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Santa Rosa-Paradise Peak Wilderness

Wilderness Area Status

Designated Wilderness Area
Year Designated: 1989

Act or Law: Nevada Wilderness Protection Act of 1989
Acres: 32020
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Humboldt   


Managing Agency: Forest Service
Local District: Santa Rosa Ranger District
Contact Info: (775) 623-5025
1200 Winnemucca Blvd  Winnemucca, NV89445
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Area Description

The Santa Rosa-Paradise Peak Wilderness takes in a small slice of the high-desert Santa Rosa Mountains 30 miles north of Winnemucca off of State Hwy 95 in northern Nevada.

The Santa Rose Mountains loom above the Quinn and Paradise River Valleys and are an important watershed. Small streams flow out of high basins where snow lingers most years until July. In late spring and early summer, ephermeal lakes abound.

Prominent peaks are Santa Rosa, Paradise and Singas peaks. Santa Rosa-Paradise Peak Wilderness is a different sort of wilderness - without lakes, alpine meadows, or large coniferous forests - but quietly spectacular with its rugged granitic rock formations, abundant spring wildflowers, and wide, sweeping basins above pockets of aspen. It is characteristic of much of the Basin and Range country of northern Nevada.

The lower slopes support shrub species including sagebrush, rabbitbrush, service berry and bitterbrush, plus native grasses and forbs. The upper basin supports large groves of aspen. Ceanothus, snowberry and aspen dominate the high basins while mountain mahogany prefers wouth facing ridges. Limber pine grow on the windswept rocky north-facing slopes. Wild roses, currants, choke cherries, elderberries, willows, cottonwood and aspen grow along the streams. In late spring and early summer, wildflowers bloom - yellow violets, Monks hood, Lupine, red columbine, Indian paintbrush, balsamroot, Sego lily, phlox and penstemon.

The wilderness is a haven for wildlife. It supports a large herd of mule deer, and California bighorn sheep were reintroduced in the Peterman and Rock Creek drainages. Mountain lions and bobcats are also elusive occupants of the area. Marmots, mountain and western bluebirds, along with raptors including golden eagles and red-tailed hawks, can be seen in the rocky basins. Upland game birds including sage grouse and chukar partridge occupy low age sites and associated riparian zones. The cold, steep-gradient streams support brook, rainbow and threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout.

It is named for St. Rose of Lima, the first person in the Americas to be named a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Paradise Peak is derived from the exclamation of early pioneer W.B. Buff. When he saw the peak towering above the valley, he said, "What a paradise!" The name Paradise Peak was added to the name to distinguish it from the Santa Rosa Wilderness in California.

Highly erosive granitic soils are found over much of the Santa Rosas. The high ridge forms into three prominent peaks with gentle hills, flats and saddles in between. Phyllite outcrops and vertical walls dominate the lower reaches of westside canyons; higher up they are replaced by granite ridges. The eastern slope has broader canyon bottoms with less well defined ridges between drainages that are dotted with stony white monuments of granite.

Wildlife: Mule Deer, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Violet-green Swallow, Rock Wren, Bushtit, Mountain Lion, Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, California Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Vole, Greater Sage-grouse

The Santa Rosa Wilderness is a pearl of green, north of Winnemucca, Nevada.  (c) Pete Dronkers

Arrowleaf balsamroot blooming high in the Santa Rosa Range.  (c) Pete Dronkers

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