Mount Pisgah is located in the Goshute Mountains about 24 miles south-southwest of West Wendover, Nevada. Pisgah is the Hebrew word meaning a “high place.” At an elevation of 8,999 feet and with a prominence of 1,175 feet, it is the third highest summit in the range, which runs north-south for 35 miles. Goshute Peak, the range’s highest point at 9,609 feet, lies 5.4 miles to the north.
Mount Pisgah is situated in the 69,770-acre Goshute Peak Wilderness Study Area (WSA), administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Dense piñon-juniper woodlands dominate the lower elevations, transitioning to mixed conifer forests at the higher elevations.
The summit provides a commanding view of a vast landscape sculpted by a host of mountain ranges and valleys. Ultra-prominent Pilot Peak lies 43 miles to the north. To the east in neighboring Utah are the salt flats of the Great Salt Lake Desert.
Looking south from Mt. Pisgah.
Just south of the summit.
Summit view to the east.
Goshute Raptor Migration Area
BLM sign along route to the Goshutes.
The majority of visitors make the trek to Mount Pisgah not for the great summit views, but for a different kind of view instead. Along the route of the Intermountain Flyway, this area boasts one of the highest concentrations of raptors in the western United States and Canada.
HawkWatch International (HWI), based in Salt Lake City, Utah, began raptor migratory studies in the Goshute Mountains in 1980 and have maintained standardized annual counts since 1983. Typical counts range from 12,000 to 25,000 for as many as 18 species of raptors. HWI’s camp, manned from August 15th to November 5th each year, is just below Pisgah’s summit. This project and the dedicated people involved can afford visitors with a rewarding and unique learning experience. Please visit their website for more information.
HawkWatch volunteer with Golden Eagle.
A BLM sign at the parking area reads:
WATCHABLE WILDLIFE SITE
GOSHUTE RAPTOR MIGRATION AREA
THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAINS DIRECTLY AHEAD FORM THE GOSHUTE RAPTOR MIGRATION AREA, SITE OF THE LARGEST KNOWN CONCENTRATION OF MIGRATING BIRDS OF PREY IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES. HAWKWATCH INTERNATIONAL, A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO THE STUDY OF RAPTORS, IN COOPERATION WITH BLM, CONDUCTS AN ANNUAL COUNT AND BANDING OF THE BIRDS EACH FALL FROM LATE AUGUST THROUGH OCTOBER.
IT IS COMMON DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE MIGRATION IN SEPTEMBER TO OBSERVE OVER 200 HAWKS, EAGLES AND FALCONS IN ONE DAY. THE OBJECTIVE OF THE COUNT AND BANDING STUDY IS TO INVESTIGATE THE MIGRATION PATTERNS AND POPULATION TRENDS OF THE BIRDS. THIS INFORMATION IS ALSO VALUABLE TO BLM SINCE THE RAPTORS ARE LONG RANGING AND AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN, MAKING THEM EXCELLENT INDICATORS OF THE HEALTH OF HABITATS ADMINISTERED BY BLM AND OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES THROUGHOUT THE WEST.
FROM THIS POINT ON, YOU WILL BE TRAVELING WITHIN THE GOSHUTE PEAK WILDERNESS STUDY AREA, AND NO MOTOR VEHICLES ARE PERMITTED BEYOND THIS SIGN. PLEASE - DO YOUR PART TO PRESERVE THE NATURALNESS OF THE AREA BY STAYING ON DESIGNATED TRAILS, PACKING OUT YOUR GARBAGE, TAKING ONLY PICTURES AND LEAVING ONLY FOOTPRINTS.
NO WATER IS AVAILABLE ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN FOR VISITORS. THE 2.5 MILE HIKE TO THE TOP IS MODERATELY STRENUOUS, WITH AN ELEVATION GAIN OF OVER 1,500 FEET. PLEASE, NO PETS.
HWI site display.
HWI camp area.
Pisgah’s summit from HWI camp.
From Interstate 80 at West Wendover, Nevada, take exit 410 to Wendover Blvd., then proceed south on US-93 Alternate for about 23 miles. Turn right (west) onto the dirt road on the south side of Ferguson Mountain. There is a sign at the intersection for the Goshute raptor area. Other signage along the route helps you to stay on course. Proceed west for about 1.8 miles, then turn right (north) at the intersection. Proceed northwest for about 1.3 miles and stay left at the intersection. Proceed another 1.3 miles to the southwest to the parking area at the eastern boundary of the WSA. There are some bumpy areas, and while you’ll want higher clearance on this road, 4WD is not necessary under normal conditions.
Route to Summit
The route starts at an elevation of 7,000 feet at the border of the wilderness study area. From the parking area, follow the old two-track road southwest into Christmas Tree Canyon. After about 0.8 miles, the two-track road will terminate. At this point, there is a trail register, a BLM Carsonite wilderness study area marker, and a “Wildlife Viewing Area” sign. This is where a well-defined hiking trail begins. Continue west through the canyon. After passing through the canyon, follow the trail through a series of switchbacks up the northeastern slope of the mountain. Near the end, the trail leads south through the HWI camp before winding north to Pisgah’s summit. This route is 2.3 miles one-way with 2,000 feet net elevation gain. Note that these numbers differ from those on the BLM sign at the parking area (see Goshute Raptor Migration Area section above).
Looking down to the parking area.
Trail view near summit.
BLM regulations apply. No firewood cutting. No pets on the trail. Wilderness area rules apply – please follow the Leave No Trace principles.
There are no developed campgrounds in the area. Dispersed camping on BLM land is permitted at no cost for a maximum of 14 days at the same location.
Food & Lodging
West Wendover, Nevada is located at the junction of Interstate 80 and US-93 Alternate, about 24 miles north of the dirt road turnoff from US-93 Alt. A handful of large hotel casinos in West Wendover, which include the Red Garter, Peppermill, Rainbow, Montego Bay, and the Nugget, provide first-rate accommodations. There are also some fast food restaurants such as Subway, Burger King, and McDonald’s.