” Berlin is a lonely ghost town abundant with the fossil of ancient gigantic Marine reptile Ichthyosaur surrounded by spectacular scenery! “
We have been very busy lately, and its been months since we took a roadtrip. Finally, found a weekend to spare. As usual we were looking for some place with unique significance, less traveled and scenic. Berlin-Ichthyosaur state park is just half a day drive from Los Angeles and it has a lot to offer. Not just the perfectly preserved ruins of old mining town, this place is also a home to huge concentration of Ichthyosaur fossil, an ancient marine reptile that swam in a warm ocean that covered central Nevada 225 million years ago. Doesn’t that sound cool?!!..
Click, if you are interested in exploring Dinosaur fossils
Berlin is a small mining town established in 1890s about 70 mile north of Tonopah, NV. Unfortunately, it din’t flourish as much as other mining towns around this area. Hence, abandoned in early 1900s. In 1928, professor Charles L Camp discovered the ancient fossils and excavations began in 1954. Eventually, now preserved as Berlin-Ichthyosaur state park.
We stayed for the night at the Tonopah Station Hotel & Casino and headed to Berlin in the morning through Rte 89. The road condition is paved just half the way. Once you deviate right from route 89, the path is rough with gravel. However, you can manage in a sedan too . Like we always recommend, just lower pressure in your tires before driving through gravel paths.
The park is open year around and has an entry fee – 5$ per vehicle for the day use, which can be paid at the entrance.
What can you do here?
1. Berlin Ghost town tour
As soon as you enter the park, first you would notice are the ruins of the old buildings of Berlin. You can find the town map at the entrance where you drop entry fee. They provide self guided tour of the town buildings. The structures are very fragile, rusty and found nails everywhere. Better be careful while walking around and try not to disturb anything. Must say that this is a good place for photo op in a rustic environment.
2. Find Ichthyosaur fossil in its natural state:
From the town, the fossils are about a couple of miles uphill. They have built a structure around the fossils and are available to view for public in its natural state through a 40 minute tour. The tour is scheduled for just two times a day. You can’t enter the building unless you get in time for the tour. Unfortunately, we dint know that. So, couldn’t see the fossils up close. 🙁 Instead, had to peek through the viewing windows. Actually, they have very detailed descriptions about the fossils with identification markers displayed near the windows. You can clearly see the preserved bones of a group of Ichthyosaurs.
Tour timing : 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily through Labor Day, with a noon tour added on Saturdays and Sundays.
On the way to fossil shelter, there is a campground with pit toilet, dumping station and 14 well spaced camping sites. Facilities include fire rings, BBQ pits, tables and water. As a matter of fact, the campground was completely empty and seemed like a beautiful spot with magnificent views. You can stay here for up to 14 days continuously.
4. Scenic Drives
Before entering the park, there are several small roads that deviate and take you much deeper into the forest. After finishing up at fossil house and the rustic ghost town, we had time to take a detour and explore one of the roads. On our way, we found many unmarked mining buildings in remote locations. You must explore such roads if you and your vehicle are really up to this. You would be surprised on what you might find along your way.
GPS Coordinates of the ruins in pictures below: 38.846552, -117.576563