The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge protects more than half a million acres of high desert habitat for large wintering herds of pronghorn antelope, scattered bands of bighorn sheep, and a rich assortment of other wildlife. The landscape is vast, rugged, and punctuated with waterfalls, narrow gorges, and lush springs among rolling hills and expansive tablelands of sagebrush and mountain mahogany. Elevations on the refuge range from 4,100 to 7,200 feet. Annual precipitation rarely amounts to more than a dozen inches, creating a harsh environment where a wide variety of wildlife manages to thrive. Although established for the protection of wildlife and habitat, the refuge encompasses other interesting features. The remains of old homesteads and ranches intrigue visitors. The lure of fire opals draws miners and rock collectors to the Virgin Valley mining district. Geothermal hot springs create a refreshing oasis in the heart of the refuge. The refuge's mosaic of resources and public interests generates significant management challenges.