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Spirit of Wilderness Loop Route
Southern Nevada Wilderness Areas, Hiking the Wilderness Areas
BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail
BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail
Trailhead parking (view NE)

Overview

This short, or perhaps long, route in the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area provides access to wild country from the edge of the paved Joshua Tree Highway (Highway 164) west of Searchlight, Nevada.

From the trailhead, this "trail" runs for about 25 feet before it fades out and disappears into the wilds of the Wee Thump. In fact, in the true spirit of wilderness, there is no trail. This is a place to stop along the highway, squeeze through the gate, and wander off into the wilderness. Except for wheelchairs, this route provides a portal into Wilderness for virtually any human. Never again will the nay-sayers be able to accuse the BLM of excluding everyone except the hiking elite from the land.

Link to map.

BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail
Gate (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a fairly safe hike. There are many cactus and other things with sharp points, so be careful walking around.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This hike goes into Wilderness, so pay particular attention to respecting the land. This hike runs off-trail where nobody will find you, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials if you plan to get out of sight of the highway. Cell phones work from some parts of this wilderness area.

BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail
Start of the "trail" (outside wilderness; view N)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, about 1 hour south of Las Vegas, just west of Searchlight.

From town, drive south on Highway 95 to Searchlight (Site 0927). In downtown Searchlight, turn right onto Joshua Tree Highway (Highway 164) and drive west for 11.1 miles to a pullout on the north side of the road (Site 1007). A short access road leads to a parking area by a large Wilderness Area sign.

BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail
Wilderness boundary sign (view N)

Alternatively, from town, drive south on Interstate-15, past Primm, to Nipton Road in California (Site 1008). Exit the Interstate and turn left onto Nipton Road. Drive east to the Nevada State Line, then continue east for another 7.5 miles to the pullout on the north side of the road (Site 1007). A short access road leads to a parking area by a large Wilderness Area sign.

BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail
Into the Wilderness (view NE)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01), the trail squeezes through the gate and into the wilderness area. Almost as quickly, the trail fades away, and hikers are left to experience the grandeur of wilderness without any sign of human intrusion or development -- not even a trail disturbs this wilderness. Joking aside, this is a nice place to stop for a nice, relaxing walk-about in the desert.

This hike lies in the Upper Sonoran Life Zones at the transition between the Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland habitat types. The area is thick with blackbrush, buckhorn cholla cactus, pricklypear cactus, banana yucca, joshua trees, and a single singleleaf pinyon pine, a collection of species that reflect a mix of lower- and higher-elevation species. Also watch for Western Scrub-jays, Black-tailed Jackrabbits, and Desert Cottontail.

BLM "Spirit of Wilderness" Trail Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area
Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area more to come ...

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0927 Hwy 95 at Hwy 164, Searchlight 688813 3926424 35.46519 114.91921 3,500 Yes
1007 Spirit of Wilderness Trailhead Parking 671865 3931555 35.51451 115.10480 4,545 Yes
1008 I-15 at Nipton Rd 640822 3926437 35.47327 115.44788 3,432 Yes
1351 Spirit of Wilderness Trailhead Parking 671916 3931605 35.51495 115.10423 4,567 GPS

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 671912 3931608 4,533 0.00 0.00 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121015

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