Sheriff's Office

PR #:
Date Issued:
Dec 21, 2021 - 8:17AM

For Immediate Release

Washoe County Sheriff’s Office warns drivers not to use Dog Valley Road or Henness Pass Road in advance of Sierra storm

For media inquiries contact:
Sarah Johns
Washoe County Sheriff's Office
Office: 775-785-6235
Cell: 775-391-0407

Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) teams are warning the public to not detour using Dog Valley Road or Henness Pass Road if Interstate 80 is closed during this week’s expected snowstorm.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Sierra beginning tonight, and a Winter Storm Warning beginning Thursday morning running through Sunday afternoon. Travel could become “difficult to impossible.”

Oftentimes, tourists or people unfamiliar with the High Sierra will attempt to self-detour around a closure of Interstate 80 by utilizing GPS directions. They will unknowingly put themselves in danger by attempting to use Dog Valley Road or Henness Pass Road.

Between November 1, 2020 – February 28, 2021, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office SAR teams were called to eleven rescues related to people stuck and/or stranded on backcountry roads during inclement weather.

Both Dog Valley Road and Henness Pass Road are two-lane dirt roads located north of Stampede Reservoir. The east-west roads connect California State Route 89 to Verdi, Nevada. In the summer months, the route offers beautiful scenery; however, in the winter it’s a different story. On the north side of the roads is a steep mountain downgrade. On the south side of the roads, a drainage ditch. Hard packed snow on the roads quickly turns to ice – causing drivers to slide off and become stuck.

Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue’s 125 volunteers are on call 24 hours a day and are expected to respond immediately when called. Ninety-six percent (the national average) of all searches are resolved during the first eight hours, but some may last a week or more. The six teams that comprise the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit focus on saving life, not property. Those who are stranded on Dog Valley Road or Henness Pass Road can expect that their vehicle will remain on scene until it can be safely towed by the owner.

When driving in inclement weather be prepared:

  • Leave enough time to safely reach your destination and plan your route to avoid snowy/icy areas and steep hills
  • Check weather and road conditions by calling 511 in Nevada
  • Wear weather appropriate clothing
  • Maintain your car: check your battery, tire tread, windshield wipers, levels of no-freeze fluid in the windshield washer reservoir and your antifreeze
  • Maintain a high fuel level in your gas tank—for EV drivers, plan your charging stations ahead of time
  • Keep a basic winter travel kit in the car: pre-charged portable cell phone charger, chains, a flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, snowbrush, ice scraper, water, road flares and a blanket
  • If you get stuck in snow, leave window slightly cracked for ventilation, and make sure vehicle exhaust system is clear of snow

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.


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