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Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

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Slate colored skies loom over the dense old growth Joshua tree forest.
Library image #4080: Slate colored skies loom over the dense old growth Joshua tree forest.


The United States Congress designated the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness (map) in 2002 and it now has a total of 6,489 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Nevada and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.


Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness is a place of breathtaking panoramas and natural history. This Wilderness is characterized by gentle slopes and an impressive expanse of old-growth Joshua trees. In Paiute language, Wee Thump means "ancient ones." On average, Joshua trees grow only a half-inch per year. Many of the trees in this wilderness are more than 30 feet tall and could be more than 900 years old, making them some of the oldest and largest Joshua trees in the world.

Silence is common throughout these gentle slopes. Infrequent visitor use and the ability to lose oneself in the maze of Joshua trees result in outstanding opportunities for solitude. Although the Wilderness is bordered by dirt roads and a highway, the majority of the area is characterized by long periods of natural quiet.

This is a great place to get out of the car and stretch your legs among the "ancient ones" on the Joshua Tree Trail. Grab your binoculars to take in the sights and sounds of what may possibly be one of southern Nevada's best birding spots.

Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness lies on the gently sloping bajada, and is southeast of the nearby South McCullough Wilderness. The gently sloping alluvia deposits are comprised of un-sorted sand, gravel and cobbles. The soils is composed of the broken-down metamorphic rock of the McCullough Range.

The landscape ranges from 4,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation and displays a thriving forest of Joshua trees. Other plants that can be found in this area include blackbrush, Mojave yucca, buckhorn cholla, creosote bush, white bursage, banana yucca, bunch grass, matted cholla, and prickly pear cactus.

Gilded flicker (known to occur only at this location in Nevada), northern flicker, ladder-backed woodpecker, black-throated woodpecker, black-throated sparrow, red-tailed hawk, crissal thrasher, golden eagle, loggerhead shrike, cactus wren, desert tortoise, desert bighorn sheep, coyote, desert cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbit, valley pocket gopher and desert woodrats can be glimpsed in this Wilderness.

Planning to Visit the Wee Thump Joshua Tree 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 Wee Thump Joshua Tree 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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