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Malpais Mesa Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Images
An open desert valley, small tufts of grass stretching over the rolling hills, to higher mountains along the horizon.
Library image #779: View across mesa.


The United States Congress designated the Malpais Mesa Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 31,906 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."

Planning to Visit the Malpais Mesa 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 Malpais Mesa 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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