Within the Palen-McCoy Wilderness lie five distinct desert mountain ranges: the Palen, McCoy, Granite, Little Maria, and Arica. They are separated from each other by broad, sloping bajadas, and don't receive a passel of human visitors. Still, interior valleys and canyons, jagged peaks above dry slopes, and the colorful cobbles of desert pavement present an ever-changing pattern for the rare traveler. An intricate array of washes in the valley between the Palen and McCoy Mountains are heavily draped in ironwood and paloverde trees--in fact, the ironwood forest is the biggest and most lush in the entire California Desert, perhaps in the world. This wood is so heavy that it can sink in water, and Native Americans once used it extensively for tools and weapons, while eating the seeds as a staple food. The wash woodlands provide habitat for burro deer, bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, kit foxes, mountain lions, rabbits, mice, kangaroo rats, and numerous species of birds. Old two-track trails crisscross the valley and lead into the mountains, making this Wilderness a vast desert wonderland that is relatively easy to access by foot.
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 Palen/McCoy 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.
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.
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.