Are you using a screen reader? Click here to view the navigation links for this site as a bulleted list.

Partner logos: BLM, FWS, FS, NPS, University of Montana Logo
Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
Text size: A | A | A  [Print]

Stepladder Mountains Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images


The United States Congress designated the Stepladder Mountains Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 83,195 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Stepladder Mountains Wilderness is bordered by the Turtle Mountains Wilderness to the south.


Unique to the Stepladder Mountains Wilderness is the extensive critical desert tortoise habitat that it protects. The western portion of the area consists of the relatively low, elongated volcanic Stepladder Mountains. This small range extends for about ten miles in a north-south direction. The area gently slopes eastward to the northern end of Chemehuevi Wash and westward to Homer Wash. Approximately 85 percent of the Wilderness consists of flat bajadas and associated washes which provide excellent desert tortoise habitat. The entire Wilderness is considered critical habitat for this threatened species. The dominant vegetation consists of creosote bush scrub on the bajadas, and microphylla woodlands within the washes; palo verde, smoketree, and catclaw are typically the trees found in the woodlands. A small stand of crucifixion thorn and a dense stand of teddy bear cholla are also found in the area. Wildlife is typical for the Mojave Desert; including coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, roadrunners, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards.

Planning to Visit the Stepladder Mountains 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 Stepladder Mountains 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.

Give us your feedback