Sand dunes dominate the landscape in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
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Needles Field Office

Stepladder Mountains Wilderness


The rugged Stepladder Mountains under blue skys. BLM Photo
Stepladder Mountains Wilderness

Location: San Bernardino County; 15 miles southwest of Needles, California (Note: Boundary setbacks from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)

Stepladder Mountains locationArea Description: 83,195 acres. The Stepladder Mountains are a bleak range extending 10 miles north and south from the center of the wilderness. Approximately 15 percent of the wilderness is the mountain range itself. Flat bajadas covered by creosote bush scrub form the remaining 85 percent of the area. A small stand of crucifixion thorn and a large, dense stand of Bigelow cholla grow here, the cholla covering about 45 square miles of the northern portion of the wilderness. The bajadas and larger washes within the Stepladder Mountains Wilderness provide good habitat for the desert tortoise. Desert bighorn sheep also travel the area seasonally.

Getting There: To access the southern boundary of this wilderness, go south on U.S. Highway 95 from Needles for approximately 25 miles to Turtle Mountain Road. Follow the road for about 2 miles west, which. forms the southern boundary for the Stepladder Wilderness. Careful driving is needed when crossing the sandy Chemehuevi Wash. High clearance vehicles are 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.


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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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