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6 Best Things to Do in the Mojave National Preserve

6 Best Things to Do in the Mojave National Preserve

From camping to hiking, the Mojave national preserve has a lot to offer. Here are the best things to do if you’re planning a trip there.

Palig Dzadourian


4 min read

April 06, 2022

The desert has a lot to say to those who are willing to take a second and lend their ears to it. Tranquility, the likes of which you have never experienced before, sights rich with history, and peculiar ecosystems all await you at this magnificent location. While the Mojave national preserve might at first seem like a barren land devoid of fun, it has what it takes to blow you away with its powerful presence. Let your adventurous spirit take control and dive into the vast world of the enchanting California desert, home to the world’s largest Joshua Tree forests, sand dunes rippling across the landscape, large mountains, and so much more.

1. Driving through the trails

A beautiful drive through nature’s dry trails is guaranteed.

One of the ways to take in the beautiful scenery of the Mojave Desert is to drive through the many trails available for visitors. Although the dirt roads are not in the best condition given the sheer size of the preserve, it is very hard to upkeep these trails. Sandy adventure awaits, so get your 4x4s and hit the road to one of the best California desert road trips. 

2. Hiking in the wonders of the desert

The magnificent Kelso Dunes are sure to leave you speechless.

If you are daring enough to capture the full experience of this desert, it is recommended that you step down from your vehicles and face the heat and arduous environment for one of the best desert hikes in Southern California up the fascinating Singing Kelso Dunes. Keeping in mind that the Death Valley located in the northern part of the Mojave Desert has set a reputation for being one of the hottest places on Earth, sometimes reaching well over 100°F during the summer heat, some preparations are needed in order to start this hike such as water, food, and sunscreen.

The Kelso sand dunes, also known as the Singing Dunes, are one of the most sought-out things to do in the national preserve, as they are absolutely breathtaking. Not only will they grant you a full view of the desert’s landscape from its summit, but they can also sing! Yes, you heard that right, once you reach the summit of the dunes, push some of the sand crests downward and they’ll quite literally sing for you, in the form of an eerie rumbling as loud as 105 decibels. It almost feels like the dunes are rewarding you for having faced the challenging climb up!

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3. Visit the Ghost Towns

Abandoned Post office near Kelso Town, a piece of history locked in time.

If you feel like a spooky adventure, there are a few ghost towns you can visit while you are at the Mojave Preserve. Named after railroad worker John. H Kelso, the town of Kelso was home to almost 2,000 people, originally built with the intent to provide shelter to the workers using the train near the area at the time. It is now a ghost town and defunct depot that visitors of the Preserve can stop by. Take a peek into the past and let your imagination run wild, discover a small town once bustling with life now reduced to a quiet memory.

4. Junior Ranger Program

Start adventuring with your kids, learn and discover the mysteries of the desert.

Are your kids also itching for an adventure? If so,this is one of the best things to do in the desert with them! The Mojave National Park offers a Junior Ranger Program for your kid to discover and learn about the desert at their own pace. Pick up one of the ranger booklets from the visitor centers located near the Preserve. Complete the activities given in the booklet, and receive a badge for your achievements!

5. Camping in the desert (Hole in the Wall)

As the sun sets in the Mojave Desert, prepare for a fun gathering around the campfire.

Another great activity to do at the preserve is spending the night setting up your tents! Camping grounds and even backcountry sites can be found in the Mojave National Preserve. Experience the elements of the desert, both during daytime and nighttime, the change of colors and scenery once the sun sets is sure to be something you will remember.  The Hole in the Wall campgrounds are surrounded by volcanic rock walls which give off a natural sense of added safety, and they even offer everything you need during a camping trip such as toilets, picnic tables, a limited water supply, and fire rings. You cannot reserve places at the Mojave desert camping sites as they are first come first serve, so be sure to arrive early to grab your spot!

6. Entering the Lava Tube 

A look into a piece of ancient history, descend into the past.

The Lava Tube is a piece of ancient history that is sure to spike your curiosity. Having a history dating back to ancient times, a heap of hardened lava has come to surround the cinder cones through little California volcanoes that erupted an estimated 7.6 million years ago. The site was established as Cinder Cone Natural Landmark in 1973. 

Easily distinguishable by the bizarre black rock formations that clash with the area around it, once you reach the landmark there will be a set of metal steps that will help your descent into this piece of ancient history. The National preserve does not have regular maintenance, be on the lookout for loose rocks!

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