“When you get what you want, what do you want? So you go to the desert…” -Mojave 2015
The Mojave desert is my backyard. At over 47,000 sq miles the Mojave is the smallest desert in North America, it is also the driest. Despite these factors the Mojave is rich in biodiversity and there is no shortage of things to do and see. The Mojave ranges in elevation from its highest point at Clark Mountain, 7907 feet to its lowest point at Badwater Basin, 279 feet below sea level. While most American deserts bring to mind images of cacti, a unique indicator species of the Mojave Desert is the Joshua tree which is endemic to the region. If you are in California and go to the “desert” you are visiting the Mojave. Despite all the time I have spent in the Mojave there are corners of it I have never set eyes on. To rectify this, my husband and I set out to visit the Mojave National Preserve.
The Mojave National Preserve is 1.6 million acres of wilderness. There are few roads that cut through the park and having a 4X4 truck is necessary for getting to some of the more remote areas. We had two days to explore the park so we planned on visiting all the postcard spots. In the Mojave even on a “busy” weekend we ran into very few people and were able to have the views all to ourselves. During our visit, there were many shrubs in bloom and the whole desert looked downright lush! I went a little over board on the photos but everything was so beautiful I could not help myself . The following are some of the top things to see if you visit the preserve, along with a couple surprises.
- LavaTube Trail
2. Kelso Depot
3. You’ll never know what you will find till you go off the main road. Images from exploring the area around our roadside campsite.
4. Desert Tortoise!
5. Kelso Sand Dunes
6. Sunset over the Mojave and camping in the middle of nowhere.
7. The best part about camping…breakfast.
9. Taking the long way around, or rather through the Providence Mountains. 4X4 required.
9. Hole in Wall Visitor Center and the Rings Hike.
10. Cima Dome home of the largest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world.
Large parts of the Mojave are currently protected as National Monuments. Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and Castle Mountains are all National Monuments under review by the current administration. If you would like to continue to see these unique areas preserved in perpetuity I highly recommend you contact your representatives.