The Dirt: Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge



Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge is home to 572,896 acres of sage-brush steppe habitat set aside primarily for the preservation of American Pronghorn, the fastest land animal in North America capable of reaching speeds of up to 60mph. Due to its past and current relationship with commercial mining the refuge is still open to off-highway vehicles on designated roads. The many trails follow along wide-open rolling hills into deep narrow valleys where water crossings pose a threat of becoming bogged down.

Primitive camping is available at Virgin Valley Campground near the eastern entrance to the refuge. Here you will find vault toilets, a man-made warm springs pool, and solar showers all at no cost.

In addition to off-highway vehicle use and wildlife viewing, many people come to the refuge for the expansive opal mining industry that allows rock-hounds to pay to search for the precious gemstones at private mines throughout the refuge. For more information on other campgrounds, mines, rules and regulations see the USFWS site.


From Winnemucca, Nevada take US 95 approx. 31.5 miles to NV-140, Turn left on NV-140 and after approx 65.5 miles stay left on NV-140 at Denio Junction, in 25 miles take a left onto Virgin Valley Ranch Road to Virgin Valley Campground.

Rules of the Road

Land Manager: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

US Fish & Wildlife Service
Sheldon-Hart Mountain NWR Complex
20995 Rabbit Hill Rd.
Lakeview, Oregon 97630-1818

Telephone: 541-947-3315

Vehicles, (both motorized and non-motorized) are allowed ONLY on designated open routes (see map). Roads are open as indicated by road signs, refuge maps, or other information subject to weather and road conditions and for resource/habitat protection.

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

Land Manager

Plan Your Visit