Rose-colored sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and mile-high mountains are found along the scenic roadways in Mojave National Preserve. This is a place to escape the crowded visitor centers and campgrounds found at other parks.
Mojave Desert experiences change with the seasons. Infrequent winter snows sparkle on the mountains. With enough moisture, spring wildflowers carpet the desert with vivid colors. Summers are hot, so adventurers head for the higher elevations such as Mid-Hills and the New York Mountains. The cooler temperatures of fall mark hunting season. A network of dirt roads provides year round opportunities to explore by four-wheel drive vehicle.
Plant and animal life varies by elevation. Desert tortoises burrow in creosote bush flats, while the black and yellow Scott's oriole nests in Joshua trees higher up the slopes. Mule deer and bighorn sheep roam among pinyon pine and juniper in the park's many mountain ranges.
Scenic Drive: Baker-Kelso-Cima-Primm. If you're traveling on I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, this excursion will add about an hour to your trip. Heading northeast toward Las Vegas, exit I-15 at Baker on Kelbaker Road. Travel south past cinder cones and lava flows for 34 miles to Kelso. The Kelso Dunes are visible in the distance. The old Kelso Depot is now open as a museum and information center. From Kelso, turn north on Kelso Cima Road and travel along the Providence Mountains. You'll see more Joshua trees as you gain elevation up this easy grade. The Cima Store, 19 miles from Kelso, sells cold drinks and snacks. At Cima, bear right onto Morning Star Mine Road for a ride up the Ivanpah Valley. After 22 miles, turn left on the Nipton Road for a 4 mile drive back to I-15 just south of Primm.
4-Wheel Drive trip: The Mojave Road. Originally part of a network of Indian trails, the route became a wagon road when the Army established a series of outposts across the desert in the 1860s. The road was the major route across the Mojave Desert until the arrival of the first railroad route in 1883. The Mojave Road bisects the Preserve from east to west. There are several access points. A guidebook is available at park information centers. Consult rangers for current road conditions.
Hike: Teutonia Peak- Explore the Joshua Tree forest on the way to a peak on Cima Dome. Marked trail is 4 miles round trip. Trailhead is 11 miles south of I-15 on Cima Road.
Spring Wildflowers: A rainy winter and spring may provide enough moisture to induce a spectacular flower bloom from March to May.