Festival is held in January at the park, sufficient ice and snow permitting. The event, which began in 2005, features an ice and snow sculpture contest, and concludes with a fireworks show. Bathtub races have also been held at the lake each year since 2010. Both events have been named by the American Bus Association among the top 100 events in North America.


Cave Lake State Park is located about 20 miles southeast of Ely via U.S. 93. Turn off on the Highway 486 exit and continue about 6.4miles to the park entrance.

Natural Resources

Video compliments of KNPB - PBS Reno, Nevada

German brown trout are found in Cave Lake and the park's streams. Hatchery rainbow trout are stocked in the lake, which is fed by Cave Creek and empties into Steptoe Creek. Big game animals such as elk and mule deer, and predators such as bobcat, mountain lion and coyote, reside in the area. Hawks and eagles are common, as are vulture, pinyon jay, magpie and varieties of waterfowl and songbirds. Several varieties of reptiles are present including the occasional western rattlesnake.

Park vegetation is typical of the Great Basin and includes aspen, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, Mormon tea, wild rose, chokecherry and currant. A pinyon/juniper woodland area interspersed with wetlands surrounds Cave Lake. Sedimentary limestone and shale, typical of the Great Basin, dominates park geology, and the area is characterized by large up-thrusts, narrow canyons and shallow caves.


Park weather is highly seasonal with wide variations in temperature. Summertime highs may range from 90°F to a low 40°F. Wintertime highs are often in the 30s and 40s, and nights are often below zero. Extreme lows may reach thirty below zero. Snow is common from early December through early April, with several feet on the ground through peak winter months. The remainder of the year is relatively dry, and rain and snow showers are infrequent. Ely, Nevada, weather reports are consistent with weather at the park.

  • Elevation: 7,198 ft

  • State: Nevada

  • District: White Pine County

  • Coordinates (WGS84): 39.19376, -114.69638

  • Nearest town: Ely, NV

  • Distance from the convention center: 21 miles

  • Topo Map

Links & Resources

Cave Lake State Park limestone cliffs

The reservoir you see today at Cave Lake was originally built to serve the Civilian Conservation Corps, who were working in the area during the 1930s. The property switched hands a few times among local ranchers, but in 1968, all 1,240 acres of the modern day park was sold to Nevada Department of Fish and Game for a whole $10.00. In 1973, the land was transferred to Nevada State Parks, and has been welcoming recreationalists since. Image courtesy of Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Ward Charcoal Ovens

Ward Charcoal Ovens

Located just south of Ely, Nevada, the Ward Charcoal Ovens are associated with the silver mining ghost town of Ward. They were built in 1876 by itinerant Italian masons known as carbonari. Charcoal prepared in the ovens was used in the nearby silver smelters.



Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy, with a low around 55. South wind around 5 mph.


Scattered Showers And Thunderstorms Scattered showers and thunderstorms between 11am and 5pm, then isolated showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 91. West southwest wind 0 to 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Monday Night

Isolated Showers And Thunderstorms then Partly Cloudy Isolated showers and thunderstorms before 11pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 55. East wind 0 to 5 mph.

Symposium Merchandise

Troglodyte Playing Cards

We have no idea what these will look like yet, but we couldn't think of hosting NCKMS in Nevada without offering some themed-out playing cards. There's a good chance the card backs will feature a cave animal of the year, but we still have some time to figure it out.


JUNE 29, 2023
NCKMS Steering Committee Chooses Ely, Nevada as Host City for 2025 Symposium
Read More


Advance registration for the 2025 symposium is expected to open in mid-2024. We will send an email to past attendees when that system comes online.

Feel free to join our mailing list if you would like to receive occasional updates on our plans.

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