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Mojave Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Images
Golden sand dunes draped in rich evening light and striped with black shadow, under a blue sky mottled with cloud.
Library image #344: Sunset on the Kelso dunes


The United States Congress designated the Mojave Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 695,200 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the National Park Service. The Mojave Wilderness is bordered by the Kelso Dunes Wilderness to the west and the Bristol Mountains Wilderness to the west.


The East Mojave National Scenic Area was established in 1980. It's a vast piece of land shaped roughly like a wedge of pie, covering most of the ground from the California-Nevada state line west almost to Barstow and between Interstates 15 and 40. In 1994, the California Desert Protection Act altered the status of the area's 1.6 million acres to the Mojave National Preserve and designated slightly less than one half the land as Wilderness.

Here is a meeting place for the Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin deserts, where you'll see strange volcanic features: cinder cones and dramatic lava beds, saw-toothed mountains rising in at least seven named ranges, flat-topped mesas, towering sand dunes, dry lake beds, and unique plant communities including the largest Joshua tree forest in the world. Most of the wildlife sensibly remains hidden during the daylight hours, but you may spot bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcats, and cougars in the rugged mountains, and rabbits, coyotes, foxes, ground squirrels, pack rats, desert tortoises, lizards, and snakes in the washes and canyons. Raptors soar throughout the park. Much of this area is a desert wonderland, seldom visited by humans, and most of it is amenable to foot travel if you carry maps and plenty of water.

Planning to Visit the Mojave 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 Mojave 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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