At the end of Nevada State Highway 219 (which branches off from U.S. 95) approximately forty miles northeast of Winnemucca you will find Paradise Valley. Over the last hundred years the population has not changed much, it is still only about 250.

Paradise Valley was originally called Paradise City. Sometime in the 1870s it was renamed Paradise Valley. It was first found by prospectors and they were thrilled and surprised with the area’s beauty as they viewed the valley on top of the Santa Rosa range west of the valley, or so the legend goes.

Paradise Valley has always been thought of as an oasis in the solitude of the high desert. Within a few years the small number of Native Americans living there was completely replayed by groups of German farers, Italian stonemasons, Hispanic vaqueros, Chinese laborers, and Basque sheepherders.

By the beginning of 1900 Paradise Valley was thriving. It had two hotels, four mercantile stores, three saloons, three blacksmith shops, a restaurant, a school house, and two churches. The population was now close to 300 people.

Hay and cattle country is where Paradise Valley can be found. Growing season is only about ninety days long because water is scarce. Paradise Valley produces fine hay crops and cows. The foresight of early settlers and ranchers here who created efficient and complex irrigation systems across the cleared fields make this possible.

It can be quite hot in the summers here but the low humidity makes life bearable. In the winters the temperatures are moderate and rarely drop below zero. Most years spring arrives early and summer rains are rare. The winter storms provide the needed water to renew the land from year to year.

Paradise Valley is now a quiet garden spot in the high dessert. It is surrounded by mountains ranging over 10,000 feet and is still dominated by ranching. A few ranchers have subdivided their large holdings are there is some buildings by those who have bought property in the area. This development has developed at a leisurely pace and fits in with the moderate tone of the residents of the area. This unhurried tempo is a valued ingredient for the residents of Paradise Valley. The allure resides in the desire to live off the beaten path and far removed from the frantic pace of city life.

Prominent among the numerous Paradise Valleys throughout the world (a quick Google search suggests there are dozens) is the valley of the upper Yellowstone River in Montana, stretching from the northern border of Yellowstone National Park to Livingston, Montana, the first sizable town on the river.

The name's not hyperbole. Paradise Valley really is just about the prettiest place you can imagine. The surrounding mountains are high and steep, but seem somehow friendly and inviting. The river is clear and swift and the land unmarred by tall buildings. It's an awesome place to be a rancher or retiree and an awful place to be a trout; during much of the summer your typical fishie's diet might consist more of feathered hooks than of actual bugs.

But the valley is also populated by beings far more interesting, and perhaps dangerous, than the typical happy retiree or persecuted trout. On the more benign side of things, Paradise Valley seems to be a magnet for literary eccentrics, and possibly a breeding ground for them. One of the world's foremost students of the pursuit of trout, Richard Brautigan, made his home there for many years. And the precocious fantasist Christopher Paolini, author of a rather silly book about a boy and his pet dragon, grew up and was home-schooled by his parents in the valley.

Unless you happen to run into a rutting elk that decides to try out its newly-grown antlers on you, there's not much in Paradise Valley to pose a threat to the average visitor. Nonetheless, you'd still be well advised to stay away from the local cult ecumenical religious group. The Church Universal and Triumphant owns a large chunk of land in the valley and keeps its global headquarters there. There've been some weird goings-on at the CUT compound - in the late 1980's church members stockpiled weapons and built bomb shelters there, and more recently a prominent former church official killed himself under somewhat odd circumstances. Paoloni's parents were formerly members of the organization, eventually leaving and publishing a book about the authoritarianism and paranoia of its founder, who has since retired.


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