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Eagle Lake Field Office

Buckhorn Backcountry Byway


The Buckhorn Byway meanders 31 miles across the northeastern California and northwestern Nevada landscape of scattered juniper, fields of silver-blue sagebrush, volcanic rock formations, and small valleys. A lingering traveler should observe…..

Wild horses and burros feeding or resting among the sagebrush….

The Byway transects the Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro management area which is managed for 448-758 head of horses and 72-116 head of burros. The horses could be seen throughout the length of the byway. Along the road you will see piles of horse manure. These are called "stud piles" and are used by the herd stallion to mark his territory. Don't let him see you kicking his pile down!

The unique landscape of the Pine Dunes….

The Pine Dunes Research Natural Area (RNA) was designated to protect a unique stand of relic Ponderosa pine trees isolated in a small sand dune habitat. The Pine Dunes have long drawn the interest of people recognizing the uniqueness of this site. The Pine Dunes are located in Lassen County about 17 miles east of Ravendale, California in T 35 N, R16E, Section 25 MDM. The dune area, which derived from an ancient lake bed, is at the eastern edge of the Madeline Plains within the sagebrush community near the western edge of the Great Basin. On April 24, 1986, BLM designated 160 acres of public lands as the Pine Dunes Research Natural Area to provide protection for this grove of pines. Some of the pine and dune community is located on adjacent private land. Since its designation as the Pine Dunes Research Natural Area, the Eagle Lake Field Office area has been working on acquiring the adjacent dune lands where pines grow.

The Eagle Lake Field Office manages the Pine Dunes area based on the management objectives detailed in a 1987 management plan for the Research Natural Area. These objectives include (1) ensuring that the trees and their habitat are protected, (2) ensuring that the area is preserved in its natural state for research and education purposes, and (3) generating interest into scientific research of the area. The area is designated as closed to OHV use however, visitors are welcome to peruse this unique habitat area on foot or horseback.

A variety of water fowl and other wildlife found in and around several wet-season lakes…

Several wet season lakes, such as Pilgrim Lake, Burnt Lake, and Steer Lake are immediately adjacent to the Byway. Don't let the "Lake" part fool you; these are just spots where water collects, but during the wet seasons, especially in the spring, they are home to many species of wildlife. If you are cruising in a high-clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle, don't pass up Buckhorn or Round Corral Reservoirs. These man made water features hold water year round and are also home to a large variety of wildlife.

Herds of antelope and deer….

The habitat surrounding the byway is home to herds of antelope and mule deer so keep your eyes peeled. You have to look close. If you are lucky, an antelope will race you down the road. Make sure they win or you probably won't see another one!

And lots of wide open country.


The Byway traverses many miles of uninhabited country. Consider how the emigrants felt as they traversed the country in a covered wagon. Were they tough or what? Go prepared. Check your vehicle to ensure it is in good operating condition. Carry a spare tire and the appropriate equipment to change it as well as some basic tools. Ensure that you have extra water and food in addition to the blankets and appropriate cloths for the weather.

The Buckhorn Byway is a high-clearance vehicle gravel and dirt road where two-wheel-drive vehicles can operate, but small or large pickup trucks or utility vehicles are recommended. The Byway is open year round, however, wet weather closes it. The best months are from May to November.

In California, the Byway, which is managed by BLM, is 65 miles northeast of Susanville off U. S. 395. From Ravendale travel east on Lassen County Road 502/Marr Road, north on County Road 526, then follow the BLM Buckhorn Byway signs. The Byway begins 16 miles from Ravendale. If coming from the Nevada side, take S.R. 447 north from I-80 to Gerlach, then go approximately 25 miles north on Nevada S. R. 81 and turn left onto the Byway. Watch for signs.


Bureau of Land Management
Eagle Lake Field Office
2950 Riverside Drive
Susanville, CA 96130
Phone: (530) 257-0456
Fax: (530) 257-4831
Office Hours: 7:45 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
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