South Pahroc Range Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

Located south of the Big Rocks Wilderness and east of Mount Irish Wilderness. the South Pahroc Range Wilderness is a 25 671 acre Bureau of Land Management property that provides natural habitat to wildlife and recreational opportunities for visitors. This BLM wilderness, located in Nevada, became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 2004.

The BLM wilderness boasts the rugged natural terrain of the South Pahroc Range which is made up of multi-colored volcanic rock and elevations ranging from 5000 to 7950 feet. The mountainous terrain is characterized by deep canyons, stone faces, columns, pockets, holes, large rounded boulders, and features high ridges with stands of aspen, white fir, pinyon, and juniper extending over the region. Lower elevations have rolling bajada and dispersed volcanic boulders. Wildlife species that make their home in the area include bighorn sheep, mountain lion, mule deer, prairie falcon, and golden eagles.

This is a harsh desert wilderness environment with extreme climate conditions. Recreational users should be prepared for hot temperatures in summer months during the day, and chilly winter nighttime conditions. The peak season for recreational activities is between October and April. Hiking, backcountry camping, rock climbing, and rock hounding, which are all popular activities in the BLM public lands.

RV Rentals in South Pahroc Range Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

The South Pahroc Range Wilderness Area has a harsh and extreme climate. Check local road and weather conditions with the Bureau of Land Management Caliente Field Office before traveling in the area. Vehicles should be in excellent mechanical condition, have adequate fluid levels, and carry spare tires when using dirt access roads to BLM wilderness areas. This is a desert area with few services and amenities and little cellular coverage. Ensure you have supplies, especially drinking water, in case of emergency and accurate maps to rely on.

The BLM wilderness is located in Lincoln County about 30 miles west of Caliente, Nevada. To access the South Pahroc Range Wilderness from Caliente, take US Highway 93 for 28 miles west to an unmarked county road which will take you to the eastern border of the BLM lands. The highway is paved and easy to navigate; however, the unnamed county road is naturally surfaced and subject to weather conditions. Ruts, mud, overgrown vegetation and rocks can present hazards on dirt access roads which may be more appropriate for four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance.

There is no RV access to the South Pahroc Range Wilderness. However, there is RV camping at the BLM Big Rocks Wilderness to the north with paved access roads.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in South Pahroc Range Wilderness

Campsites in South Pahroc Range Wilderness

First-come first-served

Big Rocks North Camping Area

The Big Rocks North Camping Area is a primitive campground that is accessible for RVs and tow vehicles, depending on weather conditions. A short dirt road accesses the campground from the paved route on Little Boulder Road. This road can be affected by dry dusty or wet muddy conditions but is maintained, and generally in good condition.

This open campground is exposed, with little shade and vegetation, and there are no services or amenities here with the exception of a corral for equestrian campers. The campground is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and there are picnic tables and fire rings at campsites.

Enjoy this remote, primitive, campground while exploring the BLM public lands for a natural, quiet, camping experience. Dark night skies facilitate stargazing and the vast pristine desert wilderness provides opportunities for hiking, archeological exploration, geological discovery, desert wilderness photography, and solitude. The campground is available year-round on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Alternate camping

Backcountry Camping

The South Pahroc Range Wilderness provides unique desert and mountainous terrain with geological features for backcountry camping. Boulders, canyons, washes, and open country create a diverse landscape for backcountry campers in the BLM public lands here. Enjoy hiking, rock climbing, rockhounding, scenic vistas, stargazing, and pristine desert wilderness while camping in the area.

Backcountry campers should adhere to “Leave No Trace” principles which include using previously occupied campsites and fire rings, burying human waste appropriately, packing out trash, collecting only deadwood for fires, and opting for camp stoves instead of building open fires when possible. Stays in public lands are limited to a maximum of 14 days before backpackers are required to choose another site at least 25 miles away.

This area has harsh conditions and extreme weather temperatures. Check out tips at How to Camp in the Desert for more information on successful desert wilderness camping.

Seasonal activities in South Pahroc Range Wilderness

In-Season

Rock Climbing

The rocky peaks of the South Pahroc Range are inviting for rock climbers. The wilderness area contains a variety of geological features including boulders, columns, holes, canyons, and ledges. Bouldered terrain creates what has been called a “rock scramblers paradise”. Informal climbing requires minimal equipment, but attempts on steep rock faces will require appropriate climbing and safety equipment which must be packed into the wilderness terrain. The peak season for strenuous outdoor activity in the region is between October and April.

Hiking

Hiking in the South Pahroc Range Wilderness is the most frequent activity in the area. Hiking is most popular between October and April when milder temperatures are more conducive to strenuous outdoor activities. There are no designated trails in the wilderness. However, hikers follow washes and drainages and make their way in and around the rocky terrain.

Reliable water sources are also not present in the wilderness region and hikers will need to take in a minimum of one gallon of water, per person, per day.

Wildlife Watching

Cooler transition seasons are the peak time at South Pahroc Range Wilderness for human recreational activity, but also for wildlife. Conduct wildlife watching activities when you are most likely to spot the local inhabitants looking for water, food, shelter, or traveling between summer and winter ranges. Wildlife you may spot in the region includes bighorn sheep, mountain lion, mule deer, prairie falcons, and golden eagles. Have a field guide and camera at the ready to identify smaller mammals, lizards, and insects native to the region.

Off-Season

RockHounding

Informal rock collectors and hobbyists can find a wide variety of specimens in this wilderness area. The volcanic processes that created the geological wonderland also distributed minerals such as obsidian, feldspar crystals, and “Apache tears” in the area.

Commercial collection of rocks and minerals is not permitted in public lands. However, a reasonable amount for personal use can be gathered and removed. This is a large wilderness area with extreme weather conditions, cold winters, and hot summers, so you won’t want to be packing out a large quantity of rocks in any case!

Alien Research Center

A quirky activity you can engage in when weather conditions are too hot for outdoor excursions, or too cold during the winter months, is learning more about tales of extraterrestrial life.

This unique site is located just under 30 miles west of the South Pahroc Range Wilderness in the town of Hiko on Highway 375. Visit the Alien Research Center where a giant metal statue of an alien, a model flying saucer, and Area 51 stamped containers create a one of a kind, extraterrestrial tourist site. Snap a photo of you and your party at this “campy” roadside attraction to capture an “out of this world” memory!

Ancient Art

Big Rocks Wilderness is located a short distance north of South Pahroc Range Wilderness and is known for its rock art and petroglyphs. The ancient art was created by Native Americans that resided in the area centuries before Europeans discovered and settled North America.

The art found on the rock formations in the wilderness is a fascinating and informative part of Native American history in this region and provides insight into the culture of the people that once dwelled here.