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This article is about lore of the Barrens. For the pre-Cataclysm zone, see Barrens (Classic). For the post-Cataclysm zones, see Northern Barrens and Southern Barrens.
NeutralThe Barrens
Level: 10 - 60
Battle Pet Level: 3 - 4; 9 - 10
Exploring Azeroth Kalimdor - Barrens
Races OrcOrc Orc
TaurenTauren Tauren
GoblinGoblin Goblin
QuilboarQuilboar Quilboar
Jungle trollJungle troll Jungle troll
DwarfDwarf Dwarf
HumanHuman Human
Night elfNight elf Night elf
ForsakenForsaken Forsaken
Harpy Harpy
CentaurCentaur Centaur
Major settlements Horde The Crossroads
Horde Desolation Hold
Alliance Fort Triumph (destroyed)
Alliance Northwatch Hold
Alliance Bael Modan
Neutral Ratchet
Minor settlements Horde Mor'shan Rampart
Horde Nozzlepot's Outpost
Horde Hunter's Hill
Horde Camp Una'fe
Alliance Honor's Stand
Affiliation Horde, Alliance, Steamwheedle Cartel
Location Eastern Kalimdor

The Barrens is a large zone in central Kalimdor controlled mostly by the Horde. It is a massive savanna, with a few oases in the north-central region around the Crossroads and with low mountains serving as natural borders.

Long ago, the Barrens was mostly forests, tended to by the night elves. The combination of the Burning Legion, war, and the Great Sundering turned the woodland into a barren expanse. Now, the divided Barrens are a shade of their glory, one that is in short supply in this dry place. Despite this, it is more than an infertile soil and sand.[1]


The Barrens were once a verdant, thriving forest, tended to by the kaldorei.[2][3] An expeditionary force sent by Queen Azshara established the outpost of Then'Ralore in the lush wilds.[4] It is said that during the War of the Ancients, the demigod Lo'Gosh confronted the Burning Legion in the lush land that later became the Barrens.[5] After the Great Sundering, war and disaster raged across the land, turning this valley of nature into the harsh, sun-scorched plain it is today.[2][5][6][7]

It is said that at some point a person named Dethorin arrived to the land after he had found his Allurana in arms of her lover. Dethorin cried out and the sands of the Barrens burst forth the axe Killmaim with which he killed Allurana.

For countless generations, the tauren roamed the plains of the Barrens, honoring their people and culture, hunting the mighty kodo, thunder lizards, cheetah, and zhevra,[1] and seeking the wisdom of their eternal goddess, the Earth Mother. Their tent settlements were scattered across the landscape and changed with the seasons and the weather. The wandering tribes were united only by a common hatred for their sworn enemy, the marauding centaur.[8] The centaur hunted the tauren for sport and launched intermittent attacks on their foes, taking a heavy toll on both sides. The tauren did not shy away from combat and made the centaur pay for every unprovoked attack, but they had no love for war and always opted to find a new home rather than throw their lives away whenever the horse men appeared. As such, the tauren lived in a constant state of upheaval, and a year of peace was always followed by a year of war. The shu'halo accepted this cycle of conflict as inescapable as it was the only life they knew, but that would eventually change.[9]

Third War and aftermath[]

Mor'shan Rampart

The Mor'shan Rampart, build at the border between the Barrens and Ashenvale.

When the orcs under the new Warchief Thrall and Darkspear trolls from Darkspear Islands landed on the Barrens, it saw civilization anew. First, the area was crossed by the Warsong clan led by Grommash Hellscream. Then, Thrall reunited his warriors scattered on the shore, and the Horde then helped the Bloodhoof tauren at their village.[10] The tauren and the Horde marched through the Barrens, visiting its oases and finding a group of Warsong warriors.[11] The tauren crossed the Barrens into Mulgore, fighting against centaur warbands and ultimately triumphing over them.[12]

After the Warsongs were corrupted by the Burning Legion, they took the area near the northern border of the Barrens. Thrall, Cairne, and Jaina fought against the fel orcs and their demonic allies.[13]

Following the Battle of Mount Hyjal, Thrall led the Horde to the eastern Barrens and claimed it as their own, fighting the local Razormane quilboar and naming the land Durotar with its capital Orgrimmar.

Cycle of Hatred[]

WoW-novel-logo-16x62 This section concerns content related to the Warcraft novels, novellas, or short stories.

