Muddy Mountains Wilderness

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Hikes & Trails

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Map Information

Wilderness Area Statusphoto_muddy_anniversary2_ssmith_400.jpg

Designated Wilderness Area
Year Designated: 2002

Act or Law: Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002
Acres: 48019
State Region: Southern Nevada
County Regions: Clark   


Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service
Local District: Las Vegas Field Office
Contact Info: (702) 515-5000
4701 North Torrey Pines Dr  Las Vegas, NV89130
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Area Description

Just an hour outside of Las Vegas' urban sprawl lies a place of wonder and mystery, an area of outrageous geology and colorful Mojave Desert habitat - photo_muddy_arch_hbooth_400.jpgthe unique desert environment known as the Muddy Mountains Wilderness. This landscape on the north shore of Lake Mead contains four areas that offer stunning geology, a fragile desert ecosystem and a chance to get away from urban sprawl. It measures 18 miles long and 14 miles wide.

This wilderness is a component of the Bureau of Land Management's National Conservation Lands.

Many of the areas in the Muddy Mountains region are accessible from state and county roads. The BLMs Bitter Springs Backcountry Byway gives visitors access to the Muddy Mountains Wilderness and the Buffington Pockets area. North Shore Drive in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area serves up stunning vistas of the Black Mountains. Or get out of your car to explore deeper into these areas. The Muddy Mountains region offers shadowy slot canyons, mind-bending geological formations and expansive views of Lake Mead. Solitude and silence are as common as the narrow canyons and gravelly washes.

The landscape here displays a thriving Mojave Desert habitat of creosote bush, black brush, yucca, Joshua trees and desert willow.

Among the colorful landscape of Lake Meads north shore lives a diverse and fascinating assortment of wildlife. Search the cliffs above and you might see desert bighorn sheep. Youll also find desert creatures such as the banded Gila monster and the desert tortoise living near water lovers such as the American white pelican, white-faced ibis and osprey.

But yours wont be the first footprints. For at least 4,000 years, people have lived in these hills. Look closely, and you might find reminders of their lives in the form of rock art panels, agave roasting pits, pueblo-style rock shelters and chipping sites where they made their stone tools.

Although hundreds of miles inland, the geology of the Muddy Mountains region gives a telling glimpse into geologic time. About 300 million years ago, this area was sediment at the bottom of the sea. Today, this sea floor comprises the limestone peaks that jut nearly 6,000 feet into the sky. Scattered among these peaks are fossilized sand dunes that have eroded into galleries and canyons, intricately carved and painted in shades of red, orange and yellow. The unusual sandstone formations of Hidden and Wild Sheep Valleys were exposed by erosion through the limestone. The congolomerate of the Gale Hills Formation also expresses as cliffs, the highest being the 600 foot West End Wash cliffs.

With Valley of Fire State Park to the north and Lake Mead to the east and south, the Muddy Mountains region is in good company. This landscape on the north shore of Lake Mead contains four wild areas that offer stunning geology, a fragile desert ecosystem and a rewarding opportunity to recharge your batteries away from urban sprawl: the Muddy Mountains Wilderness, and the Black Mountains, Buffington Pockets and Bowl of Fire proposed wilderness areas.