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This guide covers the driving approaches and climbing routes to 97 peaks scattered throughout the deserts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and northern Mexico. The peaks described herein are those comprising the list of peaks of the Desert Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club. A complete accounting of these mountains can be found in the DPS Peaks List, included in this guide. This list, arranged in geographical order, includes peak number and name, climbing class, elevation, UTM location code, map codes, the name of current 7.5 and 15 minute topographic maps, and a section of notes. Explanations of the UTM coordinate system and map codes can be found within the DPS Peaks List document.

These peaks range from the smallest, but perhaps most difficult, Little Picacho, at 1,920+ feet elevation to the loftiest and technically easiest, White Mountain, at 14,246 feet above sea level. Because of this great difference in elevation, these peaks may require different climbing techniques and equipment to reach their summits. For instance, Boundary and Montgomery in the Trans-Sierra Ranges might require the use of an ice axe whereas Stepladder in the San Bernardino County Ranges would never call for such equipment. In line with these great elevation differences also come corresponding changes in life zones. On Chemehuevi Peak in the lower desert of the Colorado River region you'll be struggling to keep away from the cat-claw and jumping cholla that abound there. On Ruby Dome in Nevada you'll climb through forests of aspen and pine to reach the glacier-scoured cirques of the alpine zone near the summit. On the South Guardian Angel of Zion National Park the climber will be faced with chest-deep wading through pools of cold water to reach the final goal. This variety of terrain and altitude forces the DPS climber to become generally proficient at many different aspects of mountaineering and allows him or her to experience a wide spectrum of natural environments. It's because of this diversity, vastness of experience and maybe even the hardships that climbers develop a respect and appreciation for the desert and keep coming back season after season to enjoy new adventures and challenges.

Besides the usual objective hazards associated with mountaineering, the desert peak climber is faced with other unique problems. Occasionally rattlesnakes, scorpions or other stinging insects make their presence known; flash floods of devastating proportions can roar down the normally dry canyons; the intensity of a desert sun or the homogeneous landscape where navigation sometimes becomes tricky may confront the climber. All these factors add up to make desert climbing a special kind of experience. But along with these hazards comes the freedom of wide open spaces, where you can find solitude and quiet, away from the rush of
9 to 5 madness.

Following are sections that will help you to understand the structure and intent of this guide book. Topics include format, road maps, topographic maps, road ratings, climbing routes and ratings, and backcountry driving and survival tips.


Each peak presented in this guide is described in the order shown on the DPS Peaks List, that is, by Guide Number. Following that same criteria, the peaks are grouped together by geographical area as dictated by the list (eg. Trans-Sierra Ranges, San Bernardino County Ranges, Mexico Ranges, etc..). The header section of each writeup contains the peak name, elevation and climbing class. In cases where more than one climbing route exists, the climbing class given in the header is always the rating for Route A. All other routes on a particular mountain will have the same classification unless otherwise noted in the writeup.

The MILEAGE given in the header section is always for Route A, with all paved road distances computed from AAA maps, considering the Los Angeles Civic Center as reference point zero. The paved road mileages for other routes (eg. B, C, D etc..) may be different, but generally can be assumed similar to that of Route A. Check with a good road map if you have any questions. The dirt road distances for routes other than Route A can be found under the corresponding route description.

The ROUND TRIP STATS for each route include total or net elevation gain. The round trip hours for each route are based on a reasonably fit group but do not include the time spent for long lunches or extended summit stays. Each group should rate its own physical capabilities and adjust these times accordingly.
An appendix section called SIDELINES had been included for many of the writeups. This section usually describes something of interest in the area; a local legend, origin of a peak name, backcountry regulations, nearby camping sites or facilities, historical facts or some other bit of information.


