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  • Writer's pictureJason Sheck

High Rock Canyon Road

High Rock Canyon Road takes you through the middle of a wilderness area in northwestern Nevada. It's a pretty remote part of Nevada but we still saw a few other people around - some backpackers and two other Jeepers. We now carry a satellite communication device so we can get a text or SOS out if we ever need to...cell phone reception is pipedream in these areas. Obviously we hope to never need the satellite communicator, but things happen and the Jeep can break down like any vehicle. The canyon is closed for a few months over winter and into spring for lambing and nesting. While we didn't see any Desert Bighorns, the possibility of a sighting had us looking up at the rock faces every chance we could. Overall, May feels like the time of year to see this canyon. It isn't too hot yet, and many plants are green and growing.

What did I learn?

They always tell you to check a water crossing before you enter them, and I should have. The crossing shown in an image below is one where I should have. As we made our way into the middle of it the water starting coming up the doors, which makes it the deepest water crossing we've done to date. The water was barely moving and the bottom was hard, so we made it, phew!

As we worked our way north from Wadsworth to Gerlach, you could see Pyramid Lake in the distance.

This is as close to Burning Man as I need to get. This is the portion of the Black Rock Desert referred to as "The Playa", where Burning Man is held annually.

For the most part, High Rock Canyon road is passable by vehicles with some amount of ground clearance. Low range gears will help pass through the more challenging sections slowly and in control, but low range isn't necessarily a requirement. Vehicles on the lower-end of ground clearance will likely require some spotting here-and-there to cross over some of the rock gardens without damage. SUVs with higher ground clearance can probably travel this road without issue, but the bigger the vehicle, the more pinstripes it's going to get! I didn't air down, but if we take the road again I'll air down at the southern end of the canyon, and disconnect the sway bar, just to soften the ride.

After traveling from home all the way to High Rock Canyon with very few stops, we were ready for a break. We find a wide spot in the road and parked near what is known as "The Three Sisters". Beneath one of the cliffs is a large cave that served as a Post Office Cave during the wagon train years, and another rock had inscriptions scratched into them from travelers in the 1800s. I can only imagine how lonely this canyon was in 1852.

A fun little opening in the ridge where countless wagons must have passed through when this was one of the trails to reach California.

There were a number of water crossings along the route. This is the one that was a little deeper than expected but the bottom was solid enough for the Jeep to keep moving without any trouble. It was near this crossing where the Jeep took on several more pinstripes passing through a part of the trail where the bushes were significantly overgrown.

After passing by the Steven's Camp area we headed north to connect with Nevada State Route 8A. From there made our way west to start back toward Incline Village via Cedarville, Alturas, and Susanville, CA. There's a beautiful mountain pass just west of Cedarville where we came across a late spring snow storm. It was a nice change of pace from the sagebrush desert we were in for over 100 miles.

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