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Mojave National Preserve

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General Information

Mohave National Preserve
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Mohave National Preserve
Description - Mojave National Preserve was created in October, 1994 when Congress passed and the President signed the California Desert Protection Act. Congress acted to protect one of the most diverse desert environments in the world. The area ranges from creosote bush dominated flats in low areas to pinyon pine and juniper woodlands in higher elevations. Everywhere there are surprises. Sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, vast vistas and mile-high mountains help define this amazing area within the Mojave Desert.

There are Information Centers, including exhibits, at Baker and Needles. A ranger station at Hole-in-the-Wall Ranger Station is open seasonally as staffing allows. The Preserve is managed out of our central office in Barstow.

The Preserve offers interpretive programs in the fall, winter, and spring. Contact the Baker or Needles Information Centers for schedules. Special request programs are available to groups by calling the Baker Information Center.

Small stores with limited foodstuffs are located in Cima and Nipton. Plan to obtain supplies before arriving at the Preserve. Groceries and supplies can be obtained in larger surrounding towns including Needles, Baker, Barstow, and Las Vegas.

Recreation - Recreational activities include sightseeing, hiking, camping, hunting, and Four-wheel-drive travel.
There are several areas within the Preserve where mule deer, Gambel's quail, chukar, desert bighorn sheep, and California quail can be hunted. A current California State hunting license, available from the state Fish and Game Commission, is required.

There are two maintained hiking trails in the Preserve and two campgrounds, Hole-in-the-Wall and Mid-Hills. Backpackers and hikers can camp within the Preserve by going at least half a mile from any developed area or road and a quarter of a mile from water sources. At this time we have no official registration system, so let someone know where you are. Backcountry camping is limited to a 14-day stay. Few trail signs exist, so take a good map and become familiar with the area you are about to camp in. Do not set up in a drainage or dry wash as flash floods can develop quickly in the desert.

Roadside or car camping is permitted within Mojave National Preserve in areas that have been traditionally used for this purpose. Camping tramples vegetation, and by picking sites that have been already been used for camping you help protect the desert from further damage. Do not camp along paved roads or day use areas, and stay at least a quarter mile away from all water sources. Please respect the rights of private property owners.

Climate - The Mojave is a hot desert. Days with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees typically begin in May and can last into October, and within the Mojave National Preserve temperatures reach 120 degrees. Winters, however, can bring freezing temperatures. The most pleasant temperatures are in Spring and Fall but these are also the busiest seasons.

Location - Mojave National Preserve is located in Southeastern California. It encompasses 1.6 million acres of the area known as the "Lonesome Triangle", between Interstate 15 and 40. The Preserve begins about 60 miles west of Barstow and borders the Nevada state line in the east.
The Preserve is easily reached via I-15 or 1-40 east of Barstow, CA, and west of Needles, CA and Las Vegas, NV. There are six freeway exits that provide visitor access.
The nearest airports are in Ontario, CA (140 miles from the western boundary Preserve) and Las Vegas, NV (60 miles from the eastern boundary of the Preserve).

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Jeremy Oldham (buena Park, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Just got back from a short trip into the East Mojave Scenic Area. This was my first trip into this area in about 20 years, back before it was administered by the park service. In those days, it was wide open BLM land. I recall camping on the edge of the Granite Mountains back then, a lovely spot with a running spring and some mining ruins. The route to get there was great fun, following a twisty jeep trail in and out of sandy washes. Unfortunately, that spot was inaccessable, as many wide areas are now off limits since the park service took over management of the area. Seems as if 1/2 the land is either 'designated wilderness' or some sort of 'study area'. However, I have long had this theory: The Best Campsite Is The Next One; The One You Have Never Been To Before. My first stop was near Willow Spring Basin. A nice spot, and easy to get to... a bit sandy in some areas, but 4 wheel drive was not needed. This is on the south side of the Granite Mountains, in an alcove formed by a ridge of huge boulders. The boulders provide some shade, but this spot is too close to I-40; you can hear the semi-trucks gearing down in the distance. A bit further north on Kelbaker road an inviting looking dirt road headed west, so naturally I turned off to explore. This road did require 4 wheel drive, and my truck received a free 'desert pinstriping' job. After a few miles it opened up on a flat spot overlooking cottonwood wash. A slightly better dirt road headed north, so I took that. This took me to a wonderful spot on the edge of the Kelso Dunes. A large clump of willows provide shade (http://www.socalcamping.com/000Mojave/kelsodunes.html) here, and there was even some water if you are willing to dig for it. The dunes rise up just north of this site, and are easily accessable. I spent the late afternoon fooling about in the dunes, and finally decided to spend the first night here. By mid morning I was off again, headed east back to Kelbaker road. I was delayed for half an hour by a BLM crew out rounding up wild burros. They had a helicopter spoting the animals, then a crew of cowboys would lasso and round 'em up, and bring them back to some large horse trailers for transporting out. Passing Kelso and headed toward Baker, I stoped for the second night near the Cinder Cone National Landmark. This is a Beautiful site, and I highly recommend it to anyone (http://www.socalcamping.com/000Mojave/willowwash.html). Again, this site requires 4 wheel drive as you will pass across several sandy washes, camping on the edge of Willow Wash. The land here is the usual Creosote Bush and White Bursage, but studded with the occaisonal Joshua Tree. Directly across the wash from the campsite three huge perfectly symetrical cindercone dominate the skyline. On one, the wall facing the campsite has collapsed, and you can see where the black basalt had 'flowed' down the side into the wash. Where the lava entered the wash, the rock is twisted and polished by the water, simuliar to Fossil Falls up in Inyo County, though not quite so dramatic. Mesquite Trees line the edge of the wash, providing plenty of shade here. The next day I was up early, off to Baker, then back down the I-15 to home. A very nice trip. If anyone has other campsites in this area to recommend, I'd love to hear about them.

More Information

Contact Information:
Mojave National Preserve Baker Information Center, 72157 Baker Blvd./ P.O. Box 241 , Baker, CA, 92309, Phone: 760-733-4040
, MOJA_Baker_Interp@nps.gov

Hole-in-the-Wall Ranger Station , , , , Phone: 760-928-2572

Additional Information:
California National Forests & Parks - California's National Parks, Monuments and Forests cover lands from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Desert Region - The Desert Region encompasses the southeast corner of California. It features Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks. The region is studded with glittering yet relaxing resort cities, offers the ideal spot for re-energizing your senses.
Southern California -

Mojave National Preserve - Official agency website


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