Ibex Wilderness consists of 28,821 acres of California Desert and is crammed in a small strip of land between Death Valley National Park to its west and Nopah Range Wilderness to it east. Ibex Wilderness is a high desert situated on a mountaintop at an elevation ranging from 3000 ft to more than 4700 ft. As a result, hiking up to its highpoints rewards you with views that will leave you breathless. From the summits, one can look out to the mesmerizing Greenwater Valley in the east, and catch a glimpse of the mist-covered Back Mountains in the west.
Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Ibex Wilderness is also home to portions of extensive Desert Hills. Amongst these craggy and rugged desert hills, you can spot bighorn sheep climbing nimbly up rocks to find patches of scarce vegetation.
The mountains and rock formations have layers of bright red, yellow, brown and black hues that add to the beauty of this high desert landscape. While largely untouched by human activities, Ibex Wilderness was subjected to mining activities in the past and as a result, visitors occasionally stumble upon various old talc mines scattered all over the wilderness region. It has been claimed that Ibex Wilderness has 224 mines running underneath its rugged exterior.
There are also a number of springs that hikers can find hidden behind nooks and corners. Water supplies can be replenished here and visitors can even spend a night camping under the stars while enjoying the soft, almost meditative gurgle of the nearby spring.
The best route to access the wilderness is via state Highways 127 or 178. From Tecopa Hot Springs, you can take California’s Highway 127 north and then head west on to Furnace Creek Road. Alternatively, you can also head south and west towards Eclipse Mine to access the wilderness region. Keep in mind that this road is seldom used.
If you have trouble finding Ibex Wilderness, follow the directions and road signs to Death Valley National Park which lies to the west and south of the Ibex Wilderness region. Making your way from there would then be easier.
There are several signs along the way that direct visitors towards Ibex Wilderness. Signs are also placed to warn drivers off closed roads and closed routes. If you wish, you can park your vehicles outside the wilderness boundary and hike onwards. Note that you cannot take mechanized or motorized vehicles into the wilderness region. Any route leading to Ibex Wilderness would require the need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
You can experience the joys and challenges of primitive camping at Ibex Wilderness. Camping is allowed for up to 14-days. The Leave No Trace policy is to be observed at all times and you cannot pick live wood for a campfire. Pets are allowed in the wilderness as long as they are leashed or in control of their owners. Horses are also permitted on the campground, but make sure to bring their feed along.
To help preserve and protect the land, make sure to camp at previously disturbed campsites.
It's totally understandable if primitive camping is not exactly your cup of tea. If that's the case, try driving further out towards Texas Spring Campground in Death Valley.
The campground hosts 92 campsites provided on a first-come, first-served basis. There’s an abundance of foliage in the campground, so the sites are pretty well shaded. Amenities include restrooms with flushing toilets, and potable water stations, ADA accessible sites, picnic tables, sanitary dump, and fire rings. No RV hook-up services are available.
Ibex Peak is one of the most visited attractions of the Ibex Wilderness and many come with the purpose of ascending it. The peak stands at an elevation of 4,752 feet. The trailhead to the peak begins at the old mining road from where you can see the summit of the peak in plain sight.
You might come across a wash in the trail and need to cross it before the road reappears. The entire summit to the peak will make you come across numerous mines, desert vegetation, and wildlife.
BML allows hunting, fishing and non-commercial trapping at Ibex Wilderness. Hunters are advised to stay on public lands and clean up their cartridges. Glass and clay pigeons cannot be used while hunting to preserve the fragile ecosystem and natural habitat. Hunting of small game animals and deer foraying from the adjoining wilderness is a popular activity here.
Another popular attraction of the wilderness is Ibex Spring, located north of the Dumont Dunes. This spring was discovered in 1881 by two miners who found outcrops of silver and copper here and named this spring Ibex. Ibex are actually a species of mountain goats native to Asia, Africa, and Europe. The underground spring has formed ardent land around it, with plenty of vegetation, in an otherwise sparse desert landscape.
A picnic at Ibex Wilderness might not be your regular kind of picnic, but that makes it all the more memorable. Enjoy your spread at the floor of the wilderness and enjoy the views of hills, colorful layers of mountains, and of course majestic sunsets and sunrises. Make sure to bring all your picnic supplies and adhere to the seven standard leave-no-trail principles at all times.
Desert bighorn sheep once thrived in this region, but now their numbers have dwindled, and catching sight of one these beautiful animals is a lot rarer than it used to be. During your hikes, you might also come across fringe-toed lizards, chuckwalla, and leopard lizards, which are a few of the many reptile species that call this region home. The now endangered desert tortoise can also be spotted in the lower tranquil desert washes. Bobcats, coyotes and grey fox have also been spotted patrolling these high desert plains, while red tail hawks can often be seen soaring above the hills and mountain peaks.
Most people are unaware of this but yes, dunes can be climbed as well. In fact, many have already had the honor of summiting the famous Ibex Dune.
Climbing up a sandy dune can often be much more challenging than climbing up a mountainside. This is because the deep sand brings about a lot of resistance when walking, leading to more energy consumption and a hardcore workout for your legs. Ibex dunes are also very secluded and hence less crowded.