Sheep Mountain

Inventoried Land with Wilderness Character (LWC) in the Battle Mountain BLM District 30211251243_7e7458dd0b_z.jpg

Current LWC Status: Proposed

Acres: Esmeralda

State Region: West Central

County: 20,966

Managing Agency:
Bureau of Land Management
Battle Mountain District Office
50 Bastian Rd. Battle Mountain, NV 89820
(775) 635-4000

Battle Mountain District BLM Website

Area Description:

This unit lies in the southern Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County, Nevada.  This unit comprises an incredible diversity of landscape, from the dry and parched, Clayton Valley alluvial plains on eastern margins, to the rugged and colorful desert hills in the core of the unit, to the pinion/juniper woodlands in that higher elevations in the north.  Elevations range from 4460 feet in the Clayton Valley to over 9000 feet atop the highest ridge near the northern boundary of the unit.  Sheep Mountain, toward the center of the range towers to nearly 8500 feet and drops away in a series of rugged and colorful cliffs and canyons to the south and shelters the gently rolling, 7000-foot elevation Sheep Flat immediately to the north. This surprising flat also harbors a tiny dry lake bed, which temporarily hold precious warter after heavy storms.    The plant community of this unit is equally diverse with low saltbush vegetation cholla cactus on the lower alluvial fans to low sage brush communities in the mid-elevations levels, to mojave cactus including prickle pear, chollas, and Joshua trees, to cliffrose and big brush sage and grassland communities of the highest elevations.   Several springs can be found within and around the perimeter of the unit and provide vital water for wildlife.  This unit includes a portion of the Pinion-Joshua Transition Natural Area.  This unit also hosts larger animals such as mule deer and big horn sheep. Raptors are plentiful as are rodents and other prey species.

The vast spaces, varied topography, and areas of dense woodland vegetation provide many outstanding opportunities for solitude throughout this unit.  The extremely rugged terrain in the core is comprised of numerous convoluted canyons and ridges offering nearly unlimited opportunities to find secluded spots.  The steep canyons on the east side of the unit rises quickly nearly 4500 feet, multiplying the opportunities of solitude by the presence of steep vertical relief.  The alluvial plains on the east side of the unit offer outstanding opportunities for desert solitude in the empty landscape.  The dense forest in the upper elevations quickly isolate visitors with the solitude of sheltering pinyon and juniper trees.   

This area is not easy to explore, however, nearly every inch of this unit is accessible to the visitor with the determination and skills to traverse trackless wilderness. Birds and wildlife are present as well, providing opportunities for viewing and excellent hunting for skilled backcountry hunters.  Mule deer, bighorn sheep, and chukar are some of the animals available for game.  The area offers outstanding desert hiking and exploration opportunities, including excellent rock scrambling, route finding, and peak bagging. The colorful formations throughout the unit combined with the rugged terrain and steep vertical relief, and cactus plains of the lower elevations create outstanding opportunities for photography, painting and sketching.   This area presents spectacular outstanding vistas at every turn. The nearly 4500 feet of vertical relief creates a rich and outstanding vegetative diversity for nature study.  The area is rich in archaeological resources for visitors to explore and investigate.  Hiking, orienteering, backpacking, rock hounding, bird watching, primitive camping, horseback riding, burro and llama packing, hunting, and general sightseeing complete the possibilities for outstanding opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation within this unit. The steep and rugged terrain of this unit provide visitors with a high degree of challenge. 

This area is also rich in archeological resources.  This unit sits astride the transition zone between the high deserts and the lower Mojave environment, making this unit a crucial laboratory for studying the effects of climate change.  

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