Petersen Mountain

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Wilderness Area Status

BLM-inventoried Land with Wilderness Character in the Carson City District Resource Management Plan.

Year Designated: 

Act or Law: 
Acres:  16,300
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Washoe 


Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management
Local District: Carson City Field Office
Contact Info: (775) 885-6000
5665 Morgan Hill Rd. Carson City, NV 89701
Visit the website (will open a new window)

Area Description

Petersen Mountain rises up as an ecological island along the border of California and Nevada combining natural systems of both the Sierra Nevada range of the west and the Nevada high desert to the east.   The unique natural environment of Petersen Mountain has already been recognized by the BLM designation of a substantial portion of the area as a “Natural Area.” Financial investments in preserving the natural integrity of this area have involved acquiring parcels and conservation easements for this area including such lands as those privately owned by the Green Gulch Ranch.  Washoe County recognizes the value of the natural integrity of the Petersen Mountain in the comprehensive plan.  The plan states that the Petersen Mountain is “used as critical winter range by local Mule Deer herds and is of particular importance to overall Mule Deer habitat within the planning area.”  The plan also encourages the BLM to keep the area roadless and encourages the BLM to take steps to preserve the natural integrity of the Petersen Mountain Range.  This area provides critical, seasonal habitat for the bi-state deer herds of the region.  

The eastern slopes of the Petersen Mountain rise sharply from lower desert environment characterized by northern sagebrush steppe plant communities.  The steep canyons of the eastern slopes produce numerous springs.  Riparian vegetation grows lush along side these springs and down the short-distant creeks that issue from them.  Willows, aspens, and wildroses offer visitors and wildlife a refreshing respite from the hot deserts just beyond the foot of the range.   Continuing up the eastern slopes, sagebrush, mountain mahogany, and bitterbrush provide important habitat for the Mule Deer.  Ponderosa pine trees can be found in the upper reaches of some of these east-slope canyons.  The western slope of the range rises more gradually in spreading foothills covered with expansive stands of pinion and juniper.   Soon the gradual rolling terrain and the pinion/juniper woodlands yield to the grass and brush of the steep western slope of the range.  The terrain breaks at the summit forming a long sinuous ridgeline of low sagebrush grasslands punctuated with wildflowers and annual herbaceous plants like mule-ears.  This magnificent mountain range provides food and sanctuary for mule deer, antelope, golden eagles, rabbits, rodents, and ever-changing populations of migrating birds. 

Traveling the summit of the range offers spectacular vistas of the surrounding valleys and distant mountains. Standing atop the mountain and observing the scattered ranches in the valleys below gives the feeling of separation and immersion into a different place governed by only by nature. The long, high-elevation Solitude Valley just below the highpoint of the mountain provides and outstanding opportunity to vanish into a seclude world. This area offers outstanding opportunities to achieve solitude and seclusion within its remote canyons, ubiquitous rock formations, and the sheer scale of this magnificent mountain. Despite being easily accessible from urban Reno, the solitude of the Petersen Mountain offers the song of silence accompanied by the harmony of nature: dried Mule Ears rattling in the breeze like a small flowing stream; the distant cry of a redtail hawk soaring effortlessly over the crest; the whispers of wind fretting among the rocks. 

Click Here to see more photographs of Petersen Mountain and explore this unit on Google Earth (will open a new window).

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