Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

The Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness is a six-thousand acre BLM property near the small towns of Searchlight in Nevada and Nipton in California. These unique BLM lands were designated as a wilderness area to help conserve some of the oldest Joshua Trees in existence. Wee Thump translated from the Native American language of the Paiute tribe means ancient ones and some of the bushes in the wilderness are estimated to be in the region of nine hundred years old. Many of the trees stand over thirty feet tall, towering over the desert vegetation growing around them, and while the yucca, prickly pear, creosote bushes, and cholla add a scenic element to the terrains, it's the Joshua trees that are the real showstoppers.

The Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness isn't one of the most frequented of BLM wildernesses in either Nevada or California so if you go, you may find you finish your exploration without having spotted another human being. You will see a variety of wildlife though, and birdlife is particularly prevalent. There are no steep gradients or mountains on this BLM property so hiking is a non-strenuous and pleasant activity you can do either cross-country or along a defined trail.

The only camping that's permitted in the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness is dispersed tent camping and no vehicles are allowed inside the boundaries. There are options for RV camping to the east of the wilderness by Lake Mohave on the Colorado River which is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and in the Lake Mead NCA itself as well as in the Lake Havasu State Park and the Buckskin Mountain State Park.

RV Rentals in Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

The Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness nestles between the Mojave National Preserve and the Colorado River and is an integral part of the Mojave Desert Region. There are only two access roads into the wilderness and they both lead off from the CA 164 westbound out of Searchlight in Nevada. The navigation system on your cell phone or in your vehicle may well have problems finding either of them, so you'll have to use the more traditional method and keep an eye out. The first roadway you'll come across if you're traveling from Searchlight on the CA 164 will take you to the eastern boundary of the wilderness and the second to the western boundary. Neither road is suitable for a rig.

If you've been up in the north and are traveling down from the Zion National Park or the Red Cliffs NCA in Utah, once you hit the I 15 in St George, you'll be on the road for around another two and a half hours depending on where you've decided to camp. From the Death Valley National Park, you'll have a choice of two routes to get to the wilderness. Although both incur the same amount of time behind the wheel, you may find the more scenic drive is the one that takes you past the South Nopah Range Wilderness, through Pahrump and the Red Rock Canyon National Park then around the border of the Sloan Canyon NCA. Go that way and by the time you've arrived at your campground, you'll have seen quite a lot of the Mojave Desert Region.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

Campsites in Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

Alternate camping

Lake Mead NCA

There are multiple choices of campgrounds for RVs in the Lake Mead National Conservation Area. For ease of access to the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness, try the Boulder Beach Campground from where you can hit the CA 95 to Searchlight and be there in under an hour. The campground has almost one hundred and fifty campsites for RVs up to forty-five feet in length that are fitted with water, electric and sewage hook-ups. The campground is by the lakeside and within walking distance of a beach. The on-site amenities are good and include toilets, showers, recreational areas, laundry, and a convenience store.

The Las Vegas Bay Campground is another option within the Lake Mead NCA with easy highway access to Searchlight. The campsite can cater for RVs up to thirty-five feet in length. There are no utility hook-ups on the waterfront campsites, which are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. On-site amenities are basic and consist of drinking water, flush toilets, and a dump station.

The campground at Lake Mohave is the ideal place to pitch up in your rig if you're planning on doing some fishing or enjoying water sport activities when visiting the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness. There are several large campgrounds around the shores of the lake which are run by concessioners. The campsites at all are fitted with full utility hook-ups and are open twelve months of the year.

Seasonal activities in Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness

In-Season

Hiking

Whether you want to trek through the Joshua trees going wherever you fancy or follow a trail through the desert lands, you'll find you can do both in the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness. Take the first exit road you come across from the CA 164, park the required distance from the boundary, then set out on foot along the three-mile-long Joshua Tree Trail.

The dirt-surfaced single-lane track is an old mining road that winds its way through the wilderness. It'll be a solitary hike with just the sound of bird song to accompany you.

Bird & Wildlife Viewing

While at first glance the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness appears to be a desert environment with no apparent life other than the trees and some cactus, nothing could be further from the truth. The wilderness provides a habitat for many species of small birds including flickers, thrashers, shrikes, and wrens.

Hawks and eagles can be seen hunting over the terrains in search of desert rats and jackrabbits. Desert tortoises and bighorn sheep also inhabit the wilderness but are rarer sightings.

Photography

The Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness is a great location to practice your photography skills on some unusual subjects. If you can handle a night under canvas, you'll find the Joshua trees even more fascinating when silhouetted by the sunrise or sunset. If you have the equipment to capture night shots, they'll look incredible under a deep blue sky full of stars.

With a growth rate of around half an inch a year, time-lapse photography isn't an option, but if you're fortunate to catch the trees in flower, which doesn't happen every year, the blooms are amazing for detailed close-up shots.

Fishing

If you want to combine your visit to the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness with some fishing, you won't have far to go. Lake Mohave, a twenty-nine-thousand acre reservoir on the Colorado River, is just a few miles east of the wilderness.

The reservoir is regularly stocked and has a healthy population of many good-sized fish. There, if your angling luck is in, you could hook a largemouth or striped bass, some crappie or channel catfish or trout to grill up on your campsite barbecue for dinner.

Scuba Diving

While scuba diving might not be the first activity to come to mind when visiting the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness, it's an activity you can participate in at Lake Mohave. The reservoir is reputed to be one of the best freshwater diving locations in any of the surrounding states.

There's a lot to see underwater, from fish to wrecks of both pleasure craft and a tow barge. Divers should be aware of the danger of diving prohibited zones at the lake and if inexperienced, go with a qualified professional.

Searchlight Museum

In its heyday at the beginning of the twentieth century, Searchlight was a booming mining town. At the Searchlight Museum you can discover the reasons why the town went into decline, what happened to the once productive gold and silver mining industry and how the town came about its very unusual name. The museum is a fascinating glimpse into the area's past and well worth taking time out of your wilderness exploring to visit.