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Carrizo Gorge Wilderness

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Two ancient drawings of black stick figures, decorate the brown sandstone walls of a cave.
Library image #368: View of rock art panel

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Carrizo Gorge Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 14,740 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Description

Some of the most expansive views in the entire California Desert--vistas often extending for more than 100 miles--exist in Carrizo Gorge Wilderness. From overlooks, you can see the Chocolate Mountains, the Salton Sea to the northeast, Mount Signal on the Mexican border, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which shares the Wilderness' eastern border. The eastern boundary actually runs near the western edge of Carrizo Gorge itself, where the In-Ko-Pah Mountains rise up from the desert. This Wilderness represents the only ecological transition zone in the NWPS between the low Colorado Desert and the dry California coastal mountains. Peninsular bighorn sheep find this remote, rugged region to their liking, and three herds call the area home. The San Diego coast horned lizard also lives here, eyeing the skies warily for Swainson's hawks, golden eagles, and other birds of prey. California fan palms line the edges of dry washes and narrow canyons, creating oases in the parched terrain.

You will not find much in the way of trails from the west side, though several springs might provide water. From the east side, via Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, you can access Carrizo Gorge on a jeep trail, and the Wilderness on foot.

Planning to Visit the Carrizo Gorge Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Carrizo Gorge Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.