All of the peaks in this guide have detailed descriptions of the driving approaches for each climbing route. In some cases, where verbal descriptions would become too wordy or where additional clarification is required, maps have been included to direct the climber. Examples of this include the driving map for Granite and Palen Mountains (Guide Nos. 4.10 & 4.11) and the road maps for some of the Mexican peaks (Guide Section 9). In addition to the information contained herein, it is recommended that the user of this guide, prior to embarking on a trip, be armed with a complement of road maps of the areas to be visited. As a suggestion, some of the most definitive and helpful maps are published by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and are an invaluable adjunct to this book. The AAA County maps (eg. San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego & Imperial, etc.) and specialty maps (eg. Indian Country, Death Valley, Colorado River) accurately show many of the roads you'll be traveling. The AAA Central and Southern California Camping map is also valuable for locating established campgrounds in some of the regions you'll be visiting.


Once you've found your way to the start of the climb, you'll need topographic maps (topos) to properly navigate to the summit and back. Although some mountains can be climbed by a direct "line of sight" method from the vehicles or by following a man-made trail to the summit, most cannot. In any case, have the appropriate topos with you on the climb. The topos in this book should not be relied on as your sole map for navigating on the mountain. These maps, some of which have been photo-reduced to encompass lengthy routes (with mileage scale reduction to match), include only a small portion of the entire topo from which they were taken and are presented here only to assist in identifying the climbing routes. For proper navigation you may need a map that encompasses more distant landmarks not shown on these guide maps. Topo maps are not that expensive and their cost will seem trivial when you're lost on some peak without one. Anyway, having a full-size topo might whet your appetite to explore other points of interest in the vicinity. It is assumed that the reader has a good working knowledge of map and compass and can accurately navigate using both of these tools. If you're not real sure about compass use or map reading, consider taking a class offered by the Sierra Club or some other qualified organization. A "how-to" book entitled Land Navigation Handbook, The Sierra Club Guide to Map and Compass by W.S. Kals is available at most large backpacking shops.

Topographic maps are published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and come in two basic sizes for the purposes required by peakbaggers. The first size is 1:62,500 scale, commonly known as a 15 minute series map. Second is the 1:24,000 scale, known as a 7.5 minute series maps. The USGS has phased out 15 minute series maps and instead is covering the same areas with new 7.5 minute series maps. Because these new 7.5 minute topos are more detailed than the old 15 minute maps (they cover a smaller land area on a larger size piece of paper), you might find yourself carrying more maps to properly cover the climbing area. Except for a few cases, 7.5 minute topos were used to prepare the maps presented in this guide.
Topo maps can be purchased at most sporting goods stores specializing in backpacking and climbing equipment or from local map shops. Because some of the topos you'll need for desert peaking are not in big demand you might not find them in stock at the above locations, however map dealers are usually willing to special order them for you. As a last resort it may be necessary to mail away to the US Geological Survey for the maps. Their address is: Western Distribution Branch, US Geological Survey, Building 41, Box 25286, Denver CO 80225. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.


The roads described in this book range from multi-lane, high speed superhighways to difficult 4WD roads with the potential to wreck a vehicle. Approaches to some peaks may be more difficult than the climbs themselves, with the success you'll have being directly proportional to your choice of vehicle and driving abilities. On the other hand, some roads can be driven with a sports car having minimal ground clearance. Because of this wide variation, the following rating system was developed to give the reader a gauge with which to assess the difficulty of a particular approach.

Paved road Anything from a freeway to a one lane country road.
Suitable for all vehicles.

Excellent dirt Maintained, graded road suitable for all vehicles.

Good dirt Generally smooth. Suitable for most standard cars and all trucks. Minimal rutting and/or rocks.

Fair dirt Ruts and/or rocks causing lower clearance cars trouble in spots. Drivers of standard cars should exercise caution.

Poor Dirt Rocks and/or ruts barring all low clearance vehicles.
Limit of standard 2WD cars.

High Clearance Large rocks and/or ruts in narrow roadway.
Sandy Deep sand across roadway. Not for 2WD cars or trucks with "skinny" tires. 4WD recommended.

4WD Large rocks and/or ruts, steep, possibly sandy. 4WD
vehicles with high ground clearance only.

