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North McCullough Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
Petroglyphs of horse-like animals carved into large brown desert rocks.
Library image #780: Petroglyph


The United States Congress designated the North McCullough Wilderness (map) in 2002 and it now has a total of 14,779 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Nevada and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.


Less than 30 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada encompassed by the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, lies a place of eye-catching beauty and historical wonder. The North McCullough Wilderness covers the northern portion of the north-south trending McCullough Mountain Range. Unlike surrounding areas, the northern portion of this range is comprised of ancient volcanic rock. The mountains in the North McCullough Wilderness, reaching approximately 5,500 feet, are massive rounded volcanic peaks, which have a steep east-facing escarpment and gradual western slope.

Though a short distance from the lights and sounds of Las Vegas, silence is common on the peaks and in most canyons. Low visitation levels in the southern portion of this wilderness provide opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation. Diverse non-developed recreational opportunities include hiking, backpacking, rock scrambling, nature study, photography, horseback riding, hunting, and general exploration.

In the northern portion of this wilderness sits the Petroglyph Management Area. This area provides grand opportunities to experience the magnificent petroglyphs left by people of the past. This area is limited to day use only. To keep the petroglyphs pristine, please to not touch the images, as the oils on your skin will damage them. Photographs and sketches are great ways to remember your visit, but rubbings of the images are not permitted.

The North McCullough Mountains are volcanic in origin, and are comprised of andesite and basalt flows that date from 6 to 17 million years ago. Black basalt flows can be seen on the ridges, peaks, and western slopes. The eastern escarpment is comprised of reddish-brown andesite breccias. Examples of lava flows, ash falls, and glassy zones are clearly evident.

Ranging from approximately 3,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation, the landscape displays a thriving Mojave Desert filled with crososte bush, white bursage, brittle bush, burro bush, desert saltbrush, Mojave yucca, teddy-bear cholla, and hedgehog cacti. Black grama grass grows in this wilderness and is not known to occur anywhere else in Nevada. Short-lived annual and perennial wild flowers appear in March, April, and May when prompted by winter rains. A sharp-eyed visitor may glimpse desert bighorn sheep, black-tailed jackrabbits, white-tailed antelope squirrels, desert woodrats, desert tortoises, side-blotched lizards, black throated sparrows, rock wrens, red-tailed hawks, and a variety of wintering migratory birds.

Planning to Visit the North McCullough 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 North McCullough 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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