Eastern Mojave Vegetation Wild Horse Canyon Road - Mojave National Preserve  
 

Tom Schweich  

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Road Log
Literature Cited
 This file describes Wild Horse Canyon Road, from its north end on Black Canyon Road near Mid Hills Campground, to its south end also on Black Canyon Road near Hole-in-the-Wall Campground.

Literature Cited:
- Burn Area Emergency Response Team, 2005.

Other articles: Black Canyon Road at Wild Horse Canyon Road  

Road Log

Junction: Black Canyon Road,, north to Cedar Canyon, or south through Black Canyon to Hole-in-the-Wall.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire … in Round Valley.
Full Size ImageIntersection of Wild Horse Canyon and Black Canyon Roads after Hackberry Complex Fire.  

This panorama, taken June 27, 2005, after the Hackberry Complex Fire of June 22-25, 2005, shows that much of Round Valley burned as well as a good portion of Pinto Mountain.

Locations: Pinto Mountain. Round Valley.
Full Size ImageRound Valley near Mid Hills Campground.  

View of Round Valley from Wild Horse Canyon Road near Mid Hills Campground. The vegetation in the foreground is Basin Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) with Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma). The primary rock type here is granite, which makes up the rock pile in the center ground. Pinto Mountain is the striped mountain at left. The peaks of the New York Mountains can be seen in the distance.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 252005

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCampground entrance after Hackberry Fire Complex  

 

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageMid Hills Campground.  

Mid Hills Campground

The Mid Hills Campground sits along the ridge of the Mid Hills in a Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. Among the established campgrounds, Mid Hills is the nicest. However, it is almost 1000 feet higher than Hole-in-the-Wall, and so can be quite cold in the Winter.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 252020

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCamp site in the Mid Hills Campground after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  

 

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 252030

Locations: Mid Hills Campground.
Full Size ImageCamp site in the Mid Hills Campground after the Hackberry Complex Fire.  

 

Full Size ImageLarge knob of granite in the Mid Hills near Wild Horse Canyon Road.  
Large knob of granite in the Mid Hills. This one had Golden Eagles nesting in a crevice near the top.

Other articles: Field Notes 15-Oct-05 on Wild Horse Cyn Rd
Full Size ImageLooking south on Wild Horse Canyon Road from near the Mid Hills Campground.  

 

Full Size ImageScene along Wild Horse Canyon Road near Mid Hills campground.  
Scene along the Mid Hills ridge near Mid Hills campground. Large rounded outcrops of granite are visible through the Singleleaf Pinyons (Pinus monophylla). In the left foreground is the yellowish green of Green Ephedra (Ephedra viridis), and in the right foreground is the dark green foliage of Waxy Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata var. glandulosa).

Locations: Silver Lead Spring.  

Silver Lead Spring
You can park here and walk down to Silver Lead Spring. It's about 1.5 km, and has a short steep section. The former mine tunnel provides perennial water for wildlife.

Other articles: Field Notes 15-Oct-05 on Wild Horse Cyn Rd
Full Size ImageLooking north on Wild Horse Canyon Road  

North out of Macedonia Canyon, Wild Horse Canyon Road climbs to Silver Lead Spring and the Mid Hills Campground.

Other articles: Field Notes 15-Oct-05 on Wild Horse Cyn Rd
Full Size ImageLooking south on Wild Horse Canyon Road.  

South from Silver Lead Spring, Wild Horse Canyon Road descends into the head of Macedonia Canyon.

Full Size ImageVegetation along the Mid Hills ridgeline.  
General view of vegetation along the Mid Hills ridgeline between Macedonia Canyon and Silver Lead Spring. A few Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) grow on the ridgeline and a little to the southwest, but this is the southwestern limit of Joshua trees in the Mid Hills. Columbia Mountain, namesake of the U.S.G.S. quadrangle, can be seen behind the pinyon (Pinus monophylla) on the ridgeline.
  Other species common at this location are Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma), Buckhorn Cholla (Opuntia acanthocarpa), California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium), Blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), and Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata var. glandulosa).

Other articles: Field Notes 20050529025
Full Size ImageGopher snake on Wild Horse Canyon Road.  

