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Kiavah Wilderness

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A cluster of cream-colored blossoms protruding from a grown of spiky leaves.
Library image #342: Joshua tree blossom


The United States Congress designated the Kiavah Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 86,245 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.


Embracing the eroded hills, canyons, and bajadas of the Scodie Mountains--the southernmost reach of the Sierra Nevada--Kiavah Wilderness lies primarily within Sequoia National Forest but includes a portion on BLM land. Here in the transition zone between the Sierra Nevada and the Mojave Desert, you'll find an unusual mix of plants and animals: creosote bush, Joshua tree, burro bush, and shadscale growing near pinion pine, juniper, canyon oak, and gray pine; yellow-eared pocket mice and lizards watching the skies for raptors.

Trails enter from all sides, often fading into the terrain. The Pacific Crest Trail enters on the northeast from Walker Pass and crosses the area for 16 miles, exiting over Bird Spring Pass to the south. Four-wheel-drive roads forge into the area on non-Wilderness intrusions from the east up Horse Canyon and Cow Heaven Canyon, both accessible from State Highway 14. You should be able to find water in numerous springs. However, due to the arid environment and dry conditions be sure to carry plenty of water. Potable drinking water may not be available year round. Visitors should not drink from creeks and springs without properly treating the water. Recommended treatment is to bring clear water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes or use a filter/purifying system that eliminates giardia and waterborne bacteria.

Planning to Visit the Kiavah 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 Kiavah 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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