The Jarbidge Mountains are located in northeastern Elko County. They are contained within the Jarbidge Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. It has eight peaks over 10,000 feet, some of which drop to deep glaciated canyons 4,000 feet below. These mountains form a single crest and maintain elevations between 9,800 and 11,000 feet for about seven miles. Eight peaks exceed the 10,000 foot mark. The original Jarbidge Wilderness was established by the 1964 Wilderness Act, and was the first wilderness area protected in Nevada. Expanded in 1989 by the Nevada Wilderness Act, this wilderness is now over 113,000 acres. The wilderness area contains the headwaters of both the Marys River and the Jarbidge Rivers. Emerald and Jarbidge Lakes are also within its boundaries. 

Eight peaks exceed the 10,000 foot mark.

The name Jarbidge translates from the Shoshone to mean “monster that lurks in the canyon” or “weird beastly creature.” Legend tells of a man eating giant that roamed the area of Jarbidge Canyon. 

Extreme variations in elevation, moisture, and soil make it an area of great beauty. Bright and varied colors of vegetation, soil and rock complement its spectacular topography and remoteness. It features low-elevation, shrub-dominated alpine ecosystems as well as some of Nevada’s finest deer habitat. Scenic vistas range from sagebrush flatland to high, rugged, rocky peaks.

The Jarbidge Wilderness is unusually wet compared to other arid areas of Nevada. It receives seven to eight feet of snow annually. Cottonwood trees are predominant along the streams at low elevations. Numerous intermittent streams, springs, seeps and small meadows provide water for birds and other wildlife. This high water amount helps to provide a spectacular wildflower show in early summer. A botanist conducted a study in the area and found over 600 species of plants. The vegetation varies from high cold desert to alpine zones.

The Jarbidge River originates in the wilderness and flows down Jarbidge canyon through a deep gorge flanked by cliffs and tree covered slopes. Trees include aspen, white fir, sub-alpine fir and whitebark pine. The river is home to the rare redband trout and has Nevada’s only population of bull trout. 

Wildlife is seasonally abundant and includes mule deer, elk, mountain lions, coyotes as well as ground squirrels and chipmunks. The riparian drainages found within the Jarbidge host significant numbers of songbirds and the higher elevation sagebrush tablelands host Sage Grouse and are important brood rearing sites. Birds include Dusky Grouse, Red Crossbill, Cassin’s Finch, Hermit and Swainson’s thrushes, Mountain Bluebird, Yellow-breasted Chat, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Raptors include Northern Goshawk, Prairie Falcon, American Kestrel and Golden Eagle.

For more information and access directions contact the Jarbridge Ranger District @ 775-752-3357. For residents of Elko County this northern Nevada mountain range is within a two-hour drive.  

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