Desatoya Mountains Wilderness Study Area

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Wilderness Area Status

Wilderness Study Area
Year Designated:

Act or Law:
Acres: 51402
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Churchill   


Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management
Local District: Carson City Field Office
Contact Info: (775) 885-6000
5665 Morgan Mill Road  Carson City, NV89701
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Area Description

The Desatoya Mountains WSA is rugged; many peaks and ridges rise above 9,000 feet. Deep-cut canyons on the west side contain fascinating rock formations and riparian communities. East of the ridgeline the terrain is more rolling with many drainages.

Elevations range from 5,400 to 9,973 feet (Desatoya Peak). Outstanding views stretch eastward toward the Shoshone and Toiyabe Ranges and westward to the Clan Alpine, Stillwater and Sierra Nevada Ranges.

Wildlife such as mountain lion, mule deer, gray fox, sage grouse, red-tailed hawk, golden eagle and pika can be seen here. Cutthroat trout are present in Edwards and Smith Creeks; and brook trout are found in Big Dens Creek. Desert bighorn sheep were reintroduced in 1986. Wild horses range the WSA.

Scenic canyons, ridges and rock outcrops are present throughout the WSA. The Big Dens and Willow Creek areas are well known for their scenic quality. Hiking and camping, hunting and riding, and cross-country skiing are good here. Nearly a dozen intermittent streams and 11 perennial streams water the area.

The Cold Springs Pony Express station (1860-61) is located just outside the WSA. An Overland Stage station ruins is found on the Edwards Creek boundary road. Woodcarvings made by Basque sheepherders on aspen trees during the early 1900s can still be seen in some drainages. Lithic scatters, evidence of early native inhabitants, are present on many small knolls throughout the area. Fifteen aboriginal and four historic sites have been identified

This Wilderness Study Area is a component of the Bureau of Land Management's National Conservation Lands.