Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area

Wilderness Area Information

The Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-554), signed into law December 20, 2000, designated about 751,844 acres of public land managed by BLM as Wilderness.

Black Rock-High Rock Area Wildernesses

The Bureau of Land Management manages wilderness areas to:
 
Provide for the long term protection and preservation of the area’s natural condition, opportunities for solitude, opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation, and any ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical values present in the area.
 
Perpetuate for present and future generations a long-standing system of high quality Wilderness Areas that represent the diverse natural ecosystems found in the National Wilderness System.
 
Provide for public use and enjoyment in a manner that will leave the area unimpaired for future use and enjoyment of the area as wilderness.
 
Maintain plants and animals native to the area by protecting complete communities of plant and animal life along with healthy watershed condition.
 
Provide habitat to protect threatened endangered plant and animal species.
 
Maintain the primitive character of the wilderness as a bench mark for comparison with lands that have
been developed.
 
Allowable Uses of Wilderness
Wilderness Areas provide for numerous recreation opportunities including; hiking backpacking, nature study, horsepacking, hunting, rock climbing, rockhounding, cross-country skiing, primitive camping, photography, or just enjoying the views and the solitude.
 
Activities that impact the wilderness characteristics of naturalness, opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation are not permitted, these include; using motorized or mechanical transport, motorized equipment, landing of aircraft, or constructing permanent structures. Mountain bikes and game carriers are considered to be forms of mechanical transport and are not permitted in wilderness. Wheel chairs are permitted in wilderness.
 
Exceptions to prohibited activities may be granted for some administrative uses, including wildfire suppression or search and rescue operations.
 
Livestock grazing may continue in wilderness areas where it occurred prior to the area being designated. Mining may also continue on valid existing mineral claims.
 

Hunting Wilderness Areas provide excellent opportunities for primitive hunting experiences. Fishing and hunting regulations are subject to change. Check with Nevada Division of Wildlife for regulations (775) 423-3171.

The creation or construction of permanent blinds in wilderness areas and wilderness study areas is not allowed (43 CFR 6302.20(f) and IMP Handbook H-8550-1, Chapter I.B.2. and 3.). However, portable or “pop-up” blinds may be temporarily allowed for hunting, photography, wildlife observation and similar purposes for a period of fourteen (14) days if they are packed or carried in and out and do not require the disturbance or destruction of native soil, rock, or vegetation.

Portable and “pop-up” blinds must be attended or occupied at least some portion of a ten day period within the 14 day period of use. If blinds are not attended or occupied for 10 days, they will be considered unattended property and/or permanent structures and will be subject to removal by the BLM (43 CFR 8365.1-2(b)) and subject to disposition under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended (40 U.S.C. 484(m)).
It is suggested that anyone who packs or carries a portable or “pop-up” blind into a wilderness or wilderness study area affix to the blind his or her name, address, phone number, the date the blind was placed, and the dates the blind will be unattended or unoccupied.
  
Motorized Access

Over 800 miles of roads remain open to motorized use in the in the Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area. Many of these roads form the boundaries for the ten Wilderness Areas. Besides the boundary roads, 33 “vehicle access routes” exist that provide access to areas within the wilderness. These “vehicle access routes" are identified with these signs.  

Routes that are within the wilderness boundaries and are closed to motorized use should be identified with a wilderness boundary post. BLM strives to maintain the boundary signing along the Wilderness Areas, but it is the visitor’s responsibility to know where the boundaries are.  
 
Traveling and Safety

The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus a little common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable wilderness trip.

Climate and Special Equipment Needs

The area has a typical climate of the Great Basin; hot summers with temperatures over 100 degrees F and cold winters with temperatures often below 20 degrees F. Although some of the canyons contain perennial streams and springs, they should not be relied on as a source of water and a sufficient amount of water should be carried. Because the area has poor cell phone coverage the only reliable form of communication is by satellite phone. Access roads in the area are very rough and visitors should have high clearance four wheel drive vehicles with extra gas and two spare tires.
 
Driving Be sure your vehicle is in good condition. Check your tires, including spare. Carrying two spare tires is strongly suggested. Always carry a shovel, fire extinguisher, jack, tools and extra gasoline. Isolation of these areas makes emergency response very slow and difficult. Check with local BLM agency for road condition and current regulations of the area.
 
Travel with a companion. You don’t want to be by yourself in case of an emergency. Tell someone where and when you are going, when you expect to return, and how many individuals are in your party.
 
Be in good physical condition. Set a comfortable pace as you hike. A group trip should be designed for the weakest member of the group.
 
Think about your footing while traveling near cliffs and rock formations
 
Wear appropriate clothing for the time of year.
 
Check your equipment. Keep your equipment in good working order. Inspect it before your trip; do not wait until you are at the trailhead.
 
Be weather wise. Keep an eye on current and predicated weather conditions. In this area the weather can change very quickly. Know the signs for approaching storms or changing weather conditions. Avoid bare ridge tops, exposed places, lone trees, streams and rocks during lightning storms and watch for flash floods. Even in the summer, exposure to wind and rain can result in hypothermia. Call ahead and check road conditions.
 
Fire and Lightning Lightning can start wildland fires which move rapidly. Call 775-623-3444 to report a wildfire.
 
Learn Basic First Aid so you will know how to identify and treat injuries and illnesses. Carry first aid kit you. Learn how to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, and dehydration, and know how to treat them.
 
Think before you drink! No matter how clean and pure stream water looks, it’s likely to contain waterborne parasites and microorganisms that can cause discomfort and sometimes serious illness. Pack your water in, or purify through chemical treatments or water filters.
 
Hazards
In and around Hot Springs & Mines on public lands stay out and stay alive.
 
Leave No Trace.
 
Plan Ahead and Prepare schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Visit in small groups. Call the Winnemucca or Surprise Field Office to check on current conditions prior to visiting the area.
 
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces Durable surfaces include established campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, snow, or dry washes and lake beds (if the threat of flash floods is low). Camp at least 300 feet from lakes and streams. Be considerate of others and camp away from trails and other visitors.
 
Dispose of Waste Properly Pack it in pack it out. Inspect your campsite for trash or spilled food. Deposit solid human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water. Use small amounts of biodegradable soap.
 
Leave What You Find Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
 
Minimize Campfire Impacts Use a lightweight stove for cooking and a candle lantern for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings or fire pans. Burn wood and coals to ash, put out campfire completely, then scatter cool ashes.
 
Minimize Horse Impacts Tether horses with hobbles, highlines using tree saver straps or portable ties and fences. Tether stock at least 400 feet away from trails and water sources. Pack in processed feed such as pellets, crimped grain or weed-seed free hay.
 

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