Wovoka Wilderness - Atlas Obscura

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Wovoka Wilderness

Yerington, Nevada

Thousands of acres of beautiful wild landscape in the Great Basin. 

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In the mountainous backcountry of western Nevada sits a 48,000-acre tract of land left relatively untouched by human development. There are no roads, cars, or houses encroaching on the natural environment, just miles of scenic, serene land dubbed the Wovoka Wilderness.

This nature reserve became a protected wilderness area in 2014 and was named Wovoka after the Paiute spiritual leader who was born and raised in the region. Wovoka, a shaman mystic, is best known for starting the Ghost Dance movement that many Native American tribes in the West adopted at the end of the 19th century.  

Today, the Great Basin landscape that shares Wovoka’s name is the last stretch of wildland in Nevada’s Lyon County. It’s located in the southern part of Pine Grove Hills, with its centerpiece Bald Mountain at an elevation of 9544 feet. To the south and east is Nevada’s second-newest state park, the Walker River State Recreation Area, along the East Walker River. It’s a diverse landscape that spans colorful canyons, forests, and beautiful mountain views.

The Wovoka Wilderness is also a natural habitat for a wide range of plants and animals, including mule deer, coyotes, bighorn sheep, bears, bobcats, golden eagles, bats, and butterflies. Aside from its natural beauty, this remote landscape is notable for being speckled with prehistoric cultural sites such as petroglyphs, drive fences, and house rings.

Know Before You Go

The Wovoka Wilderness Area lies within the Bridgeport Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. There are limited facilities, so visitors should plan accordingly and be sure to bring plenty of water. To protect the natural habitat, visitors are asked to carry out any waste and leave no trace. There are campgrounds and a visitors center at the newly opened Walker River State Recreation Area, which is located outside of, but near the Wovoka Wilderness area.


There are no campgrounds by Wovoka Wilderness, but primitive car camping ("boondocking") off established roads open to motor vehicles is allowed on the public lands.  There is an undeveloped RV campground, Bighorn Campground, in the Elbow Unit of the Walker River State Recreation area.


The nearest full services, including lodging and a complete grocery, are in Bridgeport, California.

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