On the far eastern side of Nevada near the Utah border is an untouched area of wilderness that is the perfect place to visit for those wanting to get in touch with nature and their connection to the earth. Known as Highland Ridge Wilderness, this 68,627 acre Bureau of Land Management property is an ideal spot for free camping on BLM land. The area was first designated as wilderness in 2006 and it has plenty of challenging yet beautiful experiences waiting for RV travelers that are comfortable with navigating the wilderness.
Highland Ridge Wilderness is located just southeast of the more well-known Great Basin National Park and covers some of the Snake Range. The terrain in the area is typical for basin lands, with plenty of ridges, rolling hills, and dramatic mountains. This varied land attracts many different species of animals and wildlife viewing is one of the most popular activities for visitors to enjoy. There are no developed areas within the wilderness for human use, so people visiting this area must be prepared for a completely self-sustaining visit. Elevation levels are between 6,000 to 10,000 feet and due to this, the weather can be quite cold during the wintertime.
Visitors to the area can also explore the nearby Great Basin National Park, which is located just to the north of Highland Ridge Wilderness. If you would like to access more amenities this will be the place to do it as there are multiple developed campgrounds, cave tours, and astronomy programs open to the public. For true wilderness fans looking to camp on BLM land, Highland Ridge Wilderness will be your calling.
Depending on where you would like to go within the Highland Ridge Wilderness driving there can be on the easy or difficult side. The wilderness area is located right on the southern boundary of Great Basin National Park, so the most common way to get to Highland Ridge Wilderness is by following directions to the National Park, but continuing south on BLM dirt roads so that you can reach the northern area of the wilderness. Some of the roads in this area will only have access via four-wheel drive, so before your journey, contact the Great Basin National Park Visitor Center in Baker to get an update on the road conditions. It is most likely that you will have to cross into Utah and then back down into Nevada in order to drive to the wilderness area.
Since you will be completely off-grid and have no nearby supplies and amenities, it is vital that you stock up before your trip. The closest town to Highland Ridge Wilderness is Baker, and this is the only populated area less than 80 miles away. For more major supplies you can visit Ely if you are driving from the west or Delta if you are coming from the east in Utah. There are no developed parking areas within Highland Ridge Wilderness, but feel free to park your RV along the roadside.
One of the main reasons why RV travelers visit Highland Ridge Wilderness is due to it being undeveloped and featuring free dry camping on BLM Land. If you are looking for a few more amenities, but still want to be in close proximity to the wilderness, staying at a campground within Great Basin National Park is a wise move.
Lower Lehman Creek is one of five developed camping areas available for you to stay at within the Great Basin National Park. Lower Lehman Creek is a great choice because it is the only campground that is open all year round. The campground is suitable for RVs around 40 feet long and there are 11 different sites for you to choose from. None of the sites within Lower Lehman Creek Campground have any hookups, but there are water collection points, trash cans, and a dump station around half a mile away on the main entrance road.
Lower Lehman Creek is available on a first-come, first-served basis only, so if you want to stay here we recommend that you arrive early since there aren't many sites at the campground.
Another RV friendly camping option within Great Basin National Park is Baker Creek Campground. Although this campground is harder to access since it's down a dirt road, Baker Creek Campground is quite popular with RV lovers looking for solitude. There are 38 sites to choose from at Baker Creek, and it is known for being more scenic than the one found at Lower Lehman Creek.
There are no hookups, hot showers, or restrooms, but you will be able to use water collection points and vault toilets. You will have plenty of privacy at each site, thanks to the many trees within the campground, and there is also a picnic table and fire pit waiting for you to enjoy.
Baker Creek Campground is open from May until October, and all sites are on a first-come, first-served basis only. If you are interested in reservation camping at Great Basin National Park, small RVs can stay at Grey Cliffs Campground during the peak season.
Since most of the wilderness is inaccessible to vehicles, hiking is the most popular way to experience Highland Ridge Wilderness in all of its glory. Many hiking lovers who visit the wilderness use the forest roads to explore the park due to the majority of the lands being totally undeveloped.
There are trails as long as 16 miles for you to enjoy, so you will have plenty of new things to see if you decide to get your hiking boots on and check the Highland Ridge Wilderness out.
Highland Ridge Wilderness is one of the best places in the United States to observe the beautiful night sky, thanks to the lack of light pollution in the area. The nearby Great Basin National Park is known as an International Dark Sky Park, so stargazing in this area is spectacular. On a clear night, you will be able to see thousands of different stars, satellites, and the Milky Way without the need for a huge telescope. During September each year, there is also an Astronomy festival held at Great Basin National Park that is well worth your time.
Since you will be so close to the Great Basin National Park you should really consider attending a tour of Lehman Caves. Located within the National Park, Lehman Caves is a limestone cavern that is a stunningly beautiful example of how a changing environment and water table can alter the makeup of the land.
Open all year round, you will need to go on a guided tour of Lehman Caves in order to be able to see it in all its glory. The tours regularly sell out, so make sure you plan in advance before your arrival to the area so you don't miss out.
The wide-open spaces found within Highland Ridge Wilderness make for some fantastic horseback riding. Exploring on horseback in the area will mean that you need to bring your own horse, feed, and water on your trip, but if you are a horse lover it will be well worth the extra effort. They will get to enjoy the fun of walking among varying terrain while you can take it all in from atop your horse.
When visiting Highland Ridge Wilderness, why not snap some photos to commemorate your journey to this rarely visited part of the world? Within the wilderness area, you will be able to take pictures of stunning sunrises and sunsets as they appear from behind the many mountains that the area is home to.
If you are lucky, you may also get the chance to photograph some of the local wildlife, such as cougars, deer, and many different bat species. Charge all of your camera batteries before you leave on your journey, since there will be no way for you to do so within the park.
Visitors to Highland Ridge Wilderness who love to hunt will be pleased to know that all of the wilderness area is open for hunting. Since this wilderness is not regularly visited, there should be a decent supply of game for you to target, as well as plenty of places to hide out thanks to the rolling hills. If you do plan on hunting within Highland Ridge Wilderness, you need a Nevada State hunting license or short term permit.