Only 30 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, Mount Wilson Wilderness encompasses eight miles of Wilson Ridge which rise from nearly 2,000 feet in the eastern portion of the Wilderness to its summit on Mount Wilson at 5,445 feet in the northwest corner. Approaching this area from U.S. 93, you'll see a stark and forbidding landscape, a harsh and seemingly waterless countryside. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as the area hides several dependable year-round springs that support wildlife, including more than 100 desert bighorn sheep. The high country along Wilson Ridge rises in places to more than 3,000 feet above the desert floor, providing eye-stretching views over Lake Mead and the colored cliffs, badlands, mountains, and deserts in the distance. Creosote bush, white bursage, Mojave yucca, bunchgrasses, cholla, pricklypear cactus, catclaw acacia, and desert baccharis cover the area.
The Wilderness is almost completely surrounded by Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which is administered by the National Park Service. Two primitive, two-trail trails provide access to the area. The Cabin Site Access ventures 4 miles into the Wilderness and the Missouri Spring Access, 3.1 miles. No other trails are present, although sometimes burrow and sheep trails can be located and followed. Daytime temperatures during the summer months often exceed 100 degrees. Temperatures are more moderate between October 1 and April 30. Backpackers will find many primitive campsites.
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 Mount Wilson Wilderness.
The Mount Wilson Wilderness is located in Mohave County, Arizona, approximately 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and 60 miles northwest of Kingman, 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.
Plan ahead, always check weather conditions prior to your trip. Summer time temperatures often exceed 100° F.Water is scarce in this part of the Black Mountains. It can usually be found at Missouri Spring and at Wildhorse Spring, located northeast of Mount Wilson. Ephemeral water can sometimes be found in rain pockets following storms. The terrain in Mount Wilson Wilderness is extremely rugged. No trails, other than old vehicle ways are present, although sometimes burro and sheep trails can be located and followed.
The area provides excellent opportunities for recreation such as camping, hiking, hunting, backpacking, picnicking, horseback riding, wildlife observation, and photography. Group size limits of 10 people and six pack animals are encouraged.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
Daytime temperatures during the summer months often exceed 100 degrees. Temperatures are more moderate between October 1 and April 30. No wood collection within the wilderness is permitted. Charcoal or wood brought in is permitted.
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.