Bigelow Cholla Garden Wilderness

The Bigelow Cholla Garden Wilderness lies in the East Mojave Desert of California, and now is also contained by the Mojave Trails National Monument. This 15,000 acres of little-visited medium elevation desert ranges from around 1400 to 3300 ft. As the name implies, this special area holds the largest concentration of Bigelow cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), named for the venerable early botanist John Milton Bigelow.

This wilderness can be found in the the Sacramento Mountains west of Needles, to the south of I-40. Lots of washes cut through dark volcanic rock. Look for the beautiful ironwood and mequite trees in the bottom of the washes. They have very deep roots to tap the underground water found beneath riverbeds even if there is no surface water visible. Mesquite trees provide lots of nutritious seeds for wildlife, so keep an eye out for birds as well!

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