Services, Getting There
Supplies: Lovelock is about 36 miles to the east
Hikes & Trails
Benchmark Gazetteer, pages 36, 37.
Wilderness Area Status
Lands with Wilderness Characteristics
Proposed - Take Action NOW to protect Fencemaker
Act or Law:
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Pershing
Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management Local District: Winnemucca Field Office Contact Info: (775) 623-1500 5100 East Winnemucca Boulevard Winnemucca , NV89445 Visit the website (will open a new window)
The north end of the Stillwater Range defines the western half of The Fencemaker LWC. The eastern half is comprised of the low, rolling Sou Hills. A long arid, alluvial valley comprises the central portion of the unit. The rugged Fencemaker Ridge contains the high point of the unit at nearly 7300 feet. The low point of the unit, at 3700 feet, can be found on the east side of the unit where the arid and colorful Sou Hills border with Dixie Valley.
Sagebrush is prevalent throughout the area, mingling with the pinion-juniper forests and present at all but the LWC’s lowest elevations. In the lowest elevations, sagebrush is replaced by hearty desert shrubs: greasewood, saltbush, grasses, and others. On the eastern side of the unit, the Sou Hills are dominated by such vegetation, which clings to what little moisture may be available. Here, the sparse vegetation makes the geology of these hills much more apparent and visible. The eroded and convoluted Sou Hills provide a striking contrast to the higher elevations of the unit. Here, the striking colors of the volcanic rocks and soils are laid bare, creating a fanciful landscape of maze-like canyons and surprising rock formations. Pockets of color dot the hillsides, created by red, yellow, purple, and brown variations in the rock. Occasional patches of colorful desert pavement provides rock hounds with the opportunity of finding stones and pebble in many hues and in a multitude of shapes. These rolling hills are reminiscent of Death Valley or the Painted Desert in Arizona.
The gray limestone on the western side of the area creates a dramatic topography. Huge cliffs tower above the Buena Vista Valley and several deep canyons cut deep into the Stillwater Range. The most pronounced of these, Grayson Canyon, offers a scenic route of passage from the area’s west slope. This canyon is marked by tall cliffs and strange rock formations, a rugged landscape indeed. On the eastern slope of the Stillwaters topographic relief is larger, and the mountains form an imposing wall from the floor of Dixie Valley. While there is only one named canyon, Old Man Canyon, this side is also cut by several deep and scenic clefts. These mountains are rugged and diverse, offering an array of exploration potential and plenty of natural value.
Wildlife is plentiful throughout the LWC, including most animals which commonly roam the Great Basin. Antelope can be spotted throughout the foothills and flats, both solitarily and in larger herds. Mule deer hide throughout the hills, and the rocky terrain of this region provides an excellent habitat for desert bighorn. Large rams can be seen in lower elevations when they frequent the springs. In addition, this area is certainly home to predators, including bobcats, coyotes, and the elusive mountain lion. Rugged terrain creates an excellent habitat for such creatures, providing numerous small shelters and caves for dens. The area’s undisturbed forest would provide plenty of shelter and an escape for these wild beasts as well. The unit is also full of numerous birds, reptiles, and rodents. Many cliffs and rocks provide nesting grounds for large predatory birds, and an excellent habitat for snakes and lizards. Jackrabbits and cottontails, a fixture in the great basin, are also prevalent here. This is an excellent and relatively undisturbed natural habitat for many wild creatures.
Recreation opportunities are plentiful here, and span a wide range of activities and interests. These mountains offer expansive terrain for exploration and hiking, numerous scenic vistas, canyon routes, and pleasant lunch spots. An open pinyon-juniper forest covers the higher elevation providing shade and cover from wildlife and primitive recreation hikers. Some of the area’s less rugged terrain would also be well suited for horseback riding and horsepacking, with similarly pleasant routes and destinations. The unit is rich in opportunities for hunting and sport, with ample wildlife spread across the region. Wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and photography are also potential recreation activities that this place would facilitate well. In addition, rugged terrain and steep cliffs provide opportunities for rock climbing, scrambling, and other play. The limestone of these mountains is tough and structurally sound, creating a natural playground that invites users to explore it.
Take Action: The proposed Fencemaker Wilderness is part of the seven proposed wilderness areas outlined in the Pershing County Economic Development and Conservation Act. Sign the petition to gain permanent protection for the Fencemaker Wilderness! Read more about the campaign here.
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