Sheephole Valley Wilderness
At the boundary of Sheephole Valley Wilderness
A typical Sheephole Valley view
Sheephole Valley Wilderness is a 188,169-acre property in the central Mojave Desert of southern California. The wilderness is included in Mojave Trails National Monument. Most folks access the wilderness by driving about 20 miles east of Twentynine Palms on Route 62, the Twentynine Palms Highway. The wilderness area is set back 300 feet from the north side of the highway for the next 21 miles. The upper photo on this page was taken at the point where the Cadiz Road intersects with Route 62, at the southeastern corner of the wilderness. All that separates the wilderness from Joshua Tree National Park to the south is the highway. The eastern boundary of the wilderness is set back about 30 feet from a dirt road that runs the whole length of the wilderness.
Sheephole Valley Wilderness includes the northwest-southeast trending Sheephole Mountains and Calumet Mountains. Sheephole Valley is the valley between. The Sheephole Mountains rise to 4,613' above sea level while the Calumets rise to 3,732' above sea level. The landscape is typical Mojave Desert - Basin and Range province countryside: the surface is strewn with bits and pieces of granite embedded in depths of sand. There are prominent sand dunes at the southwest edge of the Sheephole Mountains and at the northeastern edge of the Calumets. At the valley's lowest point (1,832') there are two small dry lake beds.
Lower elevations of the property are dominated by a creosote bush scrub which slowly gives way to a mixed-desert scrub as the elevation rises. The two dry lake beds are encircled with inkweed, pickleweed and saltbush, all salt-tolerant species. In the sand dunes areas are some clumps of Borrego milkvetch, a rare and endangered plant.
Wildlife on the property includes bighorn sheep, coyote, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, black-tailed jackrabbits, roadrunners, quail, rattlesnakes, several species of lizards and the threatened desert tortoise.
Camping is allowed in the wilderness area: up to 14 days in one spot, then to continue camping the campsite needs to be moved at least 25 miles away.
Beware of small patches of private land within the wilderness (usually in areas where mining has taken place).
Sand dunes below the Sheephole Mountain foothills
Upper left photo and map courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management
Bottom photo courtesy of Chris Barnes, BLM, CCA 2.0 License