Description - From beautiful Surprise Valley at the base of the towering Warner Mountains, east into the high dessert valleys and mountains of northwestern Nevada, the Surprise BLM Field Office oversees nearly 1.5 million acres of public land. Elevations in the Surprise BLM area range from 4,200 to 8,300 feet with annual precipitation ranging from 6 to more than 25 inches. A diversity of habitats saturate the striking landscape. The white-fir forests rise near the western edge while the shadscale and greasewood scrub pervade the lower elevations. Sagebrush and juniper woodlands spill across the intermediate elevations. Higher elevations are marked by impressive aspen groves and patches of mountain mahogany.
Copyright: Bureau of Land Management
Surprise Field Office valleyscene
- Discovering and exploring the mid 19th century emigrant route is brought to life along the Surprise Valley / Barrel Springs Back Country Byway, which takes the traveler across lakes, through canyons and valleys and over mountain cliffs. A Byway Tour Guide enhances the driving tour. Area history predates the Emigrant Trail; view the petroglyphs at Rock Creek, a dry arroyo / wash. Enjoy the striking view from Fandango Pass, both a Byway and California Trail attraction. In the Nevada portion of the resource area, the few improved and many unimproved roads provide a wilderness driving, wildlife viewing and primitive camping experience. Fee Reservoir invites campers to relax at the semiprivate sites including a new boat ramp that offers immediate access to the recreation lake.
Portions of the Surprise resource area are extremely remote, with unimproved roads and no services. Cell phones are not dependable in much of the area. Mishaps can be avoided or made less serious with some preplanning. The following is a list of preparations to should be made before your departure, a basic list of supplies, and suggestions for what to do if you become stranded.
PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE -- Let someone at home know your travel plans and a time you will return. If you do get lost or break down, the people at home will know where to start looking. Also, let these people know if your plans change. Check local travel conditions before you depart and again at time of travel. Learn about the area, get accurate maps, and plan your agenda conservatively if you are traveling to an unfamiliar area.
Bring gear appropriate to your activity, the expected range of conditions and the planned length of your stay. Changing conditions has fooled many people.
SURVIVAL TOOLS - Come with proper clothing for your activity (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, or warmer clothing for changes in weather). Good walking shoes (or boots) and walking stick. Food (High energy - non-melting snacks). Water; at least one gallon per person per day. Purification tablets and high tech water filters are recommended also. Know how to read maps, use a compass, and gain knowledge of the area prior to trip (note landmarks as you travel). Carry a GPS unit with you, and know how to use it. Small first aid kit. Waterproof matches (in a case or film canister). Camping and emergency tools (depending on transportation)- knife, road flares, rope or cord / duct or electrician's tape, small tarp or ground cover, day pack, cargo carrier or saddle bag to carry the preceding gear. Vehicle tools, high-lift jack, extra fuel, and spare parts (spark plugs, fan belts, hose clamps), depending on your vehicle.
IF LOST, STRANDED OR BROKEN DOWN -- Stay with your vehicle or otherwise make yourself visible. Stay put, unless you have a clear and specific destination. Avoid walking during the heat of the day; morning and evening walking is better for conserving your body's moisture.
Seek shelter from the elements, but try to make yourself visible such as smoke or a signal fire, or a bright colored tarp.
Recreation - Recreational opportunities include viewing archeological and cultural sites, bird watching, scenic driving, boating, camping, OHV use, horseback riding, mountain biking, backpacking, and hiking.
Climate - Climate in the Shasta-Cascade Region varies greatly with elevation. Higher elevations tend to have much cooler temperatures and higher precipitation. Summer weather is usually hot and dry with lower elevation temperatures ranging from 85 - 100+ degrees F and lows from 60 - 70 degrees F. Autumn days are usually mild and warm, with cool nights. Winter is when most of the precipitation falls, averaging over 55 inches per year, much of it in the form of snow in the high elevations. Highs range from 40 - 60 degrees F and lows from 30 - 40 degrees F in the lower elevations. Spring weather is variable with many pleasant days.
Most visitors from California take Highway 299, east from US 395, to the ranching community of Cedarville in the Surprise Valley. Another paved highway, Nevada 447, provides access from the Reno area.