Quinn River

Black Rock Desert


Walk in the footsteps of wooly mammoths and saber tooth tigers in the Black Rock Desert Wilderness, a landscape that still exists on a prehistoric scale.  If you’re looking to do some hiking, or simply find some solitude, the Black Rock Desert Wilderness can offer you that and more.

Wilderness Reference Map

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About the Black Rock Desert Wilderness

The Black Rock Desert Wilderness extends over 314,829 acres, running about 40 miles long north to south and 20 miles wide east to west, making it the largest Wilderness Area managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The Wilderness encompasses the eastern arm of the Black Rock Desert playa, one of the flattest areas in the Black Rock region and is one of the largest, virtually undeveloped desert valley floors in the United States.  If you’re seeking solitude, this is a remarkable place to truly get away from it all.

This area was once the site of the prehistoric Lake Lahontan, and the remains of several wooly mammoths and a saber tooth tiger, believed to have been trapped in the ancient lake’s muddy shoreline, have been discovered.

When it was designated a Wilderness, it added a rare ecosystem to the National Wilderness Preservation System.  Here you will find a wide, dry alkali valley, scattered with vegetation of saltbrush, greasewood, and sagebrush that create an unusual mosaic pattern of cover.

Although the area is virtually flat, the western edge rises in elevation to 5,931 feet on top of Elephant Mountain, where you can get spectacular views of the wilderness. When it flows, the Quinn River meanders through the wilderness and eventually flows and disperses onto the west arm of the Black Rock Desert.

The rugged dirt routes that form the boundaries of the Wilderness make for excellent four-wheel driving and mountain biking.

Black Rock Desert Wildlife

  • American Avocet
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Notostraca Shield Shrimp
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Semi-palmated Plover
  • Snowy Plover
  • Fairy Shrimp
  • Cinammon Teal
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Desert Horned Lizard
  • Dark Kangaroo Mouse
  • Ord
  • Mountain lion

How to Get to the Black Rock Desert

The Wilderness is located in western Humboldt County.  Drive 53 miles west from Winnemucca on Jungo Road, Humboldt County Road 55, to the historic town site of Sulphur, and then drive north along the Sulphur /Jackson Road, BLM Road 2049, which forms the eastern boundary of the Wilderness.

The Black Rock Desert Wilderness can also be reached by taking the Leonard Creek Road, Humboldt County Road 214 and 216, south from Highway 140.