Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area

Services, Getting There

Hikes & Trails

Related Areas

Map Information

Wilderness Area Statusphoto_massacrerim02_bbeffort_96d_400x266.jpg

Wilderness Study Area
Year Designated:

Act or Law:
Acres: 101,290
State Region: Northwest Nevada
County Regions: Washoe   


Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management
Local District: Surprise Field Office
Contact Info: (530) 279-6101
602 Cressler St  Cedarville, CA96104
Visit the website (will open a new window)photo_massacrerim_clouds_gstafford_400.jpg

Area Description

On March 18, 2019, Massacre Rim became just the 7th designated Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world.

Located in far northern Washoe County near the borders with California and Oregon, Massacre Rim is so remote that it has “exceptional quality of starry nights” and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its natural values, criteria necessary to meet the International Dark-Sky Association’s strict standards for a Dark Sky Sanctuary.

The Massacre Rim WSA includes Massacre Rim and all of the Massacre and Bitner benches and their southern slopes. The terrain is rolling and open, with sagebrush and scattered juniper in the western part. Elevations range from 5,520 to 6,780 feet.

Limited vehicle access makes this one of the few places in northwest Nevada where hunting is limited to walking or riding, rather than driving. Hence, higher densities of sage grouse survive here and the mule deer and antelope are often trophy class.

A vast land with room to roam for hikers, riders and campers, with scenic vistas of up to 60 miles. However, water is unreliable. Massacre Rim, a 1,200 foot fault block exposure, dominates the northwest part of this WSA. The spectacular fault scarp stands high above vegetated talus slopes. Red-tailed hawks and prairie falcons soar on high. Several small, spring-fed meadows form islands of green in the rocky, shallow soils.

Cultural resources reflect 10,000 years of human occupancy in the Massacre Lakes Basin. Site types are proposed for excavation, preservation and public interpretation. Some of the sites are eligible for the national Register of Historic Places due to the unique and special research values.

According to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, a majority of this WSA contains critical and irreplaceable habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse. Friends of Nevada Wilderness believes that full wilderness status for this area, and restoration of important lek, nesting and brood-rearing habitat could help stave off a future listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act and help the bird's population to recover.

Sage-Grouse, pygmy rabbits, pronghorn, mule deer, Red-tail Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Golden Eagles, other raptors, songbirds and sage-dependent species.