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La Madre Mountain Wilderness

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Depressions in bright orange sandstone desert rocks capture small pools of water.
Library image #381: Brownstone basin

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the La Madre Mountain Wilderness (map) in 2002 and it now has a total of 47,296 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Nevada and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. The La Madre Mountain Wilderness is bordered by the Mt. Charleston Wilderness to the north and the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness to the south.

Description

Dominating the dramatic backdrop of the Scenic Loop at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are the steep canyons and spectacular cliffs of La Madre Mountain Wilderness, located approximately 12 miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada. This Wilderness Area is jointly managed by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

The area contains a rugged, eye-catching complex of canyons, gray carbonate ridges and mountain peaks. La Madre Mountain dominates the area with spectacular cliffs and steep canyons occurring on its southeast flanks. Elevations range from 3,600 feet in Brownstone Basin to 9,600 feet at La Madre Mountain. This area provides classic examples of basin and range formations, and is also home to the Keystone Thrust – a geological formation internationally recognized as the finest example of a thrust fault.

GEOLOGY

The bright reds and whites of the sandstone formations in the southeastern part of this wilderness contrast sharply with the rough gray limestone cliffs of La Madre Mountain. The La Madre Range was formed by the Keystone Thrust Fault, where the land was compressed along a fault line. This compression caused buckling that resulted in older limestone rock being pushed up and over younger sandstone. The Keystone thrust formation is internationally regarded as the single finest example of a thrust fault.

FLORA AND FAUNA

The large variation in elevation (6,000 feet) provides for a variety of plant communities: Mojave Desert scrub, to Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, and the subalpine communities of white fir and ponderosa pine. You may also see desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lions, foxes, and a variety of birds, rodents, and lizards.

CULTURAL SITES

Prehistoric sites occur throughout the area and include pictographs and petroglyphs, agave roasting pits and rock shelters. Brownstone Canyon is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Planning to Visit the La Madre Mountain 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 La Madre Mountain 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.



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