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Needles Field Office

Bonanza Spring Watchable Wildlife Area

Clipper Mountain Wilderness:

The wilderness encompasses 35,731 acres (approximate) of rugged yellow and dark brown, horizontally striped mesas; narrow canyons with hidden springs; and sparsely vegetated alluvial fans.  The small cluster of volcanic mountains is oriented northeast to southwest.  In the center, the most prominent ridge, Clipper Mountain, reaches an elevation of 4,625 feet before it dramatically drops off in series of sharp cliffs overlooking the Clipper and Fenner Valleys.  Castle Dome, a local landmark, can be clearly seen from Historic Route 66 to the south and east.  The vegetation types are predominantly creosote bush desert scrub and desert wash scrub.  In the spring, the alluvial fans turn yellow with brittlebush and other wildflowers.  Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including a herd of 40-50 bighorn sheep, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, roadrunners, chucker, quail, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards.  The entire wilderness is considered critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. 

View of the Clipper Mountains

To reach the Bonanza Spring Wildlife Viewing Area and Primitive Camp site from the west use I 40 to access route 66 at Ludlow Ca.  Proceed east on 66 for approximitly 50 miles to Danby Road.  Turn North on route # NS 0149 (This is a 4 wheel drive road year round.)  until you cross the pipeline right of way NS 0126.  Just prior to this you will see a large flat spot.  You may camp here but there are no fire ring or picnic tables. Continue on route NS 0149 to the trail head and the first camp spot with table and fire ring. Or continue a half mile to the two sites that overlook the riparian area.

From the east exit I 40 at Mountain Spring Rd. and continue west approximately 18 miles to the pipeline road NS 119 and follow it to the junction of NS 0149 and turn north.   Route NS 119 is also 4 wheel drive recommended and because it follows the pipeline, has steep inclines especially the descent into NS 0149.  Use extreme caution!  Trailers are not recommended on ether of these routes.

Bonanza Spring local area map.  This map could not be made fully compliant with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  If you need help using this information, please contact the Needles Field Office at (760) 326-7000 and reference the Bonanza Spring Area Map.

Three primitive camp spots and one group site are located near the watchable wildlife area. The primitive spots feature picnic tables and fire rings while the group camp offers only a large flat area suitable for larger groups of campers wishing to camp together.  There are no water or toilet facilities provided.  Please use Tread Lightly Principles. By packing in packing out all trash.   Collecting wood from the riparian area is strictly prohibited, as is camping along the trail in the riparian area.

One of the upper camp sites over looking the riparian area


World class rock collecting areas are within easy driving distance.  The Marble Mountain Fossil Beds are located just to the west, south of Route 66 as is the Ship Mountains Rock collecting area.

Hunting and shooting:
Hunting, and non-commercial trapping are allowed on public lands in accordance with local and state laws. For further information contact the California Department of Fish and Game.  You may not shoot within 150 yards of any man-made object, camp, domestic livestock, occupied dwelling, or campsite.

There are no dependable sources of water within the California desert, and the water that can be found may not be suitable for human consumption. Bring your own water, and remember that native water is for wildlife. When planning a hike in the desert, pack in your own water and remember before the water is half gone, it is time to turn back.

Mojave Adventure Routes/OHV Trails
The Mojave Adventure Routes are an outstanding network of legally designated 4x4 vehicle backcountry touring routes for motorized recreation. This shared-use trail system provides recreational opportunities for all persons, including those who use non-street-legal (Green Sticker) vehicles, hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. It will also provide a back country opportunity for non-traditional trail users such as persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and families with small children. These routes were mapped and developed for the purpose of traveling to areas not often seen by many people. Some areas offer hiking and dispersed camping opportunities as well.  Detailed maps of this trail system can be purchased from the Needles Field Office at a cost of $3.00.

Photography/Watchable Wildlife:
Photographers love this area. In the spring cacti floral displays are bountiful within the surrounding area. Wildlife abounds in this area due to the presents of water and habitat.  Be patience, and use a camera with telephoto lens. You may get that wildlife photo of a lifetime.

Bighorn Sheep looking down the mountain at the campsites

A well marked nature trail meanders along the course of the spring feed riparian area.  This will lead you to an overlook point near the spring source, interpretive signs provide additional area and wildlife information.


Trail head for nature trail along the riparian area.

Primitive Recreation:
Within Southern California and the California Desert Conservation Area many wilderness units and adjacent lands offer unique opportunities for primitive recreational. Cross-country travel, by foot or horse is allowed on all BLM lands including wilderness. Peaceful solitude can be found by hiking up to a mountain peak or having an equestrian adventure journeying over the same routes American explorers once walked.