Grass Valley Wilderness

Grass Valley Wilderness is a 30,186-acre property on the edge of the Mojave Desert. The property wraps around the southwestern corner of the China Lake Naval Weapons Center. The wilderness is also bisected by a primitive road corridor running north-south across the middle. Because of that road across the middle of a designated wilderness area, the area seems to attract a lot of OHV enthusiasts.

Grass Valley itself takes up about 3/4 of the land area of the wilderness. The rest is spread across a series of low hills on the west. For the most part, the elevation doesn't vary 200 feet from the desert floor until you get into those hills. There the elevation may vary as much as 600 feet.

There are a few Joshua trees around but the vegetation is dominated by a creosote-bush-and-cactus community. This is a landscape favored by raptors, the desert tortoise and the Mojave ground squirrel. It's not human-friendly: no water, no trails.

Those folks who do visit primarily approach the property via US Highway 395. There's a turn-off immediately north of Red Mountain onto the Red Mountain-Trona Road to the Steam Well Road. There's another turn-off south of Red Mountain onto the Twenty Mule Team Road to the Cuddeback Road. Those roads tap into either end of the road transecting the wilderness.

Upper photo courtesy of Jesse Pluim, BLM, CCA 2.0 License