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Needles Field Office

Old Woman Mountains Wilderness

Even mighty boulders can't stand forever against the pull of gravity forever. These must have made quite a rumble when they fell and closed the canyon. BLM Photo
Old Woman Mountains Wilderness

Location: San Bernardino County; 35 miles southwest of Needles, California. (Note: Boundary set backs from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)

Old Woman Mountains locationArea Description: 163,731 acres. This wilderness area consists of bajadas; extensive flat aprons of alluvium; and the massive, fault-lifted Old Woman Mountains that extend some 35 miles north-south and up to 28 miles in an east-west direction. The elevations within the wilderness extend from 800 feet in the drainage bottoms to over 5300 feet at the top Old Woman Peak. The mountains take their name from a granite monolith resembling the figure of an old woman, known as the Old Woman Statue (5,000 feet high). The Old Woman Mountains were the discovery site of the Old Woman Meteorite. This meteorite was discovered in 1975 and is the largest meteorite found in California and the second largest in the United States. The meteorite was on display at the Smithsonian Institute from 1978 to 1980 and is now on permanent display at the Desert Information Center in Barstow, California. The Old Woman Mountains Wilderness falls within a transition zone between the Lower Colorado and Mojave deserts and encompasses many different habitat types. Creosote bush scrub dominates the lower elevations, grading into mixed desert scrub at middle elevations with juniper-pinyon woodland at the higher elevations. The dry washes are characterized by catclaw acacia, cheesebush, desert lavender, little-leaf ratany, and desert almond. Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including a permanent population of bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcat, cougar, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbit, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, chuckar, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards. Numerous raptor species are likely to be found in the area; including prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, Cooper?s hawks, American kestrels, as well as several species of owls. The washes and canyons provide good habitat for several species of songbirds, and the bird densities and diversity is further enhanced by the presence of the known 24 springs and seeps. The bajadas provide excellent desert tortoise habitat; 49,683 acres of the wilderness area have been identified as critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.

Getting There: Access to this wilderness requires four-wheel drive vehicles. From Essex, California on Route 66, take the graveled and sandy Sunflower Road southeast for 7 miles. This road, for the most part, constitutes the northeastern bound & for the area.

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.

Old Woman Mountains 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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