Services, Getting There
Supplies: Tonopah is 60 miles to the north.
Hikes & Trails
USGS topo: Gold Mountain. Benchmark Gazetteer page 71.
Wilderness Area Status
Wilderness Study Area
Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management
The Queer Mountain Wilderness Study Area is contiguous to wilderness areas of Death Valley National Park. It measures 14 miles long, with elevations ranging from 4,000 to 7,952 feet. The area contains an upland of mountain ridges culminating on Gold Mountain. Rolling hills and flat benches recede to the west. Small volcanic outcrops, unusual erosional forms, flash flood washes and geologic features provide a mix of interesting visuals. Along the California border, the flat benches break up into colorul mosaics of volcanic rock.
A land with temperatures ranging from 120 degrees F in the summer to -20 degrees F in the winter makes a harsh environment for plants like the barrel cactus, which must horde water and endure. Made up of east- to northeast-trending ridges and valleys surrounded by broad bajadas, the Queer Mountains represent a unique desert ecosystem: a transition between cold and hot desert climates where species of both zones intermix. The uplands support a sparse scattering of pinyon and juniper trees. Interspersed are big sage, bitter brush and cliff rose. The north slopes of the ridge support a dense forest of Joshua trees, cacti and plants associated with hot desert regions.
Wildlife finds an escape from summer heat on the summits of Gold Mountain. Mule deer, wild horses, desert bighorn sheep, songbirds and a variety of small mammals and reptiles inhabit the variety of habitats provided in this ecosystem.
A land of extremes, the Queer Mountain WSA encompasses stark beauty and solitude for the visitor who is up to the challenge of exploration. No springs or streams provide water. Most of this area is in excellent condition, due to the difficult terrain. Despite the flat appearance of the western boundary, the ground is covered with areas of sharp volcanic rock interspersed with soft, sand-filled washes. Hardy visitors can appreciate the strange character of this land: whispering creosote brush rising from varnished stone plains; armies of Joshua tress marching along a distant ridge, blushing barrel cactus secretly hoarding water between parched volcanic boulders.
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