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U.S. Forest Service
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United States Department of Agriculture

Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory

Picture of four horses.The Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory (WHT) is administered by the 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 8,300 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.

The topography is a relatively flat continuous lava plateau. Average elevation is 5,000 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° Fahrenheit.

Vegetation is typical of high desert plateau sagebrush-steppe ecosystems. It is fairly uniform and consists primarily of western juniper, big sagebrush, numerous perennial grasses, and a few annual grasses.

Wildlife present within the territory includes 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 140 years. Many of the early horses escaped from settlers 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.  Not all were ever captured. With the passage of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act (PL 92-195), private horse roundups ended. In 1974, as an initial step toward management, the Forest Service inventoried the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse population for the first time. The new Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory Management Plan, completed in 2013, set an Appropriate Management Level (AML) of a maximum of 402 total horses.

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

Horses can be seen in many colors and sizes. The dominant colors are black and bay; however, appaloosa, palamino, gray, buckskin, and roan are also found with some frequency.

For More Information

Visit the Modoc National Forest website for the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory.