One of the places I was most excited to ride through on our recent journey is truly one of the most remote places in the continental U.S. Located in Elko County, in the northeast corner of Nevada, just south of the Idaho border, you'll find spectacular views, rugged terrain, and complete solitude.
This out-of-the-way area is home to the Jarbidge Wilderness - 113,00+ acres of pristine public land. (Areas that are designated as "wilderness" by Congress are protected from development. They are closed to mechanized recreation, which means you can't use a car, atv, or bicycle in wilderness areas. They are, however, open to hikers and horses!) The Jarbidge Wilderness features dozens of mountain peaks, eight of which are over 10,000 ft. It's also an unusually wet area for Nevada, with two lakes, many rivers, creeks, and streams. Lush meadows and trees abound, including Subalpine Fir, Whitebark Pine, and Quaking Aspens. I'm told the wildflowers in Jarbidge are amazing in the spring. We rode through in September, which was still beautiful with all the fall colors starting to emerge.
For my ride, I chose a nearly 20-mile pack trail that runs north-south through the wilderness area. I can honestly say it was some of the most thrilling riding I have ever done in my life! The pack trail is extremely technical, with non-stop obstacles and lots of elevation change. In many places the narrow trail wound high up along the sides of the mountains. I kept telling myself not to look down and I hoped Sage wouldn't either! The pack trail was fairly easy to follow. There are very few signs, but in some confusing spots people have erected rock cairns to help guide travelers. I only lost the trail once, but luckily was able to get back on track with my GPS.
It seemed as though every turn of the trail revealed a new, stunning landscape. I couldn't stop taking pictures! This is certainly not the terrain most people think of when they think of Nevada. One of the most wonderful experiences I had riding through this area was seeing all the elk. We encountered several bull elk and more than a dozen cow elk throughout the day. They are magnificent animals to see up close. And hearing them bugle? It gives you goose bumps! Incredibly, we spent a whole day riding through the wilderness area, but we didn't see a single other person. I felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
After a very tough day of riding in the Jarbidge Wilderness, we rode through the town of Jarbidge itself. This quaint community is home to approx. 180 people. It has one hotel, one bar, one diner, one gas station, a community center/museum, and... that's about it! We had a blast riding through town. Several residents came to talk to us and one lady told me it had been a long time since someone rode a horse through town!
Go check out Jarbidge! It's well worth the drive. You'll want good tires; the roads are not paved. Also bring cash; there's no ATM, though the hotel and diner accept cards. The wilderness area has 150+ miles of pack trails to explore and quite a few trail heads. Trail maps are extremely hard to find online, but the Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas from Benchmark Maps is a good start. This is one place I definitely want to go back to explore more. In fact, if you're planning to go let me know and I'll go with you!
The latest updates from Samantha on the Nevada Discovery Ride.