Piper Mountain Wilderness is home to a rich variety of vegetation, and it is surrounded by nature at its finest. At its southwest boundary, it hosts a portion of the Inyo National Forest, and it shares its other boundary with Death Valley.
The landscape of the wilderness is adorned by alluvial fans in its eastern portion, giving photographers just the ammo they need to capture some amazing landscape shots. Desert bighorn sheep leisurely roam the wilderness, basking in the sagebrush, juniper-pinyon woodland, and conifer trees. Joshua Trees also make an appearance in the wilderness at the base of the Inyo Mountains.
Visitors that visit Piper Mountain Wilderness and the nearby White Mountain Wilderness are adventurers and buccaneers who are more than prepared to disappear into the wilderness for days on end, enjoying everything that the wilderness around them has to offer.
While Piper Mountain Wilderness is all green in some parts, it also offers barren plains and dry hills in other portions. The terrain of Piper Mountain Wilderness is gently sloping in the south and southeastern parts of the land, whereas the rest of it is rough, rugged, hilly, and mountainous.
This BLM wilderness seems to have it all, with mountains, dissected fans, alluvial fans, plains, hills, and river washes offering a truly diverse California desert landscape.
There are many routes that lead up to Piper Mountain Wilderness. From Bishop, California, the wilderness is 15 miles to the east in Inyo County. Another access route is through SR 168, which takes 20 miles of driving towards Big Pine. The wilderness can also be accessed via Big Pine-Death Valley Route that is 18 miles east to the wilderness region.
All the routes have been proactively marked with signs indicating “wilderness” “closed routes” and “closed roads” so that no one is at the risk of getting turned around. Mechanized and motorized vehicles are prohibited in the wilderness area. You can park your vehicles outside the wilderness boundary. The boundary of the wilderness is set back 300 feet on paved roads, and 30 feet on unmaintained dirt roads.
An hour and a half drive from Piper Mountain Wilderness will take you to the closest private campground. The campground is located near Big Pine, California. The campsites are spacious enough to accommodate large RVs. The amenities at this campground include 40 shaded campsites with 30-amp electric hookups and water-hookups, showers, and restrooms. There aren’t any dump stations available. Pets are allowed at the campground.
The wilderness is open to primitive camping. You can choose any previously disturbed spot and set up camp. You can also start your campfire using your own wood, or dead and down wood. Picking live vegetation is prohibited. The stay limit is up to 14 days. Pets are also allowed to camp alongside their owners as long as they have them under control at all times.
Make sure to bring plenty of water with you as it is limited in the wilderness. The campsites might be a little crowded as the students of the nearby Deep Springs College frequent the area. However, the wilderness is big enough to avoid people completely if you want.
The landscape of the Piper Mountain Wilderness is so unique and intriguing that it asks to be explored. Some choose to do it through hiking, others choose horseback riding to appreciate their surroundings. You’ll need to bring your own horse feed and water and you’re good to do. There aren’t any restrictions and you can explore this wilderness region on horseback for as long as your heart desires.
Winndedumah is an 80-foot high granite spire that stands like a guard of the Owen Valley in Piper Mountain Wilderness. Many visitors bee-line it to the rock, cutting the ridgeline to get a closer look. Winndedumah inspired many stories, and one of the most famous anecdotes tells of a Paiute tribe fleeing an attack from a neighboring band. The tribe’s medicine man decided to pray for the salvation of his tribe on top of the mountain, and suddenly he was transformed into a mammoth monolith.
The deep dense woods of the Piper Mountain Wilderness are home to many species of birds. A prairie falcon nesting area and 30 miles of foraging area are located in this wilderness.
Another species of sensitive bird that lives in the area is the golden eagle. These birds draw the attention of photographers, hikers, and most importantly birdwatchers who visit the wilderness just for the chance of catching a glimpse of these majestic birds.
A wide range of habitat types exists in the Piper Mountain Wilderness. Bighorn sheep, mule deer, and pale kangaroo mouse are seen frequently. Also, often hidden deep in the darkness of the canyons is the lungless Inyo Mountains Salamander, which is endemic to the Inyo and Piper Mountains in only 16 known places. Due to its rarity, this salamander is a state-protected species. Other wildlife in the area includes black toads.
Chocolate Mountain is one of the most in-demand hiking trails at the Piper Mountain Wilderness with a 1,340-foot elevation gain. This hike is especially perfect for winter days when the scorching sun won’t pose such a health risk. The trailhead would take you to an old restoring route through gentle hills and up towards the wide plateau of Chocolate Mountain.
There’s plenty to capture and freeze in frames at Piper Mountain Wilderness. The Winndedumah, the view from the Chocolate Mountains, the Alluvial Fans, Eureka Valley located north of the Death Valley National Park, rare salamander, and golden eagles are but a few of the pictures that one can capture is this remote isolated desert wilderness.