PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Mojave National Preserve

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  • Beautiful desert landscape
  • Densest grove of joshua trees in the world
  • 3rd tallest sand dunes in the U.S.

When To Visit: October-May to avoid the extreme heat of summer

Climate: Dry. Very hot in summer, hot in spring & fall, warm in winter.

Location: Southern California southwest of Las Vegas

Possibly due to its status as a “national preserve” rather than a national park, this incredible desert park is never crowded and unknown to most despite its location only an hour from Las Vegas and 2.5 hours from LA. Take a walk on giant sand dunes, hike on a unique “ring loop” trail, and explore the densest grove of joshua trees you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Photo: Barber Peak Trail

What To See & Do in Mojave

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Hole in the Wall at Ring Loop Trail

Mojave is a huge park, but the main attractions are fairly concentrated in the center of the preserve. You will have to traverse some dirt roads in some areas, but all of them are accessible by any car. Bring plenty of water and be careful to avoid exhaustion or dehydration if you attempt a hike on a hot day. Here are the most scenic trails to follow, ranked in order of beauty (all five are incredible though!):

Mojave Hikes

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Kelso Dunes
  1. Kelso Dunes

    • 3 miles round trip, out & back, 2-3 hours, strenuous
    • You’ll feel like you’re in the Sahara when you reach the top of these 3rd tallest dunes in the country
    • Most of this hike is on sand, which is quite strenuous and slow to walk on
    • If you’re brave, you can walk or slide straight down the edge of the dunes on your way back
  2. Lava Tube Trail
    • 0.6 miles round trip, out & back, 30 minutes, easy
    • Enter an underground tunnel shaped by lava and marvel at the magical reflection of the sun that pokes through holes in the ceiling
    • The access road is a bit treacherous, but any car can make it if you use caution and don’t mind some bumps
  3. Rings Loop Trail
    • 1.5 mile loop, 30 mins -1 hour, easy to moderately strenuous
    • This mostly flat walk takes you through the hoodoos
    • The fun part is that you get to use metal rings to boost yourself up some small cliffs during the hike
  4. Teutonia Peak Trail
    • 3 miles round trip, out & back, 1.5-2.5 hours, moderately strenuous
    • Walk through the densest joshua tree grove in the world
    • Finish on top of the peak which has outstanding views of the surrounding Cima Dome
  5. Barber Peak Loop Trail
    • 6 mile loop, 2-3 hours, moderately strenuous
    • Enjoy beautiful desert landscape with stunning cacti and huge peaks
    • Connects to the Rings Loop Trail at the end where you’ll get to use the metal rings to finish the hike
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The densest joshua tree grove in the world at Teutonia Peak

Where To Stay & Eat in Mojave

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Lava Tube Trail

There are no food services or lodging in the park, but the city of Baker a half-hour north of the park’s center has several eateries and some basic accommodations.

The park has two picnic areas at Hole in the Wall and Kelso Depot if you would like to bring food into the park.

There are two campgrounds in the park, most of which are first-come, first-served and usually easily available. Click here for details.

Nearby Side Trips from Mojave

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Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park – Mojave’s more popular sister park has more joshua trees, rock formations, and beautiful desert landscape to explore. Read more.

Las Vegas – The Sin City is only an hour from the park, so this is your chance to marvel at The Strip’s dramatic architecture, explore the luxurious hotels, and try your luck at the slot machines. Read more.

Red Rock Canyon State Park: Just 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll find this gorgeous collection of red rock formations. Read more.

 

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