Sarcobatus North, South & East

Inventoried Land with Wilderness Character (LWC) in the Battle Mountain BLM District30729847622_8793c8c793_z.jpg

Current LWC Status: Proposed

Acres: North: 40,087

           South: 42,200

           East: 17,198

State Region: West Central

County:  Esmeralda

Managing Agency

Bureau of Land Management

Battle Mountain District Office

50 Bastian Rd. Battle Mountain, NV 89820

(775) 635-4000

Battle Mountain District BLM Website

Area Description:

The three units of Sarcobatus lie in the southern Esmeralda County, Nevada, approximately 20 miles north of Beatty. 

Sarcobatus North is comprised, almost entirely, of an alkaline flat.  The exception is the 500 foot tall Coba Mountain ridged crossing diagonally through the southern portion of the unit.  Coba Mountain is comprised of recent basalt volcanic formation and stand dark-black in stunning contrast to the bleached silt of the remainder of the unit.  The northern portion of the unit has a dependable spring on the boundary. This low-lying unit is characterized by sparse communities of Grease wood (for which the unit is named), hop-sage, salt grass, rabbit brush, blackbrush, and, around the springs, cattails.  Rabbits, rodents and reptiles form the dominate fauna of the region.  Seasonally, migrating song birds pass through the unit and ravens and raptors can be seen occasional exploring the thermals and dust devils rising from the playa.  Wild burros can often be seen in the area as well.  

The vast, open landscape of this unit is misleading to the external observer.  This broad, flat playa quickly swallows-up a visitor on foot and within 15 minutes of walking he/she would be completely alone and isolated in the vast magnitude of this 40,000-acre unit.  The playa core of this unit offers outstanding opportunities for desert-style solitude.  In contrast to the abrupt 500 foot wall on the west side of the Coba Ridge, the east side of the ridge descends more gently. On the eastern side of the widest part of the ridge, water courses have created a half-dozen maze-like drainage systems that afford explorers with opportunities to find secluded spots. 

Sarcobatus East is comprised, of alluvium and rugged rhyolite and basalt covered hills.  Elevations in this unit vary from 4000 feet on the edge of the Sarcobatus Flat playa to 4950 feet atop Springdale Mountain.  This unit is characterized by sparse communities of greasewood, hop-sage, salt grass, rabbit brush, and blackbrush. 

Sarcobatus South is comprised entirely of a vast alluvial plain stretching from the silt and play of Sacrobatus Flat up a bajada of dissecting drainages twisting down from the Grapevine Mountains.  Low relief characterizes this unit with an elevation change of only 460 feet.  The lowest portion of the unit is at the northern most part at 3960 feet while the highest part is in the southwest corner at an elevation of 4424 feet.  Generally the enormous bajada forming this unit slopes down toward the east and tips slightly to the north.  Despite the low relief of this unit, the convoluted drainage channels crossing the unit formed by flashflooding has carved channels 15 to 20 feet deep. The lowest elevation of this unit is comprised by sparse communities of greasewood , hop-sage, salt grass, rabbit brush, and blackbrush.  As the unit slowly rises toward the southwest, the soils become less alkali and the vegetation transforms into classic Mojave 

The Sarcobatus units offer outstanding opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation. Nearly every inch of this unit is accessible to the visitor with the determination and skills to traverse trackless wilderness. Birds and wildlife are present as well, providing opportunities for viewing. The area offers outstanding desert hiking and exploration opportunities, including limited rock scrambling, route finding, and peak bagging in the Coba Ridge area. The wide-open nature and stark-white playa of this unit create outstanding opportunities for photography, painting and sketching.   The views within the unit are spectacular, whether one is looking at the grand, wide landscape stretching off into the surrounding wild areas, focused on the minutia of the mud cracks in the playa surface, or looking at the convoluted, mid-ground of miniature formations created by the action of moving water on mud over small variations in the terrain of this dry lake bottom.  When the breezes are light, the expansive playa and silt of this unit spawn dozens of dust devils. Watching these enigmatic, ephemeral phenomena provides a pleasant past-time and creates outstanding opportunities for photography, video, and dust-devil chasing. Hiking, orienteering, backpacking, rock hounding, bird watching, primitive camping, horseback riding, burro and llama packing, and general sightseeing complete the possibilities for outstanding opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation within this unit. 

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