Spirit Mountain Wilderness, nestled in the heart of the Newberry Mountains, is a stunning, rugged landscape with sculpted granitic boulders, rocky outcrops and deep canyons. The mountains harbor unique plants and animals and offer dramatic views of Lake Mohave. This Wilderness is jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.
Spirit Mountain, a monolith of white granite is the highest peak in the Newberry Mountains. It is the spiritual birthplace of the Yuman speaking tribes and is an important sacred area for them today. Some of the backcountry is listed as a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places because of the spiritual value and importance of the area.
Tranquility and quiet amongst the rocky outcrops and peaks of this intriguing backcountry destination reflect the importance of the area to all people. Infrequent visitor use and the need for route finding skills provide great opportunities for solitude and exploration.
The northern part of this Wilderness is comprised of granites and older metamorphic rocks which appear dark in color, mostly composed of schist and gneiss. The southern part of the wilderness is dominated by white and pink colored, large crystalline, and rugged granitic spires. A well-defined fault separates the two rock types and divides the wilderness along a line running east and west. Spirit Mountain is the highest point in the Newberry Mountains at 5,639 feet and appears whitish-pink in color, making it stand out in an otherwise dark mountain setting.
The Newberry Mountains are popular for their spectacular wildflower displays. In February and March of most years, the open areas of white granitic soil produce a very diverse mix of wildflowers often dominated by Mexican poppies, creating bright patches of yellow-orange color within the green mixed-shrub landscape.
Look for California juniper, single leaf pinyon, shrub live oak and Nolina in the vicinity of Christmas Tree Pass. You can find brittlebush, Mojave yucca, buckwheat, teddy bear cholla, solitary barrel cactus and Mormon tea along with creosote bush and bursage on the slopes at lower elevations. In some locations, the teddy bear cholla is so thick it is difficult to walk through without having stems attach to your shoes or clothing.
With a keen eye, you may be able to spot desert bighorn sheep, pocket mice, Merriam's kangaroo rats, and even desert woodrats. Coyotes, desert cottontail rabbits, and desert tortoise call this area home, while chuckwallas, and a variety of snakes vie for the burrows and shade of the occasional shrub. Western scrub-jays, black-throated sparrows, phainopeplas, red-tailed hawks, cactus wrens, and Costa's hummingbirds interact as they go about the daily business of survival in this diverse desert.
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 Spirit Mountain Wilderness.
The Spirit Mountain Wilderness can be accessed from the west via Christmas Tree Pass Road, part of which serves as the southwestern border of the wilderness. From the south, State Highway 163 provides access to the wilderness and is its southern border.
To access the west side of the wilderness area, drive south from Cal-Nev-Ari on Highway 95 for about 2.3 miles to Christmas Tree Pass Road (about 5.0 miles north of Highway 163). There is a small road sign for the turnoff; there is also a fairly large, covered information sign on the east side of the road that you can see in the distance.
To access the south side of the wilderness area, drive east from Highway 95 on Highway 163 for about 12.9 miles to Christmas Tree Pass Road (a few miles west of Laughlin). There is a small road sign for the turnoff. Drive north on Christmas Tree Pass Road, which is the southwest boundary of the wilderness area.
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.
Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 - Public law 107-282 (11/6/2002) To establish wilderness areas, promote conservation, improve public land, and provide for high quality development in Clark County, Nevada, and for other purposes
Always leave trip information with family or friends. This means your trip length, when you will return, and where you will be departing from in the park.
Take adequate provisions with you including food and water. Remember, you are in a desert and water is scarce. In addition, carry a basic first aid kit.
Before your trip, learn about the hazards you may encounter and take adequate precautions. Select appropriate clothing and equipment. Always hike with a companion.
Know your own limitations and the abilities and weaknesses of your hiking companions. Plan your route and rate of travel around the weakest member. Make sure that each member of your party knows what gear the others have packed.
Have an emergency plan. When journeying into the wilderness if an emergency arises, you may not be able to reach help in a timely manner. This means cell phones and radios may not work in rugged or remote parts of the park.
Know your location using a map, Global Positioning System (GPS) and/or compass. If you encounter trouble, do not be afraid to turn back. Be aware that trails, trail signs, and place signs may be missing due to vandalism or wash outs.
The Spirit Mountain Wilderness provides a unique and beautiful backdrop for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and camping. Backcountry permits are not required. Hunting is allowed with proper licensing; however, target practice is prohibited.
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.