The United States Congress designated the Bright Star Wilderness (map
) in 1994 and it now has a total of 8,191 acres
All of this wilderness is located in California
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Bright Star Canyon encloses Kelso Creek and leaves Sequoia National Forest to cross the southern portion of the Bureau of Land Management's Bright Star Wilderness. In the northwestern portion, Cortez Canyon has been carved out of the Kelso Mountains. In the northeastern portion, Kelso Peak stands at 5,090 feet with drainages falling off to the north, south, and east.
Elevations range from 3,000’ near the floor of Kelso Valley to over 5,800’ on the highest ridges and peaks. In mid-summer, day-time temperature can exceed 100oF before cooling off at night. In winter, higher elevations are often covered with snow and in years of adequate precipitation, wildflowers cover the slopes in stunning displays of color. The upper slopes are dotted with piñon pine and juniper, while the lower slopes are brushy and broken by large granite outcroppings. The valley below is boulder-strewn and dense with Joshua trees. Here the Mojave Desert meets the Sierra Nevada, allowing for a wide variety of wildlife. These include hundreds of bird species, black bear, coyote, mountain lion, and bobcat. Mule deer, chukar, mountain quail, and California quail also inhabit the area. Eagles, hawks, and other raptors nest in the large cottonwoods and on the cliffs. Visitors should note that there are no designated trails for backpackers and the entire Wilderness lies within the Bureau of Land Management's Jawbone-Butterbredt Area of Critical Environmental Concern.