Government Peak Wilderness is a Bureau of Land Management wilderness area with 6313 acres, that was designated as a protected area in 2006. The wilderness area is entirely situated in the State of Nevada, in White Pine County. Government Peak Wilderness sits on the north shores of the Snake Range, which rises upward from the lowlands, providing a stark contrast to the desert wilderness. Vegetation in the region consists mostly of desert brush and grass at lower elevations, with stands of pinyon pine and juniper at higher elevations. Wildflowers are abundant in the spring with paintbrush and cactus blooms putting on a spectacular show in the spring. The terrain is rough, with elevations between 6000 and 8000 feet above sea level, and bare rock protruding from cliff faces, especially on the east side of the region.
The Government Peak Wilderness provides desert landscape and vegetation and high elevations as well as natural water supplies that support a variety of wildlife.
Local inhabitants that hikers and campers may encounter include mule deer, elk, wild horses, jackrabbits, coyotes, red-tail hawks, and golden eagles.
Recreational opportunities in the wilderness region include wildlife watching, hiking, hunting, horseback riding, and backcountry camping. Campgrounds that accommodate both RV and tent camping are available to the south in Great Basin National Park, which straddles the Nevada-Utah border. You can also visit Fishlake National Forest to the east in the State of Utah or Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to the west in California while touring the region. RV rentals in the area are available at Great Basin National Park RV Rentals.
You can access the Government Peak Wilderness from the town of Baker, Nevada, where services and amenities are available in this historic town. Take State Highway 487, northwest to US Highway 6/50 west. Proceed 30 miles, then turn north on State Road 893 to North Spring Valley and continue for another 40 miles. The pavement will end, then turn right on County Road 37 for eight miles to Bureau of Land Management Road 23, continue through the next intersection and take the right fork for two more miles, then take another right fork for 14 miles to the north tip of the Government Peak Wilderness area. Dirt roads can be rough and are subject to weather conditions and may not be ideal for two-wheel-drive passenger veches, RVs, and tow vehicles. RVs can be left at Great Basin National Park, which is 56 miles to the south and takes just under two hours to reach.
This is a desert area, and during the summer months, temperatures are extremely hot. Ensure your vehicle is in good condition for driving in the heat. Do not leave pets or passengers in parked vehicles, and ensure fluid levels in your vehicle are topped up. When accessing the wilderness on foot, hikers should ensure they have plenty of water to supply their trip.
A variety of unserviced site campgrounds are available in Great Basin National Park on the southside of Government Peak Wilderness. Although just over 50 miles away, the winding route takes about two hours to drive. An RV dump station is available at the visitor center for RVers using the campgrounds in the park.
Lower Lehman Creek Campground has 11 sites, some of which are pull-through for easy RV access and open year-round. Upper Lehman Creek Campground has 24 sites that are open from April to October. There are shower facilities between the Upper and Lower Lehman Creek campgrounds which are only one mile apart, and vault toilets and drinking water supplies at each campground. Both campgrounds back onto the Lehman Creek and have hiking trails leading to the Lehman Caves and area waterfalls.
Barker Creek Campground is a bit more remote and off the beaten track, but offers 38 campsites, many of which can accommodate RVs, although RVs are not accommodated in the Upper Loop. Drinking water is available during the peak season from May to October.
Wheeler Peak Campground is open from June to October and is even more remote, with 37 sites. This campsite is located off of Wheeler Park Scenic Drive. Due to the narrow winding nature of the drive, RVs over 24 feet are not recommended here.
Strawberry Creek Campground provides peaceful solitude on the north edge of the park. There is potable water and picnic tables, and six sites here. The Snake Creek Campground has 12 primitive camping sites and three group camping areas. However, there is no running water supply here, so come prepared.
Backcountry camping is permitted in the Government Peak Wilderness. Be prepared for harsh desert conditions. See How to Camp in the Desert, for more information on needs and requirements for desert backcountry campers.
The Bureau of Land Management requires backcountry campers to adhere to “Leave No Trace” principles. These principals include endeavoring to use previously used sites on hard ground to minimize environmental impact, packing out all trash, burying human waste, and bringing your own fire fuel as collecting deadfall is not permitted.
Visitors can stay at one site for a maximum of 14 days, and then must move to another site at least 25 miles away. While camping in Government Peak Wilderness, keep an eye out for native wildlife, stunning desert vistas from high elevations, and excellent stargazing opportunities at night with little light noise from human settlements.
Hiking and backcountry camping is the most common activity in the Government Peak Wilderness. This is a protected area, and activities in the wilderness area should be in line with “Leave No Trace” practices which include setting up camps on previously disturbed ground with minimal disruption to the landscape, and packing out trash.
Trails in the area are naturally surfaced, unmarked, and unmaintained. Hiking routes run along the desert floors between cliffs and rock outcroppings, in canyons, and along washes and drainages. Be prepared with plenty of water and appropriate gear for the harsh wilderness terrain and climate extremes. Temperatures are cooler in the fall and spring when activities are more popular.
During the summer, soaring temperatures in the area make strenuous outdoor activities like hiking a challenge. Another way to enjoy the region is vehicle touring from air-conditioned comfort! Nearby Great Basin National Park is the location of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive.
This mountain road winds along and up the South Snake Range mountains and provides amazing vistas of the surrounding desert terrain. You can start at the park boundary at route 488 and take the out and back 12-mile road which has a 4000 feet elevation gain. Or start at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to explore the high elevation sagebrush-covered terrain. This scenic drive is narrow with tight turns and is not appropriate for RVs over 24 feet in length.
Also located in Great Basin National Park, south of Government Peak Wilderness, the Baker Archeological site contains the remains of a Fremont Indian Village dating back to 1250 AD.
The village contains the remains of several houses and a central building as well as granaries that supported agricultural activities. Visitors will find the site includes a picnic area, restrooms, and shelters providing shade.
Local outfitters in the Government Peak Wilderness can facilitate hunting and horseback riding activities in the Bureau of Land Management-owned Government Peak Wilderness.
Because of the lack of amenities in the wilderness area, using an outfitter who is familiar with the area, unmarked routes, and the requirements of the harsh terrain is an excellent way to enjoy an excursion into the desert wilderness. An expert can provide support and equipment as well as facilities will make your trip to this pristine wilderness unforgettable!
Nearby Great Basin National Park is the home of the Lehman Caves, at the base of Wheeler Peak. The caves are limestone solution caves dating back more than 550 million years. These extraordinary caves are full of beautiful, complex, limestone formations and are one of the main attractions to the area.
You can access Lehman Caves only on organized tours that are available year-round. There are two tours available, a shorter Lodge Room Tour, and a longer Grand Palace tour. Tours can be arranged at the Lehman Caves Visitor Centre.
Snowshoeing and skiing on trails that remain open in the Great Basin National Park south of the Government Peak Wilderness provides a great way to enjoy the great outdoors in the winter months. Snow and cold temperatures can be intense at higher elevations, so be prepared.
Popular winter trails include Wheeler Peak/Jeff Davis Peak, Grey Cliffs Trail, Timber Creek/Pole Canyon, and Lehman Creek. Snowshoes are available for rent at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, but cross country skiers must supply their own equipment.