The jagged mountains and gently sloping alluvial plain of Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness straddle the Arizona-Utah border. Management of the Wilderness is shared by the BLM in both states. It is further divided into northeastern and southwestern units by Cedar Pockets Road, which is not in wilderness.
Elevations in the Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness range from about 2,000 to 5,000 feet. Joshua trees, desert shrubs, and scattered grasses are the primary vegetation. Several rare plant species have also been identified here. Notable wildlife includes desert bighorn sheep, the endangered desert tortoise, and large numbers of raptors. The woundfin minnow and Virgin River chub (endangered species) live in the Virgin River, which flows through the eastern section of Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness for approximately 6 miles.
River rafters and kayakers have been increasingly attracted to the Virgin River, but water levels can be too low for this form of travel in the fall and winter. Spring runoff and summer thunderstorms can create whitewater rafting and kayaking experiences in this area. Most precipitation comes in concentrated storms that are infrequent and total rainfall averages around 9 inches per year. Winters are mild with temperatures ranging from lows around 20 degrees Fahrenheit to highs around 65. Summer highs are commonly over 100 degrees with lows closer to 85. Backpacking in the Wilderness has seen a substantial increase in recent years. That being said, there are no trails, so hone your cross-country skills before heading out.
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 Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness.
The Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness is easily accessed off of Interstate 15, from the Cedar Pockets gravel road between Interstate 15 and old Highway 91 (north of Beaver Dam, Arizona) or from Sun River, Utah (St. George area). The closest visitor center/Bureau of Land Management office is located in St. George, Utah off the Bluff Street Exit of Interstate 15 at 345 East Riverside Drive(open Monday-Friday 7:45 am to 5 pm, Saturday 10 am - 3 pm and closed Sunday). Regional travel information can also be obtained from the Nevada Visitor Center in Mesquite, Nevada. There are no trailheads or trails in this wilderness.
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.
The wilderness contains extreme geologic faulting, folding and natural erosion created by the Virgin River that has resulted in a complex mixture of steep craggy cliffs, sandstone buttes, and alluvial fans. Mojave Desert plant communities, including Joshua Trees, can range to higher elevation pinyon-juniper forests on the rugged mountain tops.
Seasonal river rafting and kayaking when the Virgin River is flooding (typically spring and summer). Hiking and backpacking, wildlife viewing (desert bighorn sheep, cougars), and nighttime black sky viewing are the most common activities in this wilderness.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness is located in the Mojave Desert. Summer daytime temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter nighttime temperatures can reach below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Safety and Current Conditions
This is a rugged and remote area with temperature extremes. Cell phone coverage may not exist except near the Interstate. Water is available in the Virgin River Gorge Campground off Interstate 15 south of the wilderness. The nearest services are located in St. George, Utah or Mesquite, Nevada.
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.