By Jon Crowley
I have driven through northern Nevada on my way to many other destinations (Rally on the Rocks in Moab or UTV Invasion in Idaho), and have always wanted to explore this corner of Nevada. Well in August of 2017, thanks to Bert at We Ride LLC, I finally got the opportunity.
With a group of five UTVs that included my Polaris GENERAL, two Kawasaki Teryx4, a Can-Am Commander and a Polaris RZR S 900 we rode 220 miles in a day starting and ending our adventure out of Wells, Nevada. We came up with the hashtag of #wells220 for the ride so if you are on Instagram, go take a look. The ride would circumnavigate Jarbidge Wilderness Area with a stop in the town of Jarbidge for fuel.
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
In addition to the Jarbidge Wilderness Area which we were going around (no vehicles allowed in a Wilderness Area), we would be in and out of the The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The Humboldt-Toiyabe is located primarily in Nevada and parts of eastern California and is the largest national forest in the US outside of Alaska at 6.3 million acres.
The first 30-40 miles from Wells was mostly graded dirt roads. Our first stop was at the remnants of Metropolis, NV. The Pacific Reclamation Company, of New York, looked upon the semi-fertile lands in the region of the headwaters of the Humboldt River as a place to build a showcase community of farms and a model city a short distance northwest of Wells, Nevada in 1909. Plans called for 40,000 irrigated and non-irrigated acres to be cultivated, surrounding a modern city of 7,500. In 1911, a city of graded streets, cement sidewalks, fire hydrants and street lights was laid out with a four square block commercial district. The dream fell apart when drought and water rights fell apart.
Jarbidge Wilderness Area
We left Metropolis and headed towards Jarbidge Wilderness Area which is tucked into the northeast corner of Nevada on the north edge of the Great Basin. Its isolated location makes it very remote. Elevations range from cool desert at approximately 5,000 feet to towering peaks well over 10,000 feet. The wide range of elevations make the Jarbidge Wilderness a display of various wildlife and vegetation.
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 and Jarbidge Rivers, and of Salmon Falls Creek. Nearly ten mountain peaks of greater than 10,000 feet are located within the wilderness.
Unfortunately, any roads that did exist before the area was declared wilderness were decommissioned and the only way to explore the Jarbidge Wilderness Area is on foot or horseback. There are many spur (up and back) roads that get you up adjacent to the wilderness area, but no motorized vehicles are allowed inside.
We basically drove counterclockwise around the Jarbidge Wilderness Area with a stop in the town of Jarbidge. The basic goal of the route that Bert has setup was to keep us as close to the Jarbidge Wilderness Area as possible while keeping forward progress (no spurs for the most part).
Once we rounded the NE corner of the Jarbidge Wilderness Area, we ran into enough rain to make us stop and dig out our rain jackets. The storm mostly missed us and we stopped for a late lunch break at Slide Creek Campground. After lunch, we headed into Robison Hole. Nothing at Robison Hole to note other than we dropped down into the canyon 1000+ feet to Jim Bob Creek. Then crossed the East Fork of the Jarbidge Creek before quickly climbing back out of the “hole”.
The climb out is much steeper than pictures and video can adequately portray with loose rocks and ruts to make it a little more tricky. Low range is a must and a decent amount of ground clearance is a big help. My Polaris GENERAL has a 2-inch lift and 30-inch tires so it handled it like a dream.
After leaving Robison Hole, we set our sites on Jarbidge. There are few ways into Jarbidge, and all of them are on dirt. The way we came in said 4×4 only and they meant it! People often think that Nevada is a flat desert, but on this trip around Jarbidge Wilderness Area, you see so many different types of terrain and vegetation and that is what makes it so unique and interesting.
The tiny town of Jarbidge, Nevada may be the most isolated of Nevada’s well-known mining towns. The town of Jarbidge is nestled in the canyon along the scenic Jarbidge River. The Jarbidge Wilderness Area, a sprawling 65,000-acre region that extends north almost into Idaho, surrounds this historic community and is perfect for backcountry adventure. In winter months, access to this ruggedly remote town is usually limited to the drive in from Idaho, due to deep snowdrifts blocking off the Nevada entrance.
We stopped into Jarbidge to top off on fuel (credit/debit only) and to give the town a quick once-over. If I do a trip to Jarbidge again, I think an overnight stay would be in order. They do have rooms, a restaurant and a bar and this would allow you to slow the pace down a bit and explore a bit more on the way back to Wells, NV.
By the time we left Jarbidge, it was after 5PM and we had another 110 miles to go before reaching Wells, NV. Thankfully, the route we were taking back was a little more high-speed than we had getting to Jarbidge.
While 220 mile days off-road are a little bit more than I typically like to bite off on in one day, having a chance to explore this area of Nevada was priceless. I will definitely head back to this area for more riding in the future.
Huge thanks to Bert from We Ride for the invite. He has been off-roading in Nevada all of his life and is an invaluable source of knowledge.
The Polaris GENERAL 1000 is a perfect adventure rig for this type of riding. The GENERAL comes with a sporty suspension, comfortable seating, great visibility and most importantly, a decent sized bed for all of your gear (see POLARIS GENERAL 1000 EPS REVIEW for more details). Our Polaris GENERAL has a few modifications that make it even more capable including Shock Therapy + FOX 2.5″ RC2 shocks (see POLARIS GENERAL SHOCK UPGRADE), RT Pro lift, 30-inch Sedona tires mounted on 14-inch beadlocks, Vision X LED lights, Factory UTV UHMW skid plate, and Rugged Radios and intercom.