The Kingston Range Wilderness is divided into three units by non-wilderness corridors or 'cherrystems': Sperry Wash and Kingston Wash. The Amargosa Unit's (the northern unit) most striking feature is Amargosa Canyon, which contains a perennial stream. This perennial surface flow supports wetland habitats offering food, cover, and nesting opportunities for a wide variety of bird life. Those habitats also sustain fish, mammals, insects, and mollusks having low population numbers and/or very limited distributions. The Kingston Unit (center unit) covers seventeen miles of continuous ridgeline above 6,000 feet known as the Kingston Range. Elevations reach 7,323 at the top of Kingston Peak. The Shadow Mountain Unit (southern unit) covers much of the Shadow Mountains, a large series of low-lying rounded peaks with gently meandering interior canyons and numerous erosion channels. The wilderness is botanically one of the most diverse areas within the California Desert. Botanists have identified 505 native plant species and 32 are viewed as endangered, rare, or limited in distribution. Cresote bush scrub vegetation is found at lower elevations and juniper-pinyon woodland at higher elevations. The only stand of giant Nolina in the eastern Mojave Desert is found in Kingston Range, and a relic stand of white fir trees clings (one of only three stands found in the California Desert) to the slopes of two drainages just below Kingston Peak. Also located in the wilderness is a portion of the Shadow Valley-Cima Dome Joshua tree forest (one of the densest concentrations in the world). The vegetation and perennial water support a variety of wildlife species which do not occur in nearby drier habitats. Bird densities are many times higher and contain higher species diversity. The Kingston Mountains are one of the four localities in California in which confirmed sightings of the banded gila monster have been made. Other wildlife species include bighorn sheep, wild burros, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, roadrunners, quail, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and several species of lizards. The southeastern portion of the wilderness provides critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. The wilderness area is an ecological transition zone between the Great Basin and Mojave Desert with numerous species of flora and fauna reaching their northern and southern most distribution limits.
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 Kingston Range Wilderness.
Kingston Range Wilderness is approximately 15 miles northeast of Baker, California. Except for its northernmost tip (Inyo County), this wilderness is in northern San Bernardino County, California. It is located 8 miles north of I-15 and 9 miles east of Highway 127. Maps of the area can be obtained from the Bureau of Land Management Field Offices in Needles and Barstow, California.
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.
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.