Desert tortoises take quite a few years to reach maturity and can live up to 100 years. Unfortunately, predation and loss of habitat have rendered these unique critters endangered. The DTNA encompasses 25,000 acres of public lands and in 1980 was designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern due to the high population densities of the desert tortoise in this area (up to 100-200 per square mile in some parts of the DTNA).
The best time to come out here is in the spring, when you might catch a glimpse of a tortoise or tortoises outside their burrows. We didn't actually see any of these guys on our visit here, but that may have been due to the fact that we arrived around noontime when it was really warming up. Regardless, the DTNA is worth a stop: there's an interpretive kiosk, a couple self-guided nature trails, and a naturalist present during the spring months.
Animal Loop Trail, Desert Tortoise Natural Area.
3/24/98 Rattlesnake Weed (Euphorbia albomarginata). Plant Loop Trail, Desert Tortoise Natural Area.
Amenities: None. Make sure to bring some drinking water, hat & sunscreen.
Contact Info: BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, 300 S. Richmond Rd., Ridgecrest, CA 93555. Tel (760)384-5400. Open 7:30am-4pm M-F.