The North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness is in southern California. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, it is adjacent to the Mesquite Wilderness and Kingston Range Wilderness. The wilderness has nearly 29,000 acres for visitors to explore. It is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and was established as a wilderness area in 1994. Although not as well known as other wilderness areas, the North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness is a true gem.
The wilderness contains a northern section of the Mesquite Mountains. With a climate common to the desert, many visitors choose to visit from mid to late fall through the early spring to avoid the summer temperatures. Despite the often harsh desert climate, many types of wildlife and vegetation thrive. Desert tortoise, jackrabbits, and roadrunners are often seen by visitors. Though not frequent in the area, bighorn sheep do often pass through the region.
North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness provides many recreational opportunities. Visitors can explore the rugged terrain on foot or horseback. Other visitors may enjoy finding a peaceful spot to take in the views and watch the desert wildlife. During the fall, hunters make their way to the wilderness to hunt quail and jackrabbit. Visitors wanting to make the most of their visit to their wilderness will find dispersed campsites where they can experience a remote and primitive camping experience.
The North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness area is within San Bernardino County, California. It’s not far from the California/Nevada state line being only 20 miles west of Primm, Nevada. The most common access point into the wilderness is at the southern end.
To access the southern point, visitors will want to take I-15 to Cima Road and head north to Excelsior Mine Road which is paved. After about eight miles, the pavement ends and the road turns to gravel and dirt at Kingston Road. Here, you’ll see a wilderness kiosk which also serves as an indication you’ve reached the wilderness boundary. There are seven cherry stem roads that lead into the wilderness. Many of the dispersed campsites can be found off these dirt roads.
RVs and travel trailers should be able to navigate the dirt and gravel roads surrounding and leading into the wilderness using extra caution. The roads are narrow and drivers should plan for a few bumps along the way. Campers will find that some of the dispersed sites are suitable for RVs.
Visitors looking for a primitive, remote campsite will enjoy camping at one of the dispersed campsites found off the wilderness roads. No neighbors will be nearby and campers will be in solitude. There are no developed campgrounds within this BLM property. When searching for the perfect campsite, established campsites should be used whenever possible to avoid damaging desert resources. Overnight stays at any BLM campsite are limited to 14 consecutive days.
The best time to camp at North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness is between the late fall and early spring. Summertime temperatures can become unbearably hot, often reaching over 120 degrees. Between the fall and spring, temperatures will be much more pleasant, though they can change quickly. Campers should bring layers to ensure they’ll be comfortable. There are no amenities within the wilderness area or boundaries. Be sure to come equipped with plenty of water and other supplies. Food and trash should be packed out - remember to leave no trace!
There are many areas to explore within the North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness Area. Head off on foot down the dirt boundary roads and cherry stems which lead further into the wilderness. Pass through the rolling hills or head off the beaten path to the steeper slopes and higher elevations.
Fall through spring are the best times of the year for hiking to beat the hot, harsh summer sun. Water is scarce within the wilderness, so plan to bring plenty of your own.
Visitors are welcome to explore North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness on horseback. The rugged desert terrain has varying elevations from the foothills to steeper mountains to explore. Ride along the wilderness roads or find your own path to see what views or wildlife you may find. Plan to bring plenty of water for both you and your horse as there aren’t reliable water sources in the wilderness.
The wilderness is a great place to view many different types of desert wildlife that linger among the desert vegetation such as Joshua trees, cacti, and creosote bush scrub. This wilderness, along with the neighboring Mesquite Wilderness, serves as an important habitat for the desert tortoise. Quail, roadrunners, and prairie falcons are a few types of birds that thrive in the desert climate. In the dark evenings and mornings, visitors may hear the calls of coyotes. Venomous wildlife such as rattlesnakes are also found in the wilderness. Watch your step when hiking.
During the fall, hunters begin trickling into the wilderness down the rugged boundary roads, often branching off down the cherry stems. Quail and rabbit are a couple of types of animals that hunters seek. For patient hunters, bighorn sheep also pass through the area, though they aren’t permanent residents.
Hunters will want to ensure they acquire the required hunting permits and bring plenty of water. Though the fall brings cooler temperatures, the sun is still strong and there is very little shade within the wilderness.
The mountainous desert scenery in the wilderness provides many photo opportunities. The scenic views from higher elevations provide breathtaking landscapes. The colorful desert sunrises and sunsets are an excellent backdrop when photographing wildlife or vegetation or the Mesquite Mountains ridgeline. Pack your camera or make sure your phone is charged to capture your visit to the wilderness area.
The area has a rich mining history, making it popular for rock collectors on the hunt for gemstones and minerals. Whether you’re on foot or horseback, you’ll want to be on the lookout for fossils, petrified wood, and other gemstones. These make great keepsakes or gifts to showcase your visit to North Mesquite Mountains Wilderness. Remember, while rockhounding is permitted on this Bureau of Land Management property, it is for personal use only.