Over 45,000 acres of pristine BLM property, the Big Maria Mountains Wilderness, located in northern California, is a nature lover’s dream outdoor destination. A diverse topography including steep canyons, towering peaks, waterfalls, grasslands, woodlands, and more are home to plenty of wildlife and many unique species of flora.
This vast wilderness region borders the Rice Valley Wilderness and Big Wash region to the north and the Colorado River and Arizona to the east. The western and southern boundaries contour along the base of the Big Maria Mountains.
The Big Maria Mountains Wilderness became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1994 and has been a sought after destination for outdoor recreationists and camping enthusiasts alike ever since.
The Burea of Land Management has protected this truly spectacular landscape safeguarding California’s fragile desert ecosystem. Camping and recreational activities are allowed in the region, but one must follow strict guidelines according to the seven standard Leave-No-Trail principles at all times.
The region offers plenty of exploration and adventuring opportunities along with numerous recreational activities that one can partake in when camping along this beautiful Californian desert-mountain landscape.
Big Maria Mountains Wilderness can be best accessed by road from Blythe, California via the Lovenkin Exit. The road leads north and eventually turns into Midland Road.
State Hwy 95 also makes this region accessible by road from the north and east of Big Wash. Interstate 10 can be used to reach the area from the southwest via the Midland and Power Line roads.
Even though they are several routes that lead to this vast wilderness region, all of them turn into difficult terrain as you get closer to your destination. It is highly recommended to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle as the unmaintained dirt roads can be a real challenge to navigate. Also, bring supplies and gear as this remote region is quite far away from the closest town or store.
In the nearby town of Blythe, part of the Palo Verde Valley, you can have a more luxurious camping experience at this 55+ RV campground. 212 full hookup campsites can accommodate even big rigs with ease. The campground has plenty of facilities and amenities that are ADA accessible making this a great camping destination for more senior nature lovers.
Camping at Big Maria Mountains Wilderness is largely primitive. RV campers and vehicles can find parking spots outside the wilderness boundary. From this point onwards, the journey is largely on foot unless you have a 4x4 or have bought your horse along to accompany you in exploring this wild-west terrain. Motorized vehicle use is only allowed in some areas of this vast BLM land to help protect California’s fragile desert ecosystem.
Tenting is possible inside the wilderness region, although it is advised to camp on sites previously used or disturbed so as to not damage the landscape any further.
The Big Maria Mountain Wilderness offers a remote and exotic hiking experience. The diverse landscape takes hikers through diverse terrains that include steep canyons, ridges, sloping bajadas, desert slopes, and jutting peaks.
There are plenty of unmarked trails that were once old jeep trails that hikers can take to delve further out into the wilderness. Enjoy amazing views of the stunning landscape, spot wildlife, and hike up the many different peaks that make up the Big Maria Mountains.
This spectacular landscape is home to an array of wildlife some of which are unique only to this region. Exotic flora species like Foxtail cactus and California barrel cactus litter the landscape and provide a food source to highly specialized desert animals such as burro deer, desert tortoise, elf owl, gilded flicker, Gila woodpecker, and many other species.
By far the most famous hiking trails in this neck of the woods are the ones that lead to the simply magnificent views of the Big Maria Mountains High Point summit. Look out over the vast wilderness below you, along with canyons, ridges, and adjoining mountain peaks. The hike is a strenuous one and should only be taken on by experienced hikers.
The desert topography makes for some truly amazing nature photography. Barren and jagged wind-torn peaks dotted amidst sand dunes, cactuses, and vast open skies make for some epic pictures.
Watching the sun rise and set over vast acres of remote desert wilderness and patiently waiting for desert wildlife to appear from the many nooks and crannies makes this destination a must-visit for any nature photographer.
If you have had enough of the desert and mountain landscape and want to indulge in water-based activities, the Colorado River is just a mile away from Big Maria Mountains Wilderness eastern borders.
The Colorado River offers a whole array of water-based activities from recreational boating to more extreme water sports like water skiing and white river rafting.
The many rough and jutting peaks of the Big Maria Mountains make it a popular destination for amateur and intermediate rock climbers. Climbers can summit most peaks in under a day, and even though some peaks are steep, most have smooth slopes. Reaching the summits of these peaks requires both hiking and climbing experience, and there are many peaks to choose from based on your level of expertise and experience.