We saw this snake on Wild Horse Canyon Road in May 2005.

Full Size ImageVegetation along Wild Horse Canyon Road, in the head of Macedonia Canyon.
Full Size ImageVegetation along Wild Horse Canyon Road, in the head of Macedonia Canyon.  
Vegetation along Wild Horse Canyon Road, in the head of Macedonia Canyon. The large dark gray bushes in the foreground wash are Desert Almond (Prunus fasciculata), and the smaller yellowish bushes are Sticky Snakeweed (Gutierrezia microcephala). There are Utah Junipers (Juniperus osteosperma) and a few Singleleaf Pinyons (Pinus monophylla) on the slopes above the wash, but no Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) are found at this location on the southeast slope of the Mid Hills.

Difficult to see in the lower picture, but nevertheless still there, are numerous Blue Yucca (Yucca baccata) and Mohave Yucca (Y. schidigera) growing together.

Other articles: Macedonia Canyon Junction

Locations: Macedonia Canyon.  

Junction:

Junction: Macedonia Canyon.

Locations: Silver Buddy Mine.
Full Size ImageProspect trenches at the Silver Buddy Mine.  

Silver Buddy Mine

The Silver Buddy Mine is about 2 miles west of Wild Horse Canyon Road. It's in a wilderness area so you have to walk. The miners have left these four horrible gashes in the earth that probably won't heal within a human lifetime.

Locations: Willow Well.
Full Size ImageWillow Well.  

Willow Well is one of many wells dug and maintained by cattle ranchers in the eastern Mojave. The "willow" is actually Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) a member of the tropical family Bignoniaceae (Catalpa Family). When this picture was taken, March 1998, the willows were still dormant and so they are the large gray shrubs around the tank. At an elevation of 1475 m, Willow Well is about the highest elevation I have observed the Desert Willow to grow. The boulders in the foreground are Precambrian gneiss.

Full Size ImageMound Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus).  
Mound Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus), sometimes also called Claret Cup Cactus, grows in the rocks in the canyons along Wild Horse Canyon Road. My impression is that the species is more common on the Precambrian schist and gneiss, but I have no data to support that conclusion. Occasionally the species can be found on alluvial soils.

Locations: Columbia Mountain.
Full Size ImageView north on Wild Horse Canyon Road.  

View looking north along Wild Horse Canyon Road. Columbia Mountain is in the center background. Willow Well is in the wash on the left (west) side of the road. The rocks here are Precambrian gneiss and schist.

Literature Cited:
- Reynolds, Robert E. and Jennifer Reynolds, 1995.

Other articles: Glossary adamellite breccia gneiss
Full Size ImageTectonic breccia.  

This outcrop of tectonic breccia alongside Wild Horse Canyon Road contains Mid Hills adamellite with tumbled blocks of Precambrian gneiss (Reynolds and Reynolds, 1995).

Full Size ImageSnow on plants in Wild Horse Canyon  
Snow along the side of Wild Horse Canyon Road.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 16 Coll. No. 92 29 Apr 1997 Coll. No. 95 Coll. No. 96, Phacelia ramosissima Coll. No. 97 29 Apr 1997 Coll. No. 104 Coll. No. 154.2 Coll. No. 163 Coll. No. 165 Coll. No. 183 Coll. No. 189, 29 May 1999 Coll. No. 217 Coll. No. 218, 27 Apr 2000 Coll. No. 220, 27 Apr 2000 Coll. No. 265 Coll. No. 270, 24 Apr 2001 Coll. No. 271 Coll. No. 273.1 Coll. No. 274 Coll. No. 289 Coll. No. 291 20050529065 Frasera albomarginata 151510

Locations: Wild Horse Mesa.
Full Size ImageColl. No. 220, Chamaesyce albomarginata on the north slope of Wild Horse Mesa.  

Wild Horse Mesa

View looking south along Wild Horse Canyon Road. Wild Horse Mesa is on the right (west) side of the road. The rock layers on the side of the mesa are welded and airfall tuffs.

Below are some of the plants found on the north face of Wild Horse Mesa.

