Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
205.00 ft (62.48 m)
Trail type
4.50 mi (7.24 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Sump is an unsigned and unmarked area of western Nevada with a collection of unique and interesting land formations caused by the mix of water and volcanic activity over time. 

Its formation began millions of years ago when the area was the base of a prehistoric body of water now known as Lake Esmeralda. Water flow caused the settling of minerals at the lake's bottom. In more recent time, volcanic activity has caused pumice to gather and mix with the minerals, which more recently has dried up and been carved out by centuries of wind- and water-erosion, resulting in slot canyons, clay spires, mineral hoodoos and semi-petrified trees taking shape throughout the area. Some of these features are similar to the much-more visited Cathedral Gorge State Park located in eastern Nevada. The Sump, however, has no signs, markings, nor anything else that would mark it as an area of interest. 

As for the hike, from the parking area it is about a 1.5-mile walk up a soft sandy wash to reach the first of the land formations. From here there is no marked trail, but it is possible to head up the narrow wash or traverse a path through the formations to the top of the wash. Explore at your own pace, and then head back down by the opposite way that you went up to see everything. The slight decline down the wash makes the hike back out much easier than the way in.

The area's isolation, in an unpopulated and little-traveled corner of the state, is another of the Sump's assets. Heading into the base of the amphitheatre at the far end of a wash, it is easy to lose all track of outside noise, and it is very likely visitors will have the area to the themselves. As interesting as walking amongst the spires and mounds is, climbing to a point overlooking the otherwise silent cabin can lead to some surreal views and inspire a strange sense of awe while taking in the otherwordly landscape.

It should be noted that there are no nearby amenities of any kind. Visitors should come prepared with water and sun protection, as there is very little shade in the area. The nearest gas and groceries are located about an hour away in any direction - those towns being Hawthorne, Nevada; Tonopah, Nevada; and Bishop, California.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Otherworldly landscape formations.


Requires a slow hike in to access.

Trailhead Elevation

5,170.00 ft (1,575.82 m)

Highest point

5,375.00 ft (1,638.30 m)


Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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