Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area
Guide

Introduction

Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA) lies in Lassen County, California and consists of BLM-managed property as well as private lands. This wilderness area northeast of Susanville is uniquely located in a region where visitors can enjoy solitude, outdoor recreation, and set out to nearby attractions for additional adventures. Access to the area is easy, but vehicles are not allowed within the wilderness areas.

There are plenty of ways to spend time within Tunnison Mountain WSA. Nature explorers can watch wildlife, view the resplendent flora, or take in the diverse landscapes and topographic features that lie within the park. Hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding are other fun ways to explore the remote areas in the wilderness. Hunting opportunities are also available. Outside the wilderness, visitors can swim, kayak, boat, and fish at Eagle Lake; or watch birds at Honey Lake Wildlife Area.

There are no services or facilities provided within the WSA, so guests should prepare for dry camping adventures. Developed campgrounds with modern facilities and amenities as well as RV hookups are provided at Lassen National Forest.

RV Rentals in Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area

Transportation

Driving

Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area lies just northeast of Susanville, California. This Bureau of Land Management wilderness is quite easy to reach from Susanville, as visitors will only have to drive a few miles north along California Highway 139 to the sections where Hagata Road or Horselake Road branch off the highway. These roads will take visitors to the wilderness boundary areas. It’s advisable to come in four-wheel-drive vehicles, but two-wheel drives can also negotiate the roads that lead to this BLM park.

Within the boundaries of Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area, the use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment is not allowed. So, as you approach the wilderness, be on the lookout for signs and posts that indicate where the boundaries are. There are parking spaces available around where the wilderness boundaries are located.

There are no direct public transportation services to Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area.

If you wish to get developed camping equipment such as RVs, fifth wheels, and trailers, you will find rental services at Susanville and Lassen County.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area

Campsites in Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area

Reservations camping

Eagle Lake Recreation Area

Eagle Lake Recreation Area lies on the south shore of Eagle Lake, nestled in Lassen National Forest. This recreation area features five campgrounds and a full-service marina. The campgrounds offer various camping options from tent-only camping to group campsites, RV campsites, and specialized camping sites.

Facilities available to campers here include a beach and swimming area, paved hiking and biking trail, boat launch areas, day-use areas, and boat storage docks. You can rest assured that you will enjoy wildlife viewing, fishing, relaxation, and nature observation here.

Campground amenities include flush toilets, potable water, trash receptacles, picnic tables, and fire ring/grill. RV hookups are available too.

Some of the campsites are available by reservation, while some others are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Seasonal activities in Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area

In-Season

Willow Creek

Willow Creek flows through the western areas of this BLM wilderness, offering outstanding scenery to all who visit. The most common recreation on this creek is angling for trophy brown trout, so guests who enjoy the sport never leave their fishing gear and tackle behind. However, there’s more to do at the creek as hunters and hikers also get a taste of fun.

Another interesting thing about the creek is the outstanding cultural value that the explorers experience at the Belfast petroglyph site overlooking the creek.

Flora

Flora enthusiasts and nature lovers will be interested in the sightseeing and nature study opportunities that the vegetation within Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area offers. In the southern areas of the park, around Willow Creek, the main flora species are ponderosa and Jeffery pines. The majority of the areas in the wilderness are, however, dominated by grasses, shrubs, and scattered juniper.

If you’d like to see isolated patches of mountain mahogany, you should visit the higher elevation areas in the park. Willow Creek features riparian vegetation such as sedges and willows.

Hiking

All who love to stretch their legs have the entire Tunnison Mountain WSA at their feet. The park’s areas are open to hiking and backpacking adventures and as you explore the areas, you’ll get the chance to view beautiful sceneries and take good photographs, if you will.

Another good hiking opportunity is offered on the 4.5-mile-long Eagle Lake Recreation Trail along the south shore of Eagle Lake. Prepare to see eagles, ospreys, great blue herons and pelicans along this trail.

Off-Season

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is a popular destination for a host of recreational activities. This unique location, south of Tunnison Mountain WSA offers diverse landscapes, vegetation, wildlife, and geology, presenting nature lovers with good study and viewing opportunities.

The most common activity here is Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout fishing, but there are also other ways to stay active at the lake. Some other water-based recreational opportunities such as swimming, boating, skiing, and kayaking are available to interested visitors.

Birding at Honey Lake Wildlife Area

Surrounding Honey Lake, Honey Lake Wildlife Area features a sagebrush and wetland habitat that supports sage grouse and lots of migratory birds. As you visit the wildlife area, carry your binoculars and camera(s) along because you will have excellent opportunities to see tundra swan, snow and ross’s geese, large migrating flocks of sandhill crane, and other birds of prey.

Wintering raptors that are sighted in the area include ferruginous hawks, bald eagles, and prairie falcons.

Sightseeing

Tunnison Mountain Wilderness Study Area is home to amazing landscapes that visitors can sit back and watch in awe. Sitting on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range wooded slopes and the western edge of the Great Basin, the elevations in the wilderness range from 4,200 feet to 6,200 feet. So, imagine the scenic views from the top of the topographic features in the park.

It’s up to you to choose any of Horse Lake Mountain, Tunnison Mountain or Willow Creek Canyon and set out to enjoy the sights they offer.