This wilderness area consists of the Piute Mountains and the surrounding bajadas and extensive flat aprons of alluvium. The elevations within the wilderness range from 2,000 to 4,132 feet. The Piute Mountains exhibit strong color contrast and texture that vary from very angular, jagged volcanics to rounded, smooth granite hills; and the ridges are cut by numerous canyons and washes. Dominant vegetation is typical of much of the Mojave Desert, consisting of creosote bush scrub, which gradually changes into a mixed desert scrub at higher elevations. The dry washes are characterized by catclaw acacia, smoketree, cheesebush, desert lavender, little-leaf ratany, and desert almond. Wildlife is also typical for the Mojave Desert; including coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards. The area provides transient ranges for mule deer and bighorn sheep, as the Piute Mountains are too small and too sparsely watered to accommodate permanent populations. Prairie falcon eyries are known to exist within the wilderness area. The large bajadas provide excellent habitat for the threatened desert tortoise; the entire wilderness area has been identified as critical habitat for the desert tortoise.
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 Piute Mountains Wilderness.
Piute Mountains Wilderness is located in San Bernardino County, California approximately 20 miles west of Needles, CA. The northern boundary of the wilderness follows historic Route 66. Maps of the area can be obtained from the Bureau of Land Management Field Office in Needles, 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. The wilderness boundary was drawn to exclude two non-wilderness corridors or 'cherrystems', which provide vehicle access to the interior of the wilderness area.
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.