Herds Across the West: Marietta Burros

Our blog series, Herds Across the West, examines wild horses and burros by herd, Herd Management Area (HMA) and state to provide a deeper understanding as we report on roundups and actions affecting each region.

Marietta Wild Burro Range | Mineral County, Nevada

This week, we traveled virtually to the Alamo Burro Herd Management Area (HMA) in Arizona to celebrate Burro Awareness Month. Now we’re crossing state lines, heading all the way up to Mineral County, Nevada. 

There we find the Marietta Wild Burro Range Herd Management Area (HMA), where burros live amongst the ruins of an old ghost mining town. This is the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) only wild burro range. It was designated in 1991, the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The unique opportunity for public viewing of these unique animals was a major reason for creating this wild burro range.

The town of Marrieta was founded in 1877 and was the first large scale borax mining operation. The miners brought burros in to help with the arduous mining work. At one point, it is said that Murrieta had 13 saloons and its remote location made the town an easy target for outlaws to raise havoc. The town didn’t survive after larger borax deposits were located in the Death Valley. The townspeople all packed up and left their burros behind. As the town began to crumble, burros began to thrive. Today approximately 85 burros make this Old West ghost town their home. 

About the Herds

The BLM has set an “Appropriate” Management Level (AML) of 78-104 burros for the  68,000-acre HMA. The last removal in this HMA occurred in 2017. The BLM cited concerns of burros leaving the HMA and being hit by cars as the reason. Over the course of 13 days, the BLM captured and removed 129 burros in traps using water for bait. There were no deaths in this roundup. No future roundups are planned for this area. 

Where To Find Them

To get to the Marietta HMA, you have to drive 55 miles from Hawthorne, Nevada to the Marietta turn off. From there, travel south on Interstate Highway 95, then turn southwest onto State Route 360 towards Benton, California, and finally then turn west onto the maintained dirt county road to Marietta. As you can tell, it is an extremely remote area of Nevada. There are no services out there, so plan accordingly. Bring an extra tire, extra food and water and a first aid kit just in case! 

And remember: Marietta is truly a ghost town! When its residents abandoned the town, they left open mine shafts,  rickety and unsafe buildings, and unstable ruins. Rattlesnakes also slither through this area, so please be cautious when exploring this little piece of true American history, burros, and all!  When observing the burros, keep in mind AWHC’s wild burro viewing etiquette guidelines.