Whether you are looking for a new area to explore or a chance to seek refuge for the day, Ireteba Peaks Wilderness is a place to reconnect with the land. Named after Ireteba, a Mohave tribal leader who guided Lieutenant J.C. Ives on his expedition up the Colorado River, this wilderness is 50 miles south of Las Vegas. The Ireteba Wilderness contains the southern portion of the Eldorado Mountains as well as the Opal Mountains.
Co-managed by the BLM and NPS, it is filled with eye-catching colorful landscapes, scenic vistas, secluded valleys, and flat alluvial fans. You will find plenty of opportunities for silence and seclusion in this backcountry destination. Few visitors and the need for route finding skills provide solitude and chances to hike, horseback ride, hunt, explore, and camp under the stars in a very isolated area.
Running parallel with the shoreline of Lake Mohave, the wilderness contains varied terrain as well as an exposed ridge composed of volcanic rock. The south and east portions of this wilderness contain jumbled granite outcrops. Opal Mountain appears to have a thick basalt cap, which indicates a large amount of erosion that exposed this mountain.
With elevations reaching 5,060 feet, creosote bush, white bursage, patches of brittlebrush, and Mojave yucca spread across the desert floor. On the rocky hillsides look for barrel, prickly pear, and Teddy bear cactus as well as Mormon tea.
With a keen eye you may spot desert bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, or a side-blotched lizard. The threatened desert tortoise and Townsend’s western big-eared bats are just some of the unique species surviving in the Mojave Desert. Watch for black-throated sparrows and you may spot red-tailed hawks circling overhead.
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 Ireteba Peaks Wilderness.
The Ireteba Peaks Wilderness lies 45 miles south of Las Vegas, between Nelson and Searchlight, Nevada. The northern boundary is a power line corridor that runs from the end of the Ireteba Peaks ridge to Lake Mohave. The crest of the Ireteba Peaks ridge marks the western border. Dirt roads running west from Lake Mohave between Opal Mountain and the Rockefeller Mine cut around the south end of the Ireteba Peaks ridge to mark the southern border. The shore of Lake Mohave forms the eastern border.
To access the north side of the wilderness area, drive south on Highway 95 and take the Searchlight exit at Railroad Pass. Continue on US 95 for 21 miles and look for a transmission line crossing east to west across the highway. Turn east onto this Transmission Road and follow it approximately 7 miles until you begin to see granite outcroppings. From this point, the transmission line road marks the northern boundary of the wilderness. As you continue east, you will cross into Lake Mead National Recreation Area and onto Approved Road 42.
To access the south side of the wilderness area, drive south from Las Vegas on Highway 95 for approximately 35 miles to Searchlight, Nevada. In Searchlight, turn east onto Cottonwood Cove Road and drive about 6.8 miles. After entering the park at the fee station, pass under the powerlines and continue east for another 0.9 miles to an unmarked dirt road on the north (left) side of the road. Turn and drive northeast on this dirt road. About 0.8 miles out, you will cross the boundary into Lake Mead NRA and be on Approved Road 32. Follow this road as it winds around the near mountains, runs up and over a pass, and drops into a wash system on the southern edge of the wilderness area. At the intersection of NPS Approved Road 33 you will be at the edge of the wilderness boundary.
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.
Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 - Public law 107-282 (11/6/2002) To establish wilderness areas, promote conservation, improve public land, and provide for high quality development in Clark County, Nevada, and for other purposes
Always leave trip information with family or friends. This means your trip length, when you will return, and where you will be departing from in the park.
Take adequate provisions with you including food and water. Remember, you are in a desert and water is scarce. In addition, carry a basic first aid kit.
Before your trip, learn about the hazards you may encounter and take adequate precautions. Select appropriate clothing and equipment. Always hike with a companion.
Know your own limitations and the abilities and weaknesses of your hiking companions. Plan your route and rate of travel around the weakest member. Make sure that each member of your party knows what gear the others have packed.
Have an emergency plan. When journeying into the wilderness if an emergency arises, you may not be able to reach help in a timely manner. This means cell phones and radios may not work in rugged or remote parts of the park.
Know your location using a map, Global Positioning System (GPS) and/or compass. If you encounter trouble, do not be afraid to turn back. Be aware that trails, trail signs, and place signs may be missing due to vandalism or wash outs.
The Ireteba Peaks Wilderness provides a stunning stage for hiking, horseback riding, and camping. Wildlife is abundant, with bighorn sheep in the mountains and migrating birds near the river. Hunting is allowed with proper licensing; however, target practice is prohibited. Visitors are reminded to not disturb archaeological resources and stay out of open mine shafts. There are no designated trails in this wilderness area.
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.