Bright Star Canyon encloses Kelso Creek and leaves Sequoia National Forest to cross the southern portion of the Bureau of Land Management's Bright Star Wilderness. In the northwestern portion, Cortez Canyon has been carved out of the Kelso Mountains. In the northeastern portion, Kelso Peak stands at 5,090 feet with drainages falling off to the north, south, and east.
Elevations range from 3,000’ near the floor of Kelso Valley to over 5,800’ on the highest ridges and peaks. In mid-summer, day-time temperature can exceed 100oF before cooling off at night. In winter, higher elevations are often covered with snow and in years of adequate precipitation, wildflowers cover the slopes in stunning displays of color. The upper slopes are dotted with piñon pine and juniper, while the lower slopes are brushy and broken by large granite outcroppings. The valley below is boulder-strewn and dense with Joshua trees. Here the Mojave Desert meets the Sierra Nevada, allowing for a wide variety of wildlife. These include hundreds of bird species, black bear, coyote, mountain lion, and bobcat. Mule deer, chukar, mountain quail, and California quail also inhabit the area. Eagles, hawks, and other raptors nest in the large cottonwoods and on the cliffs.
Visitors should note that there are no designated trails for backpackers and the entire Wilderness lies within the Bureau of Land Management's Jawbone-Butterbredt Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
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 Bright Star 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.