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Indian Pass Wilderness

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A narrow path of white gravel winds its way through an immense field of brown rock, towards distant mountains.
Library image #366: View of prehistoric Quechan Indian trail heading toward Indian Pass


The United States Congress designated the Indian Pass Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 32,419 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Indian Pass Wilderness is bordered by the Imperial Refuge Wilderness to the east.


Jagged peaks and spires are incised by mazes of twisting canyons in a distinctive part of the Chocolate Mountains preserved as Indian Pass Wilderness. Desert cloudbursts pour water down the canyons into several tree-lined washes. One of the washes, Julian Wash, dominates the heart of the Wilderness, running east toward the Colorado River and giving this area the local nickname of "Julian Wash Country." The region is crowned by Quartz Peak at 2,200 feet in the western portion. Proximity to the Colorado River and the Arizona desert contributes to wildlife species not commonly found in California: Colorado River toad, Great Plains toad, tree lizard. Mule deer scamper over the Wilderness, and the mountains provide ideal homes for desert bighorn sheep. Wild horses and burros sometimes can be seen in the area. Imperial National Wildlife Refuge lies immediately to the east.

Planning to Visit the Indian Pass 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 Indian Pass 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.