Irene Davidson, District Ranger
1536 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89701
The Carson Ranger District extends along the eastern front of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, straddling the Nevada and California border with a land base of 368,600 acres. The District is about 15 miles wide and near 100 miles long and stretches from the Dog Valley area northwest of Reno, Nevada heading south along the Carson Range, passing between Lake Tahoe and Carson City, then continuing further south to Alpine County in California and ending just north of the Sonora Pass and Highway 108 area.
The Carson Ranger District climate is as varied as the landscape it encompasses. From high alpine peaks with snow present far into the summer, to warm sage brush covered lower valleys of the semi-arid high desert. Summer temperatures range from the mid 80's into the 90's with a few days topping 100 degrees. The evening temperatures are very pleasant however can be cool depending on the elevation. Winter temperatures average in the mid 40's during the day with night time lows in the 10's and 20's with a few mornings dropping down to near zero or below. Precipitation varies greatly depending where you are. The mountains can be buried in snow in the winter where as Carson City gets much less. During the summer months the occasional monsoon can bring thunderstorms to the area to cool off a hot day.
Carson City, Nevada is where the district office is located and the elevation is around 4,800 feet. The high spot is Sonora Peak which is at 11,462 feet.
Points of interest
Within the Carson Ranger District there are three designated wilderness areas that can be enjoyed for those wanting to explore the beauty of the Sierra Nevada 's. They are the Carson-Iceberg, Mokelumne and Mount Rose Wilderness Areas. Also of interest are the fall colors in Hope Valley, the Mount Rose Ski Area, Crystal Peak and Crystal Mine, Carson Pass National Forest Byway, Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway and the Pacific Crest Trail.
Flora and Fauna
The Carson Ranger District contains numerous species typical of the eastern Sierra. These species range from the rare Tahoe draba and Washoe pine to the more common Jeffery and ponderosa pine. The foothills and valley contain a mix of sagebrush and rabbitbrush gradually moving into pinyon and Utah juniper as the elevations increases. At the lower reaches of the timber community Jeffrey pine and white fir communities dominate the landscape. As you move into the upper reaches of the timber communities’ lodgepole pine, incense cedar and the majestic California red fir are plentiful. At timberline you can find mountain hemlock and the windblown “krumholtz” forms of whitebark and limber pines. Above timberline subalpine tundra-like vegetation consisting of grasses and sedges, forbs, mosses, lichens and dwarf shrubs can be found.
The most common of the larger species of wildlife of the Carson Ranger District is the mule deer. There are also black bear, mountain lion (rare) and bobcat. It is also possible to see a pine martin and numerous other small mammals, reptiles and birds (including the golden and bald eagle). The District is also home to mountain stream and lake trout fishing. The endangered Paiute cutthroat trout lives no where else in the world except on the Carson Ranger District.
The Carson Ranger District offers a variety of recreational opportunities throughout the year. Summer offers everything from camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle activities and rock climbing to river floating. Winter activities on the District include snowshoeing, various types of skiing as well as motorized winter sports. Due to the varied elevation and landscapes, bird watching and wildflower photography enthusiasts enjoy and extended season on the Carson Ranger District. A free Recreation Guide is available by writing or calling the Carson Ranger District at the number listed above.
The Carson Ranger District did not become an official Forest Service entity until 1925. However, before that time the lands currently associated with it were part of the Stanislaus and Lake Tahoe National Forests (1897-1907). In 1908, what was the Stanislaus became the Mono National Forest. Between 1908 and 1944, parts of the Carson Ranger District were associated with both the Mono and Tahoe National Forests. Lands were officially exchanged in 1925 to create the Carson Ranger District, and another major land exchange to the District occurred in 1938. In 1945, the lands associated with both the Mono and Tahoe Forests became part of the Toiyabe National Forest, including Carson’s. By 1960, the Carson Ranger District was composed of 10,000 acres. It was not until 1988 that the lands now recognized as the Carson Ranger District took on its current form at 368,600 acres.
In partnership with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, the Carson Ranger District office offers an excellent onsite bookstore. There you can find a wide variety of books ranging from up to date field guides, to trail guides and historical books. There is also a large selection of maps, shirts, hats, children's books and Smokey Bear products. Phone orders are accepted with credit card by calling the office at 775-882-2766.