Indian Pass Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

Designated by the US Congress as Indian Pass Wilderness in 1994, this Bureau of Land Management property in California covers 50 square miles of nature’s beauty that offers exciting backcountry experiences to campers and visitors. Located northwest of Picacho in California, this BLM land can be accessed easily by vehicles via Interstate 8, Highway 78, and a local access road. The use of vehicles within the wilderness is prohibited.
The jagged peaks and areas incised by mazes of twisting canyons within Indian Pass Wilderness offer lots of memorable recreational opportunities. Some of the things to do at Indian Pass include wildlife observation and photography, hiking, and backpacking. The nearby Colorado River presents water-based fun opportunities to enthusiasts, from fishing to boating, kayaking, to water skiing. Picacho State Recreational Area is open to migratory game birds and quail hunting. Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and Picacho Peak Wilderness are other attractive sites located near this Bureau of Land Management park.
Primitive campsites are available in the wilderness areas for interested visitors, while vehicle camping areas are located at Picacho SRA.

RV Rentals in Indian Pass Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

Indian Pass Wilderness is located northwest of Picacho, California and can be accessed via S34 (Ogilby Road), a north-south trending road that connects to Interstate 8 and State Highway 78 on either end. The wilderness lies on the north side of the road and is best negotiated with high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. Picacho State Recreation Area can be easily accessed from Ogilby Road via Indian Pass Road.

The wilderness areas are not open to the use of motorized vehicles and mechanized transport so that human impact on the wilderness resources will be minimized. So, as you approach the wilderness boundary, find spaces to park your motor vehicles, RVs, trailers, bicycles or other motorized equipment.

No direct public transportation services are available to this BLM park in California, and neither are vehicle parking spaces within the wilderness areas.

Visitors and vacationers who wish to engage in RV camping after exploring the Indian Pass Wilderness will find rental services at Brawley. No RV camping services and facilities are available within the wilderness areas.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Indian Pass Wilderness

Campsites in Indian Pass Wilderness

First-come first-served

Picacho State Recreation Area Campground

Primitive camping opportunities, as well as group camping and boat sites, are available at Picacho State Recreation Area. Campsites are also available for RVs and trailers in the campground. The sites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, chemical toilets, potable water, and a solar shower. RV length limit in the campground is 35 feet, while the trailer length limit is 30 feet.

A day-use area is also available around the campground where recreational activities such as picnicking, boating, kayaking, swimming and fishing are enjoyed by campers.

Reservations are not accepted as all the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

Seasonal activities in Indian Pass Wilderness

Off-Season

Boating

As soon as the wilderness and desert regions at Indian Pass Wilderness start to heat up, visitors and campers make their way to Colorado River for recreation and relaxation. Water enthusiasts are particularly excited about the many boating opportunities available on the river. Powerboats, canoes, and kayaks are some of the common vessels used by visitors on the river. The best time to canoe and kayak on the river is autumn and early spring, because the river is peaceful during this period.

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is a special place to visit as it features one of the few remaining sections of the Colorado River that is not channelized, so that’s something to see. The refuge consists of upland desert habitats and marshes, as well as backwaters of the river. Flora in the refuge includes sago pondweed and common cattail. Marsh birds, geese, ducks are migratory birds that visit the area in winter. In summer, look out for muskrat and great egrets.

Hunting

Hunting opportunities are available at the nearby Picacho State Recreation Area for hunting enthusiasts who fancy going after game. During hunting season, the park is open to hunters from half an hour before sunrise to sunset. Shotgun hunting is approved in the park and only migratory game birds and quails are to be hunted.

Hunting any other game in the park is prohibited. All who wish to hunt are required to possess California hunting licenses issued by the California Department of Fish and Game.

In-Season

Wildlife

The proximity of Indian Pass Wilderness to the Arizona desert and the Colorado River contribute to the fauna population within the wilderness, making the park home to a number of uncommon animals in California. These include great plains toad, Colorado River toad, and tree lizard. You’ll also find mule deer scampering over the wilderness areas. Desert bighorn sheep reside in the mountains in the park. It is not uncommon to see burros and wild horses in the park too.

Hiking

Hiking and backpacking are popular activities at Indian Pass Wilderness owing to the fact that the wilderness areas are open to backcountry experiences. The deep slanted canyons in the park, as well as the jagged peaks, present wonderful opportunities for visitors who are interested in exploring this BLM wilderness’ extents.

You should keep your eyes out for ancient trails that were used by tribes that inhabited the area. It’s best to have paper maps and a GPS unit so you don’t get lost in the wilderness.

Fishing

Anglers fancy visiting Colorado River after enjoying the backcountry experience that Indian Pass Wilderness offers. Opportunities to catch a wide variety of fish species abound on the banks of the river as well as on boats.

Fish species include largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, black crappie, and channel catfish. The best time to go bass fishing on the river is between March and May, even though the fishing season is from March to November. Fishing licenses are required.