The parking spot for the start of each route is shown on the guide topos with an arrow having a 2WD or 4WD designation inside the arrow. These arrows, along with the rated condition of each road as given in the text portion of the guide, should provide adequate information on all approaches. Keep in mind that roads were rated based on their condition as of late 1996. No guarantee can be made of the current conditions of any particular road since acts of God or bulldozer can substantially alter the desert landscape. Road condition updates should be reported to the editor of the Desert Sage for inclusion in the newsletter. As one last reminder; let's all stick to the established dirt roads. Furthering faint tracks or making new ones in the desert is not endorsed by this guide.


The difficulties encountered in scaling the listed peaks will vary from "hands-in-pocket" trail or cross-country hiking to strenuous, exposed rock climbing. The varying degrees of climbing between and including these levels had been qualitatively defined in the DPS Peaks List section called "Climbing Difficulty" and fall into categories ranging from Class 1 to 6. These ratings are based on usual fair weather conditions and do not take into account such variables as wet rock, snow, ice, etc. These natural occurrences can easily raise the rating of a route by one full level, say from Class 3 to 4. Good judgement should be exercised at all times, but particularly when such "other than normal" conditions occur. Also, remember that there are infinite variations possible on any particular route, and those variations can put the climber onto much higher rated rock than the basic rating for that route. It's not the intent of this guide book to dictate any route on a mountain to the exclusion of any other route, but rather to suggest a commonly used and practical way to reach the summit. For all the above reasons, neither the editor or the Desert Peaks Section accept any responsibility for injury due to personal interpretation of ratings and routes stated herein.


Since the third edition of the Road and Peak Guide, the United States Congress passed and the President of the United States signed into law the California Desert Protection Act (CDPA) of 1994. This wide sweeping legislation designated certain federal lands in the California desert as wilderness to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS) or the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). It added additional acreage to Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Monuments and upgraded both to National Park status, and established the Mojave National Preserve to be managed by the NPS. As a result of these changes, a number of DPS peaks were impacted from the standpoint of access.

Death Valley National Monument was upgraded in status to a National Park and expanded by approximately 1.3 million acres over its previous size as a monument, bringing its total size to over 3.3 million acres. Most of the expansion occurred in the north and northwest of the old monument boundary and lie entirely within the state of California. Specifically, the following areas were added to the new park; Death Valley Wash and the Last Chance Range (75,000 acres), Eureka Valley (200,000 acres), Saline Valley and Range (400,000 acres), Lee Flat and the Nelson Range (50,000 acres), North Panamint Valley (100,000 acres), West side of the Panamints (100,000 acres), Owlshead Mountains (125,000 acres), Ibex Hills and Saddle Peak Hills (50,000 acres), Greenwater Valley and Range (150,000 acres), and Pyramid Peak (50,000 acres). Of the total acreage, 3,162,000 acres were designated as wilderness.

Joshua Tree National Monument was upgraded in status to a National Park and expanded by 234,000 acres. Most of the additional acreage was added in the southern and eastern portions of the old monument boundary. Specifically, the following areas were added to the new park: Little San Bernardino Mountains, Eagle Mountains, Coxcomb Mountains and Pinto Mountains. Of the total park acreage over
630,000 acres were designated as wilderness.

The Mojave National Preserve was established and comprises approximately 1,420,000 acres of land of which 695,000 acres were designated as wilderness. Many of us formerly knew this area as the BLM- managed East Mojave National Scenic Area, which was abolished by the CDPA.
Besides the two new National Parks and the new National Preserve, the CDPA designated 69 new BLM/Forest Service wilderness areas totaling over 3.6 million acres of land. Of this total, 3.57 million acres are managed under the jurisdiction of the BLM and 95,500 acres by the US Forest Service. In addition, 8 new BLM Wilderness Study Areas totaling about 326,000 acres were designated while about
900,000 acres were released from further wilderness study.
Each of the new National Parks and the new National Preserve contain thousands of acres of non- federally owned lands, some of which is private. Please respect property rights and do not trespass or use these lands without permission of the landowner.


