The United States Congress designated the Malpais Mesa Wilderness (map
) in 1994 and it now has a total of 31,905 acres
All of this wilderness is located in California
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The long, north-south oval of Malpais Mesa (2,300 feet) stands dominant in the middle of this Wilderness area perched at the southern end of the Inyo Mountains. Rugged valleys, deep canyons, sheer mountainsides, and smaller mesas can all be found within close proximity. From Death Valley National Park in the east, the bajada rises gradually to the mesa's summit; the terrain drops away much more steeply in the west. Vegetation takes numerous forms: creosote, low desert shrubs, and grasses in the lower elevations; Joshua trees at middle elevations on the eastern side; piñon pines and junipers higher up. Mule deer abound, and golden eagles nest and forage in the area. The remains of the old Santa Rosa Mines lie at the end of a dirt track, part of a non-Wilderness corridor near the foot of the mesa. This is a desolate piece of earth—in Spanish, malpais means "bad country."