Sierra National Forest

Monarch Wilderness

The Monarch Wilderness (also Monarch Wilderness Complex) is a federally designated wilderness area located 70 miles east of Fresno, California in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. It encompasses 44,896 acres (181.69 km2)within both the Sequoia National Forest and the Sierra National Forest and is managed by the United States Forest Service. Elevations range from 950 feet (290 m) to 11,081 ft (3,377 m).

Formerly known as the High Sierra Primitive Area, the California Wilderness Act of 1984 created the Monarch Wilderness and became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Adjacent to the wilderness are several roadless areas : Kings Range Special Management Area (SMA), Agnew roadless area and the Oat Mountain roadless area. The name Monarch Wilderness Complex includes the wilderness proper and these adjacent lands for a total size of 114,347 acres (462.75 km2).

The wilderness portion is separated into north and south units by the corridor of State Route 180.
The larger north half has the South and Middle Forks of the Kings River. The Middle Fork is a rugged area with a steep gorge of about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) deep. From the river the Tombstone Ridge rises to an elevation of 9,071 feet (2,765 m) at the summit of The Obelisk. Major tributaries in the north unit are Tombstone Creek and Silver Creek. Also in the north unit is the Monarch Divide, crowned by peaks such as Wren Peak(9,354 ft, Mount Harrington (10,630 ft) and an unnamed high point summit at 11,081 ft (3,377 m).
As much as 8,700 feet (2,700 m) of relief in five lateral miles separates lowest and highest elevations in the north unit.

The south unit was formerly a part of the Agnew roadless area and contains groves of Giant Sequoia including the Agnew Grove which is one of the few groves in the Sierra outside the boundaries of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness. Major streams in the area are Rattlesnake Creek which flows into Boulder Creek.

Kings River Special Management Area
At the confluence of the Kings River and the North Fork, the Special Management Area (SMA) protects the deepest part of the Kings Canyon as well as Giant Sequoia ( Cabin Creek and Converse Mountain groves), the world's largest trees, and important wintering ranges for the Monarch and Hume deer herds. The SMA provides habitat for deer, black bear, coyote, marten, grey fox and a variety of birds. Bats are common in the limestone caves in the southeast portion of the SMA.

Recreation and access
Visitor use is light with hunters in autumn being the most frequent users. Day hiking, backpacking, nature photography and whitewater rafting are some of the activities in the wilderness. The north unit requires permits for overnight use and can be obtained from Sierra National Forest's Hume Ranger Station on highway 180 near Dunlap, California. The main trail in this area is the Deer Cove Trail which provides access to the Monarch Divide and is over nine miles (14 km) in length. The south unit of the wilderness in Sequoia National Forest does not require permits and has three trailheads and three main trails into the wilderness. The Kanawyer Trail is 12 miles (19 km) in length and goes to Sequoia National Park to the west. The SMA unit contains numerous cascades, pools and waterfalls of the Kings Canyon. The three mile (5 km) long Kings River National Recreation Trail provides access up-canyon along the river.

The Forest Service encourages the practice of Leave No Trace principles of outdoor travel to minimize human impact on the environment.