Golden Valley Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

Bounded by mountains more than 4,000 feet high and featuring spectacular floral displays in spring, Golden Valley Wilderness is an amazing BLM park suited for primitive campers and sightseers. Located about 10 miles southeast of Ridgecrest in California, this 59 square mile BLM property is easy to access via local unpaved roads that branch off US Highway 395.
There are plenty of ways to stay active at Golden Valley Wilderness because the park offers various outdoor opportunities for visitors. You could decide to hike through the park or explore the area on your horseback. Be sure to come along with all you’ll need for the adventure. Wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities are also plentiful, along with non-commercial trapping. Target shooting is another way to have fun in the wilderness. Nearby attractions include Searles Lake and Grass Valley Wilderness.
Primitive camping opportunities abound in the park within various sites across the wilderness. These sites are open for free and dry camping. Vehicle camping areas are, however, not available in the wilderness. Red Rock Canyon State Park features RV and tent camping areas.

RV Rentals in Golden Valley Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

Golden Valley Wilderness, located about 10 miles southeast of Ridgecrest, California, is accessible via local paved and unpaved roads such as Trona Road and Steam Well Road. The closest major highway to this BLM park is Highway 395 to the west, connecting Red Mountain to Ridgecrest. You’ll be able to get as far as Steam Well in your vehicle, but you will come across signs such as “Wilderness”, “Closed Road”, and “Closed Route” at various intervals, so keep your eyes peeled for them. As you make your way in your vehicle to Steam Well along RM1444, exercise caution because you’ll be traveling very close to the China Lake Naval Weapons Base, the eastern boundary of the wilderness.

Parking spots are available outside the wilderness boundary both on dirt roads and paved roads. So, upon arriving at the boundary, or wherever you see signs that indicate that the road is closed, be prepared to continue the rest of the trip on foot. This is because no mechanized or motorized vehicles, including bikes, are allowed within the wilderness.

After exploring this BLM wilderness, if you wish to enjoy vehicle camping opportunities nearby, you’ll be able to get equipment rentals at Ridgecrest.

There are no direct public transportation services to Golden Valley Wilderness.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Golden Valley Wilderness

Campsites in Golden Valley Wilderness

First-come first-served

Ricardo Campground

Ricardo Campground is a pet-friendly campground in Red Rock Canyon State Park which features desert cliffs and spectacular landscapes. Primitive, tent and RV camping options are available for guests within the campground. All the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

Although there are no RV hookups or showers in the campground, pit toilets, potable water, picnic tables, and fire rings. RVs and trailers up to 30 feet can be accommodated within the campsites.

Horses and livestock are not allowed within the camping area. Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am, but generators must be off from 8 pm to 10 pm.

Seasonal activities in Golden Valley Wilderness

In-Season

Hiking

Golden Valley Wilderness is a beautiful setting for hiking adventures. This Bureau of Land Management property that covers 59 square miles is made up of different landscapes and natural features that invite adventurers and hikers.

If you are going to explore the wilderness on foot, ensure you’re adequately prepared and equipped for the stroll through the park’s areas. Carry enough water with you and have your GPS unit so you don’t get lost. If you have a pet, keep it on a leash at all times.

Wildlife

Golden Valley Wilderness presents good opportunities for visitors who fancy wildlife viewing to pursue their recreational interests. A number of wildlife species are present within the park such as raptors, desert tortoises, and Mojave ground squirrels.

These species live in different habitats within the park and it’s up to the park explorer to be on the lookout for them. If you are appropriately licensed according to Federal and State Laws, you can also engage in hunting and non-commercial trapping in the park.

Sightseeing

There are plenty of amazing sights to see at Golden Valley Wilderness. This wilderness, bound on the northwestern side by the Lava Mountains and to the southeast by the Almond Mountains, is popular for its spectacular flora, which blossoms in spring. Visitors enjoy these breathtaking views from atop any of the mountains. The Lava Mountains are crowned by Dome Mountain that rises up to 5,000 feet, while Almond Mountains reach an elevation of 4,500 feet.

Off-Season

Searles Lake

An interesting site to visit near Golden Valley Wilderness is the Searles Lake, located north of the park off Highway 178. This lake is a popular destination for geologists and miners because of the abundant rare elements and minerals that have been recovered from the lake through precipitation.

Some of these include borax, sulfates, potassium minerals, as well as other industrial minerals. The natural resources within the lake are managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Target Shooting

Target shooting is one of the popular activities within Golden Valley Wilderness. As a guest skilled in this sport, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the activity within the park’s areas.
You are required to clean up your cartridges and target material, so you don’t leave anything behind. In addition, the use of glass for target shooting is not allowed. Also, target shooters are advised not to use clay pigeons because the debris is quite difficult to clean up afterward.

Horseback Riding

Golden Valley Wilderness is a great site for horseback riding. You could choose to ride your horse along the park’s unpaved roads and unmarked trails, or take an adventure between the trees and along the desert through the wilderness.

Note that there are no designated equestrian trails within this BLM property. It’s also advisable that you come along with all the supplies you’ll need, both for you and your horse, especially water. Prepare to take photographs too.