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Mojave Desert Canyons
Area/Range

Mojave Desert Canyons

 
Mojave Desert Canyons

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: California/Nevada, United States, North America

Object Title: Mojave Desert Canyons

Activities: Hiking, Bouldering, Scrambling, Canyoneering

Season: Spring, Fall, Winter

 

Page By: tarol

Created/Edited: Sep 16, 2010 / Dec 27, 2013

Object ID: 662203

Hits: 3774 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

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Overview

There are many beautiful canyon areas to explore in the vast Mojave Desert of Southeastern California and Southern Nevada - including Owl and Afton Canyons near Barstow and Red Rock and Little Petroglyph Canyons near Ridgecrest.  I created this page to be a parent page for these canyons.

Please note that canyons located in the National Parks (Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Mojave NP) will not be attached here - that is because they already have "parents". This page is for canyons outside of these areas, but located on nearby BLM, state, or Navy land.

Canyon trips can be combined with hiking or scrambling up a desert summit - check out the related Calif. Desert Peaks page.

Safety

Flash floods are the number one weather related killer in the United States, killing about 200 people every year. Most, if not all, of these fatalities could have been avoided if those involved would have recognized the dangers of flash floods and taken a few simple actions to protect themselves.

Be especially cautious in areas posted with flash flood warning signs.

Flash floods, which have been described as "more water than you want in less time than you have," are common in the Mojave Desert. This is because the arid, sparsely vegetated environments found in this area have little capacity to absorb rainfall. The resulting runoff moves rapidly through the narrow canyons and steep terrain found throughout the desert. In many areas, even small storms can turn normally dry streambeds into raging torrents of water in a matter of minutes. Flash floods can occur at any time of the year. Be alert for the possibility of flash flooding anytime that rainfall is forecast. Be especially cautious from July to mid September when severe thunderstorms can develop rapidly.

A flash flood can travel miles beyond the rainfall that generated it, catching unwary hikers and motorists by surprise. This is what happened in; Lower Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona on August 12, 1997. In this tragic incident twelve hikers were caught in a flash flood that filled the narrow canyon with water that reached depths of up to 50 feet. The hikers did not recognize the flood danger until it was too late, probably because the storm that caused the flood occurred miles away. Only one hiker survived!

Flash Floods and Hikers

The possibility of rainfall and flash flooding should be taken seriously if you plan to hike the canyons of the Mojave Desert. Before you begin any hike always check the weather forecast. Be prepared to change your plans if storms threaten.

Don't be so committed to your hike that you refuse to recognize a dangerous situation.

During your hike watch continually for changing weather conditions. Remember, it need not be raining where you are hiking for a flash flood to occur. Signs of distant rainfall, such as thunder and lighting, should be taken seriously. If rainfall threatens, get out of the canyon or get to high ground quickly. It is a good idea before you hike to study maps to identify possible escape routes.

Be especially careful hiking in slot canyons. Slot canyons are beautiful, but can be extremely dangerous when it rains. Hikers have been killed in flash floods generated by thunderstorms as far as 25 miles away. The list of flash flood tragedies in these areas could fill this brochure. Don't add to the list!

Never camp in a dry wash. If you must camp near a wash, camp as high as possible and check for indication of past high water, such as stains on rock walls and debris lines.
 
Cave in Slot Canyon
 

Be cautious and/or avoid areas subject to flooding - stream beds, narrow canyons, and washes.

Do not cross flowing water or flooded trails where water is above your knees.

When near or in any creek or drainage, always face upstream.

Always be alert! Remember that it does not have to be raining where you are to cause a sudden flash flood in your area.

If you see or hear a flood coming, move to higher ground immediately! Do not try to outrun a flood.

Warn other people downstream when a flash flood occurs.

Red Tape

Please practice Leave No Trace Ethics.

Specific red tape regulations vary - please check with the nearest BLM office.

BLM Barstow
2601 Barstow Road
Barstow, CA 92311
Phone: (760) 252-6000
Fax: (760) 252-6098
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F

BLM Ridgecrest
300 S. Richmond Rd.
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Phone: (760) 384-5400
Fax: (760) 384-5499
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-F
 
Owl Canyon
 

BLM Needles
1303 S. Hwy 95
Needles, CA 92363
Phone: (760) 326-7000
Fax: (760) 326-7099
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., M-F

BLM Palm Springs
1201 Bird Center Drive
Palm Springs, California 92262
Phone: (760) 833-7100
Fax: (760) 833-7199
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F

BLM Las Vegas
4701 North Torrey Pines
Las Vegas, Nevada 89130
Phone: (702) 515-5000
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F

Related Links

 
Red Cliffs
 


BLM - Bureau of Land Management

CA State Parks

NV State Parks

National Weather Service - Western Region Headquarters

Desert USA

American Southwest

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