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Monday, December 25, 2023

Mojave National Preserve: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Monday, December 25, 2023

Mojave National Preserve is a stunning natural wonderland located in the heart of the Mojave Desert in southeastern California. With its diverse landscape of sand dunes, canyons, mountains, and valleys, it is a true paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve sign
image source: Wikimedia

In this article, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to plan your visit to the Mojave National Preserve, including weather conditions, History and Geography, maps, driving tips, accommodation options, things to do, entrance fees, and wildlife.

Mojave National Preserve: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors

What is the Mojave National Preserve?

Mojave National Preserve is a protected area in the Mojave Desert, located in southeastern California. Covering over 1.6 million acres of desert wilderness, the preserve is a unique blend of landscapes, ranging from towering mountain ranges, sand dunes, and volcanic formations. The preserve is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life, including Joshua trees, yuccas, bighorn sheep, and desert tortoises.

History and Geography:

The Mojave National Preserve was established in 1994, with the goal of protecting the unique natural and cultural resources of the Mojave Desert. The preserve is located in southeastern California, just a few hours' drive from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. It is bordered by three major mountain ranges, including the Providence Mountains to the north, the New York Mountains to the east, and the Granite Mountains to the south.

The Mojave Desert is one of the most biologically diverse deserts in the world, and the preserve is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Some of the most iconic species found in the preserve include the desert tortoise, the Joshua tree, and the Mojave rattlesnake. The preserve is also home to several historic sites, including the Kelso Depot, which served as a hub for the Union Pacific Railroad in the early 20th century.

Mojave National Preserve Map:

A map of the Mojave National Preserve is available on the National Park Service website, providing visitors with an overview of the park's trails, campgrounds, and points of interest. Visitors are encouraged to obtain a map at the park entrance to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Before you visit the Mojave National Preserve, it's a good idea to get a map of the area. The National Park Service website has a downloadable map that you can print or save to your phone. You can also pick up a paper map at the visitor center.


The weather in the Mojave National Preserve varies depending on the time of year. The summer months, from June to September, can be extremely hot, with temperatures reaching over 100°F (38°C) during the day and dropping to around 70°F (21°C) at night. The winter months, from December to February, can be chilly, with temperatures ranging from 30°F (-1°C) to 60°F (15°C). The best time to visit the Mojave National Preserve is during the spring (March to May) and fall (October to November) when the temperatures are mild, and the weather is pleasant.


The Mojave National Preserve is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and rattlesnakes. Visitors should take caution and keep a safe distance from wildlife at all times. The park is also home to many rare and endangered species, such as the desert tortoise, which is protected by federal law. Visitors should never disturb or harass wildlife and should follow all park regulations to help preserve the park's natural resources for future generations to enjoy.

Driving Through Mojave National Preserve:

Driving through the Mojave National Preserve is a unique experience, with miles of open road and stunning desert landscapes. The main road through the park is the 38-mile-long Kelbaker Road, which runs from Interstate 40 to the town of Kelso.

Be prepared for long stretches of road with no services or gas stations. Fill up your tank and bring plenty of water and snacks for the journey. Watch for wildlife on the road, including desert tortoises and bighorn sheep.

Visiting Mojave National Preserve

Visitors to the Mojave National Preserve should plan ahead and come prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing for the desert environment. The park is open year-round, but some areas may be inaccessible during certain times of the year. Visitors are encouraged to check the park's website or contact the visitor center for up-to-date information before their visit.

Getting to Mojave National Preserve:

Mojave National Preserve is easily accessible by car, with several major highways leading to the area. The closest major airports are in Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles, California, both of which are approximately two to three hours away by car.

When to Visit:

The best time to visit the Mojave National Preserve is during the spring or fall, when the temperatures are mild and the weather is ideal for outdoor activities. During the summer months, temperatures can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to explore the area. The winter months can be chilly, with snowfall possible at higher elevations.

Entrance Fee:

There is no entrance fee to visit the Mojave National Preserve. However, there may be fees for camping, tours, and other activities. Check the National Park Service website for more information on fees and reservations.

Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve
image source: Wikimedia

Things to Do

There is no shortage of things to see and do in the Mojave National Preserve. Some of the most popular activities include:

  • Hiking: The park has over 80 miles of designated hiking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging summit climbs.
  • Camping: The park has several campgrounds where you can pitch your tent or park your RV and enjoy the beauty of the area at night.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The Mojave National Preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and snakes. Keep your eyes open and you may spot some of these amazing creatures.
  • Scenic Drives: The park has several scenic drives that take you through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the area.
  • Stargazing: The Mojave National Preserve is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. With its clear skies and lack of light pollution, you can see the stars in all their glory.

Where to Stay in Mojave National Preserve

The Mojave National Preserve offers several options for overnight stays, including campgrounds, RV parks, and backcountry camping. The park has two developed campgrounds, Hole-in-the-Wall and Mid Hills, which offer amenities such as water, picnic tables, and fire pits. Backcountry camping is also available for those seeking a more primitive experience, but permits are required.

If you prefer more comfortable accommodations, there are several hotels and motels in nearby towns, including Baker, Barstow, and Needles.

Tips for Visiting the Mojave National Preserve

  • Be Prepared: The desert can be an unforgiving environment. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the sun and heat.
  • Respect the Wildlife: The Mojave National Preserve is home to a variety of wildlife. Keep a safe distance and do not disturb or feed the animals.
  • Leave No Trace: The preserve is a protected area, and it is essential to preserve its natural beauty. Always pack out what you bring in, and do not leave any trash behind.
  • Stay on Designated Trails: The preserve has fragile ecosystems that can be easily damaged. Stay on designated trails and avoid walking on delicate vegetation.


The Mojave National Preserve is a true gem of the American Southwest. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, it is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and the great outdoors. Plan your visit today and experience the beauty of this incredible area for yourself.

Mojave National Preserve Q&A

1. What activities can I do at Mojave National Preserve?

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at Mojave National Preserve, including hiking, camping, rock climbing, wildlife watching, stargazing, and exploring historic sites such as old mines and ghost towns.

2. When is the best time to visit Mojave National Preserve?

The best time to visit Mojave National Preserve is during the cooler months between November and April, when temperatures are more comfortable for outdoor activities. Springtime, from March to May, is also a great time to visit for wildflower blooms.

3. How do I get to Mojave National Preserve?

Mojave National Preserve can be accessed by car via several major highways, including Interstate 15, Interstate 40, and State Route 95. The nearest airports are located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Ontario, California.

4. Are there any camping facilities at Mojave National Preserve?

Yes, there are several campgrounds located within Mojave National Preserve, ranging from primitive sites with no facilities to developed campgrounds with amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit.

5. What wildlife can I see at Mojave National Preserve?

Mojave National Preserve is home to a variety of desert wildlife, including desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, coyotes, kangaroo rats, and many species of birds. Visitors may also see rare species such as the Mojave Desert sidewinder and the fringe-toed lizard.

6. Can I bring my dog to Mojave National Preserve?

Yes, dogs are allowed in Mojave National Preserve, but they must be kept on a leash at all times and are not allowed on trails or in buildings. It is important to keep your dog hydrated and protected from the desert heat.

7. What are some popular hiking trails in Mojave National Preserve?

Popular hiking trails in Mojave National Preserve include the Teutonia Peak Trail, the Kelso Dunes Trail, the Hole-in-the-Wall Trail, and the Rings Trail. Each trail offers unique desert scenery and terrain, ranging from rocky canyons to towering sand dunes.

8. Can you drive through Mojave National Preserve?

Yes, you can drive through Mojave National Preserve on several paved and unpaved roads. Some of the major roads include Kelbaker Road, Cima Road, and Essex Road. These roads offer access to various points of interest within the preserve, such as the Kelso Depot Visitor Center, the Kelso Dunes, and the Hole-in-the-Wall area. However, it is important to note that some of the unpaved roads may require a high-clearance or 4WD vehicle, and visitors should check road conditions before driving off the main roads.

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