Sand dunes dominate the landscape in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
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Kelso Dunes Wilderness

Arches on the west side of the Kelso Dunes.  BLM Photo 
Legal Description
7.5 Topo Map 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
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Size: 144,915 acres Kelso Dunes


Kelso Dunes Wilderness is located in San Bernardino County, California 50 miles east of Barstow, California.  The area is 3 miles north of I40 at Ludlow Ca.  Maps of the area can be obtained from the Bureau of Land Management Field Office in Needles, California.

Area Description :

The 154,175-acre (approximate) Kelso Dunes Wilderness derives its name from the large sand dunes complex located outside of its eastern boundary in the Mojave National Preserve.  From the flat Broadwell dry lake bed in the west, the area slopes into the northern most end of the gentle rounded granite Bristol Mountains.  Mixed in this central area are flat topped, volcanic mountains, such as Broadwell Mesa, and an extensive desert wash system.  The eastern portion of the area drops into the broad Budweiser Wash, which drains into the sea of sand known as the Devils Playground (located mostly outside wilderness boundaries).  Vegetation is sparse and is predominantly creosote bush desert scrub, desert wash scrub, and sand dune plant associations.  Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including a small herd of bighorn sheep, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards.

Getting There : To access this wilderness from the west, take the Ludlow Exit from I 40 and Drive 3 miles north on Crucero Rd. (BLM Route BL7815).  When you arrive at the intersection of BLM Route NN015 you can either take NN015 to the east along the southern boundary or continue north on BL7815.  For the next 10 miles BL7815 is the western boundary of the Kelso Dunes Wilderness.  From the east, take the Kelbaker Road exit for the Mojave National Preserve (MNP) from Interstate 40 and drive north for approximately 12 miles until you reach the power line right-of-way,(ROW) then turn west.  After approximately 13 miles you will cross Budwiser Wash and the border of the MNP and BLM managed lands, you are now on route NN015.  The northern boundary of the wilderness is formed by BLM Route NN017 and the Union Pacific Rail Line. BLM Routes and utility ROWs are not maintained, Four wheel drive vehicles are highly recommended.

Nonfederal Lands: Private lands may lie within the wilderness area. Please respect the land owner and do not use these lands without permission.

Additional Information :

Area Management

Permits are required for commercial or organized activities.

Recreational Opportunities

Hiking, horseback riding, hunting, camping, rock hounding, photography, and backpacking are examples of activities that can be enjoyed in this wilderness. 

Climate and Special Equipment Needs

Temperatures are fairly mild in the early spring, late fall, and winter; generally 30-80F.  Summer temperatures are extremely hot.  Temperatures are commonly over 115F and can get well over 120F.  Always carry water; desert springs are not reliable water sources.

Signs indicating "Wilderness" are placed at various intervals.  Any route not marked open is closed and may not be driven on.  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 or on routes not marked open.

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

Pets 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.



  • Desert Access Guide:
    •  Soda Mountains
    •  Newberry Springs
    •  Ivanpah
    • Amboy
  • USGS 7.5 Quadrangle Maps:
  • (BLM)
    • Broadwell Lake, Broadwell Mesa
    • Cowhole Mountain
    • East of Broadwell Lake
    • Glasgow
    • Soda Lake South
    • West of Broadwell  Mesa
    • West of Budweiser Wash
    • West of Glasgow
  • (NPS)
    • Budweiser Wash
    • Glasgow
    • Kelso
    • Kelso Dunes
    • West of Glasgow


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
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