The Black Rock Range is a large mountain range in northwestern Nevada. It gets its name from a distinctive black rock landform at its southern terminus that also gives name to the Black Rock Desert. The “Black Rock” long served as a marker post for emigrants and Native Americans on the desert floor. The mountain range is closely identified with the desert, especially its southern half which bisects the desert’s western and eastern arms.
The Black Rock Range is a transition zone between volcanic plateaus to the north and west and the basin and range geological province to the south and east. According to a geological study of the range, it is “poorly understood,” but “preserves a remarkably complete record of Cenozoic magmatism and provides an important window into the pre-Miocene history of the unextended volcanic plateaus of northeastern California and southern Oregon.”
The range’s most well-known peak is Pahute Peak (a.k.a. Big Mountain) at 8594 feet, but the range's high point at 8,798 feet is well to the north, at a point called Stewart Benchmark that is not marked on the Nevada Road and Recreation Atlas. This mountain also serves as the head of the very ecologically important Mahogany Creek, a spawning area for Lahontan Cutthroat trout and source for Summit Lake. Other high peaks include Red Mountain, Battle Creek Peak, and Bartlett Peak. Along the eastern face of the range there are distinctive smaller peaks along the playa including Pinto Mountain and Elephant Mountain. Major drainages include the above mentioned Mahogany Creek, Center Creek, Bartlett Creek, Battle Creek, Paiute Creek, Slumgullion Creek, Coleman Creek, and Soldier Creek. Wildlife is generally abundant and it is an important hunting area for pronghorn antelope, mule deer, mountain lions, and chukar. Other wildlife includes many raptors, sage grouse, California bighorn sheep, and much more. The range also has a population of wild horses, although many have been removed. The range is very geothermically active and there are many hot springs along its edge including Soldier Meadows Hot Spring, Double Hot Spring, Black Rock Springs, and Pinto Mountain Hot Spring.
Native Americans lived in the region for thousands of years and the range contains important anthropological sites. John C. Fremont traveled through this area in 1843. And the Applegate/Lassen wagon trail used the Black Rock as a trail marker. Historically important sites abound including Soldier Meadows, Paiute Ranch (these are private ranches), Pearl Camp, Fort McGarry (on Summit Lake Paiute Tribe land), and Stanley Camp. The range also was important sheep grazing land and there are Basque arbor glyph sites and camps. Good examples as well as a Basque bread oven can be found at Summer Camp.
The range has two wilderness areas: the Pahute Peak Wilderness, which encompasses Pahute Peak, and the North Black Rock Range Wilderness, which contains the heads of Coleman, Soldier, and Battle Creeks. It also includes the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Natural Area, which is comprised of most of the Mahogany Creek drainage. Its east face abuts the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation, the most remote in Nevada. To its northwest is the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge.
See more photos here: http://www.basinandrange.org/black-rock-range.html
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