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Camp Success

Out in the far reaches of Eastern Nevada there is a special place. It lays nestled high in the alpine meadows and forests of the Schell Creek Mountains, somewhere east of Ely, Nevada.

Itís called Camp Success.


Photos & Story by William Ott

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The historic main lodge at Camp Success.

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Camp Success with a beautiful mountain backdrop.


Built in the late 1940ís by the Nevada Mines Division of Kennecott Corporation, the Camp served as a Boy Scout summer camp for many years. I suspect there are many former scouts across Nevada and elsewhere who have fond memories of their adventure here. With the decline in copper prices in the 1970ís came the eventual closing in 1978 of Kennecottís large open pit copper mine near Ely. Soon thereafter the smelter in McGill shut down. With the closings came a protracted period of economic decline, a fate which sadly but inevitably took its toll on Camp Success.

By the late 1990ís, White Pine County, which had taken over Camp Success, found it increasingly difficult to fund maintenance and administration of the now aging facility in face of limited tax revenues.

Consideration was reluctantly given to turning the \camp over to the US Forest Service, who administers the land within Humboldt National Forest on which the Camp was built. Were this to happen, there was a good likelihood the Forest Service would have demolished the structures as a part of their well intentioned program of restoring the land to its originals state. Camp Success could be lost forever. The future looked gloomy indeed.

But the hardy folk of White Pine County had come to cherish this special place of so many good times and memories, and werenít about to give it up without a fight. They organized, meetings were held, commitments made, and slowly a plan took shape. There was the promise of not only saving Camp Success, but of improving the facility and putting it on a self sustaining financial basis.

That was four year ago.


Today, Camp Success has emerged as good as ever from its decline. It is now a well maintained facility which during the summer season hosts a variety of events including wedding, reunions, youth groups, outdoor recreation groups, family gatherings, and retreats. Through the joint efforts of White Pine County, the US Forest Service, the Nevada Division of Forestry Honor Camp Program, and many willing and tenacious volunteers, Camp Success is alive and well. This is a particularly gratifying situation where a number of diverse organizations and individuals have come together in a spirit of caring cooperation and made something good happen.

Camp Success is situated at the south end of one of the most beautiful places in Nevada, the Duck Creek Valley. The Camp lies at an elevation of nearly 9000 feet, and from November to April lies isolated and waiting in the deep snows that cover this mountainous area in winter. But by May, the snow is largely gone, the days long and sunny, the aspen covered with summer foliage, the wildflowers profuse, and Camp Success is ready for the promise of another summer. Days are warm but never hot here, with cool breezes and the occasional afternoon thunder storm. The sky is an azure blue, and you can see forever in the clear air. The evenings have a delicious chill which invites a campfire and perhaps a sweater. There is the lonesome song of the coyote to contemplate. The stars are magnificent in their clarity.

For some the dawn is the best time, with a hint of frost, the chance to glimpse a proud elk or shy deer, and the deep silence so good for the soul but sadly a distant memory to so many in our chaotic world. The eagle and hawk still soar here.

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Inside the main lodge at Camp Success.

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A sign at the top of Success Summit showing the direction to Camp Success.

Autumn is a very special time, with campfire smoke, the golden red foliage of the aspen, the bugle of the elk and that marvelous and mysterious smell in the air telling us with certainty that winter is almost here.

There are those who have a difficult time believing such a place exists in Nevadaís vast deserts of lore, but it does.

Truly a special place.

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Shower facility at Camp Success.


Camp Success lies at the end of a winding road high above Cave Lake State Park. It is not open to the general public except by prior arrangement. This is necessitated by the desire to maintain privacy and solitude for those utilizing the Camp. More about this later. The main building is the rustic and charming lodge nestled in the trees. It features a large stone fireplace, a spacious main hall for meetings, dining and socializing, and a well equipped kitchen. There are modern shower and restroom facilities, tent and RV sites, and a particularly appealing campfire pit area. There is a very quiet generator for limited electrical power. The area is green and well forested with large white fir, pine, and aspen, or quakies as they are known around here.

The Camp is very secluded with a definite wilderness feel. This is high alpine country at its best.


While just savoring Camp Success is enough for many, there are a lot of places to see and things to do in White Pine County. Ward Mountain, the Schell Creek Mountains, Mt. Moriah, Blue Mass and the magnificent Wheeler Peak and Great Basin National Park offer untrampled outdoor recreation of all kinds. In Ely, The Nevada Northern Railroad and the Ghost Train of Old Ely offers steam and diesel train experiences on one of the best preserved historic railroads anywhere. Ely also had a very good 18 hole public golf course, and you really donít need a tee time most of the time.

Or have a look at the town of Ruth. Wildlife viewing, including the areas Rocky Mountain Elk, is often just around the next bend, and Comins Lake has some mighty big trout.

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One of four existing tent sites.

No, itís not Las Vegas, but that isnít necessarily a bad thing. And yes, Ely does have several gambling establishments. And the like.

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Small cabin used for sleeping and infirmary.


While the future of Camp Success looks bright, there are never any guarantees. A key component in insuring the future of this special place is renting it to responsible individuals, groups, and organizations for worthwhile purpose. The main criterion is a commitment to leave the Camp as good as or better than when you arrived. The rental revenue provides the main financial basis for administration and maintenance.

Administration of the Camp Success Rental Program is carried out by the White Pine County Department of Tourism, located at the Bristlecone Convention Center 150 Sixth Street, in downtown Ely, Nevada. They can be reached at 800-496-9350. Ed Spear is the Director, and he and his staff are always very helpful in answering questions and arranging access and use of the facility.

If you are looking for a special place but are weary of the ubiquitous hotel conference room or bustling public parks, and have a little of the spirit of adventure. Camp Success might be the place.

For more information about Camp Success contact the Bristlecone Convention Center in Ely, Nevada...

Bristlecone Convention Center
150 Sixth Street
Ely, NV 89301

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Site last updated February 02, 2006