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Nevada > Nevada National Wildlife Refuges and Preservess > Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
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Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge
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General Information

Description - The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, located in the northwestern corner of Nevada, manages over 575,000 acres of high desert habitat as a representative area for native plants and wildlife.

Although established for the protection of habitat and wildlife, the refuge incorporates other historical uses. The Virgin Valley Mining District (67,000 acres) was established for the mining of fire opals, and two patented mines offer opal mining for a fee. There are remains of many old ranches and homesteads on the refuge, plus sites of archeological significance.

The area also has many natural geothermal hot springs, those located at Bog Hot and virgin Valley campgrounds can be used by the public.

The remote setting, scenic vistas and high desert country of Sheldon invite the visitor to experience the rugged landscape and observe the plants and animals that inhabit this unique ecosystem.

Attractions - The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge supplies various recreational opportunities for visitors to the area, these include:

Boating: Boats without motors are permitted on Big Springs Reservoir. Boats are not allowed at Duferrena Ponds, however inflatable rafts or float tubes can be used.

Fishing: Fishing is allowed at Big Springs Reservoir, Dufurrena Ponds 20 and 21, and McGee Pond in accordance with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) regulations. McGee Pond is open only to children 12 and under, adults 65 and over and handicapped individuals.

Camping: Camping is permitted only at designated campsites. Most campsites are primitive; some do not have water or sanitary facilities. Water at the campsites is not tested for human use. Campfires are allowed during times of low fire hazard. A special use permit is required for camping along the desert trail corridor. The Royal Peacock private campground offers full hookups for a fee.

Horseback Riding: Horseback Riding is allowed on the refuge. Please do not bring any hay, only pelletized feed is permitted because of the possibility of weed introduction.

Hunting: Hunting of antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep, sage grouse, California quail and chukar is allowed in accordance with NDOW regulations. Areas closed to hunting include Little Sheldon, Dufurrena, the Hell Creek bighorn sheep enclosure and other areas as posted.

Nature Study and Wildlife viewing: Vegetation is dominated by communities of big sagebrush, low sagebrush, rabbitbrush and bitterbrush. Meadow vegetation (grasses and forbs) and riparian vegetation (aspens and willows) are limited to areas around the few water sources found on the Refuge. Mountain mahogany and western juniper stands are found on higher elevations of the refuge.

The distribution of vegetation largely determines the distribution of wildlife populations on Sheldon. Antelope browse in low sagebrush and mountain mahogany communities. Bighorn sheep are found in rugged terrain vegetated in big sagebrush. Sage grouse occur mainly in areas containing sagebrush communities interspersed with upland meadows.

Other mammals common to the area include coyote, jackrabbit, bobcat and mountain lion. 180 bird species have been identified, consisting primarily of passerine species, with limited species represented by waterfowl, raptors and upland game birds. A number of amphibians and reptiles are also common to the area, but knowledge of their abundance and distribution is limited. Fish populations are limited by water availability, but the area does support several indigenous species, including cutthroat trout and chub.

Recreation - Activities in this region include, wildlife viewing, nature study, bird watching, scenic viewing, boating, fishing, camping, horseback riding, hunting, 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 - The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northwestern corner of Nevada. The area can be reached by traveling west along Highway 140 for fourteen miles from Denio.

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: David Woolley (Clovis, Calif)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: November 17-20, 2005. Video trip into the Sheldon to view Mule deer during the early winter months, before they migrate out to wintering areas. Was surprized at the size and quality of bucks seen. Lots of twin fawns and younger bucks also were prevelant in most areas visited. Antelope had moved to their wintering grounds, but one large herd remained on the upper South slopes of Catnip Mtn. Lots of coyotes throughout the Refuge. Spent 2 days at Catnip Reservoir. Some wild horses still in the area, lots of waterfowl, some eagles. Weather was incredible, 60's during the day and low teens at night, no clouds and no wind. Not one person encountered. Weather may not be like this for 10 years or more. Plan to visit in the Spring again, around wildflower time. Refuge is well managed and a great place for photography............

Filed By: Marle Jandreau (Ashland, OR)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Had an exciting day kayaking on Catnip Reservoir. We watched through the reeds as a herd of wild horses was watering. We were close enough to get a few terrific photographs and to see three young male horses start to challenge the head stallion. They weren't ready yet, as it turned out! There was also an abundance of yellow-headed blackbirds--more than I've ever seen in one place. Can't wait to go back! We never get tired of Sheldon and Hart Mt. Antelope refuges. I pray there will always be wilderness! Thank you for preserving this wild and wonderful place.

Filed By: Jack & Barbara Patrick (Springfield, OR)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Sheldon Refuge was awesome, camping was free and they provide clean toilets, running water, warm showers, and a great big warm pool of water to soak in. We think they should except donations for such a well kept Camp. You will see an abundance of wildlife, birds, donkeys, wild horses. Well worth the visit and drive. Forest Ranger Bryan Day was very informative about the area and keeps a watchful eye on the park and surroundings.

Filed By: Joe Shannon (Paradise Valley, NV)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: We just completed a trip to the Royal Peacock Opal Mine in the Virgin Valley Mining District. It is 10 miles from Highway 140 going north toward Lakeview, OR. We were driving a Jeep Cherokee and the road was washboard the entire 10 miles. It nearly shook us to pieces. I don't know why the road is not maintained better if they want to attract tourists to the area.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Biology
ICON Viewing Wildlife

More Information

Contact Information:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sheldon/Hart Mountain NWRC, P.O. Box 11 , Lakeview, OR, 97630, Phone: 541-947-3315

Additional Information:
Nevada National Wildlife Refuges and Preserves - National Wildlife Refuges and Preserves are scattered throughout Nevada and includes such reserves as the 1.5 million acre Desert National Wildlife Range which is the largest refuge in the 48 contiguous states.
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.
Reno-Tahoe Region - This incredible area offers the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe's crystalline waters, rolling forests of pine and fir, snow-covered mountains, an ancient sea turned into a desert lake, historic mining towns and much more.

Sheldon-Hartman National Wildlife Refuge - Official agency website.


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