High Rock Lake


Named for High Rock Lake located in its northwest corner, this Wilderness area has been shaped by swirling waters for millennia. Look out across the dramatic landscape from the historic Applegate-Lassen Trail to the north and let your imagination soar, as those of 19th century emigrants headed west must have.

Wilderness Reference Map

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About the High Rock Lake Wilderness Area

Much of the High Rock Lake Wilderness Area’s 59,094 acres consists of large mesa that slants to the east. The northern portion of the Calico Mountains also falls within its boundaries.

Elevation ranges from 4,000 feet to 7,000 feet across the area, with scattered vegetation of saltbrush and sagebrush supporting mule deer, pronghorn antelope, wild horses, and sage grouse.

High Rock Lake itself was created about 14,000 years ago after a large rockslide closed the original outlet to High Rock and Little High Rock canyons. Once the lake had filled, the overflowing waters cut a new path, creating Fly Canyon, a narrow, rim bound canyon that emptied into the prehistoric Lake Lahontan – what is today known as Soldier Meadows. Currently High Rock Lake is a dry lakebed.

Today the silence of Fly Canyon is broken only by the hushed whispers of trickling water or the occasional croak of a frog from deep within a stagnant pool.

Filled with surprising grottoes and unusual “potholes” formed by a swirling stream, Fly Canyon is a great choice for an unforgettable day hike, though you’ll need ropes and technical climbing skills if you want to traverse its entire length.

Other major canyons in the area also offer excellent day hiking and backpacking opportunities as well.

Along the northern boundary road of High Rock Lake, you can pick up the historic Applegate-Lassen Emigrant Trail. From there, you will see essentially the same landscape that 19th century settlers on their way to Oregon and California saw.

Hunting for deer, antelope, bighorn and chukar is popular in the area. As in other Wilderness Areas, the rugged dirt boundaries are excellent for four-wheel driving and mountain biking.

High Rock Lake Wildlife

  • Snowy Plover
  • American Avocet
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Sagebrush Vole
  • Sage Sparrow
  • Sage Thrasher
  • Sagebrush Lizard
  • Common Side-blotched Lizard
  • Western Fence Lizard
  • Skilton
  • Mountain Lion

How to Get to High Rock Lake Wilderness

The High Rock Lake Wilderness is located in western Humboldt County.

The best access to this Wilderness is located from Soldier Meadows Road (Humboldt County Road 200), which forms the eastern boundary of the Wilderness.

The western part of the Wilderness can be accessed from Washoe County Road 34 and High Rock Lake Road (high clearance 4-wheel drive recommended).