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Single-Leaved Ash (Fraxinus anomala).
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Rhamnus ilicifolia on the north face of Wild Horse Mesa.
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Holly-Leaved Redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia) on the north face of Wild Horse Mesa.
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Canyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepis Liebm.) 1 year after the Hackberry Complex Fire.
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Coll. No. 92, Ericameria linearifolia
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Coll. No. 93, Eriophyllum pringlei
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Coll. No. 95, Layia glandulosa
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Coll. No. 95, Layia glandulosa
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Coll. No. 96, Phacelia ramosissima
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Coll. No. 97, Eriogonum microthecum
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Coll. No. 99, Phlox stansburyi var. stansburyi
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Coll. No. 104, Packera multilobata
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Coll. No. 154.2, Astragalus cimae var. cimae
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Collection No. 183, Wild Horse Mesa.
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Coll. No. 189, Eremogone macradenia var. macradenia
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Coll. No. 217, Castilleja chromosa
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Coll. No. 218, Phlox stansburyi var. stansburyi
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Coll. No. 282, Astragalus lentiginosus var. fremontii
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Coll. No. 220, Chamaesyce albomarginata
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Coll. No. 265, Chrysothamnus depressus
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Coll. No. 270, Boechera perennans
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Coll. No. 271, Amsinckia tessellata var. tessellata
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Coll. No. 273.1, Phacelia fremontii
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Coll. No. 274, Layia glandulosa
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Coll. No. 289, Hymenoxys cooperi
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Partially dissected head of Coll. No. 291, Baileya multiradiata
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View south along Wild Horse Canyon Road.

Full Size ImageSnow on north face of Wild Horse Mesa, 19 December 2008.  
North face of Wild Horse Mesa with snow on 19 December 2008.

Other articles: Frasera albomarginata on north face of Wild Horse Mesa at Wild Horse Mesa
Full Size ImageNorth slope of Wild Horse Mesa.  

The north slope of Wild Horse Mesa is just west of Wild Horse Canyon Road. This is the one of the locations of my study plots for Frasera albomarginata. Be sure to respect wilderness boundaries, as this road is a "cherry stem" into a wilderness area. Better yet, park your car on Wild Horse Canyon Road and walk.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 232310

Locations: Wild Horse Mesa.
Full Size ImageThe north face of Wild Horse Mesa after the Hackberry Complex Fire, June 22-25, 2005.  

The north face of Wild Horse Mesa and upper Wild Horse Canyon were almost completely burned by the Hackberry Complex Fire, June 22-25, 2005.

Other articles: Lobo Point Road at Wild Horse Canyon Road Winkler's Cabin Road at Wild Horse Cyn Rd and Lobo Pt Rd.  

Junction:
  • Lobo Point Road, east past Lobo Point, then across the north side of Barber Mountain to Black Canyon Road.
  • Winkler's Cabin Road, a cherry stem into the Wild Horse Mesa Wilderness to the former site of Winkler's Cabin.
  The north slope of Wild Horse Mesa is one of three places in the eastern Mojave where the informally named "Winkler Formation" crops out. The other two locations are Pinto Mountain and Hackberry Mountain.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 232550

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageLooking south into Wild Horse Canyon.  

This photograph is looking south into Wild Horse Canyon after the Hackberry Complex Fire of June 22-25, 2005. While the flat in the foreground is completely burned, there are some very large unburned patches on the slopes of the mesa.

Full Size ImageSnow in mid-Wild Horse Canyon  
Snow in the mid-Wild Horse Canyon, 19 December 2008.

Literature Cited:
- McCurry, Michael O, 1985.

Other articles: FAQ Lobo Point Glossary welded_tuff Vegetation of the Mid Hills Introduction

Locations: Lobo Point.  

Lobo Point

Lobo Point in the early morning. The dark layer is welded tuff of the Wild Horse Mesa Formation (McCurry,1985), which is faulted underneath the landslide seen in left center. The light colored rock below is an air fall tuff, also a unit of the Hole in the Wall Formation. Many species of birds nest in the cliffs of Lobo Point.
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Lobo Point in the early morning.

Locations: Barber Mountain.
Full Size ImageSun setting on Barber Mountain.  

