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Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory

Picture of four horses.The Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory (WHT) is administered by the Devil’s Garden/Doublehead Ranger District, Modoc National Forest.


The Devil’s Garden Plateau WHT is located in California approximately 5 miles north of Alturas. The territory consists of 300,000 acres of Forest Service land and 8300 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

The topography is a relatively flat continuous lava plateau. Average elevation is 4600 feet. Precipitation is primarily from winter snow between November and March. Average annual precipitation is 12.6 inches. Temperatures during winter can be severe for short periods of time, and summer temperatures frequently exceed 90° F.

Vegetation is fairly uniform and consists primarily of western juniper, big sagebrush, numerous perennial grasses, and a few annual grasses.

Wildlife present within the territory include deer, antelope, rabbits, and rodents.

The entire territory is within permitted livestock allotments.


Wild horses have been present on the Devil’s Garden Plateau for more than 130 years. Many of the early horses escaped from settlers during the Indian Wars or were released when their usefulness as domestic animals ended. In later years, local ranchers turned horses out to graze and then gathered them as needed. It is believed that three different ranches, which had permitted horses on the National Forest, greatly influenced the current herd composition. Draft breeds influenced the horses in the west portion of the territory. Lighter riding breeds influenced the horses in the east portion of the territory.

Picture of four horses standing on the edge of a forest road.Herd Description

The Devil’s Garden Plateau WHT is managed for an appropriate management level of 305 horses. Horses can be seen in many colors and sizes. Many of the larger draft type horses, as found in the West Unit, probably average 1300 pounds. The horses in the rest of the territory average between 900-1000 pounds. The dominant colors are black and bay; however, appaloosa, palamino, gray, buckskin, and roan are also found with some frequency.

For More Information

Contact the Devil’s Garden Ranger District at 530-667-2246.

US Forest Service, RGE
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop Code: 1103
Washington DC 20250-1103

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Last modified: Thursday, 28-Mar-2013 15:56:15 CDT