Red Spring Wilderness Study Area

Services, Getting There:

Hikes & Trails:

Related Areas: 

Cedar Ridge WSA 2 miles south; Ruby Mountain Wilderness 10 miles east

Atlas Information:

redspring13_03_PylesJ.jpgWilderness Area Status

Wilderness Study Area
Year Designated: 

Act or Law: 

Acres: 7847 
State Region: Northeast Nevada
County Regions: Elko   


Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management
Local District: Elko Field Office
Contact Info: (775) 753-0200
3900 East Idaho Street  Elko, NV89801
Visit the website (will open a new window)

Area Description

The core of the unit consists mostly of one long ridge, extending north and south throughout the area.  The topography of this ridge is controlled by geological units dipping eastward, and as such both the east and west sides differ in character.  The east side of this ridge is very gradual and rolling, and much of the WSA sits along this terrain.  The west side offers a dramatic and steep slope, capped by cliffs and often taller hills.  The highest peaks of this ridge sit in the northwestern portion of the WSA, while the southern regions tend to be lower in elevation.  There are also several linear ridges with interesting rock outcrops and cliffs along the southwest corner of the area.  There is little water throughout the area and few canyons or even washes are present.  The exception to this is within the northwest portion where Red Spring exists, providing a small amount of water to an otherwise parched desert land.  The highpoint is a nonchalant 6400 ft knob directly south of Red Spring. Views from here stretch from Elko in the north, to the impressive Ruby Mountains in the east to the Diamond Range in the south to the Piñon Range in the east. Overall, the terrain in this area is low in relief and rolling.  The Red Spring WSA presents archaeological values, natural values, and fragile geological structure. The area encompasses a group of low hills covered in open Utah juniper woodland on fragile clay and sediment soils. A thin limestone layer is present in some areas. Fossils lie scattered on many clay hillsides throughout the WSA.

Prickly pear cacti can be seen on some south facing slopes. Wildfire has ravaged much of the area in recent and distant history, but the landscape that is growing back is a testament to the natural forces of succession. In the recently burned areas in the south, rabbitbrush, bitterbrush, low sage and grasses are beginning to grow where the juniper forest has been burnt away.



Mule deer, pronghorn antelope, Coopers hawk, nighthawk, horned lark, sagebrush lizard, desert horned lizard and coyote call this wilderness study area their home. The most noteworthy geological feature is near the western boundary, where natural forces have eroded the hillsides, revealing many layers of history beneath a thin, failing crust of limestone. These undercut cliffs are roughly 20 ft high and include a variety of subtle coloring. Swallows nest in holes and crevices. Healthy old growth juniper stands surround the cliffs. A short wilderness ramble in this area reveals an intriguing glimpse into the past.