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Turtle Mountains Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images


The United States Congress designated the Turtle Mountains Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 177,309 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Turtle Mountains Wilderness is bordered by the Stepladder Mountains Wilderness to the north.


The Turtle Mountains Wilderness encompasses a diverse, scenic landscape. The area ranges from broad bajadas to highly eroded volcanic peaks, spires, and cliffs. The colorful Turtle Mountains vary from deep reds, browns, tans and grays, to black. The Mopah Range contains the two signature Mopah Peaks, which are rhyodactic or volcanic plugs. The northern most peak is a landmark known as Mexican Hat. The area has numerous springs and seeps; however, several of them were developed with wells prior to Wilderness designation. Much of the Turtle Mountain range has been designated as a National Natural Landmark in recognition of its exceptional natural values. Dominate vegetation consists of the creosote bush-bur sage and the palo verde-cactus shrub ecosystems. In the washes, Colorado/Sonoran microphylla woodlands can be found. These woodlands include such things as palo verde, smoke tree, honey mesquite, and catclaw. Wildlife species include bighorn sheep, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, roadrunners, golden eagles, prairie falcons, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards. The desert tortoise is found within the Wilderness area, and northwestern and northeastern portions of the wilderness area are considered critical habitat. The Wilderness is located in an ecological transition zone between the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts and therefore contains a high diversity of plant and animal species.

Planning to Visit the Turtle 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 Turtle 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.

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