Best Hiking Trails in Mojave National Preserve

Overview

Mojave National Preserve spans 1.6 million acres of land within San Bernardino County, between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The Preserve was established in 1994 as part of the California Desert Protection Act along with Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks. It is home to the Volcanic Field National Natural Landmark, hidden canyons,Joshua tree forests, sand dunes, abandoned mines, and thriving desert flora and fauna. Given its harsh terrain and sometimes extreme climate, it is most ideal for adventurers seeking a more quiet and serene outdoor experience.

Getting Started

Plan ahead: look up the trail(s), and sites you wish to visit to have an idea of what to bring on your trip. There are two main information centers within the Preserve: Kelso Depot Visitor Center and Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center.
You can access the Kelso Depot Visitor Center via Kelbaker Road via either I-15 or I-40. Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center can be accessed via the I-40, exiting onto Essex Road going North approx. 10 miles until it junctions to Black Canyon Road, then continue approx. 10 miles along this road.

When to Go

Spring and Fall are the most ideal seasons to visit the Preserve and temperatures may vary between elevations.
Due to its vast unobstructed spaces, the Preserve can experience strong winds during fall, late winter and early spring.

Popular Sites

  • Fort Piute Ruins: Remains of this Civil War fort can still be found along Mojave Road approximately 40 miles north east of Needles, CA. Native American petroglypgs can be found throughout Old Turkey Farm near Piute Spring.

  • Lanfair Buttes: Among the native tribes that used to inhabit this area were the Mojave and Chemehuevi tribes, and likely others before them. This site is worth the off-road detour to see various petroglyphs engraved on the rocks surrounding the well.

  • Hole-in-the-Wall: Climb along the rings found in this unique volcanic rock formation .

  • Underground Lava Tube: Located about 5 miles East of Kelbaker Road on the unpaved Aiken Mine Road. It is not currently maintained by the National Park Service, approach with caution.

  • Volcanic Field National Natural Landmark: Consists of the Cima Dome, Cima Volcanic Field, and Cima Volcanic Range off Kelbaker Road along Aiken Mine Road. This area is a gem for any Volcanologist and best traveled in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Permits

There is currently no entrance fee for the Mojave National Preserve.

Camping

Mojave National Preserve offers many opportunities to camp for backpackers, roadside campers, and families. Reservations are not necessary, except for Black Canyon Group and Equestrian Campground. For additional information, check here.

Campsites at Mid Hills and Hole-in-the-Wall accommodate up to 8 people and 2 vehicles and cost 12$ per site per night.

Water is only available at Hole-in-the-Wall campground and the Hole-in-the-Wall Information Center.

Dog Info

The Preserve provides many opportunities to adventure with your pet as long as they are kept on a leash no longer than six feet at all times, except for dogs used while hunting. Pets are prohibited inside buildings, may never be left unattended, and their excrement must be collected and disposed of in garbage receptacles.

Think twice before bringing your pet as the desert may be deadly for them.

Resources

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