The United States Congress designated the Santa Rosa Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 78,576 acres
All of this wilderness is located in California
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.
The stark Colorado Desert, with its agave, ocotillo, and creosote, rises up boulder-strewn and eroded canyons to chaparral, juniper, and pine-covered ridges. Elevations change drastically from just above sea level to over 7,000 feet. Seemingly desolate and inhospitable, the Santa Rosa Mountains are laced with deep washes and shallow drainages. Several riparian streams flow year-round. Blistering summer heat is sometimes relieved by thunderstorms that send torrents of water down the sandy washes. Many of these regions are important lambing sites for bighorn sheep; in fact, the mountains support the largest herd of rare peninsular bighorn sheep in the United States. Coniferous forests high in these mountains provide habitat for mule deer, while the desert below houses numerous reptiles including the desert slender salamander. Great horned owls soar in the night skies, and falcons and eagles nest and forage throughout the Wilderness. The primary access into the Wilderness is the 9.5-mile Cactus Spring Trail.