Guide to Mojave National Preserve

HikeSnobs rate this: 2.5thumb

Location: 

Visited: September 6, 2015 & January 16, 2016

Description: 1.6 million acre park located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Home to a forest of Joshua tress, carpets of wildflowers, singing sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones and more.

Fees: N/A

Recommended Duration: 1-2 days

Wildlife: Big horn sheep, coyote, jackrabbit, rare desert tortoise, lizards, snakes, etc

Pets: Dog on-leash

Parking: Roadside or parking lot

Best time to go: Anytime but definitely better if you avoid summers

Bring: Camera, water, snacks


If you are looking for some isolation and a chance to be off the grid, the Mojave Desert is the perfect place to do just that. A short weekend trip in the Mojave is the perfect remedy to the daily stresses of a busy city life. Nestled in the halfway point of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve is easy to get to. Many people have seen signs for it from the I-15 but how many people have actually explored it?

We have taken the liberty to explore the Mojave ourselves. Follow our short guide to get your weekend going. Enjoy!!!


Campsites

Fees: $12/night, $6 if you have a America the Beautiful Senior/Annual Pass
Reservations: None accepted, first-come, first-serve basis
Facilities: Pit toilets, trash receptables, potable water, fire rings, picnic tables available. Utility hookups are unavailable.

  • Hole-in-the-Wall Campground: 35 campsites available for RVs and tents. Includes a dump station.
  • Mid Hills Campground: 26 campsites not meant for motorhomes or trailers. The access road is unpaved so enter with a capable vehicle.

Roadside Camping

Roadside vehicle camping is permitted in areas that have been traditionally used for this purpose and that have an existing fire ring.

  • Near Kelbaker Road Rainy Day Mint Site: 15.2 miles southeast of Baker on Kelbaker Road, then 0.3 miles northeast on the unsigned and very sandy road to the Rainy Day Mine. Four-wheel drive recommended; no RVs.
  • Granite Pass: 6.1 miles north of I-40 on Kelbaker Road, just north of Granite Pass, then west on one of several access roads. Campsites are located just north of the granite spires. High clearance vehicle recommended; no RVs.
  • Kelso Dunes Mine: 4 miles west of Kelbaker Road on the unpaved Kelso Dunes Road. One campsite is located south of the road, 1/4 mile past the marked trailhead. Several others are available 3/4 mile beyond, near a clump of trees. Except at these sites, roadside camping is prohibited along Kelso Dunes Road (including at the trailhead).
  • Near Cima Road
  • Sunrise Road: 12 miles south of I-15 on the east side of Cima Road. Trailhead for Teutonia Peak Trail is nearby on the opposite side of Cima Road.
  • Near Black Canyon Road
  • Black Canyon Road: About 4 miles south of Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center on the east side of Black Canyon Road, above the wash and near a hill with excellent views of the Providence Mountains. Another site is located about 4 miles futher south, also on the east side of Black Canyon Road, near rock piles.
  • Near Ivanpah and Cedar Canyon Roads
  • Cauthers Canyon: 5.5 miles west of Ivanpah Road on New York Mountains Road, then 1.5 to 2.7 miles north to campsites. High clearance and four-wheel drive recommended; no RVs.

You can find more information here: Camping in Mojave

Food

There is no food service available so come prepared!

Fuel

There are no gas stations available in the Mojave Desert. Either be prepared with full gas containers or you can drive to these locations: Baker, Cima Rd. & I-15, Primm, Searchlight, Fenner, Amboy and Ludlow.


Points of Interest:

Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center 

Photo from desertusa.com

Hours
Winter (October-April): W-Su, 9a-4p
Summer (May-September): Sa, 10a-4p
Staffing is limited so the center may be closed when park personnel are out on a rescue or something else that’s important.
Phone number
760 252 6104
760 928 2572

It was closed when we arrived but this is where the Rings Trail starts. When the information center is open, there is a bookstore available with local books and souvenirs. Better yet, they have flush toilets (HikeSnobs like to be fancy sometimes)! You can find more information about this center here.

Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Trail   2thumb

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A quick hike with ring bolts obstacles to pass narrow and steep sections of the canyon.

Hole-in-the-Wall Fire Center   3thumb (for saving our lives :))

Hole in the Wall Fire center fire fighters and brush trucks. BLM Photo
Photo from Bureau of Land Management

If there’s an emergency and the information center is closed, you can drive across the road to the fire station to seek help. Wish we knew that when the Belgium wives got “lost”… Then again, maybe it was a good thing we didn’t since they were completely fine.

Kelso Depot   3thumb

Hours
Th-M: 10a-5p
Closed Christmas Day
Phone number
760 252 6108

A visitor center for passerbys through the Mojave Desert. You can find a museum and a small gift shop in Kelso Depot. You can read more about it’s history or it’s current use as a visitor center here.

Kelso Dunes   3thumb

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Rising 650 feet and expanding 45 miles, Kelso Dunes is the third tallest sand dunes in North America. Bring a sled and go sand dune sledding!

Lava Tube   2.5thumb

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Our best attempt at catching the light beam… so far

A very short hike (depending on how close you park) to a cave-tube formed by molten lava. If you go at the right time, you can catch a magical beam of light into the cave.

Amboy Crater   1thumb

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Technically, Amboy Crater isn’t apart of the Mojave Desert but it’s close enough to be listed as a point of interest. Only an hour southwest of Kelso Dunes, you can easily visit Amboy and hike into the crater.

From a bird’s eye view, the Mojave looks deserted and empty. However, if you search hard enough, there are hidden gems throughout this barren land. From exploring underground lava tubes to sliding down huge sand dunes, anyone with an open mind can have an amazing time creating unforgettable memories. Next time you head to Vegas from LA or vice versa, make a stop into the unknown and find your own adventure!


@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • Be careful driving on bumpy or unmaintained roads. You really do not want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere…

Helpful guides:


Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

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