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Bakersfield Field Office

Machesna Mountain Wilderness

Location: The Machesna Mountain Wilderness is one of two Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas just inland from the California coast in southern-central San Luis Obispo County. It is located approximately 20 miles east of San Luis Obispo and 60 miles west of Bakersfield, California. The northern and western sides of the Wilderness are bordered by private property, the north and east are framed by the USFS Los Padres National Forest Machesna Mountain Wilderness. The majority of the wilderness area is located within T30S, R15E MDM.

Area Description: 123 acres. The BLM wilderness was established by the California Wilderness Act of 1984 (Public Law 98-425) by the U.S. Congress. This act added approximately 120 acres of wilderness immediately west of the pre-existing Machesna Mountain Wilderness, located within the Los Padres National Forest. The Machesna Mountain Wilderness totals 19,882 acres; however 19,762 acres of this total are managed by the Los Padres National Forest and will not be considered in this report.

The Machesna Mountain Wilderness is an extremely rugged landscape with chaparral-covered peaks, stream-fed valleys of oaks and lush riparian vegetation. The wilderness is part of the La Panza Range, approximately 18 miles southeast of Santa Margarita and 20 miles east of San Luis Obispo. The area receives an abundant amount of sunny days, and temperatures remain mild through the winter. The highly varied terrain within the wilderness can create abrupt changes in climatic conditions over short distances.

The terrain of the wilderness is very rugged; the landscape is dominated by steep ridges separated by narrow canyons. The lowest point of the wilderness is around 1840 feet, with the tallest point being around 2360 feet.

Vegetation within the wilderness is highly diverse. It consists primarily of chaparral brushland, including species such as chamise, toyon, manzanita, ceanothus, shrub live oak, yerba santa, and poison oak. The steep slopes and narrow valleys of the wilderness are thickly covered with vegetation. Water is scarce through the wilderness, as there are no major springs within it; however, running water may be found in several of the small valleys.

The region provides important wildlife habitat for a variety of bird and mammal species, including rock doves, house sparrows, European starlings, house mice, deer, mountain lions, black bears, squirrels, and wild pigs. It is also part of the ranges of peregrine falcons, California spotted owls, and the endangered California condor, although there have been no reported sightings of the bird within the wilderness.

Getting There:  The property lies approximately 7 miles south of Highway 58 and is best accessed via Avenales Ranch Road, which passes through private ranch land to the south.

Additional Information: Signs indicating "Wilderness" and "Closed Road" or "Closed Route" are placed at various intervals.  Vehicles can be parked outside the wilderness boundary; however, the boundary is set back 30 feet from unmaintained dirt roads and 300 feet on paved roads.

Mechanized or motorized vehicles are NOT PERMITTED in a wilderness.

Hunting, fishing, and non-commercial trapping are allowed under state and local laws.

Pet are allowed, but please keep your pets under control at all times.

Horses are permitted, however you may be required to carry feed.

Removal, disturbance, or attempting to remove archaelogical materials is a felony.  Selling, receiving, purchasing, transporting, exchanging or offering to do so is prohibited by law.

Camping: Camping is permitted, limited to 14 days.  After 14 days, campers must relocate at least 25 miles from previous site.

Help BLM preserve California's fragile deserts.  Please park your vehicle or set up camp in previously disturbed sites.

Gathering wood for campfires, when permitted, is limited to dead and down materials.  Do not cut live vegetation.

The BLM encourages all desert recreationists and travelers exploring public lands, not only within southern California but through the west, to use propylene glycol based antifreeze/coolant in their touring and recreation vehicles.  Proven safer, it will have minimal impacts on the wildlife and the environment should a leak occur.

Machesna Mountain Wilderness


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Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308
Phone: (661) 391-6000
Fax: (661) 391-6041
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m., M-F
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