This area encompasses the jagged, steep, rust-colored Dead Mountains and the alluvial fans sweeping to the west towards Piute Valley and east towards the Colorado River. Centered in the northern half of the wilderness is its highest point, Mount Manchester at an elevation of 3,598 feet. Picture Canyon (a spring location and major wash) transects the wilderness in the north and Piute Wash borders the wilderness on the west. Vegetation is predominantly creosote bush desert scrub and desert wash scrub. The northern most occurrence of smoketrees in the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) is found within the area's washes. Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including a small herd of bighorn sheep, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, roadrunners, chucker, quail, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards. The eastern and northeastern portions of the wilderness provide critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Dead Mountains Wilderness.
The Dead Mountains Wilderness is located in San Bernardino County, California twelve miles north of Needles, California. The area is situated between US Highway 95 and the Needles-Laughlin Road. Maps of the area can be obtained from the Bureau of Land Management Field Offices in Needles, California or Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
California Desert Protection Act of 1994 - Public Law 103-433 (10/31/1994) "California Desert Protection Act of 1994" An Act to designate certain lands in the California Desert as wilderness, to establish the Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, to establish the Mojave National Preserve, and for other purposes.
Hiking, horseback riding, hunting, camping, rock hounding, photography, and backpacking are examples of activities that can be enjoyed in this wilderness. Picture Canyon is a popular hiking location.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Temperatures are fairly mild in the early spring, late fall, and winter; generally 30-80 F. Summer temperatures are extremely hot. Temperatures are commonly over 115 F and can get well over 120 F. Always carry water; desert springs are not reliable water sources.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.