Sheep Range Proposed Wilderness


Services, Getting There

Hikes & Trails:

Joe May Trail

Wagon Wheel Trail

Hidden Forest Trail

Sawmill Canyon Trail

Pine Nut Trail

Dead Horse Trail

Pine Canyon Trail

Old Corn Creek Road Trail

Related Areas:

Map Information

Wilderness Area Status                        

Agency Proposed Area                                         
Year Designated:

Act or Law:
Acres: 462,965
State Region: Southern Nevada
County Regions: Clark/Lincoln 


Managing Agency: Fish and Wildlife Service
Local District: Desert National Wildlife Refuge
Contact Info: (702) 879-6110
160001 Corn Creek Rd  Las Vegas, NV89124

Refuge Visitor Information
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Area Description

The massive Sheep Range Proposed Wilderness is one of the most topographically and ecologically diverse wilderness areas in the country.  The stunning exposed limestone-spine of the range creates dramatic walls and every changing colors as the hours, weather, and seasons change.  Managed and protected as wilderness since 1974, this area is unique in providing the visitor with the ability to experience, uninterrupted by human modification, the full spectrum of the seven life-zones that characterize the area.  These diverse habitats host approximately 320 bird species, 53 mammal species, 35 reptile species, and four amphibian species.  The varied elevations and climate support nearly 500 plant species.  

The Saltbrush Community populates the saline valleys surrounding the area with salt tolerant vegetation This community is found in the lowest reaches of the proposed wilderness.  These hot and dry valleys see temperatures to 117 degrees in the summer and can sustain ephemeral pools of water after rare, extreme precipitation events.   From 2,400-3,600 feet, the Creosote Bush Community dominates the area featuring Mojave yucca, bursage, and range ratney. This scrubland community sees less than 5" of rain per year.  Joshua Tree Woodlands add mysterious forms across the landscape in elevations ranging from 3,000-5,000 feetThe Blackbrush Community, characterized by various species of yucca, Mormon tea, and cholla cactus, intermixes with the Joshua trees above 4,200 feet.  Above 5,000 feet, the Joshua trees thin-out and the Blackbrush Community dominates on steep rolling hills, a region typified by shallow soils.  In a narrow zone at an elevation of 6000 feet, scattered Joshua trees briefly intermix with the lowest reaches of the Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. Above 6,000 feet the open-canopy Pinyon-Juniper Woodland sees precipitation from 10–15" per year.   Much of this precipitation falls as snow.  From 7,500 to 9,000 feet, reclusive Pine-Fir Forests develop closed-canopy in canyons and on northeast facing slopes where snows rain linger and the rains are more frequent.  Ponderosa pines and white fir characterize these forests.  Upon the highest summits of the Sheep Range were elevations reach nearly 10,000 feet, conditions become extreme.  From multiple days of sub-freezing winter temperatures to long and dry sun-irradiated summer days, only bristlecone pine trees survive.  These enduring trees are the crowning glory to the extreme diversity of terrain and ecosystems found in the Sheep Range proposed wilderness.  The persistence of bristlecone pines in the face of adversity is an appropriate symbol of resistance against the challenges and threats that have plagued the natural integrity of the Sheep Range since it was first protected as a National Wildlife refuge in 1936. 

The Sheep Range proposed wilderness offers outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation and solitude.  An extensive trial system provides access into the deepest heart of this magnificent wilderness.  Many of the trailheads of this trail system lie at the end of challenging, cherry-stem roads that provide access to many of the most scenic areas for those not able to hike or backpack.   Beyond the cherry-stem roads and established trails, 463,000 acres of unexplored and untracked wilderness beckon to visitors with the skills, stamina, and determination to explore deep-wilderness. 


Wildlife: desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, kit fox, collared lizard, mountain lion, roadrunner, king snake, desert tortoise