Year Established:1994

Size:74,890 acres


Stretching along the Argus Range, a long and narrow north-south mountain chain, the Argus Range Wilderness lies 28 miles long, nowhere more than five miles wide and on the west side of Panamint Valley, just south and west of Death Valley National Park and just east of the China Lake Naval Weapons Center. (If the Navy decides to install a space energy laser facility within 15 years after Wilderness designation, a road may be built across the area.) Elevations here vary from about 2,800 feet on the east side to more than 7,500 feet on the west side. The Argus Range is comprised of dry desert mountains with steep slopes and highly dissected canyons. Remains of old mining activity and a few prehistoric sites are scattered throughout the Wilderness. You may find several small springs supporting a small population of desert bighorn sheep. Vegetation includes creosote scrub plant communities on the lower slopes, occasional pinyon-juniper communities on the higher slopes and virtually nothing on the steep slopes and canyon walls.

Trails are not maintained here, but you should find some relatively easy hiking up several canyons that open on the east side. Most human visits are limited to day hikes.

Location: Eastern California.

Easiest Access: From State Highway 190 approximately 30 miles south of Stovepipe Wells, turn south on the Panamint Valley Road for approximately eight miles; turn west on the Minietta Road for about four miles; turn south on the Nadeau Road and then west on one of at least a dozen old four wheel drive tracks that lead to the edge of the Wilderness along the 18-mile-long stretch of the Nadeau Road.

Maps: USGS topographic maps are China Gardens, Darwin, Homewood Canyon, Maturango Peak, Maturango Peak SE, Panamint Springs, Revenue Canyon and Slate Range Crossing.

Andrew Mytys

The author Andrew Mytys

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