New Pass Peak is not unlike most great basin peaks in central Nevada of similar stature. It possesses many of the same familiar characteristics that other peaks in the vicinity have - sagebrush/chaparral covered slopes, an arid, dry climate, and solitude. As it is also a 2,000 foot prominence peak, it also commands a great view of the surrounding basin-and-range topography characterizing the area.
New Pass Peak, located to the north of (you guessed it) New Pass Summit, is situated in an area that gives the visitor unobstructed views for many, many miles. To the south-west, one is treated to a fine view of the Desatoya Twins
. To the west, the equally-high Clan Alpine range dominates the skyline, with its highpoint Mt. Augusta
. Eastward, the sharp west face of the Toiyabe range with its 11,000'+ summits (including Bunker Hill
and Toiyabe Peak) is visible for over 100 miles. In all directions, range upon range stretch into the distance, with no end in sight.
The topography of the peak and surrounding area is gentle, making for an easy outing from just about any direction, although a drive-up is a possibility for those with adequate vehicles.
As with most other areas in remote central Nevada, just getting to the peak from any major metropolitan area takes several hours of driving. Fortunately, and unlike other Nevada summits, there is a paved road at least reaching within 10 miles of the summit.
First, you'll need to get yourself to New Pass Summit on US 50, west of Austin, Nevada. If you're coming from Reno, this entails about 2 1/2 hours driving. (Note if you're doing this, you'll pass right by Fairview Peak
en route, another Nevada 2,000 foot prominence peak and easy climb).
From New Pass Summit, you can drive up the graded gravel/dirt road to the New Pass Mine (8mi driving). The road ends at the mine at el. ~8,000'. From there, you can scramble over the easy class 2 slopes to the summit, about 1.5 miles along the ridgeline to the north. The total distance for this variation is about 3 miles round trip and 1,000-1,200' gain.
Another option is to drive 1.4 miles east of New Pass Summit to an unmarked dirt road leading N. Follow this dirt road 11 miles to a flat area at 7,500' just before the road starts making a steep ascent of the ridge descending from the summit. As you drive along the road, follow the main road and ignore any lesser-used side roads. This road is, as of May 2010, in very good condition and passable to the flat area by most passenger cars. Continuing up the road an additional 1.5 miles to the summit is possible, but it is somewhat steep in spots and 4WD is likely going to be required. However, the condition of the road is still excellent - it's just steep.
Although the peak is in the great basin and doesn't receive as much snow as the nearby Toiyabe range, the road may be impassible due to snow in the winter.
The summit consists of a small cairn and some radio equipment. Views are great in all directions.
Red Tape & Camping
The area surrounding the peak is BLM land, like most areas in Nevada. No permits are required, and there were no gates on the road leading up to the peak.
The Battle Mountain BLM office is responsible for managing this area. For questions on restrictions, I'd recommend giving their office a call.
As with most/all BLM land, camping is available just about anywhere you want. The flat area at 7,500' would make a nice campsite, but water is likely to be scarce in the summer.
Nearby Austin (25 miles east on US 50) is the closest town of any size. There are two gas stations, a motel, and a cafe there, but not much else. Make sure to gas up before making the long drive back to civilization.