Castle Mountains, including Hart Peak (5,543 ft) represents a critical linkage between the Paiute Mountains and the New York Mountains for plant-life, wildlife, scenic views, and important watersheds. Castle Mountains is surrounded on all three sides by the Mojave National Preserve and is currently the only remaining portion of the 340 mile Lanfair Valley watershed that is not part of the Preserve. Vegetation consists of Joshua Tree Woodland; higher elevation leads to Blackbrush scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Forest at the highest elevations. The area of Desert Grasslands below the Viceroy Mine was recognized as a “unique plant assemblage” in 1980 by the BLM in their California Desert Conservation Area plan. The scenic view from Hart Mountain looks out over adjacent and contiguous wilderness, including views of many of the highest peaks in the Mojave Desert. The remote nature of this site protects the ability to enjoy increasingly rare natural quiet.
The Castle Mountains are critical habitat for Mojave Desert wildlife like the desert bighorn, mule deer, bobcat, mountain lion, golden eagle, Swainson’s hawk, desert tortoise, gila monster, prairie falcon, Bendire’s thrasher, grey vireo, Townsend’s big-eared bat, and California leaf-nosed bat. This area is especially critical to the Desert Bighorn who use the area both as habitat and as a wildlife corridor between the water-poor Piute Mountains and the wetter New York Mountains. The pristine quality and remoteness of this property would make it an excellent candidate for reintroduction of extirpated species of Mojave wildlife.
The Castle Mountains are a “living laboratory” showcasing the progression of human history in the Eastern Mojave Desert. There are significant elements of Native American, Western-American, and Mining History, including an obsidian source that provided material found throughout the Mojave, the historic town of Hart, and both the Hart and Viceroy mines. The opportunity for historic preservation and interpretation are tremendous.