One year before the events of World of Warcraft, the Barrens was considered neutral territory,[14] serving as a buffer between Theramore and Durotar.

Meanwhile, tensions were also rising between the Horde and Theramore. Though Thrall and Jaina desperately attempted to keep the peace between their two kingdoms, the Horde grew out of Thrall's control when his chief warrior Burx took an army of orcs and trolls to Northwatch Hold— whose build up of human forces was viewed as an act of aggression— and demanded they dismantle it. After the battle began, Jaina contacted Thrall with information that his Burx was working for the orcish end of the Burning Blade cult. Infuriated at the idea that an orc would once again serve the Legion (the demon Zmodlor was pulling the strings of the cult), Thrall immediately stopped the battle (with some impressive aid from the Spirits) and denounced Burx. When the warrior protested that he was acting within the Horde's interests, Thrall smashed his skull with the Doomhammer.

Jaina and Aegwynn confronted Zmodlor in Dreadmist Peak and successfully banished him into the Twisting Nether.

World of Warcraft[]

WoW Icon update This section concerns content related to the original World of Warcraft.
Barrens CGI

The Barrens before the Cataclysm.

The Horde built new settlements among the dry grasses and arid hills, and placed the Barrens solidly into the heart of Horde territory. The Horde has set up numerous outposts in this barren land, the largest being the Crossroads at the intersection of two major roads, and Camp Taurajo, a tauren outpost near the border to Mulgore. The Barrens are also dotted with numerous farms populated by orcs and their families, and watch towers manned by orcish and tauren guards. The Horde continued to fight against the Razormane and Razorfen quilboar, Kolkar centaur, Burning Blade cultists in the north, or the newly arrived silithid in the south.[15]

The humans of Theramore have also occupied the land and have taken Northwatch Hold as a defensive outpost. The Ironforge dwarves have also established a stronghold near the titan excavation site of Bael Modan and named the stronghold Bael'dun Keep. The Alliance Outrunners were patrolling the area, usually near the Southern Gold Road.

The neutral goblin port Ratchet, led by Gazlowe, was also built here. A group of Cenarion Circle druids led by Naralex arrived to the Wailing Caverns in order to enter the Emerald Dream and restore the harsh land to its former green form.

Razorfen Downs lies just opposite the road, but this dungeon has been infested by agents of the Scourge, and poses a great threat to anyone who is traveling to or from the Thousand Needles.

During the Ahn'Qiraj War, the area was invaded by the armies of C'Thun.

Something was polluting the water, and in turn beginning to wreck the northern Barrens ecosystem. Sick gazelles have been sighted in northern Barrens, and the Cenarion Circle provided aid.[16]


Cataclysm This section concerns content related to Cataclysm.
Barrens divided

The Barrens divided by the return of Deathwing.


The Great Divide in World of Warcraft.

Shortly before the Elemental Unrest, the Barrens was drier than ever. The oases, the salvation of the Barrens, had begun drying up as mysteriously as they had appeared.[17]

The day before the Cataclysm, Alliance forces streamed out of Northwatch and marched up the Gold Road, besieging Crossroads as dusk fell. Then, in the heart of the night, they force-marched southward, leaving their campfires burning behind in order to surprise attack Honor's Stand at dawn's first light.[18]

After the Cataclysm, the Barrens was split in two with a lava river separating the Northern Barrens and Southern Barrens. Southern Barrens is a generic term for all the lands on the southern part of the Great Divide. This region is not only one of the most hardest hit by the Cataclysm, but also is one of the biggest war zones in the escalating conflict between the Alliance and Horde. In the wake of the Cataclysm, the Alliance has been pushing into the Barrens in retaliation to the aggression of the Horde's new Warchief.

The Barrens continued to be an important place and a location of several wars, including the Alliance-Horde war, Legion's third ivnasion, and Fourth War.


The Barrens are huge, one of the largest zones in the game. The land is mostly flat, with a few hills scattered throughout. The climate is harsh and hot, but survivable due to several lush oases. With a stretch of coastline to the east, mountains to the northwest, plains to the west, forest to the north, marsh to the southeast, and the desert conditions to the south and northeast, the Barrens is surrounded by extremely varied landscapes.

The herbs of the Barrens are not quite like herbs in other lands. Their properties are mostly the same, but the oasis water here alters the plants; they are just slightly different.[19] Occasionally, rain does come to the Barrens.[20]

Maps and subregions[]

VZ-Northern Barrens

Map of the Northern Barrens.

