The Trona Pinnacles is one of the most unusual geological features in the California Desert Conservation Area. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake. The pinnacles vary in size and shape from short and squat to tall and thin, and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate (tufa) that formed underwater. They now sit isolated and slowly crumbling away near the south end of the valley, surrounded by many square miles of flat, dried mud and with stark mountain ranges at either side.
BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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Ridgecrest Field office

CAMPING ON PUBLIC LANDS

GENERAL INFORMATION: Great backcountry camping opportunities can be found throughout the Public Lands administered by the Ridgecrest Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These primitive campsites are located in a wide variety of environments from the wide open Mojave and Great Basin to the foothill canyons of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These sites are widely dispersed, undeveloped and are generally not signed as campsites. You can locate a dispersed campsite by looking for an area at the end of a spur road or a pullout that is clear of vegetation and has a hard compacted surface. These sites may or may not have a rock fire ring. You won't find any public tables or restrooms at these sites, but you will find one of the best ways to experience the vast and open wildlands of the California Desert.

While experiencing the use of the area, BLM encourages all recreationists and travelers exploring public lands, not only within southern California but throughout the west, to use a propylene glycol based antifreeze/coolant in their touring and recreational vehicles. Proven safer, it will have minimal impacts on both the wildlife and the environment should a leak occur.

DISPERSED SITES: The general policy of the BLM is to allow dispersed camping on all the lands it administers with the following conditions and exceptions:

1. Camping is permitted for up to 14 days at any one site. After this time period, you must relocate to another site at least 25 miles away.

2. Camping is prohibited within 600 feet of any developed water source such as a guzzler or watering trough so that the water is accessible to wildlife and livestock.

3. A Campfire Permit may be required. Contact the Ridgecrest Field Office prior to your camping trip if you plan on having a campfire. Never leave your campfire unattended - you may be held liable for fire suppression costs if your fire gets out of control.

4. When using a motorized vehicle for camping access within a Limited Use Area, limit your parking and vehicle based camping to no more than 300 feet from an established road. Within Open Use Areas (Spangler, Olancha Dunes, Jawbone & Dove Spring OHV Areas) there are no distance from route restrictions.

5. Camping is permitted only at designated campsites within the Rand Mountain-Fremont Valley Management Unit and within Sage, Horse and Cow Heaven Canyons in the Jawbone-Butterbredt ACEC.

6. Camping is prohibited within the Bedrock Springs ACEC, Red Mountain Spring ACEC and within the White Mountain City ACEC.

7. Camping is permitted within all units of the National Wilderness Preservation System administered by the Ridgecrest Field Office. However, motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment are prohibited.

8. Camping within Desert Wildlife Management Area's (DWMA) is restricted in the following ways:

  • Motorized vehicle based camping limited to previously existing disturbed camping areas adjacent to designated routes.
  • Motorized vehicle stopping and parking allowed within 50 feet of centerline of routes designated open.

CAMPSITE USE: Many dispersed campsites are beginning to show signs of impact from heavy use. Campers can lessen their impact on the desert by adopting the following Leave No Trace minimum impact principles:

Plan Ahead and Prepare - Get to know the regulations and special concerns for the area you plan to visit.

Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces - Use existing routes and trails and when possible camp at previously used sites. Camp at least 200 feet from all streams and springs.

Pack It In, Pack It Out - Pack out your trash and a little extra.

Properly dispose of What You Can't Pack Out - Deposit human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, or trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.

Leave What You Find - Treat our cultural heritage with respect. Leave all artifacts as you find them.

Minimize the Use and Impact of Fire - Use a lightweight stove for cooking. If you do build a fire, keep it small and only use dead and down wood. You will find that firewood in arid environments is scarce, so plan to bring your own.

Use established fire rings and consider using a fire pan - a metal tray or garbage can lid used to contain a campfire and prevent the fire from blackening the soil. Before breaking camp, transfer cold ashes into a plastic bag or other container for disposal at home.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: During established hunting seasons, the BLM is encouraging all hunters and recreational shooters to use lead free nontoxic shot and bullets. Proven safer, nontoxic shot significantly reduces the risks of accidental and lead poisoning of wildlife and will have minimal impacts on the environment.

Please park your vehicles or setup camp in previously disturbed sites.