Joshua Trees in the Beaver Dam Mountains

The Beaver Dam Mountains Wilderness straddles the Arizona-Utah border with 2,600 acres of the 17,600-acre property in Utah. This part of the Mohave Desert region is an area of jagged mountains surrounded by a gently sloping alluvial plain. To the southeast (on the other side of Interstate 15) is the Paiute Wilderness, a larger and more mountainous area.

The basic vegetation is a mix of scattered grasses, desert shrubs and Joshua trees, although there are some nice riparian areas along the Virgin River corridor (13 miles of river flow through the eastern side of the wilderness in Arizona). There is also a herd of desert bighorn sheep and lots of raptors in the area. In hiking around you may come across the endangered desert tortoise out here. The endangered woundfin minnow makes its home in the Virgin River and there are some rare plants in the area.

Every year sees more and more backpackers out here but there are no established trails. This is pretty stark and barren countryside: you want to have desert wilderness experience before you head out into this bush. The Virgin River itself attracts a number of rafters and kayakers in the spring and summer but the fall and winter see water flows drop too far to be any fun.