The Yuha Desert is the last, best refuge for the flat-tailed horned lizard.

The Yuha Desert experiences dramatic sand storms, with dust clouds billowing hundreds of feet into the air.

The Yuha Desert was a passage for the de Anza expedition, probably the first time any European crossed the California desert.

The Yuha Desert is a special relic of the Imperial Valley’s history. While much of the valley has been converted to agricultural use, the Yuha Desert remains undeveloped. Formerly underneath the waters of ancient Lake Cahuilla, the Yuha is a land of mudhills and sand dunes, lizards and nighthawks, torrential floods and dust storms—a truly classic “desert.”

Yuha Desert

Human history in need of care

Ancient peoples lived along the shores of Lake Cahuilla, and former village sites can still be found in the Yuha. These peoples left their mark with enormous itaglios (geoglyphs) depicting human and spirit forms that can be seen from the air. The famous San Juan Bautista de Anza Trail also runs through the Yuha. The extreme vulnerability of these historic sites has long been a driver for permanent protection of the Yuha.

A hot home for cool creatures

Chuckwalla Bench stretches from Joshua Tree National Park along the Chocolate Mountains and down to the Colorado River, and is surrounded by Wilderness Areas like the Palo Verde and Chuckwalla Mountains. The Bench remains a largely intact ecosystem because of its early recognition as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Things to do in Yuha Desert

Hike the Yuha Buttes

Marvel at giant mudhills and rock formations and hike the Yuha Buttes, a series of high rocky hills with outstanding views east across the Imperial Valley.

Go Camping

Campers can stay at the De Anza Overlook, where catching the sunset reflecting off Signal Mountain in the distance can be a beautiful experience.

Go Four-Wheeling

Four-wheel enthusiasts can tackle sandy washes and mudhills on the Yuha’s designated route network, including highlights like the Yuha Well and the moonscape below the De Anza Overlook.

*Please remember to follow all applicable rules and regulations, and stay on designated routes in order to protect the desert for everyone to enjoy. These Lands are for all of us. Please do your part.