The barren hills in the Mecca Hills Wilderness Area create an interesting pattern across this desert landscape.
Desert cactus in bloom Dos Palmas Windmills at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains Firefighter working a prescribed burn Bighorn Sheep
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Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office

Santa Rosa Wilderness

View of the Santa Rosa Mountains in the background, photo by Bob Wick
View of Santa Rosa Wilderness in the background.  Mecca Hills Wilderness in the foreground.  (Photo by Bob Wick/BLM)

Location: Riverside County; 7 miles south of Palm Springs, California (Note: Boundary set backs from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)

Santa Rosa locationArea Description: 58,878 acres. The terrain within the Santa Rosa Mountains Wilderness is rugged with elevations rising dramatically from just above sea level to 7,000 feet. Laced with deep washes and shallow drainages, the area supports a variety of riparian streams which flow year-round. Here, desert and mountain environments blend together to form unique plant habitats, which thrive in riparian oases. The Santa Rosas are strewn with boulders. The steep canyon walls have been eroded by springs and streams. Bear Creek Oasis, Lost Canyon Oasis, Guadelupe Canyon, Devil Canyon and Rockhouse Canyon are all found within this wilderness. Many of these areas provide important lambing habitat for bighorn sheep. The Santa Rosa Mountains support the largest herd of Peninsular bighorn sheep in the United States. Mule deer can be found throughout the coniferous forests, which grow along the higher elevations of the range. Great horned owls, prairie falcons and golden eagles nest and forage throughout the entire wilderness. Reptiles, including frogs, toads and the desert slender salamander also live in this desert setting.

Getting There: State Highway 74 provides access to the Santa Rosa Mountains from the north; State Highway 86 and surface streets provide access from the east.

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.

Santa Rosa Wilderness


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Bureau of Land Management
Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office
1201 Bird Center Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
Phone: (760) 833-7100
Fax: (760) 833-7199
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-F
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