Spanish conquistadors called it the "Northern Mystery". Scouts of the Western Expansion called it "the big empty". But it was John C. Frémont's expedition of 1843 that finally gave this place its name: The Great Basin.
Much like caving, the spirit of discovery runs deep in Nevada. It is in our DNA. This territory was founded by miners searching for silver and gold, and by settlers searching for freedom and solitude. They are the soul of Nevada. Discovery is part of our history and heritage... and the same can be said for all cavers.
This magnificent land is both our destination and our passion for the 75th anniversary of the National Speleological Society.
Great Basin National Park
This state was made for wanderers and wonderers. From expansive wilderness areas to the busy hustle of our old-west casinos, Nevada offers transformational experiences unlike any other state - both above ground and below it.
To be sure, this is a very dry place. Water in the Great Basin is a scarce commodity. At 6,400 feet above sea level, Ely sits in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We call this place a desert because of the extremes in precipitation, not because of the temperature. Most people are surprised to learn that, only 35 miles from Ely, they can still visit a glacier.
It may be difficult to imagine how this temperate semi-arid environment could give rise to extensive cave development, but during the Paleozoic Era, this was beach-front property. There are no ocean waves here anymore. There's scarcely any water. But from your airplane window at 30,000 feet, you can almost imagine the deep valleys and high ridges washing across the land leaving a swath of naked geology in their wake.
Nevada is the most mineral-rich state in the nation. Over a century of mining activity has left quiet testimony in the many ghost towns that dot this landscape. Many of these places will be included in our trip schedule at the 2016 convention. Quite often, you can combine a cave trip with a side visit to a ghost town in the same excursion.
Nevada encourages visitors in this land to venture off the beaten path to discover what makes our state truly special. The 2016 convention staff plans to nurture this spirit of discovery in every possible way.
75th Anniversary Convention Video
The year 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the National Speleological Society. Our responsibility to produce a truly amazing convention has been the focus of our efforts over the last several years. Respecting the heritage and ethic of the NSS is integrally woven into the production plans we are pursuing.
While milestone events tend to focus on retrospectives, we also plan to gaze forward into the future of caving. Some of the sessions in development for the 2016 convention will speculate on where speleology may go over the next 75 years. Of course, we'll also deliver the sessions that cavers have endorsed and come to expect at NSS conventions. Covering topics from geology to exploration to artistic presentations, the 2016 convention hopes to offer something for everyone in our wide family of cavers.
From the "anything goes" attitude in our social events to the wide-open expanse of accessible public lands, Nevada embraces the call of the frontier and the promise of the west.
Above all else, this state knows two subjects very well: geology and recreation. We can't think of a better place to host the 75th anniversary of the National Speleological Society!
Please join us from July 16-23, 2016 in Ely, Nevada as we celebrate our past 75 years and look forward into the future of caving.
Welcome to the Great Basin of the American West!
Abundant sunshine. High 48F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
A clear sky. Low 23F. NNE winds shifting to SSE at 10 to 15 mph.
Sunshine. High 58F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.
Last updated on
Tue, 28-Mar 9:45 am
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.
The Virgin Valley opal fields in northern Nevada produce a wide variety of precious black, crystal, white, fire, and lemon opals. These mineraloids, which have weathered out of the in-place deposits, are alluvial and considered placer deposits. The largest unpolished black opal in the Smithsonian Institution, known as the Roebling opal, came out of the tunneled portion of Nevada's Rainbow Ridge Mine in 1917, and weighs 2,585 carats.
The black fire opal is the official gemstone of Nevada.