Learning Landscapes
Print Page
Bradshaw Trail
Scenic Drives > Bradshaw Trail (CA) 
The western end of this 65-mile BLM back country byway begins about 35 miles southeast of Indio, California. The trail’s eastern end is about 15 miles southwest of Blythe, California.
The first road through Riverside County was blazed by William Bradshaw in 1862, as an overland stage route beginning in San Bernardino, California, and ending in La Paz (now Ehrenberg), Arizona. The trail was used extensively between 1862 and 1877 to transport miners and other passengers to the gold fields at La Paz. The trail is now a graded dirt road that traverses mostly public land between the Chuckwalla Mountains and the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range.
From Indio, take Interstate 10 east to the State Highway 86 Expressway and travel about 10 miles to Avenue 66. Turn left and proceed for about 0.5 mile, and then turn right onto State Highway 111. Then proceed about 18 miles south on State Highway 111 to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. (Or follow State Highway 111 from downtown Indio directly to the recreation area.) Across from park headquarters is Parkview Drive. Go east on Parkview Drive for about 1.7 miles, then left on Desert Aire for about 0.5 mile to Canal Road. Follow Canal Road east for about 10 miles to Drop 24 and the beginning of the Bradshaw Trail.
Or, from Blythe, take Interstate 10 west for about 3 miles to the State Highway 78 exit. Go south on State Highway 78 for about 12 miles to the eastern end of the trail. Look for the Bradshaw Trail sign on the right about5 miles past the community of Ripley.
Visitor Activities
Four-wheel driving, wildlife viewing, plant viewing, birdwatching, scenic drives, rockhounding, and hiking.
Special Features
The trail offers spectacular views of the Chuckwalla Bench, Orocopia Mountains, Chuckwalla Mountains, and the Palo Verde Valley. The Salton Sea, near the trail’s western end, is one of the largest salt lakes on earth. Wildlife in the area includes wild burros, mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, kit foxes, other small mammals, and birds.
Permits, Fees, Limitations
All commercial and competitive activities require a land-use or special recreation permit from BLM. The Bradshaw Trail is within a “limited use area,” which means vehicles are restricted to approved routes. Wilderness areas adjacent to the trail are posted as closed to all motorized vehicles.
Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available at Wiley’s Well and Coon Hollow Campgrounds within the Mule Mountains Long-Term Visitor Area.
Camping and Lodging
The Mule Mountain Long-Term Visitor Area (LTVA), located at theintersection of the Bradshaw Trail and Wiley’s Well Road, is available for camping stays up to 7 months from mid-September–mid-April. Two developed campgrounds are part of the LTVA. Wiley’s Well Campground is located at the intersection of Wiley’s Well Road and the Bradshaw Trail; Coon Hollow Campground is located about 4 miles farther south on Wiley’s Well Road. (From Blythe, take Interstate 10 west for about 17 miles to the Wiley’s Well Road exit. Go south on Wiley’s Well Road for about 8 miles to Wiley’s Well Campground, or 12 miles to Coon Hollow Campground.) The campgrounds provide campsites with picnic tables, shade ramadas, and grills. Other campgrounds are available at Lake Cahuilla (4 miles southeast of La Quinta on Avenue 58), Joshua Tree National Park (about 25 miles east of Indio and north of Interstate 10), and Corn Springs (about 38 miles west of Blythe and 8 miles south of Interstate 10 on Corn Springs Road). Primitive vehicular camping is allowed within 100 feet of the trail except in designated wilderness areas. Use of previously disturbed areas is encouraged. Fourteen-day camping restrictions apply. The cities of Indio and Blythe offer complete accommodations.
Food and Supplies
Food, supplies, and gasoline are available in Indio, Blythe, Chiriaco Summit (about 30 miles east of Indio on Interstate 10), and Desert Center (48 miles west of Blythe on Interstate 10).
First Aid
There is no first aid available along the Bradshaw Trail. Hospitals are located in Indio and Blythe.
Additional Information
The trail is a dirt road periodically graded by the Riverside County Transportation Department. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended because of stretches of soft sand and dry wash conditions. The Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range is located immediately south of the trail. This is a live bombing range that is closed to all public entry. VISITORS SHOULD NOT ENTER THE BOMBING RANGE. Summers can be extremely hot. Visitors should carry plenty of water, always tell someone of their plans, and stick to their itinerary. GPS units and cell phones are highly recommended, although cell phones may not work in some locations along the trail.
Contact Information
BLM - Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office
690 West Garnet Avenue
P.O. Box 1260
North Palm Springs, CA 92258
Tel: (760) 251-4800               

Bradshaw Trail Webpage

Bradshaw Trail Map

Bighorn Sheep along the Bradshaw Trail

Observant travelers might be lucky enough to spot a bighorn sheep in the rocky terrain along the historic Bradshaw Trail. (Doran Sanchez, BLM California Desert District)

Last updated: 10-23-2009