From pastel mountains and wildflower-filled valleys, California's desert is a vignette of the American West, unique in the world. It is alive with a dazzling variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants, many of them endangered. It is also a place deeply connected to the past -- a place of petroglyphs and prehistoric cultures, former mule train routes and historic portions of Route 66.
Within the California desert, you'll find renowned places like Joshua Tree and Death Valley, but step off the beaten trail and you'll quickly find lesser-known gems full of rich scenery, wildlife, culture and history -- places like the eerie tufa rock formations at Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark in Searles Valley and what's left of the World War II desert training center run by Gen. George S. Patton at Patton Military Camps.
These are California's desert treasures, and they deserve to be preserved for future generations. That means leaving them out of future plans for renewable energy development.
Photo above: Rock altar at Patton Military Camps. A great launching spot for exploring the desert's military history. Photo by MBtrama, flickr
Slideshow: California's Desert Treasures
These lands, which include more then 25 million acres of the Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin deserts, also represent one of the largest intact ecosystems in the U.S.
The Bureau of Land Management and other agencies are preparing a plan that will determine whether areas in the California Desert should be developed for renewable energy development, or preserved for future generations. While renewable energy development is appropriate in some parts of the desert, it is not appropriate in our most special places -- including these California gems.
The Wilderness Society is working with the BLM to help shape those plans. You can help ensure these and other special desert lands are forever preserved by signing our petition to the BLM.
Map: Find California's hidden desert treasures
Click on the pinpoints, which will take you to the highlighted area, and plan a desert adventure from there. If you decide to visit one of these places, be sure to check on road conditions before heading out. The local Bureau of Land Management offices can often provide additional information on area features. These areas are best visited in the late fall, winter and spring months, when one can enjoy cooler temperatures, rare desert rains and spring wildflower shows.
Your action can help ensure these and other Desert Treasures are forever preserved from renewable energy and other development. Together, we can preserve the legacy of one of America’s most spectacular and unspoiled regions.
Want more Desert Treasures? Our staff blog about their visits to California's desert treasures.