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Kelso Dunes Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images


The United States Congress designated the Kelso Dunes Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 144,915 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Kelso Dunes Wilderness is bordered by the Mojave Wilderness to the east and the Bristol Mountains Wilderness to the south.


The Kelso Dunes Wilderness derives its name from the large sand dunes complex located outside of its eastern boundary in the Mojave National Preserve. From the flat Broadwell dry lake bed in the west, the area slopes into the northern most end of the gentle rounded granite Bristol Mountains. Mixed in this central area are flat topped, volcanic mountains, such as Broadwell Mesa, and an extensive desert wash system. The eastern portion of the area drops into the broad Budweiser Wash, which drains into the sea of sand known as the Devils Playground (located mostly outside wilderness boundaries). Vegetation is sparse and is predominantly creosote bush desert scrub, desert wash scrub, and sand dune plant associations. Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including a small herd of bighorn sheep, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards.

Planning to Visit the Kelso Dunes 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 Kelso Dunes 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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