OverviewMaturango Peak is the highpoint of the Argus Mountains. This rugged Mojave Desert peak rises over 7,000' above the west side of the Panamint Valley. However, despite its impressive stature, Maturango Peak is somewhat of an unknown mountain. This is almost certainly due to the fact that the peak lies within the boundary of the China Lake Naval Weapons Station. Also, there are no maintained trails, roads, or campgrounds in the Argus Mountains. As a result of all these factors, it appears that few people ever venture out into this area. Other high peaks in the range include the 8,744' Parkinson Peak, and the 8,378' Parrot Point. Both of these peaks are situated just south of Maturango Peak, and are also located inside the military reservation. A road reaches the summit of Parrot Point, where a radio tower facility is located. The road continues on north and reaches the summit of Parkinson Peak as well. However, the road is off-limits to the public. There is no road to Maturango Peak. Death Valley’s well-known Telescope Peak is located across the Panamint Valley to the east.
Although the crest of the Argus Mountains is located on the military reservation, the eastern slopes of the mountains are part of the Argus Range Wilderness Area, which is controlled by the BLM. There are several primitive roads that penetrate into the Argus Mountains from this side, which give people the opportunity to explore the area. The boundary between the wilderness and the military reservation is undefined. There are no fences, signs, gates, posts, or anything else here that would indicate where the wilderness ends and the military reservation begins. Some maps list the eastern boundary of the military reservation as indefinite. From what I saw, I doubt that anyone really cares where you go as long as you don’t approach the western edge of the mountains. Although there’s a military reservation around here, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore the Argus Mountains.
Getting ThereFrom the small town of Trona, drive north on State Highway 178. The road goes up and over a small ridge before dropping down into the Panamint Valley. After about 17 miles, you will reach the signed intersection with Nadeau Road. Turn left and start driving north on the paved Nadeau Road. After about six miles, you will reach an unmarked intersection with a dirt road heading west just below a small hill. This is the road to Bendire Canyon. The road does have a small BLM marker at the intersection. The elevation here is about 1,750'. Turn left, and start driving up the rough road. You will need a high-clearance vehicle. After about two miles or so, you will come to a prominent wash. Drive across the wash. It may require a 4WD. Continue on another mile or so until you come to the edge of the wilderness boundary. The road is blocked off at this point. Although the road continues on, this is where you must park. The elevation here is about 3,200' or so.
Mountain ConditionsContact the BLM Field Office in Ridgecrest for information about the Argus Range Wilderness Area. Their website is attached.
Ridgecrest BLM Office
Topo Map: Maturango Peak.
BLM Map: Darwin Hills.