Size: 26,243 acres.
Location: Riverside County; 15 miles southeast of Indio, California (Note: Boundary set backs from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)
Area Description: Small, narrow steep-walled canyons wind throughout the Mecca Hills Wilderness, creating a natural maze within this badlands labyrinth. Sandy washes divide this area and contain stands of ironwood, smoke tree and palo verde, while scattered stands of ocotillo grow on the gentler slopes and mesa tops. Uniquely faulted and folded geologic formations are the result of the San Andreas Fault, making the Mecca Hills one of the most unusual geological sites of its kind in the world. Entire regions expose eroded layers of rock, providing important information to scientists about the impact of earthquakes on the earth's crust. Bighorn sheep have been observed crossing into the Mecca Hills from the Orocopia Mountains where they water. Prairie falcon, desert tortoise and spotted bat have also been seen here.
Getting There: Access this wilderness from the east from State Highway 195 (Box Canyon Road) via Interstate 10 or from the south at Mecca via State Highway 111. Painted Canyon Road provides four-wheel drive access at the intersection of State Highway 195 and the Coachella Canal.
Nonfederal Lands: Private lands may lie within the wilderness area. Please respect the landowner and do not use these lands without permission.
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.
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:
- Palm Springs
- Eagle Mountains
- USGS 7.5 Quadrangle Maps:
- Cottonwood Basin
- Thermal Canyon
Go to BLM Wilderness List