If you prefer to shoot wildlife with a camera, you’ll find good “hunting” year round. The Big Smoky Valley and Austin landscapes are filled with seasonal animals and birds that are just waiting for the nimble-fingered photography buff. With three wilderness areas to choose from, there are even more opportunities to get those perfect shots. To get you started, here are descriptions of two commonly known wildlife observation points.

Kingston Canyon | Map |
Take the Kingston road up through the canyon. There are turnouts and trailheads that offer opportunities to pull over to watch for birds and other wildlife the make their home in this lush riparian corridor. Look for broad-tailed hummingbirds, tree swallows, birds of prey, sage thrashers, bluebirds, nuthatches, wrens and towhees to name a few. American dippers, belted kingfishers and bank swallows are found along the stream and waterfowl populate Groves Lake. Deer, elk, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and beaver can be found as well as chipmunks, fox, and several other small animals. Fishing is very good along the creek and in Groves Lake. Lahontan cutthroat trout are native to the area, but you can also catch non-native species like eastern brook, rainbow and German browns.

Kingston is a popular gateway to the Toiyabe Crest Trail and there are several alternative camping areas and trailheads as well as the Kingston Campground.

Directions: From Austin – Drive east twelve miles on US50 to SR376. Turn south and drive 22 miles. Turn west on FR002 and drive three miles through Kingston Village to the end of the pavement. Groves Lake is just seven miles further up the canyon.

Table Mountain
Hike or ride horses on this unique, high mountain plateau. You’ll find cottontails and jackrabbits, blue grouse, nuthatches, warblers, Townsend’s solitaires, fox sparrows, mountain bluebirds, prairie falcons and golden eagles. Among the four-footed inhabitants are big horn sheep, deer, elk, mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes. This is also an excellent place to view wildflowers.

Table mountain is located in a remote wilderness area and you will rarely encounter other humans while traveling in the area.

Directions: From Austin – Drive east twelve miles on US50 to SR376. Turn south and drive approximately 60 miles to SR377, pass through Manhattan and take the turn-off to SSR82 for 26 miles to Belmont. Continue on past Belmont for about 2 miles, then turn northeast, drive four miles to Barley Creek and turn east. Drive seven miles to the guard station, then another five miles to the trailhead.