The North Black Rock Range Wilderness is a BLM property located in north-west Nevada. The thirty-thousand acre wilderness is a desolate landscape of extensive desert plains covered in sagebrush. Views across the wilderness are only interrupted by the black volcanic mounds of the Black Rock Range where there are canyons, cliffs, and unusual rock formations. The wilderness is bordered to the south by the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area and to the north by the Summit Lake Indian Reservation. At first glance, it's BLM land that appears barren and arid, but there are several creeks running through the area which provide a riparian habitat for an abundant population of wildlife.
The North Black Rock Range Wilderness offers outback adventurers some excellent hikes alongside the creeks as well as through steep-sided canyons and along trails created by herds of wild horses and pronghorn antelope. There's more wildlife roaming the wilderness than horses, burros, and antelope; you could spot bighorn sheep, mule deer, badgers and many species of reptiles. Birdlife is varied too and you'll see sage grouse and chukar on the plains as well as hearing the sweet song of the warbling vireo in the trees by the waterside even if you don't manage to see the tiny, swift-moving birds.
Motorized access to the wilderness is prohibited and camping is restricted to dispersed tent camping only. The closest RV campsites are minimal in number and privately owned or several hours drive away.
The North Black Rock Range Wilderness's remote location means it is not the easiest of BLM lands to get to. The best and easiest access is along the Soldier Meadows Road which runs from the small town of Gerlach in the south along the western border of the wilderness to a private, working cattle ranch. It's a well-maintained road which is negotiable in a rig of moderate size. Following this route will take you past the Little High Rock Canyon Wilderness and the High Rock Canyon Wilderness. Any other track or roadway leading to the boundaries of the wilderness itself, especially in the northern and eastern sections, are recommended for high-clearance vehicles or four by fours only.
If you've been RV camping in the Modoc National Forest, you can reach the North Black Rock Range Wilderness by heading first for Cedarville then taking the County Road 34 southbound just before the ghost town of Vya. There are several turn-offs on the CR 34 for Soldier Meadows Road. If you've been down south in the Stanislaus National Forest, it'll take you around four hours motoring to reach Gerlach and then another hour to reach the wilderness boundary from there.
There is a privately operated campground on a cattle ranch near the North Black Rock Range Wilderness which can accommodate RVs. The ranch is around two and a half hour's drive north of Gerlach and accessed via the Soldier Meadow Road off the US 34. The RV pitches at the campground are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. While there are no utility hook-ups, you can get a shower for a small charge or a dip in the ranch's hot spring.
The ranch has facilities for corralling horses for an additional charge, although horse owners must provide their own water bucket and make prior arrangements for hay if it's needed. Dogs are allowed on the campground so long as they are kept under control at all times.
There are several options for dispersed and primitive camping in the Black Rock NCA to the south of the North Black Rock Range Wilderness. Vehicle drivers should be aware that they are not permitted to stray more than fifty feet off the defined routes to any of the designated camping areas. The Massacre Ranch campground, also known as Stevens Camp, is 45 miles east of Cedarville and to the north of the High Rock Canyon Wilderness. It's a desert area with one cabin-style building and a few trees but no amenities.
There are also eight designated campsites in the Soldier Meadows ACEC as well as a small camp near to the Soldier Meadows Springs. RV campers using the campsite near the hot springs should take plenty of insect repellent and be aware that the water may be hot enough to burn your skin. Any bathing should be undertaken with caution.
Hunting is allowed in the North Black Rock Range Wilderness although all hunters must have the correct license and tag. Be aware of the zones for participating in the activity and know the appropriate season for each species.
The most common game found in the wilderness is deer, antelope and bighorn sheep as well as chukar and sage grouse. If you're uncertain about heading off hunting in the wilderness alone, there are BLM licensed guides you can hire to accompany you on your trip.
While vehicles are strictly prohibited in the North Black Rock Range Wilderness, OHVs are permitted on the Black Rock Desert Playa to the south of the wilderness. The two-hundred square miles of flat terrain won't offer any hilly challenges, but you will have all sorts of surface variations to deal with. If speed is your thing, you'll have to go some to beat the world land speed record of seven-hundred and sixty-three miles that was set on the playa in 1997.
If sonic boom speed isn't for you, there are over nine hundred miles of tracks and unpaved roadways running around and between the ten wildernesses of Black Rock County, including the Applegate National Historic Trail, where you can take your off-roading at a more sedate pace.
Stop off at the Friends Of Black Rock Visitor Center on Main Street in Gerlach to find out all you need to know about how to make the most of your time and stay safe in the North Black Rock Range Wilderness. At the center, you can pick up maps and brochures, learn more about the conservation of the area, find out if conditions on the playas are good or unsuitable for hiking, have a one to one chat with someone in the know and get a great cup of organic coffee too.
Probably the biggest event of the year near to the North Black Rock Range Wilderness is the Burning Man Festival. Held around the end of August to the beginning of September in Black Rock City, a temporary city built in the Black Rock Desert, to the south of the wilderness, the week-long festival is a massive exhibition of expressionist artworks and performances.
If you decide to stay for a few days, there are RV camping options in the area surrounding the city. More information and ticket reservations can be organized through the official Burning Man website.
Rockhounding is a permitted pastime in the North Black Rock Range Wilderness. There are a few regulations rockhounders need to adhere to while scouring the countryside for any of the many minerals and gemstones to be found there.
Agate, geodes, malachite as well as opals are all common in the area so keep your eyes open and you could take home your own special treasure as a souvenir of your RV camping trip to Nevada.
Whether you want to hike for miles across the wide-open plains of the North Black Rock Range Wilderness, explore the canyons or wander along the side of any of the three different creeks, you'll need to carry a backpack full of provisions and at least two gallons of water. Probably the most rewarding hike is by Coleman's Creek which has several small waterfalls and some unusual rock formations.
Whatever route or area you decide to trek, don't expect to see any defined trails as there are none in the wilderness, so make sure you don't lose your bearings. You'll find there's little or no cell phone signal should you get lost and need to call for assistance.