In order to obtain the latest, up-to-date information from the various jurisdictions that administer lands upon which the peaks described in this guide are located, it is suggested that you contact the appropriate agencies listed below. In addition to addresses and phone numbers, the Internet address of the agency has been included in all cases where possible.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Phone: 619 767-5311
Web Site:
Guide No: 4.2, 4.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3
Bureau of Land Management
State Office Web Site:
Barstow Resource Area
2601 Barstow Road
Barstow, CA 92311
Phone: 760 252-6000
Web Site:
Guide No: 2.17, 2.19, 2.20, 2.21, 3.1, 3.9
Bishop Resource Area
785 N. Main Street, Suite E Bishop, CA 93514
Phone: 760 872-4881
Web Site:
Guide No: 1.2 through 1.10
El Centro Resource Area
1661 S. 4th Street
El Centro, CA 92243
Phone: 760 337-4400
Web Site:
Guide No: 5.3, 5.4
Needles Resource Area
101 West Spikes Road
Needles, CA 92363
Phone: 760 326-7000
Web Site:
Guide No: 3.2, 3.10 through 3.16
Palm Springs/South Coast Resource Area
690 Garnet Avenue, P.O. Box 2000
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: 760 251-4800
Web Site:
Guide No: 4.2, 4.3, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 4.10, 4.11, 4.12
Ridgecrest Resource Area
300 S. Richmond Road
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Phone: 760 384-5400
Web Site:
Guide No: 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.11, 1.13, 1.14
Death Valley National Park
P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328
Phone No. (760)786-2331
Web Site
Guide No: 1.12, 2.1 through 2.16, 2.18, 2.22
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Phone No. (760)367-5500
Web Site
Guide No: 4.4, 4.5, 4.9
Mohave National Preserve
222 East Main Street, Suite 202
Barstow, CA 92311
Phone No. (619)255-8800
Web Site
Guide No: 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8
Providence Mountains State Recreation Area
P.O. Box 1
Essex, CA 92332-0001
Phone No: 805 954-0662
Guide No: 3.6, 3.7
Toiyabe National Forest Bridgeport Ranger District P.O. Box 595
Bridgeport, CA 93517
Phone No: 619 932-7070
Guide No: 1.1

Bureau of Land Management
State Office Web Site:
Kingman Field Office
2475 Beverly Avenue
Kingman, AZ 86401
Phone No: 520 692-4400
Guide No: 8.1
For a full accounting of all the BLM Wilderness Areas located in the State of Arizona contact the BLM website
Coconino National Forest
Peaks Ranger District
5075 North Hwy 89
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Phone No: 520 527-3630
Guide No: 8.2
Navajo Tourism Department
P.O. Box 663
Window Rock, AZ 86515
Phone: 520 871-6436
Web Site:
Guide No: 7.3
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Route 1, Box 100
Ajo, AZ 85321
Phone: 520 387-6849
Web Site:
Guide No: 8.7, 8.8
Tohono O’odham Nation
Baboquivari District
P.O. Box 3001
Sells, AZ 85634
Phone: 520 383-2366
Guide No: 8.9
Tonto National Forest
Tonto Basin Ranger District
Hwy 88 HC 02 Box 4800
Roosevelt, Ariz. 85545
Phone No: 520 467-3200
Guide No: 8.3, 8.4
United States Fish & Wildlife Service
The National Homepage for the US Fish & Wildlife Service is
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
356 W. First Street
Yuma, AZ 85366-6290
Phone: 520 783-7861
Web Site:
Guide No: 8.5, 8.6

Bureau of Land Management - Nevada
State Office Web Site:
Las Vegas Field Office
4765 W. Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89108-2135
Phone No: 702 647-5000
Web Site:
Guide No: 6.6, 6.9, 6.10, 6.12, 6.13
Desert National Wildlife Refuge c/o Desert Complex
1500 North Decatur Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89108-1218
Phone No: 702 646-3401
Guide No: 6.5
Great Basin National Park
Baker, NV 89311-9702
Phone: 702 234-7331
Web Site:
Guide No: 6.2
Spring Creek Property Owners Association
451 Spring Creek Parkway
Elko, NV 89801
Phone No: 702 753-6295
Guide No: 6.1
Spring Mountain National Recreation Area
2881 S. Valley View Blvd., Suite 16
Las Vegas, NV 89431
Phone No: 702 873-8800
Guide No: 6.7, 6.8
Toiyabe National Forest Tonopah Ranger District P.O. Box 3940
Tonopah, NV 89049-6286
Phone No: 702 482-6286
Guide No: 6.3, 6.4

Zion National Park
Springdale, UT 84767-1099
Phone: 801 772-3256
Web Site:
Guide No: 7.1, 7.2


Anyone who's spent time in the desert without being properly prepared can attest to the fact that it's a most unforgiving and hostile place. Edward Abbey put it quite well in his book Desert Solitaire.

