Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park combines two areas of historical interest that happened to be located within just a few miles of each other: the remains of the mining townsites of Berlin and nearby Union, and the largest collection Ichthyosaur fossils in the world. Berlin-Ichthyosaur's isolation can factor into the generally low crowds and clear night skies.
The towns of Berlin, Union, and nearby Ione (Ione is about 8 miles away and still has a few residents) constituted the Union Mining District. Silver and gold were mined in the towns, and for a time, Berlin was the smallest of the three. Due to the cost of transporting ore to the mill in Ione, a new mill was constructed in Berlin, and Berlin soon became the largest of the towns, though the town never saw a population larger than about 250 people.
The Berlin mine was in operation from 1897 to 1910, with about $849,000 of silver and gold extracted. Central Nevada's dry conditions have left the town in a well-preserved state, and today it is possible to walk around many of the intact buildings and mining structures. Rangers and historical publications are available to explain the town's past, as well as the history of many of the buildings.
Self-guided trails encircle the remains of the town. Tours of the nearby Diana Mine are offered between May 1 and September 1 by reservation.
The former Union townsite sits about 2 miles up the road, and it still has several buildings of its own standing. Just beyond Union and the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park Campground are a collection of Ichthyosaur fossils.
Ichthyosaurs were large reptiles that swam the inland sea that once covered what is now Nevada. The fossils of about 40 creatures have been found in the area, with several visible in a covered barn-like structure where rangers offer tours on a daily basis. Another fossil lies just outside of the structure near the parking lot.
Because of the isolated location of the park and seasonal conditions, it may be necessary to try to find a ranger and ask for the Ichthyosaur fossils to be unlocked.
Picnic benches and vault toilets sit throughout the park, particularly nearer to the Ichthyosaur fossils where there is more shade than in the Berlin townsite.
Several trails also lead throughout portions of the park. Visitors should come prepared with their own water and food. The nearest services are in the town of Gabbs, and the nearest sizeable grocery store is in Tonopah.