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Black Rock Desert Wilderness

Photo of Black Rock Desert wilderness area

The Wilderness is located in western Humboldt County and can be accessed by driving 53 miles west from Winnemucca on Jungo Road to the historic town site of Sulphur and then driving north along the Sulphur /Jackson Road which forms the eastern boundary of the Wilderness. The Wilderness can also be reached by taking the Leonard Creek Road south from Highway 140.  
The Black Rock Desert Wilderness, which encompass the eastern arm of the Black Rock Desert playa is the largest Wilderness managed by the Bureau of Land Management (covering 314,829 acres). The wilderness is also one of the flattest areas in the Black Rock region.  This area contains the remains of the prehistoric Lake Lahontan and is a wide, dry alkali valley. Scattered vegetation of saltbrush, greasewood and sage brush create an unusual mosaic pattern of cover throughout the wilderness. When it flows, the Quinn River meanders through the wilderness and eventually flows onto the west arm of the Black Rock Desert. Although the area is virtually flat, the western edge rises in elevation to 5,931 feet on top of Elephant Mountain, which allows for spectacular views of the wilderness. 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. Reptile species, such as lizards, desert horned toads and snakes make their home within the wilderness. The Black Rock Desert has long been recognized as an outstanding place to find solitude
Recreational Opportunities

The area provides for excellent dayhiking opportunities.  Rugged dirt routes that form the boundaries of the Wilderness provide excellent four-wheel driving and mountain biking opportunities.  During years with a heavy snowpack visitors have floated the Quinn River with kayaks through the Black Rock Desert. Floating the river involves hiking your boat out to the nearest road once the river sinks into the desert surface.

Map Index graphic for the Black Rock Desert wildernessClick here for a map of the Black Rock Desert Wilderness area (1.9 Mb pdf).