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Mount Wilson Wilderness

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A dry desert scene of two green plants near the top of a ridge, surrounded with gray grass and brown dirt.
Library image #784: Desert vegetation and glimpse of Mount Wilson.


The United States Congress designated the Mount Wilson Wilderness (map) in 1990 and it now has a total of 23,900 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Arizona and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.


Only 30 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, Mount Wilson Wilderness encompasses eight miles of Wilson Ridge which rise from nearly 2,000 feet in the eastern portion of the Wilderness to its summit on Mount Wilson at 5,445 feet in the northwest corner. Approaching this area from U.S. 93, you'll see a stark and forbidding landscape, a harsh and seemingly waterless countryside. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as the area hides several dependable year-round springs that support wildlife, including more than 100 desert bighorn sheep. The high country along Wilson Ridge rises in places to more than 3,000 feet above the desert floor, providing eye-stretching views over Lake Mead and the colored cliffs, badlands, mountains, and deserts in the distance. Creosote bush, white bursage, Mojave yucca, bunchgrasses, cholla, pricklypear cactus, catclaw acacia, and desert baccharis cover the area.

The Wilderness is almost completely surrounded by Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which is administered by the National Park Service. Two primitive, two-trail trails provide access to the area. The Cabin Site Access ventures 4 miles into the Wilderness and the Missouri Spring Access, 3.1 miles. No other trails are present, although sometimes burrow and sheep trails can be located and followed. Daytime temperatures during the summer months often exceed 100 degrees. Temperatures are more moderate between October 1 and April 30. Backpackers will find many primitive campsites.

Planning to Visit the Mount Wilson 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 Mount Wilson 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.