The 177,209-acre Turtle Mountain Wilderness is located in San Bernardino County Needles, California. The Wilderness includes a wide variety of landscapes ranging from broad bajadas to highly eroded volcanic peaks, spires, and cliffs.
The Turtle Mountains Wilderness lies in the transitional zone between the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, resulting in a wide variety of plant and animal species. Creosote bush, Cholla, and ocotillo and the dominant vegetation across the bajadas. In washes, palo verde, smoke tree, honey mesquite, and catclaw can be found. Common wildlife species include bighorn sheep, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, sharp-shinned hawks, quail, roadrunners and several species of lizards.
Approximately, 73,000 acres of the Turtle Mountains Wilderness is considered critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.
To access the Lost Arch Mining Camp travel south on U.S. Highway 95 from Needles approximately 25 miles, turn right on Turtle Mountain Road. Travel 10 miles west, to Lost Arch Inn Road. Stay on this trail until you reach Lisa Dawn Road and follow south to Gunsight Trail this will lead you to the recreation site. Four-wheel drive vehicles are strongly recommended.
Two new American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant campsites featuring a ramada, picnic table, and fire ring have been constructed at Lisa Dawn and Brown’s Camp. Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the area. Water is NOT available in the area; campers must bring their own water.
The Turtle Mountain Wilderness and surrounding areas have long been known for their beautiful rocks: jasper, agate, chalcedony, opalite, and much more. Three proven locales are Mohawk Spring, Mopah Peaks, and Negro Peak. In addition, chalcedony rose and agate can be found on either side of Turtle Mountain Road.
Hunting, fishing, 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.
There are no dependable sources of water within the California desert. 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.
Photographers love this area. In the spring cacti floral displays are bountiful within the surrounding area. History buffs practice black and white imagining, and if patience, wildlife will present the public with many photo opportunities.
Mexican Hat Trail:
Within the Turtle Mountains Wilderness is located the Turtle Mountain National Natural Landmark an area of land recognized for its exceptional geological value and an area held in high spiritual value by the Native American Tribes of the Southwest. Mexican Hat Trail is a small portion of a greater trail which once linked centuries of travelers to the Colorado River. If the hike to the top of the trail doesn’t appeal to you, an ADA compliant ramada and picnic table are available for day use and camping at the Lisa Dawn or Brown’s Cabin developed campsites.
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. Peaceful solitude can be found by hiking up to a mountain peak or having an equestrian adventure journeying over the same routes Spanish and American explorers once walked.
Coffin Springs Trail:
This 4-mile round trip hike follows an old prospector route leading to a natural spring in the Turtle Mountain Wilderness. From the trail follow cairns south into the wilderness; they lead to an old prospector road then onto an old water tank. From the water tank, follow another set of cairns leading to the springs.
Bureau of Land Management
Needles Field Office
1303 S. Hwy 95
Needles, CA 92363
Phone: (760) 326-7000
Fax: (760) 326-7099
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-F
Contact us by Email