The Dirt: Barrel Springs Backcountry Byway



LICENSED VEHICLES ONLY. All of the Byway is paved in California and improved gravel roads in Nevada. The Nevada segments can be driven by all types of vehicles when the route is dry, but may require high-clearance vehicles during wet seasons. Please stop by the Surprise Field Office in Cedarville for current road conditions.

From prehistoric stories to revisiting the Old West, this Back Country Byway Loop reveals some of the secrets of the Great Basin Desert. This distinctive 93-mile driving tour takes the traveler through a wide variety of natural settings and points of interest. The Byway forms a loop that begins and ends in Cedarville, California and takes a minimum of three hours without stops. But travelers will be tempted to stop, particularly if they are using the 32-page BLM Byway Tour Guide which tells the historic and prehistoric stories of the Surprise Valley, points out the myriad of attractions in the state line mountains (from fossils and a pictograph site to wildlife) and reveals some of the secrets here in the silent Great Basin dessert. Be sure to take your camera, especially if you’re crossing the highway causeway across Surprise Valley’s Middle Lake at sunset.

For further information contact the Bureau of Land Management’s Surprise Field Station in Cedarville at (530) 279-6101.


From Cedarville, California:

  • Take Highway 299 from downtown Cedarville and follow designated route East.

From Vya, Washoe County, Nevada:

  • Follow County Road 8A West and follow designated route.

Rules of the Road

Land Manager: Bureau of Land Management

BLM Field Station - Surprise
602 Cressler Street
Cedarville, CA 961045
Telephone: 530-279-6101

Motor vehicles are permitted on designated trails only. For local regulations regarding OHV use on county roads, visit the BLM OHV Website 

Always plan ahead and prepare for uncertainty. Travel with warm clothing, first aid, food, water and appropriate tools to fix a problem.
Traveling in groups is always a good idea, as well as informing someone of where you will be going.

  • Register Your Vehicle
  • Make sure your vehicle is equipped with a spark arrestor
  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Trail Users

Leave No Trace

Tread Lightly

Historic Preservation

Plan Your Visit