Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness

Rock art near the Corn Springs Campground Rock Art

The Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness is a 112,326-acre property just southeast of Joshua Tree National Park in the southern California desert. The landscape is very rugged and very dry. The vegetation is mixed as this is where the Mojave meets the Colorado desert. You'll find ocotillo, yucca, cholla, creosote, barrel cactus and foxtail cactus almost everywhere. The endangered desert tortoise seems to like the bajada region in the southwestern corner of the wilderness.

The Chuckwalla Mountains themselves rise like an island of sharply sculpted stone offering broad valleys, steep-walled canyons, rock outcroppings, dry washes and lots of that extreme desert feel. Depending on where you go in the area you might find bighorn sheep, wild burros, deer, raptors, snakes, foxes and coyotes.

Most folks who visit the Chuckwallas follow a deeply cherry-stemmed road into the wilderness to the Corn Springs Campground. The campground is at the end of the road, next to a stand of California fan palms. Nearby is a collection of rock art, some of which has been estimated to be up to 10,000 years old while other bits of artwork could have been done last week by any typical American high school grad. (It's easy to see why the government stopped exposing ancient sites to modern Americans.)

California fan palms rising above Corn Springs
California fan palms at Corn Springs Campground
A cholla forest
A valley leading into the Chuckwallas
Photos courtesy of Kyle Sullivan, BLM, CCA 2.0 License