What's Out There?

Honoring Native Land

The Clan Alpine Mountains Wilderness has been part of the traditional lifeways and cultural landscape of the Nuumu and Newe people for countless generations.      



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Natural History

Tertiary volcanic rocks make up more than 97 percent of the exposed bedrock within the Clan Alpine Mountains. This sequence of rocks is dominated by two thick rhyolitic to quartz-latitic ash-flow tuff units, each representing a separate stage of caldera-forming volcanic activity. Following intense deformation of Mesozoic rocks (principally Triassic siltstone and carbonate) deposited earlier, in Middle Jurassic time, coupled with limited granitic plutonism, voluminous volcanic activity affected the area now exposed within the Wilderness. These rocks have been variously folded and affected by intra-unit thrust faults and normal faults. The easternmost exposure of the igneous complex of Humboldt is in the northern part of the Clan Alpine Mountains. The northern part of the range consists of about 1,650 ft of well-stratified ash-flow tuffs, and the southern part contains a 10,000- to 16,500-ft assemblage of lava flows, domes, ash-flow tuffs, and volcaniclastic beds.

Exposed within the Clan Alpine Mountains Wilderness are Triassic siltstone; Tertiary basalt, andesite, dacite, rhyolite flows and intrusive bodies, and thick accumulations of ash-flow tuff that are related to two caldera complexes within the study area; and Quaternary alluvium and landslide deposits. Some of the volcanic rocks have been dated and range in age from 35 million-years-old for an andesite flow near Byers Canyon to 22 million-years-old for an intrusive rhyolite exposed in War Canyon. The informally named ash-flow tuff of Railroad Ridge, approximately 25 million-years-old, is overlain by a basalt flow that is presumed to be the youngest volcanic unit in the wilderness study area. The age of the basalt, between 10 and 16 million-years-old, is based upon correlation of this lava with lava flows of equivalent stratigraphic position in ranges to the east.

Mule deer, mountain lion, desert bighorn sheep, sage grouse, golden eagle and prairie falcon may been here. Archeological evidence shows that the ancestral Nuumu and Newe people hunted desert bighorn sheep in the Clan Alpine Mountains over 7,000 years ago.  Desert bighorn sheep were extirpated by poaching and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep which grazed the area until the 1940s. In 1986, desert bighorn sheep were successfully introduced back into the range. Horse Creek and Cherry Creek support trout fisheries. The steep cliffs and deep canyons provide thermals, up-drafts, and nesting sights for a multitude raptors.

The dominant vegetation types of the Clan Alpine Mountains Wilderness are pinyon-juniper woodland and Great Basin sagebrush communities. Stands of singleleaf pinyon pine and Utah juniper are found throughout the area. Some aspen, willow and cottonwood trees are found in canyon bottoms and small stands of mountain mahogany are scattered just below timberline. Other areas of the Wilderness are covered with sage brush and other shrub community species. Mountain mahogany, a relatively unique vegetative type, and isolated spring-fed meadows lend diversity to the Wilderness ridgelines.