The 13.5 mile long Fortification Range is a low mountain range composed almost entirely of volcanic materials (tuffs and tuffaceous breccia). Most of the range is comprised of gentle ridges, however, the north end becomes very rugged and precipitous (elevations range from 6,150 to 8,268 feet) where the rock has been eroded into sheer cliffs and massive outcrops. These spectacular formations and cliffs for which the range was named form a huge natural amphitheater at the head of the Cottonwood Canyon drainage. Scattered ponderosa pine, pinyon, juniper, aspen and cottonwood are found in the northern portion of the wilderness, while the southern portion is densely forested by pinyon and juniper. Wildlife within the wilderness includes mule deer, antelope, mountain lions, and raptors.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Fortification Range Wilderness.
The Fortification Range Wilderness is located in northern Lincoln County near the White Pine County border, approximately 50 miles southeast of Ely.
Access to this Wilderness from Ely is south on Federal Highway 93. Then 19 miles south of the the intersection of federal highways 6, 50, and 93 turn left onto county road 47 which merges into county road 457. This county road runs along the eastern boundary of the Fortification Range Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act of 2004 - Public law 108-424 (11/30/2004) To establish wilderness areas, promote conservation, improve public land, and provide for the high quality development in Lincoln County, Nevada, and for other purposes.
Outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation exist within the Fortification Range Wilderness including hiking, camping, backpacking, photography, nature study, horseback riding, and hunting. Opportunities for observing the geology are abundant with multi-hued pink sculpted rock formations, and dazzling white spires only a short hike from the northeastern boundary.
Cottonwood Canyon, accessed from the eastern side of the range, provides a pleasant one-mile trail into "the amphitheater". This bowl-shaped head of the drainage has impressively colored rock outcrops.
Safety and Current Conditions
Contact the BLM, Ely District Office for current weather, road conditions, and hazards.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.