Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area is spread over a huge area of California as well as Nevada. It covers Washoe County in Nevada with over 76,177 acres of BLM-land and the Lassen County in California with over 18,100 acres. This WSA falls under the umbrella of a larger network of wilderness areas including Buffalo Hills WSA, Twin Peaks WSA, Poodle Mountain WSA, and Skedaddle WSA.
The Wilderness Study Area (WSA) was named after a huge rocky rim, that watches over the western Great Basin. While 94,308 acres of the WSA is under the management of Bureau of Land Management, a little part of it (338 acres) is privately owned.
While Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area receives frequent adventurers, about 20 miles of it north to south is for the most part untouched and untainted by human presence.
The principal feature of the WSA is, of course, the 17-mile-long Dry Valley Rim itself with its elevation going as high as 6200 ft. Most visitors to the WSA make the climb to the top to see the breathtaking views with their own eyes and gaze upon the spellbinding vistas of the uninhabited and barren Smoke Creek Desert in the east.
Steep canyons, groves, rocky outcrops, sweeping complexes, and ephemeral lakes make up the topography of this WSA. Photography, desert hiking, hunting, horseback riding, backpacking, are just some of the recreational opportunities offered by the WSA.
Regardless of where you approach the Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area, you will encounter un-kept dirt roads that make up the boundaries of this vast wilderness region.
On the west of the WSA is Skedaddle Road. Wendel-Sand Pass Road is to the south, the east boundary is composed of Pipe Springs, Dry Valley Roads, and Smoke Creek Road, and the north of the WSA is bordered by Smoke Creek Road and another unnamed dirt road.
Use GPS as well as a paper map to navigate to the Wilderness Study Area as signs are few and far between. Four-wheel-drive and high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area is BLM land that offers no facilities or amenities and only an utterly primitive camping experience is available here. There is very little information on the permits regarding camping. However, the regular BLM rules are to be followed in regards to the 14 days stay limit and adhering to the seven leave-no-trace principles.
Only use previously disturbed campsites and bring your own firewood. Contact the BLM office to learn more about camping at the Wilderness Study Area.
The closest campground to the Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area is Dodge Reservoir Campground which is also BLM managed. The campground boasts 11 RV non-hookup sites and 11 tent-only campsites. The campsites come equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. The campground also has an ADA accessible vault toilet. Dodge Reservior Campground does not have potable water, showers, or garbage disposal. Pets are welcomed at this campground.
The reservoir offers excellent angling and recreational activities and lies 17 miles northeast of Ravendale, CA.
Hunting is the central attraction at Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area and brings about an estimated 4000 hunters annually. Motorized vehicle access is also provided for hunters to cover the distance and make their way to popular hunting areas.
Chukar hunters crowd the WSA during the fall hunting season and access the prime hunting area using four-wheel-drive vehicles. Those seeking solitude will not find it during the hunting season. While deer and antelope hunting are also permitted, chukar hunting is the most popular, especially on the Nevada side.
There are numerous opportunities for hiking at the WSA, allowing highly skilled hikers to test their abilities by braving the challenging trails along the steep Dry Valley Rim fault-block and other surrounding canyons. The WSA maintains four hiking trails, two of which are shared by horseback riders.
The combined length of Black Mountain Loop, Eagle’s Head Loop, Parker Thomas Canyons Loop, and Dry Valley Rim Trail equates to a total of 37 miles of scenic hiking and exploring.
Horseback riders need to bring their own horse feed and paraphernalia to enjoy a comfortable and safe horseback riding experience at Dry Valley Rim WSA.
Black Mountain loop extends from the Rocky Trail Reservoir towards Black Mountain and back again via dirt roads that are perfect for traveling on horseback. Another equestrian trail is the Eagle’s Head Loop that follows the existing old roads towards the Eagle’s Head look-off and back through the nine miles of mixed newly constructed and older dirt roads.
Dry Valley Rim WSA is a picturesque and scenic destination, with all the colors of nature dwelling within its boundaries. The spring brings out the vivid colors of wildflowers in all their glory with the landscape covered in blue, violet, and yellow. The rimrock seems to be decorated with patches of bright yellow, orange, and green lichens.
All this riot of color is just sitting there for a photographer to discover and capture. The view of the desert from the top of the rim is an entirely different story and many photographers make the tedious climb up just to capture the views.
Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area is a habitat for numerous species of wildlife. Antelope, wild horses, large herds of wintering deer, pronghorn, and burros are sighted all over this vast WSA.
Furthermore, the northern part of the WSA with its springs provides a brood habitat that protects Nevada Sage Grouse which is almost nearing extinction. Caring for these areas encourages the population growth of many of California's endangered desert species.
Dry Valley Rim Wilderness Study Area is home to a huge variety of raptors. The extensive eastern front of the Dry Valley Rim provides ultimate conditions for birds of prey. The area is largely inhabited by falcon, eagles, and hawks. The best spot for birdwatchers is at the top of the rim, from where they get an excellent chance to catch these predators in flight as they swoop down to hunt their prey.