The Mount Irish Wilderness is a thirty-thousand acre BLM property located in south-east Nevada near the agricultural hamlet of Hiko. The remote wilderness nestles between several mountain ranges including the Mount Irish mountain range that borders it to the north and from which it takes its name. The wilderness has a landscape that varies from pine and juniper covered slopes to towering limestone cliffs over seven-thousand feet high to canyons and extensive sweeping bajadas. While the area's rugged natural beauty is inarguable, one of its most interesting features is the six-hundred plus acres of the Mount Irish Archaeological Site which is situated in the far north-east corner of the wilderness.
The Mount Irish Wilderness is a great place to explore on foot. Trekking across its unmapped, rugged terrains, you'll discover hidden caves, weird and wonderful rock formations and an abundance of wildlife. In the archaeological site, there are well-defined, interpreted trails to hike where you'll see an endless display of ancient petroglyphs etched into the volcanic rocks. The wilderness is a superb location for stargazing and observing the night sky in the hope of spotting an unidentified flying object whizzing across the universe. The wilderness's close proximity to the infamous Area 51 means you could be in luck, but if not there are several interesting and fun extraterrestrial-oriented activities nearby. If aliens just aren't your thing and you prefer more terrestrial pastimes there's first-class fishing and hunting in the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge to the south of the wilderness.
The main place to look for on the map or to program into your navigation system to reach the Mount Irish Wilderness is Hiko which sits on the NV 318 north of Alamo. From Hiko, you can take a turn-off for the Logan Canyon Road which will take you to the northern section of the wilderness. To get to the central section of the wilderness, continue along the NV 318 until it forks onto the NV 375 – the Extraterrestrial Highway – in the ghost town of Crystal Springs and after seven miles or so, you'll see a signpost directing you into the wilderness along Reed Spring Road. There is a small, dirt parking area at the end of the road though it's not large enough to be able to turn around in a big rig and parking space is very limited.
Whichever direction you're heading to the Mount Irish Wilderness from, you'll find there are state highways you can use to get there. The main route from north or south is along the US 93. If you've been RV camping up in the Great Basin National Park, once you're through the town of Majors Place, you'll be on the road for around two and a half hours. If you're motoring up from Las Vegas or the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, once you're through the city suburbs, head for the town of Alamo on the US 93 northbound and you'll arrive at the wilderness after about two hours steady driving.
One of the most convenient campgrounds to the Mount Irish Wilderness is the Upper Lake Pahranagat Campground. It's a primitive campground with fifteen campsites suitable for RVs which operates on a first-come-first-served basis. The pitches don't have any utility hook-ups nor is there any water, utilities or garbage disposal facility on-site, but the campsites have great lakeside locations.
The use of generators is permitted, though the quiet hours from ten in the evening until seven in the morning must be respected. The campground is free to use, though anyone wishing to make a donation may do so in the box provided for that purpose on the campground.
The Big Rocks Wilderness is another BLM property in Nevada which is located to the north-east of the Mount Irish Wilderness. There you'll find the small and primitive Big Rocks North Campground. The campsites are unpaved and furnished with grills and picnic tables but there are no other on-site amenities.
Most of the hiking in the Mount Irish Wilderness is over ground with no designated trails. You'll need to be wearing some strong boots as it's easy to twist an ankle on the rocky terrain plus you'll need to carry a backpack full of sufficient provisions to get you through a hard day of hiking.
More defined trails run through the archaeological site but they are still not easy going. Trail maps for the three main hikes where there are concentrations of ancient art are deposited by rangers in the visitor boxes at the trailheads.
There's plenty of wildlife roaming through the Mount Irish Wilderness and while you're there you could spot large mammals like bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and prairie antelope as well as rock squirrels.
There's abundant small birdlife in the wooded regions and you could see any of several species of raptor soaring over the bajadas in search of prey. To catch a glimpse of migratory birds in large quantities, head south to the marshlands of the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.
The Mount Irish Wilderness is a long way from any major urbanization, so there's no light pollution to dull the beauty of the night skies. To see the universe in all its splendor without putting yourself at risk by hiking in the dark, you may want to consider spending one night in the wilderness under canvas. You'll be awed by the clarity of the atmosphere, and even if you don't have a telescope, the endless amount of stars and planets that become visible even to the naked eye.
If you want to combine your visit to the Mount Irish Wilderness with some fishing, the best place to head for is the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge south of the town of Alamo. It's possible to both shore and boat fish in the lakes and marshes of the refuge throughout the year although boating is restricted to car-top craft only. One area, North Marsh, is not fishable from the beginning of October through to the beginning of February. From the waters of the refuge, you can expect to hook bass, sunfish, catfish, and carp.
Take some photos at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, and your friends will begin to wonder on which planet you've been RV camping. Outside the center, you'll be left speechless by the giant metal statue of an alien, the containers stamped with the name Area 51 and the model of a flying saucer. Yes, it may be a little tacky but it's fun, as is snapping photos of you standing next to the Black Mailbox on the Extraterrestrial Highway – NV 375.
If you want to enjoy some hunting combined with your visit to the Mount Irish Wilderness you can do that at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Only hunting for waterfowl and rabbit is permitted and that is restricted to three specific days of the week during the open season as well as to a designated area. Hunting of larger game, crows and swans is not allowed.