Updated: May 21, 2015

Virginia City, Nevada - What Does it Offer?:

Want to visit an authentic "old western" town? May we suggest Virginia City in Nevada. I had the chance to finally go to Virginia City in October 2011. I have been to Reno and Lake Tahoe many times over the last 30 years, but never had the time or interest in getting out to Virginia City. I'm glad that the opportunity came up with my wife and kids to make a day of it. We did a little research online, but mostly just wanted to drive into the town, walk around, and experience what we could. There is plenty to do once you arrive. They have train rides, stagecoach rides, mine tours, saloons to venture into, and plenty of slot machines for those that want to test their luck. I really liked the boardwalks that line the streets instead of the modern concrete sidewalks we are used to walking on. The saloons still had lots of 'original' pieces on the walls and the kids had a great time. Our friends even did the 'old time photos' where you dress up like a bandit, bar made, or cowboy.


I would say that being organized will help you make the most of your day. Keep in mind that not all the events and attractions are open year round and several weren't open the day we were there in mid-October (on a Friday). The gunfight in the corral was closed as well as the 'gold panning' next to the Mark Twain museum. We were able to ride the Virginia & Truckee railroad (V&T) and take the Ponderosa Mine Tour. We had lunch in the small town at the Palace Restaurant which served sandwiches, burgers, beer, and other appetizers. Good food and the kids enjoyed the atmosphere there. The weather can be very hot in the summer months, so I suggest going in the off-season, although you need to remember that not all attractions are open every day of the week. If there is something that you want to do for sure, check the website for the town at Visitvirginiacitynv.com. When you first get to town, we recommend going to the Visitor Center which is at the corner of Taylor St. and Hwy 341 (C Street). You can buy tickets, ask questions, see what events are planned for the day, etc. As far as getting to Virginia City, there are multiple ways to reach this western town. From Reno, you are only 23 miles away and all you have to do is take 395 South out of Reno and get off on Hwy 341. Follow the signs to Virginia City. From Carson City, you are only 15 miles Take Hwy 50 East and then get off on Hwy 341. When you approach Silver City, stick with the 342 Hwy instead of 341. Hwy 342 will eventually lead you to Virginia City as well, but you get to pass through the historic town of Gold Hill.

Train Rides in Virginia City, NV:

We suggest taking the Virginia City to Gold Hill roundtrip train tour. From May to October the train departs 7 times a day and the trip is only 35 minutes total. Tickets are $12/adults and kids (5-12) are $4.50. I would say the price is a bit steep for what you get, but the weather was great and we sat in the open air car. The tour guide on the train narrates the ride so you learn historically facts about the Comstock mining region. To catch the train, head to Washington and F Streets. It's a few blocks from the main drag, but an easy enough walk. There is parking right next to the train station if you would rather drive there. On popular weekends, the trains can be full and you may have to wait. You pass through a tunnel and see old mine shafts that have since been abandoned and closed for decades. When you reach Gold Hill there is a chance to get out and walk around (you can always catch the next train that comes back if you want). The train also offers special event rides for Halloween and Christmas.

Virginia City - Mine Tours:

The one thing I wanted to do no matter what was to take a mine tour. There are a few options in Virginia City with the Ponderosa Mine Tour or the Chollar Mine Tour. We choose the Ponderosa tour and I think it was worth it. You enter the saloon that is right up the street from the Visitor Center. It's on the south side of Taylor and C. Streets. You'll see a sign for the Ponderosa Mine Tour. Go past the bar on your right and straight to the back of the building. That is where you will find the entrance to the mine and the tours start there. We paid $6/adults and $2/kids. The tour itself takes about 35 minutes. You walk into the mine shaft and go on a flat, level path for about 80 yards. Along the way you will learn about what they mined for, the type of candle power they used to see, the tools they dug with, and you will see just how dark the mine gets when the guide turns off all the lights (only for a few seconds).

Gold Hill Hotel and Saloon.

Steam locomotive on V&T Railroad.

Drill Bit in Ponderosa Mine.

Supplies in Ponderosa Mine.

View of Mine Shaft in Ponderosa Mine.

Wench/pulley system in mine.

Supply cart in the mine.

Map of the Comstock mines.