VZ-Southern Barrens

Map of the Southern Barrens.


Map of the Barrens in patch 1.5.0.

Northern Barrens

Battlefield: Barrens

Southern Barrens

Undisplayed locations

Lore locations

Icon-RPG Warcraft RPG

In Warcraft III[]

WC3RoC-logo This section concerns content related to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos or its expansion The Frozen Throne.

A number of intelligent races occupied the Barrens that are absent in World of Warcraft:

Vultures were also said to be found throughout the Barrens – seeking carnage upon which to feed. The mottled scavengers have been known to aid the vile harpies from time to time – drawn by the promise of freshly slain flesh and blood.[24]

  • The only vultures found in the Barrens were first added in Cataclysm.

In the RPG[]

Icon-RPG This section contains information from the Warcraft RPG which is considered non-canon.


The Barrens was once a thriving forest under the protection of the night elves and their kind. Several kaldorei settlements dotted the land, and there was no ocean for miles. Then came the Burning Legion and the Great Sundering, which shook ancient Kalimdor to the bedrock. This forested landscape transformed into a scorched plain and is battered now each day by the sun's rays. The Barrens is a sprawling and arid savanna that stretches between the Stonetalon Mountains to the west and Durotar to the east. The grasslands and mesas of Mulgore rise to the southwest, while the wetlands of Dustwallow Marsh lie to the southeast.


The majority of the region consists of vast plains. Mountains to the west hold in heated air, creating the swirling winds that rage across the plains. These windstorms stir up dust devils and tear apart anything larger than the small, tenacious scrub trees. Water is more valuable than gold in the Barrens, and the locations of hidden watering holes are the residents' most closely held secrets. Dry riverbeds and a never-ending spider web of canyons make any journey across the Barrens a dangerous and winding trek. The few brave adventurers willing to scrape out a life on the arid plains inevitably run afoul of centaur warbands or quilboar raiding parties. Despite its often uninviting terrain and hostile inhabitants, the Barrens receive a good deal of interest from Alliance and Horde alike, as well as races native to Kalimdor. Trade routes crisscross the landscape leading to and from more inviting regions, most notably the Gold Road that runs north-to-south through the Barrens and beyond, and rumors suggest that precious minerals and ruins await those with the courage to investigate.


Before the upheaval, several large kaldorei cities stood here. Now, those brave few willing to scrape out a life on the arid plains inevitably run afoul of centaur warbands or quilboar raiding parties. Despite its often uninviting terrain and hostile inhabitants, the Barrens receive a good deal of interest from Alliance and Horde alike, as well as races native to Kalimdor. Trade routes crisscross the landscape leading to and from more inviting regions, and the most notable route is the Gold Road that runs north-to-south through the Barrens and beyond. Rumors suggest that precious minerals and treasure-filled ruins await those with the courage to investigate.

Centaur warbands are most often seen in the Barrens' canyons, though they roam as far as the river that forms its eastern border with Durotar. Fearlessly aggressive, the centaur are known for their savagery, especially against tauren and night elves. They are not above attacking trade caravans also, for the goods or just for the sake of violence. Travelers who survive the centaur’s battle lust are used as slave labor in the hardscrabble mines the centaur carve into the hard-baked earth.

Displaced from Durotar by Orcs, quilboar have built crude villages along the river that separates the orc nation from the Barrens. From there, they strike out across the river to raid settlements or deeper into the Barrens to attack caravans along the Gold Road. The caravan raids have hurt the goblin trade princes’ profits, so they have started negotiations to pay the quilboar gold and goods to protect caravans against centaur warbands.

The quilboar have also erected a fortress called Razorfen Downs in the southeastern Barrens. Razorfen is a sprawling mass of giant, twisting thorns and crude mud huts. It serves as the center of quilboar society.

Other dangers include harpies who watch from perches atop mesas in the northern Barrens and large beasts such as lions and thunder lizards - though these creatures tend to avoid the Gold Road.

Native dangers have not stopped the Ironforge dwarves from establishing a stronghold near the titan excavation site of Bael Modan. The centaur have made forays against it, but are repelled decisively each time. Scouts claim that the centaur are amassing other tribes to launch a major attack, but the dwarves are unconcerned. Each day that passes sees Bael Modan grow stronger as the inhabitants build up its defenses.[25]

Carcass of Durross Malfactin is said to be roaming the Barrens.