"The desert is different. Not so hostile as the snowy peaks, nor so broad and bland as the ocean's surface, it lies leisurely exploration, to extended periods of habitation. Yet it can hardly be called a humane environment; what little human life there is will be clustered about the oases, natural or man-made. The desert waits outside, desolate and still and strange, unfamiliar and often grotesque in its forms and colors, inhabited by rare, furtive creatures of incredible hardiness and cunning, sparingly colonized by weird mutants from the plant kingdom, most of them as spiny, thorny, stunted and twisted as they are tenacious."

To minimize your chances of feeling the overwhelming isolation and harshness of the desert, be prepared before leaving home. The peaks in this guide range over four states and two countries with a great many of them clearly "off the beaten track". Although this is part of their allure, it is also one of their dangers. The consequences of a mechanical breakdown can vary from minor inconvenience to major problem depending on the nature of the problem, your ability to resolve it and the location of your stranding. Especially vulnerable may be the owners of 4WD vehicles whose machinery allows them to penetrate areas of the desert several miles beyond the outposts of civilization. It is beyond the scope of this guide to teach survival techniques and automobile repair, but by following a few simple rules you can minimize the chances of involving yourself in a problem that could turn a normal weekend trip into a disaster.

1. No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, be sure that it's in proper running condition before you leave home.
2. Check the spare tire to be sure it's properly inflated and that you have tools to change a flat. Check to see that you can loosen the lug nuts on your wheels.
3. Don't try to push a 2WD vehicle into areas where you really need a 4WD.
4. Never travel alone. Take at least two vehicles.
5. Let somebody responsible know where you're going and when you plan to return home.
6. Top off the fuel tank before going into remote parts of the desert.
7. Familiarize yourself with your vehicle and learn to make a few repairs such as changing a flat, jumping a battery, replacing a radiator hose, fuel filter or V-belt.

The August/September 1990 Desert Sage #209 had a list, compiled by the Back Road Explorers, of items to have along in case of vehicle breakdown. This list included suggested survival gear, food and clothing as well as mechanical items needed for various levels of driving. Following is a copy of that list for your review. It is presented here only as a guide; you'll have to decide on the actual gear you feel is required. The Difficult/Isolated 4WD list of items prepared by the Back Road Explorers has not been included here. It is assumed that you won't be driving at this advanced level for the peaks listed in this guide.

Tow strap (25-30 feet long)

SURVIVAL ITEMS First aid kit

Water (2 gal/person/day, minimum of 5 gal) Sunglasses

Extra clothing Extra food Compass

Flashlight (Extra batteries and bulb) Candle

Matches (Waterproof) Swiss Army type knife Aspirin

Moleskin Sunscreen Insect repellent Whistle

Snake bite kit (Syringe type) Toilet paper in waterproof bag


Rain poncho (Clear type for solar still) Gloves and mittens

Warm hat

Hat for sun protection



Extra keys (Vehicle and gas cap) Serviceable spare tire

Vehicle jack

Tire changing tools

CB or Ham transceiver

Fire extinguisher (Type 1A of 10BC) Water (See survival items)

Jumper cables (Heavy Duty) Folding shovel

Hand axe

Extra fan belt

2 quarts extra oil Extra radiator hoses Can of tire sealant

Tools to fix your vehicle (Metric, if needed) Duct tape

Flares (3 minimum) Spare fuses



12 volt tire pump

Hooks or something to attach to your vehicle

Bar of soap to seal gas tank Extra pre-gapped spark plugs Spark plug socket

Extra rotor and distributor cap Rope (50 feet of 1/4" nylon) Siphon hose (6 foot fuel line size) Lug wrench (X-type, 20 inches) Work gloves

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