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

 Alluvial plans covered in thick plantlife provide habitat for desert creatures including the treatened Desert Tortoise.The Piute Mountains appear like blue islands floating in a sea of green. BLM Photo

Legal Description
7.5 Topo Map 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
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Size: 48,080 acres. Piute Mountains

Location:Piute Mountains Wilderness is located in San Bernardino County, California approximately 20 miles west of Needles, CA.  The northern boundary of the wilderness follows historic Route 66.  Maps of the area can be obtained from the Bureau of Land Management Field Office in Needles(Note: Boundary set backs from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)

Area Description :This 50,326-acre (approximate) wilderness area consists of the Piute Mountains and the surrounding bajadas and extensive flat aprons of alluvium. The elevations within the wilderness range from 2,000 to 4,132 feet.  The Piute Mountains exhibit strong color contrast and texture that vary from very angular, jagged volcanics to rounded, smooth granite hills; and the ridges are cut by numerous canyons and washes.  Dominant vegetation is typical of much of the Mojave Desert, consisting of creosote bush scrub, which gradually changes into a mixed desert scrub at higher elevations.  The dry washes are characterized by catclaw acacia, smoketree, cheesebush, desert lavender, little-leaf ratany, and desert almond.  Wildlife is also typical for the Mojave Desert; including coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards.  The area provides transient ranges for mule deer and bighorn sheep, as the Piute Mountains are too small and too sparsely watered to accommodate permanent populations.  Prairie falcon eyries are known to exist within the wilderness area.  The large bajadas provide excellent habitat for the threatened desert tortoise; the entire wilderness area has been identified as critical habitat for the desert tortoise.

Getting There :  To access this wilderness, exit Interstate 40 at Mountain Springs Road (17 miles east of Needles) and travel south on the Route 66. The wilderness boundary coincides with the southern edge of the highway's right-of-way.

Nonfederal Lands: Private lands may lie within the wilderness area. Please respect the landowner 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.  The wilderness boundary was drawn to exclude two non-wilderness corridors or ‘cherrystems’, which provide vehicle access to the interior of the wilderness area.

Climate and Special Equipment Needs

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

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.


  • Desert Access Guide:
    • Amboy 
  • USGS 7.5 Quadrangle Maps:
    • Essex
    • Fenner Spring
    • Fenner
    • Little Piute Mountains
    • West of Flattop Mountain


  • 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