Turtle Mountain Road, Needles, California
Turtle Mountain Road
I’m camped just a short ways down Turtle Mountain Road, off Hwy 95 south of Needles. I’m in Chemehuevi Valley, a huge extremely flat valley over 10 miles wide, with only one main wash, Chemehuevi Wash, which runs down the middle. Virtually all the trees in this valley are along this one wash. I can see this line of trees 5 miles off in the distance. It’s another 5 miles to the Turtle Mountains. I haven’t been able to see this far since camping at Quartzsite a couple winters ago. I’m close to the Chemehuevi Mountains, which lie between this valley and the Colorado River.
It’s quite a panoramic scene to camp in. This wide open desert country is something to experience for sure. Just having the opportunity to see across such vast distances in the clear desert air is an experience in itself. It’s an uncluttered landscape that touches the soul and soothes the mind. Out here, you can hear yourself think.
RV Campsite GPS Coordinates: N 34 31.601’ W 114 39.819’
Elevation: 1492 feet
Campsite Directions: From Needles, California head south on Highway 95 for 21.5 miles. Turn right on Turtle Mountain Road and drive 1 mile to the turnout on the left which leads to the campsite. There’s not much room here for more than one RV, though two friendly neighbors could be parked side by side.
More Camping: There is another camping spot, just a short ways from this campsite, to the southwest. There’s also a good campsite 5 miles down the road at Chemehuevi Wash. I can see an RV camped there now as I write this. There are more places to camp about 10 miles down the road. These campsites are close to the Turtle Mountains. You’ll need a small 4WD RV to get through the sandy jeep road to these sites. Turtle Mountain Road becomes a sandy wash southwest of Chemehuevi Wash.
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Turtle Mountains RV Camping Journal
December 15th 2012
The vegetation here is mainly creosote bush. There’s also ocotillo and several cacti including teddy bear cholla and barrel cactus. Palo verde trees line Chemehuevi Wash.
I’m camped close enough to Hwy 95 that I can hear traffic, which is light - but in a way it’s surprising that there’s even light traffic here. This truly feels like the middle of nowhere (actually "middle of nowhere" is a better description for a city! - but I digress). Most traffic is semi-trucks. There are no towns or services for several miles going south. I’m heading to Indio tomorrow, about a 3 hour drive, and I think there is one gas station along the way. That’s the extent of development in this part of the desert. It's a nice feeling.
There aren’t many campsites along Turtle Mountain Road, and there’s virtually no traffic on this road either.
Recreation: OHVs can explore Chemehuevi Wash southeast of Turtle Mountain Road. There are also numerous jeep roads to explore among the Turtle Mountains, outside of the wilderness area. Hiking is very easy – it’s so flat, only a paved street could be any easier. Just stay clear of the jumping cholla! Near the Turtle Mountains there are several neat historic sites with interpretive signs. There are also a few springs and several old mines. Turtle Mountains Wilderness and Stepladder Mountains Wilderness make excellent hiking areas, allowing for a closer look at this remarkable landscape.
Weather: During my two weeks here, the first week was warm with highs in the 70s, lows about 50 and sunny about every day. The second week it cooled off to 60s for highs, 40s for lows – but the last 3 days have had only 50s for highs. A storm system moved in and brought clouds and light rain. It rained all night for the last two nights. The clouds broke up today and it was mostly sunny but still cold with a high in the 50s and breezy.
Wildlife: I saw several desert tortoise shells south and southwest of my campsite. All were found by the sides of small washes. When biking along Turtle Mountain Road late in the afternoon I saw 2 big tarantulas walking on the road. I stepped out one night to find a juvenile coyote that was curious of my campsite. The coyote hung around for 5 minutes or so after I spotted it. It sniffed my truck tire and nearly walked right up to me, but got scared and leaped back as soon as I moved. I’ve also seen several black-tailed jackrabbits, gambels quail, a few ravens, and many small birds.
Insects: A couple bees and a couple tarantulas. No issues.
Cell Signal: I had a pretty good Verizon cell phone signal. It helps to be outside or near my windows. I did lose the connection once while talking, but otherwise it did not cut out. Verizon mobile broadband internet is pretty fast too – not fast enough for watching videos, but otherwise it’s quick.
Peacefulness: Zero to two vehicles a day was typical on Turtle Mountain Road while I camped here. The only noise comes from Hwy 95 and the jets overhead. It sounds like quite a few military jets fly by here. And way up, there’s lots of airliner traffic, which usually can’t be heard, only white streaks across the sky can be seen.
RV Solar: You probably won’t find more sun anywhere. There is no shade here.
RV Campsite Rating: 8 out of 10. This is about the most peaceful campsite I’ve found. The far ranging views are incredible and there is plenty to explore in and around the Turtle Mountains.