Needles Field Office

Kelso Dunes Wilderness

Arches on the west side of the Kelso Dunes.  BLM Photo
Kelso Dunes Wilderness

Location: 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. (Note: Boundary set backs from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)

Kelso Dunes locationArea Description: 144,915 acres. 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 owner and do not use these lands without permission.

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.

Kelso Dunes Wilderness


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Bureau of Land Management
Needles Field Office
1303 S Highway 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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