Sun setting on Barber Mountain. This view looks east, and Hole in the Wall is on the other side of the mountain. This mountain is not formally named "Barber Mountain," but the Barber VABM is located on top. The climb to the top is about 300 meters and takes about an hour.

Locations: Lobo Point.
Full Size ImageSunset at Lobo Point after a rainstorm.  

Sunset at Lobo Point after a rainstorm. This photo was taken in March, 1998, after a strong, warm El Niño rain.

Other articles: Field Notes 20080528085
Full Size ImageView across Wild Horse Canyon  

I have seen some collections made in Wild Horse Canyon, that gave an ecological association of "Joshua tree woodland." However, I don't think I have ever seen Joshua trees in Wild Horse Canyon. I contacted the collector who was quite certain that there were Joshua trees in the area, but that they were not recovering well from the 2005 Hackberry Complex fire. So I went to the location of the collections, as given in geographic coordinates, and searched for Joshua trees. The location is shown in the photograph at left. I searched both sides of the road, across the wash and up on the benches on either side of the wash. I did not find Joshua trees. I did find burned stumps and sprouts of Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata) and Mohave Yucca (Y. schidigera), but not Joshua trees (Y. brevifolia). I'm not saying the Joshua trees aren't there. I'm just saying that I could not find them.

You might wonder, of course, what difference does it make? In my observation, Joshua trees occur on the northwest side of the Mid Hills ridge. They also are found on the ridge line. However, Joshua trees are not found on the southeast side of the Mid Hills ridge, until one reaches the higher elevations of Pinto Valley.

I want to hypothesize that the Mid Hills ridge creates a small orographic precipation increase on the side from which winter storms come, the northwest side. The ridge also casts a small rain shadow on the lee side, the southeast side. The orographic effect and rain shadow are enough to affect Joshua tree distribution in this area. If there are Joshua trees in Wild Horse Canyon, then they provide a counter-example to my hypothesis.


Full Size ImageWild Horse Mesa.  
A small group of hikers discuss the next destination, while standing on the north rim of Wild Horse Mesa. A few Utah Junipers (Juniperus osteosperma), a Blue Yucca (Yucca baccata), some small shrubs and some grasses grow in the rocky surface of the mesa.

Full Size ImageCentury Plant (Agave desertii), western edge of Wild Horse Mesa.  
Century Plant (Agave desertii) growing on the western edge of Wild Horse Mesa. This is about as far north as Agave desertii is found. There is a small colony here growing out of crevices in the rocks right on the edge of the mesa. In the right foreground is Buckhorn Cholla (Opuntia acanthocarpa). On the left is Blue Yucca (Yucca baccata).

Full Size ImageBarrel Cactus (Ferocactus cyindraceus).  
This is me pretending to drape my arm across a California Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) at the rock shelter on Wild Horse Mesa. Photograph taken in 1979. I don't look dorky like this anymore.
  The upper section of lower Wild Horse Canyon was completely burned by the Hackberry Complex Fire, June 22-25, 2005, except for some small patches on the other side of the wash and up near the rim of the mesa.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 232540

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageNear the top of lower Wild Horse Canyon  

The upper Wild Horse Canyon has several areas with well-developed pediments. This one burned completely in the Hackberry Complex Fire.

Other articles: Glossary breccia
Full Size ImageArcheological site SBr-292.  

This rock shelter in Wild Horse Canyon is known as archeological site SBr-292. It has been pretty well studied so there are no artifacts to find, though. Unique to this site are the trees at low elevation in the canyon. There are Pinyons (Pinus monophylla) and Canyon Live Oaks (Quercus chrysolepis) growing in the northwest shade provided by outcrops of mud flow breccia.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 232530

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageBurned slopes in mid-Wild Horse Canyon.  

This rock outcrop is a well-known archeological site. The Hackberry Complex Fire of June 22-25, 2005, burned this rock outcrop, but was stopped by the wash and road.

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImageWild Horse Canyon Road.  

