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Jarbidge Ranger District

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General Information

Description - The Jarbidge Wilderness, the first designated Wilderness Area in Nevada, contains 113,000 acres of rugged, glaciated, mountainous terrain. The Jarbidge Mountains form a single crest maintaining an elevation between 9,800 and 11,000 feet for about seven miles. Eight peaks exceed 10,000 feet in elevation.

There are many backcountry canyons. Within a relatively short time, the visitor may experience a variety of wilderness country from sagebrush flatland to high, rugged, rocky peaks, With the changes in elevation, moisture, and slope, many different species of plants can be found.

Attractions - The Jarbidge Ranger District of the Humboldt National Forest offers 243,907 acres of recreation opportunities. Visitors can enjoy quiet campgrounds, trophy mule deer hunting, high-quality stream fishing, or one of the least-used wilderness areas in the nation. For residents of Elko County, NV, and Idaho's Magic Valley, this northern Nevada mountain range is within a two-hour drive.

Camping: Jarbidge Canyon is the most popular family camping area on the Jarbidge Ranger District. Two developed and several undeveloped campsites are located near the town of Jarbidge, NV. At present, no camping fees are charged. All are on a first-come/first-served basis. Facilities are open from approximately Memorial Day to October 1. While camping spots are usually available, on the busiest holiday weekends and during October deer hunting season, campers should come early. Food, gas and lodging are available in Jarbidge.

Fishing and Hunting: The Jarbidge Ranger District offers some of the best small-stream fishing in northern Nevada. Rainbow, brook and bull trout swim in Canyon Creek, the Jarbidge River, Slide Creek, Cottonwood Creek and Sun Creek. In the wilderness, Emerald Lake is home to brook trout and is enjoyable for fly fishing. Most Nevada streams are open to fishing year-around. Nevada fishing licenses are sold in Elko, Wells, Jackpot and Jarbidge.

The District provides high-quality habitat to one of the largest mule deer herds in Nevada. An antelope herd of more than 600 head spends the summer and fall on the District. A healthy population of mountain lions can also be found on the District. The Jarbidge Mountains have Nevada's newest elk herd; a huntable population is expected within a few years. All Nevada big game hunting is controlled and regulated by the Nevada Division of Wildlife.

Sage grouse, grey partridge, chukars and blue grouse are important game birds on the District.

Hiking Trails: Jarbidge has many hiking trails of varying difficulty.

Wilderness: The Jarbidge Wilderness, first designed Wilderness Area in Nevada, contains 113,000 acres of rugged, glaciated, mountains terrain. Jarbidge is a Shoshone Indian word meaning a "weird beastly creature". According to legend, the Shoshone braves chased this creature into a cave in the present Jarbidge Canyon and blocked it inside with rocks and boulders. The Jarbidge Mountains form a single crest and maintain elevations between 9,800 and 11,00 feet for approximately seven miles. Eight peaks exceed the 10,000 foot mark. There are many canyons which provide opportunities for rewarding backcountry experiences. Within a relatively short time visitors may experience a variety of wilderness country. Scenic vistas range from sagebrush flatland to high, rugged, rocky peaks. With the change in elevation, moisture, and slope, many different species of plants can be found.

One unique feature is that the Jarbidge Wilderness contains a Class 1 Air shed. That means it possesses one of the last few remnants of pristine air in the nation. The air quality of the Jarbidge Wilderness is monitored on a daily basis with an air camera and a particulate sampler. There are approximately 150 miles of trails on the district. Trailheads are located at Snowslide Gulch, Slide Creek and Three Day Creek. Although the trails vary in degrees of maintenance, most are in good condition. The lower elevations open up in May and the upper elevations in June or July, depending on the year and the snowpack. The District's trail system sees the most use on holidays, especially the Fourth of July, and at the end of October during hunting season. The trails are used infrequently during the rest of the summer and early fall, although the popularity of these trails is increasing.

Water Sports: The Jarbidge River is rough, rocky and narrow. It is not conducive to boating, although in some years it is possible to use kayaks and float-tubes on it.

Since the Jarbidge Range is volcanic, hot springs can be found. Murphy Hot Springs, 11 miles north of the Forest boundary in Idaho, is a spring that has been developed into a vacation spot with a cafe and cabins, in addition to the hot springs pool and baths.

Winter Activities: The Pole Creek bench area in the northern Jarbidge Ranger District offers excellent snowmobiling. Tens of thousands of acres of rolling hills offer untracked snow at elevations up to 8,000 feet. The Pole Creek and Elk Mountain roads provide the best access to this area. Opportunities for cross-country skiing also attracts winter sports enthusiasts to the District.

Since winters in the high-mountain desert can be particularly bitter, recreationists should be careful to observe weather precautions in order to guard against hypothermia. In addition, snow and access conditions should be studied carefully before venturing off county roads.

Mahoney Recreation Cabin: This cabin has a living room, two bedrooms, indoor toilet, shower facilities and a kitchen. The lights, stove, refrigerator and heat are all electric. There is no drinking water, shower, or toilet facilities from late fall through the early spring months. The cabin is not designed for accessibility by the physically challenged.

Recreation - Facilities in this region include, wildlife viewing, bird watching, scenic viewing, camping, lodging, fishing, hunting, wilderness, water sports, winter activities and hiking.

Climate - The area's climate is typical of northern Nevada's desert country. Rainfall is slight, averaging less than 6 inches annually. Clear, sunny skies are the rule, with summer daytime temperatures peaking near 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Location - Access to the north side of the Jarbidge Ranger District is by paved, all-weather road west from Rogerson, ID, or by fair-weather dirt and gravel roads north from Charleston, NV, or east from Mountain City, NV. Only the Rogerson road is open in the winter.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Kent Fothergill
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: The Jarbidge is both wonderful and appalling. It is steep, rugged country and from a 9000' ridge is awesome to behold. The main trail in from the town of Jarbidge is an old road, and the initial face of this wilderness is far from pristine. Be patient, there are cool things to learn here.

More Information

Contact Information:
Jarbidge Ranger District, 140 Pacific Avenue, PO Box 246 , Wells, NV, 89835, Phone: 775-752-3357

Additional Information:
Humboldt National Forest - The Humboldt National Forest is scattered throughout northern and eastern Nevada. From lowlands covered with sagebrush to mountain peaks frosted with snowfields, this Forest is a country of different faces and many moods.
Northern Nevada - Often referred to as "Cowboy Country", Northern Nevada is dominated by the Humboldt River which covers over 300 miles. The area has beautiful areas such as the 113,167 acre Jarbidge Wilderness, the 11,000 acre Rye Patch Reservoir, Angel Lake, Battle Mountain and the Ruby Mountains.

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest - Official U. S. Forest Service website


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