The Piute Mountains Wilderness is located near Needles, CA not far from the California and Nevada state line. The Historic Route 66 passes by the northern wilderness boundary. The wilderness area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is 48,080 acres in size. The Piute Mountains are a prominent feature of the wilderness area with elevations from 2,000 to over 4,100 feet.
The wilderness area provides visitors with many recreational opportunities. During hunting season, Piute Mountains Wilderness is a popular hunting destination. Hiking and horseback riding can be enjoyed throughout much of the wilderness area. Many different types of wildlife thrive in the desert climate including roadrunners and desert tortoises. You won’t want to forget to bring your camera to capture the landscape and wildlife you may encounter.
The Piute Mountains Wilderness is in the desert and visitors should plan accordingly for the desert climate. It is best visited during the fall, winter, and spring. In the summer months, it is common for temperatures to reach over 120 degrees. No matter the time of year, there is very little shade. Visitors should bring plenty of water and protection from the sun.
Piute Mountains Wilderness is located in San Bernardino County, California. It isn’t far from the city of Needles or the Mojave National Preserve. The Piute Mountains Wilderness is a great stop along a Route 66 road trip. Route 66 passes by the northern wilderness boundary. Visitors should bring all of the supplies they’ll need for their trip with them as there are no amenities. Fuel, food, and water can be obtained in Needles.
The wilderness area is easy to access from Needles. Drivers will want to head west on I-40. After exiting south at Mountain Springs Road, take National Trails Highway to Piute Crossing Road which is a BLM road. Take a left on Piute Crossing and you’ll be passing by the wilderness on both sides of the road.
Wilderness visitors can check with the BLM office for road conditions within the wilderness area. Piute Crossing Road is a dirt road and is best accessed with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Piute Crossing Road is most heavily accessed during hunting season.
A little over 30 miles away from the Piute Mountains Wilderness, the Needles KOA Journey provides a comfortable camping experience with many modern amenities. In addition to Piute Mountains Wilderness, the KOA is also not far from Laughlin, Nevada where there are several casinos. A nearby ghost town is also a great spot to stop and explore.
Even the largest RVs and trailers should have no trouble fitting into many of the KOA’s sites with 90 feet being the longest site. Visitors can select a site with partial or full-hookups. Both 30-amp and 50-amp campsites are offered. The KOA has a dump station for those without a sewer connection at their campsite. The campground is open year-round and accepts reservations.
Many amenities are available to guests at the KOA. The pool is open year-round and next to it is a playground. For the dogs, a dog run is located at the facility. Visitors who are part of a large group may enjoy the pavilion with their party. Additional amenities include WiFi and laundry facilities.
There are hike-in dispersed campsites at Piute Mountains Wilderness, but there aren’t any campsites suitable for those with RVs. Other camping options are available not far from the Piute Mountains. The wilderness is about 25 miles from the Mojave National Preserve where there are several camping options available.
There are two developed campgrounds at Mojave National Preserve. Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring. There are no hookups at any of the campsites though many can accommodate RVs. Each campground has pit toilets. No potable water is available to campers. Guests will need to bring in water for their stay. Campsites at the developed campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Another camping option within the preserve is the many roadside campsites. There are several established campsites outside of the day-use areas. Only established, previously-used campsites should be used to avoid damaging the desert vegetation. Some of these campsites have fire rings, but others don’t. New fire rings shouldn’t be constructed.
Many hiking opportunities await visitors at Piute Mountains Wilderness. Explore some of the wilderness roads or head off the beaten path to higher elevations to see the scenic views you’ll be rewarded with.
You may come across closed mines, many different types of wildlife, and are sure to see many different types of desert vegetation. Take plenty of water with you for your hike. Water within the wilderness is sparse.
Horseback riding is permitted in the wilderness area. It’s a peaceful area with rocky, desert terrain for equestrians to ride through. Ride along the dirt road passing through the wilderness or find your own path to explore the terrain and landscape.
Equestrians will need to park off of the road and ride in with their horses. There are no staging areas within the wilderness. Bring plenty of water and feed with you. There is very little water in the wilderness and it should be reserved for wildlife.
The Piute Mountains is a popular location for hunting. During hunting season, hunters head toward Fenner Spring, which is the primary water source within the Piute Mountains though it is often dry. The spring can be accessed via Piute Crossing Road that passes through the wilderness.
Many different types of animals are popular hunting game. Visitors planning to hunt should check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for information regarding regulations and season dates.
The Piute Mountains Wilderness is a great area to view and enjoy the desert wildlife. The wilderness area is home to many different species of animals that thrive in the dry desert climate. The wilderness is considered a critical habitat for desert tortoises.
Roadrunners, kangaroo rats, quail, ground squirrels, and jackrabbits may also be spotted throughout the wilderness. As darkness falls, coyotes can often be heard roaming through the land. Though not permanent residents due to the lack of water, bighorn sheep and mule deer pass through on occasion.
The mountainous, desert landscape is an excellent backdrop and subject for photography. The many peaks and ridges dotted with vegetation such as cheesebush and smoketree are part of the desert habitat for many different types of wildlife. In the mornings and evenings, colorful desert sunrises and sunsets can be captured. You won’t want to forget to pack your camera while hiking or riding through the wilderness.
Rock collecting is permitted on many BLM properties including Piute Mountains Wilderness. Rockhounding enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the wilderness while in search of minerals and other stones.
There are several closed mines within the wilderness area that were used during the area’s mining days. Visitors may find granite, limestone, and other rock types throughout the wilderness area. Any rocks collected should be for personal use only.