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Spirit Mountain Wilderness

General Location Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
Rocky mountains rising from a desert landscape, beneath a blue sky painted with wispy white clouds.
Library image #2801: Newberry Mountains

Introduction

The United States Congress designated the Spirit Mountain Wilderness (map) in 2002 and it now has a total of 33,466 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Nevada and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. The Spirit Mountain Wilderness is bordered by the Nellis Wash Wilderness to the north and the Bridge Canyon Wilderness to the south.

Description

Spirit Mountain Wilderness, nestled in the heart of the Newberry Mountains, is a stunning, rugged landscape with sculpted granitic boulders, rocky outcrops and deep canyons. The mountains harbor unique plants and animals and offer dramatic views of Lake Mohave. This wilderness is jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

Spirit Mountain, a monolith of white granite is the highest peak in the Newberry Mountains. It is the spiritual birthplace of the Yuman speaking tribes and is an important sacred area for them today. Some of the backcountry is listed as a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places because of the spiritual value and importance of the area.

Tranquility and quiet amongst the rocky outcrops and peaks of this intriguing backcountry destination reflect the importance of the area to all people. Infrequent visitor use and the need for route finding skills provide great opportunities for solitude and exploration.

GEOLOGY

The northern part of this wilderness is comprised of granites and older metamorphic rocks which appear dark in color, mostly composed of schist and gneiss. The southern part of the wilderness is dominated by white and pink colored, large crystalline, and rugged granitic spires. A well-defined fault separates the two rock types and divides the wilderness along a line running east and west. Spirit Mountain is the highest point in the Newberry Mountains at 5,639 feet and appears whitish-pink in color, making it stand out in an otherwise dark mountain setting.

FLORA AND FAUNA

The Newberry Mountains are popular for their spectacular wildflower displays. In February and March of most years, the open areas of white granitic soil produce a very diverse mix of wildflowers often dominated by Mexican poppies, creating bright patches of yellow-orange color within the green mixed-shrub landscape.

Look for California juniper, single leaf pinyon, shrub live oak and Nolina in the vicinity of Christmas Tree Pass. You can find brittlebush, Mojave yucca, buckwheat, teddy bear cholla, solitary barrel cactus and Mormon tea along with creosote bush and bursage on the slopes at lower elevations. In some locations, the teddy bear cholla is so thick it is difficult to walk through without having stems attach to your shoes or clothing.

With a keen eye, you may be able to spot desert bighorn sheep, pocket mice, Merriam's kangaroo rats, and even desert woodrats. Coyotes, desert cottontail rabbits, and desert tortoise call this area home, while chuckwallas, and a variety of snakes vie for the burrows and shade of the occasional shrub. Western scrub-jays, black-throated sparrows, phainopeplas, red-tailed hawks, cactus wrens, and Costa's hummingbirds interact as they go about the daily business of survival in this diverse desert.

Planning to Visit the Spirit 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 Spirit 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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