Coyote Spring

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Coyote Spring is located on the Black Rock Desert Playa to the west of Frog (Garrett Ranch) Springs.

In 1903, Griffiths described what is likely to be Coyote Spring:[1]

About 4 miles from the hot spring mentioned we came across a very peculiar cool spring in the middle of the Black Rock desert. The area immediately surrounding this spring is interesting in showing the plants that thrive to the best advantage in this strikingly alkaline situation especially since all those which grow here are of value for grazing purposes. This spring was situated in a hillock about 12 feet high in the middle of the level salt desert. The water formerly broke out at the top of the mound but now comes from the side and runs only a few feet before it sinks into the ground There was a scattering growth of salt grass all around the hillock and on the shady side a thick growth of grease wood The seepage ran out on the desert about 50 feet and sank into the ground A patch of squirrel tail Hordeum jubatum and Scirpus americaneus was growing in the seepage water. This was practically the only pasturage found for our animals on the entire trip of 100 miles from Deep Hole to Lovelock. The plants specified above formed the only vegetation aside from some of the blue green algae forming a scum over the entire surface of the ground which was kept moist. The water although cool was intensely alkaline.

Note that Coyote Spring is 4.3 miles from Trego Hot Springs.

In 1963, Coyote Spring was sampled by Sinclair.[2]

In about 2008, Mike and Barbara Bilbo wrote:

In several locations there are mound springs (Meinzer and Hare 1915), features several or more feet in height, with a spring, usually in a central position. Vegetation grows around the spring pool margins and sparsely on the sides of mounds. Coyote Spring is a spring mound located on the playa near the southern edge and the Garrett Ranch. In the 1950's a well was dug at the ranch and soon after the flow in Coyote Spring was seen by area residents to have dropped noticeably. There is no record it its flow prior to that time. The water temperature has been recorded at 60°F and the flow rate about 1 gallon per minute (or less now, as the last known measurement was over 25 years ago) (Sinclair 1963, table 3). The spring mound is about 15 feet high and 50 feet wide. The mound was built as a result of wind blown sediment being captured by vegetation which had become established around the initial spring pool which most likely resembled a small water pool several feet in diameter. Over centuries sediment has accumulated around vegetation at Coyote Spring and more vegetation has grown resulting in the spring mound seen today. As the mound height increased, the spring became higher accompanied by upward development of tufa lining the spring channel or throat. Coyote Spring may eventually cease to exist. The slow flow rate could be suppressed when sediment fills in the pool basin as a result of human-induced impact at the spring pool rim. Several mound or dune areas are composed of particles, usually angular, of quartz, feldspar and mafic minerals derived from weathered igneous rocks and deposited by water and wind action.

In 2007, Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock had a work weekend to help preserve the mound, see [Coyote Springs Conservation].

In 2009, Friends of the Black Rock/High Rock fenced the dunes to prevent vehicle traffic.


  1. David Griffiths, "Forage Conditions and Problems in Eastern Washington Eastern Oregon Northeastern California and Northwestern Nevada," July 3, 1903, US Department of Agriculture. Description of what is probably Coyote Springs.
  2. William Sinclair, "Groundwater Appraisal of the Black Rock Desert Area Northwestern Nevada," October, 1963, Geological Survey. (Cover includes a photo of Leonard Creek Ranch)