Spanning over 43,693 acres of land, in Lincoln County, Nevada, Parsnip Peak Wilderness was designated as a wildlife refuge in 2004 and is part of the Wilson Creek Mountain Range. Just a few miles northeast of Pioche, this wilderness is home to the 8,916-feet high Parsnip Peak, that lures many rock climbers to its summit.
The southern slopes of the wilderness heavily support the growth of mountain mahogany, while the opposite end of the wilderness is home to thick and beautiful canopies of aspen. In between the vegetation, adding to this region’s remote beauty, are native grasses and slight stands of fir in the most elevated parts of this scenic wilderness.
If just the thought of yellow aspen trees and blooming mountain mahogany is making you crave this place, then the numerous spring-fed streams in the wilderness will make you want to get here at your earliest opportunity.
This wilderness offers abundant solitude and a chance to spend some quality time with yourself amidst riparian areas, forests, and wildlife. You’ll have plenty of elk and deer sightings, and if you look above you, you just might end up sneaking a peek of soaring bald eagles.
Parsnip Peak Wilderness is the perfect place to plan your weekend adventure if you’re in the mood for some hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and exploring archeological and geological sites.
Parsnip Peak Wilderness in Lincoln County can be accessed through the BLM road 4037, off the US Federal Highway 93, that lies approximately 19 miles northeast of Pioche, Nevada. In the east, the wilderness area runs along the Mount Backcountry Byway.
Pioche is the nearest town to the wilderness and the closest rail shipping point is about 15 miles south of Pioche. The access roads to the Parsnip Peak Wilderness are improved and unimproved dirt roads. Once you reach the boundaries of the wilderness, most interior access could be made on foot or via the few jeep trails.
Primitive camping is not everyone’s cup of tea, so it is a good thing that Cathedral Gorge State Park is only a 45-minute drive away from Parsnip Peak Wilderness. This state park offers 22 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, grill, and shade ramada. Some sites also have electric hookups. The campground also features restrooms, showers, and flush toilets that are open year-round. Sites can be reserved in advance. The campground also boasts two accessible campsites at the group area with a restroom, showers, and flush toilets. Camping limit here is up to 14 days or 30-days.
The campground also has a day-use picnic area with a huge shade ramada and picnic tables.
Since Parsnip Peak Wilderness is a wilderness, the camping experience here is just as wild. The primitive campground allows you to rely solely on yourself and your surroundings. No electrical hookups, no potable water, no picnic tables, and no dump stations at your service. You camp here just like natives used to live hundreds of years ago.
You can camp here for up to 14 days, if you want more of this challenging experience, then you can relocate to a new site at least 25 feet away from the last one. The Leave No Trace policy is observed and you cannot pick live vegetation for any purpose. For your campfire, you can take dead and down wood.
Pets are allowed in the wilderness as long as they are leashed, behaved, and under the control of their owners. To help preserve and protect the land, make sure to camp at the previously disturbed sites.
Parsnip Peak is 8915 feet (2718 meters) tall and ranked #729 amongst Nevada’s tallest peaks. Climb up to this highpoint for breathtaking views of the sloping landscape below.
More importantly, this is one of the best ways to look at the rock maze referred to as the “Indian Playground” and debate whether it was made by people or occurred naturally over the centuries.
Parsnip Peak Wilderness is rich in history and home to some truly ancient wonders. Mount Wilson Archeological district is situated in the north of the wilderness region and is eligible for nomination of National Register of Historic Places.
You will also be able to hike up to the campsites left from prehistoric times along with rock rings, rock shelters, and rock art that you can marvel at for hours without getting bored. In fact, the mysterious and super interesting "Indian Playground" with its maze-like rock alignments will certainly bring out your inner historian and thrill for the outdoors.
The Bureau of Land Management allows hunting and trapping at Parsnip Peak Wilderness. Game animals include deer, sage grouse, mountain lion, and blue grouse. Make sure to clean up after yourself and remain mindful of the private lands. Do not leave any trace behind of your hunting activities.
With such diverse vegetation and topography comes a much more diverse habitat of wildlife. Foraying and wandering throughout the wilderness are wildlife such as deer, elk, coyotes, mountain lions, and bald eagles among many others. Wait near the streams to watch the wildlife coming around for water. Do not disturb the wildlife and allow yourself to see them in their natural environment.
Forget picnic tables and go old-school in this wilderness with blankets and homemade sandwiches. The seclusion and the natural wilderness sound of birds chirping and mountains standing silent behind you will make all your future picnics pale in comparison.
There’s so much to capture here that you’re sure to return home with good memories, even better pictures, and no space left in your digital cameras. The pristine nature of Parsnip Peak Wilderness makes it even more fun to capture as the landscape experiences very little human intervention. The aspen groves and the streams running from its midst also makes for some dreamy photography.