Granite Mountain Wilderness is a little-known wilderness area in central California. It is 31,059 acres in size and is home to its namesake, Granite Mountain. Yosemite National Park, Inyo National Forest, and Mono Lake are within two hours, making the wilderness a worthy stop on a road trip. There are many recreational opportunities at Granite Mountain Wilderness, including hiking, climbing, and camping.
Visitors who find their way to this wilderness area can explore the granite outcrops, steep ridgelines, and the unique terrain. Those who reach the top of the nearly 9,000-foot peak will be wowed with expansive views of neighboring mountains, Mono Lake, Mono Craters, and Adobe Valley. The wilderness is abundant in wildlife with deer, wild horses, and bears that roam the land. Eagles and hawks are often sighted in the sky.
Wilderness visitors can find a remote camping experience at one of the dispersed campsites. Many campsites are located off of the dirt roads at the base of Granite Mountain. Campers will enjoy a primitive, solitary experience. Ensure you have plenty of water and fuel for your trip to the wilderness, whether it’s for the day or overnight. The closest gas station is about 40 miles away.
Granite Mountain Wilderness can be found to the east of Mono Lake, California, in the eastern Sierra region. It isn’t far from the Inyo National Forest. To access the southern wilderness area, take Highway 120. To access the northern end, take Highway 167. Both highways are paved roadways for the first several miles. From that point, scenic dirt roads lead into the wilderness area.
Four-wheel-drive is recommended on the dirt roads. The roads are unmaintained, and conditions can vary. Roads leading to primitive campsites and popular hunting areas can be found at the base of Granite Mountain. If in an RV or towing a trailer, take extra caution as the roads may be rough in some sections.
The area surrounding the wilderness is remote, with no services nearby. Many other federal lands aren’t far from Granite Mountain. Yosemite National Park is 60 miles away, and Inyo National Forest is about 37 miles. The closest gas station is about 40 miles away in Benton, California. You’ll want to ensure you have a full tank before heading onto the dirt wilderness roads and make sure you have enough fuel to get back.
The Inyo National Forest is just under 40 miles from Granite Mountain Wilderness. Dispersed camping is offered within the national forest, and there are also developed campgrounds. When looking for a dispersed campsite, ensure you stay at least 100 feet away from water sources and don't stray from the established roadway. Some of these dispersed sites have fire rings. Before starting a campfire, check that there are no fire bans and obtain a permit from the Forest Service or BLM office.
There are many developed campgrounds in Inyo National Forest. None of these campgrounds have hookups, so RVers will want to come prepared for dry camping with plenty of water and other supplies. The national forest campgrounds are pet-friendly, but your dog must be on a leash at all times. Bears are common at Inyo National Forest. Each campsite has a bear-proof storage container that must be used to secure trash and food. All campgrounds have either flush or vault toilets.
Overnight visitors can set up camp in one of the many dispersed sites that Granite Mountain Wilderness has to offer. Campers can expect a peaceful, serene camping experience. The wilderness is remote and very little trafficked. The dispersed campsites can be found off of the dirt roads near the base of Granite Mountain. Many of the campsites are accessible to RVs. The dirt roads are unmaintained, so you’ll want to use caution if driving or towing a big rig.
When setting up camp, you’ll want to ensure that you’re at least 100 feet from any trails or water sources. Bears have been seen in the area, so properly secure any food and trash to avoid attracting them along with other wildlife. This BLM property has no amenities. Campers should come with plenty of water and food for boondocking. When it comes time to pack up and hit the road, take all of your trash and belongings with you.
Many scenic opportunities await hikers at Granite Mountain Wilderness. Those that make it to the top of Granite Mountain Wilderness will take in breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, Adobe Valley, and much more of the area’s landscape. Closer to the base, hikers can explore the many overhangs, coves, and outcrops. Sagebrush is abundant throughout Granite Mountain. While hiking among the terrain and vegetation, keep an eye out for deer and other wildlife that inhabit the wilderness.
You’ll want to pack your climbing gear for your trip to Granite Mountain! Bouldering and rock climbing are enjoyed by wilderness visitors. Many of the granite walls and overhangs are inviting to climbers.
Explore the many ridges of Granite Mountain and be sure to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and Mono Lake. There is little shade throughout the wilderness. Wear sunscreen and bring water for your climb.
Horseback riding is permitted throughout Granite Mountain Wilderness. Ride through the varying terrain and the sagebrush steppe. While riding in higher elevations, you’ll find views that encompass the surrounding area such as Glass Mountain, Mono Lake, and Mono Craters. Hitching or tethering within 100 feet of campsites or water sources is prohibited. Bring water for both you and your horse while out riding and plan for the lack of shade.
Granite Mountain Wilderness provides a unique habitat for many different types of wildlife, which visitors are likely to see much of. Granite Mountain is an important habitat to deer as it serves as a migration corridor.
Visitors may catch glimpses of wild horses that roam through the land. Eagles, hawks, and other raptors are often seen soaring through the skies. Bears have also been observed in the wilderness. During your visit, be sure to follow wildlife safety measures if you encounter any wildlife.
Deer, sage grouse, and other animals bring hunters to the area. Many of the dirt roads near the base of Granite Mountain lead to popular hunting sites. Four-wheel-drive is recommended on these roads. Hunting rules and regulations are enforced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hunters will want to pick up hunting tags and any necessary permits before their trip to the wilderness.
The wilderness is a place with historical significance. Mono Lake Paiutes had spent winters at Granite Mountain, where there was much less snowfall than the Sierra Crest. There are many archeological sites throughout the wilderness. Arrowheads and other artifacts have been found.
Unfortunately, many of these sites have fallen victim to illegal artifact collectors. If you stumble across an artifact, do not remove it. Instead, report the finding to the BLM office.