Wild Horse Canyon Road in the lower part of the canyon, view looking northwest, and up the canyon. At this location, Wild Horse Canyon Road drops off the bajada, and into the wash. A thicket of Mohave Yucca (Yucca schidigera) can be seen on the right side of the road. The road passes between the two outcrops of mud flow breccia (lahar) seen in the middle distance. The east side of Wild Horse Mesa is seen in the background.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 232520

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImagePatchy areas burned on the slopes of Wild Horse Mesa.  

 

Other articles: FAQ N0430800 Glossary petroglyph pictograph tafoni welded_tuff
Full Size ImageArcheological site in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  

This archeological site in lower Wild Horse Canyon is formed inside a hollowed-out boulder of welded tuff. The hollow weathering features are called "tafoni." They are common in rocks of this type (fine-grained, acid composition) and this climate (arid to semi-arid). Both petroglyphs and pictographs are found here.

Full Size ImagePetroglyphs inside the hollowed-out boulder.  
Petroglyphs inside the hollowed-out boulder. The petroglyph in the center has received a lot of attention by potential interpreters of petroglyphs.

Full Size ImagePictograph at archeological site in Wild Horse Canyon.  
Pictograph at the archeological site in Wild Horse Canyon. Pictographs are painted on the rocks with pigments, while petroglyphs are designed pecked into rocks.

Full Size ImageSilver cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa) in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  
Silver cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa) in lower Wild Horse Canyon. Silver cholla appears to be limited by elevation and isn't found at higher elevations.

Full Size ImageMohave Yucca (Yucca schidigera) in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  
Mohave Yucca (Yucca schidigera) in lower Wild Horse Canyon.

Literature Cited:
- McCurry, Michael O, 1985.
Full Size ImageMiocene rhyolitic dome in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  

Miocene rhyolitic dome in lower Wild Horse Canyon. McCurry (1985) identified this structure as the oldest Miocene volcanic structure in the eastern Mojave.

Full Size ImageMusing about trails in Mojave National Preserve.
Full Size ImageWild Horse Canyon Trailhead  
At the south end of Wild Horse Canyon is a formal trailhead for a trail that goes north approximately 10 km to Mid Hills campground. The trail was always there, what has changed is the formal designation as a "trail." I guess we need trails since it's a national park. I just think there are some better places to mark and build trails.

Full Size ImageBlue Yucca (Yucca baccata) in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  
Blue Yucca (Yucca baccata) in lower Wild Horse Canyon.

Other articles: Hackberry Complex Fire 232510

Locations: Wild Horse Canyon.
Full Size ImagePatchy burned areas in lower Wild Horse Canyon.  

The Hackberry Complex Fire came down this face of Wild Horse Mesa in the lower canyon, leaving patchy areas unburned. Photograph taken June 27, 2005 by Phil Woodall.

Full Size ImageWoods Mountains behind Hole-in-the-Wall.  
After a snow storm, the Woods Mountains as seen through Hole-in-the-Wall.

Other articles: Field Notes 20040522050

Locations: Hole-in-the-Wall.
Full Size ImageBanshee Canyon from below.  

At the very lower end of Wild Horse Canyon is a spur road that leads into the lower end of Banshee Canyon. You can climb through this canyon and come out at the Hole in the Wall picnic area.

Other articles: Black Canyon Road at Wild Horse Cyn Rd  

Junction: Black Canyon Road, north past Hole in the Wall and through Black Canyon, or south to Essex Road and a park exit.
 

Literature Cited

  A list of all literature cited by this web site can be found in the Bibliography.
  Burn Area Emergency Response Team. 2005. Burned Area Emergency Stabilization Plan: Hackberry Complex. Primm, Nevada: National-Interagency Burned Area Emergency Response Team, July 5, 2005.
  McCurry, Michael O. 1985. The Petrology of the Woods Mountains Volcanic Center, San Bernardino County, California. Ph. D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles..
  Reynolds, Robert E. and Jennifer Reynolds. 1995. Ancient Surfaces of the East Mojave Desert: A volume and field trip guide prepared in conjunction with the 1995 Desert Research Symposium,. San Bernardino County Museum Association Quarterly. 42(3). {TAS}
If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  


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Date and time this article was prepared: 4/9/2017 9:06:20 AM