Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Dispersed Camping and Boondocking

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Dispersed camping is allowed at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge for a maximum of 14 days per year in approved campgrounds or with a backcountry camping permit. Although reservations are not accepted, there should be enough room for everyone. The campground at Virgin Valley is open all through the year. Pit latrines, potable water, a warm springs pool, and a basic bathhouse can all be found there. The rest of the campgrounds are rustic and only have pit toilets and no running water. Depending on the time of year, the roads leading to other camping spots may be closed.

If you want to discover the most isolated regions of the National Wildlife Refuge, you can also dispersed camp there with a backcountry permit. Backcountry camping requires being at least half a mile from a paved road, half a mile from one’s vehicle, and 50 feet from a water source. When having a picnic in the wilderness, you may not light any fires.

The dispersed camping area of the National Wildlife Refuge is enormous. My wife and I enjoy the outdoors, but we try to avoid the crowds at popular destinations like Yosemite and Yellowstone. We frequently go on extended solo dry camps in the middle of nowhere. We’ll be happy if we can only find a flat area to camp on. Vault restrooms are ideal if available. It’s great news if there’s a water supply in the area. You should trust our assessment of Sheldon Wildlife Refuge now that you know more about us.

Unlike other public lands, dispersed camping places within National Wildlife Refuges are strictly governed to ensure the safety of the refuge’s wildlife inhabitants. Visitors can enjoy and explore the Refuge in a number of ways, despite the fact that it is managed to conserve species and maintain its harsh, remote, and underdeveloped character. It is your duty as a visitor to learn about and respect the restrictions set up for the safety of the animals and the public. You should be safe. Use initiative. Be responsible!

Sport Fishing

The only places you may go fishing are at Dufurrena Ponds, Catnip Reservoir, Big Spring Reservoir, and McGee Pond. Cutthroat fishing is only allowed during specific times at Catnip Reservoir. Bass, bluegill, and other warm-water fish species can be found in the Dufurrena Ponds. Despite Big Spring Reservoir periodically drying up, trout are stocked there whenever the water temperature is high enough. When in doubt about when or how much you can shoot in Nevada, consult the state’s rules.


It is legal to hunt some types of big game, waterfowl, and upland birds in some places, depending on local, state, and federal regulations. Hunting is strictly forbidden in Virgin Valley and the western part of the Refuge, as indicated by posted signs. Waterfowl hunting is likewise prohibited in the Big Spring and Catnip reservoirs. Temporary synthetic ground blinds can be used on our property. Put up your blinds no sooner than one week prior to the opening day of the hunting season for which you have a permit, make sure they are clearly labeled with your name and permit number, and take them down no later than 24 hours after you have harvested an animal or the conclusion of the hunting season. Please familiarize yourself with all local, state, and federal laws pertaining to hunting in the Refuge. There is a ban on all non-native species.


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.

1. Sheldon NWR – Virgin Valley Campground

Sage Brush Rd
Denio, Nevada 89404
41.85804, -119.00095

Virgin Valley campground is accessible year-round. There you will find pit toilets, drinking water, a warm springs pool and a rustic shower house. All other campgrounds are primitive; none have potable water and only some have pit toilets. Road access to these other camping areas may be impassable seasonally.

2. Sheldon NWR – West Rock Spring

Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.896805, -119.365425
Elevation: 6381′

3. Sheldon NWR – North Hell Creek

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.774909, -119.272224
Elevation: 6155′

4. Sheldon NWR – Little Catnip Spring

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.903303, -119.436002
Elevation: 5965′

5. Sheldon NWR – Gooch Spring

Nevada 8A
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.867921, -119.282695
Elevation: 6043′

6. Sheldon NWR – Wheeler Spring

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.608842, -119.347602
Elevation: 688

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Dispersed Camping and Boondocking

7. Sheldon NWR – East Rock Spring

Unnamed Road
Winnemucca, Nevada
GPS: 41.674369, -119.048717
Elevation: 6109′

8. Sheldon NWR – Devaney

Unnamed Road
Winnemucca, Nevada
GPS: 41.696876, -119.167406
Elevation: 5984′

9. Sheldon NWR – Cottonwood Creek

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.592487, -119.304713
Elevation: 6050′

10. Sheldon NWR – Catnip Reservoir

State Route 34A
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.912922, -119.459754
Elevation: 5791′

11. Sheldon NWR – Big Spring Reservoir

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.929005, -119.172702
Elevation: 5515′

12. Sheldon NWR – Bateman Spring

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.607793, -119.245112
Elevation: 6047′

13. Sheldon NWR – Badger

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
GPS: 41.649029, -119.30786
Elevation: 6070′

14. Sheldon NWR – Wheeler Spring Dispersed Camping

Unnamed Road
Denio, Nevada
41.608842, -119.347602
Elevation: 63347′

Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge Dispersed Camping and Boondocking






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