The Mojave Road is a famous trail of the Mojave National Preserve in California. If you are looking for the quintessential flat, open space that screams out all the nostalgic opportunity that the golden state of California has offered many generations, this is for you.
While many people consider it as a giant desert, there’s more to it than that. Its vast expanse ensures a diversity of terrains, views, and trails.
It’s also huge. It’s 147 miles and one word is not enough to describe it.
You just can’t say it’s a desert. You can’t say that it’s just brushland. It just goes beyond any one-word description.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that Mojave National Preserve has a different face depending on when you come to visit. If you go during the spring showers, you’re going to see a unique perspective of this amazing landscape than if you were to go in the boiling heat of midsummer. If you go during the winter, it can get really, really cold.
It’s a very long trail, so if you are looking for an adventure and you want to trek through a wide range of terrain, The Mojave National Preserve in California is an ideal place to go.
In fact, many people even at moderate off-road SUV speeds take a full 2–3 days to enjoy everything that the Mojave National Preserve brings to the table. There are many different ways to explore this place.
In terms of trail difficulty, it is a fairly moderate area to explore. It depends on which part of the preserve you go through.
When you go through this part of California, you get to live through an important aspect of California’s history and settlement.
Many people coming from the eastern parts of the United States, particularly the midwest, and the northeast, have used this overland trail to reach the southwest portion of America.
In fact, this is one of the most used overland trail routes to get to California.
But Is It Just a Desert?
Make no mistake. The Mojave National Preserve is mostly desert, and it’s tempting to write off large chunks of this trail as being made of sand, dirt, and rocks.
It’s also very easy to just think that there’s only one kind of terrain to look forward to, and we’re, of course, talking about sandy and rocky terrain.
With that said though, depending on the time of the year and depending on which specific trail you go through, The Mojave National Preserve has many distinct faces. There are certain areas with a lot more vegetation.
Also, don’t dismiss just how diverse desert plant life can be, especially when you factor in the time of the year.
To fully enjoy the trail, it’s a good idea to give it a lot of time. We’re talking about budgeting at least three days for your excursion.
Since the trail is 147 miles long and takes an enormous space, make it easy on yourself by following the route strictly. In other words, go from east to west and just look for stone local landmarks and milestones. Familiarize yourself with the main trail.
But the good news is, once you get the hang of the main trail, there are just so many ways you can explore The Mojave National Preserve.
In fact, you can go through different side excursions and side trails that it feels like you’re going through a different national park, every time.
That’s how awesome this place is. It never gets boring.
On top of all of that, when you go through different side trails as well as the main trail, there are designated campsites with all the amenities that you would come to expect.
If you are looking for a grand adventure that can span two to four days, add The Mojave Road to the top of your list.
Here’s a Quick Guide to off-Roading the Mojave Road Trail
Most of it includes some key landmarks you shouldn’t miss.
1. Prepare for Your Trip by Checking for Local Weather Conditions
Before you go, check online resources to ensure the temperature range will be in your comfort zone.
Please understand that you will go through a desert. And temperatures in a desert are not as static as many people think they are.
Temperatures in the deserts are very variable, and depending on the time of the year can change drastically. You might felt so cold, yet sweat so much several hours later.
Hot temperatures and rain can make your trip difficult. And this is why it’s important to check conditions ahead of time.
2. Be Familiar With the Road Conditions on the Trail
Generally, The Mojave Road trail is fairly safe and moderate, but once you go through the side tracks, you have to be on the lookout for road conditions.
Most times, things may not be what they appear to the naked eye. Make sure that you have proper safety gear and your off-road vehicle is in tip-top shape.
The last thing you want is to get stuck in the middle of nowhere in Mojave. Your off-road vehicle should be in peak condition.
3. Bring Extra Food, Clothes, and Water
Make sure that you bring all your camping necessities such as food, clothing, and water.
There’s one supply you need to focus on: water. Bring lots of water, especially if you plan to go camping. You really cannot overprepare if you bring “excess water” with you.
4. Make Sure You Bring Along a Tire Repair Kit, a Tire Compressor, and a Well-Maintained Spare Tire
I wish I could tell you that obstacles such as cacti in The Mojave are very easy to handle. It’s easy to think that the typical off-road 4×4 vehicle’s thick tires will make quick work of most cacti.
Mostly, this is true.
But if you come across the teddy bear cholla, you may be in for a world of hurt because these cacti are so strong that they can actually puncture your tires.
So make sure that you have a tire repair kit if you didn’t spot these cacti from afar and end up going over one of them.
5. Be on the Lookout for Wildlife
Since you’re going through a desert, please understand that rattlesnakes, coyotes, tortoises, and other animals will be there.
Generally speaking, outside of rattlesnakes and coyotes, most of the wildlife you’ll come across are going to be harmless, especially tortoises. Try to get out of their way and not pet them.
Also, please understand that you may go through a part of the trail that bats go through. As much as possible, do not interact with bats.
Not only are they known to carry rabies, but they also are quite infamous for being reservoirs for both known and unknown viruses.
We only need to think about the origin of COVID-19 to have second thoughts about bats. Stay away from them.
6. Stay on the Trail and Respect Local Features
Stay on the trail and make sure you respect the local flora and fauna balance. The more plants you destroy through your off-road vehicle, the more you will create an imbalance in the natural habitat.
This also involves managing your trash around campsites. Clean it yourself because if you leave excess food out, this can draw animals. This can make them more vulnerable.
Remember, once animals become dependent on humans for food, this throws off the natural wildlife balance around the campsite and surrounding areas.
7. Make It a Point to Check Out These Mojave Road Landmarks
I’m going to list out some landmarks that have been quite popular with off-roaders throughout the years. These landmarks make for great exploration and amazing shots for Instagram.
In no particular order, consider stopping by and taking a few pictures of the following landmarks.
- Beaver Lake
- Piute Creek
- The Colorado River
- Joshua Tree Forest
- Cedar Canyon
- Rock Spring
- Soda Lake
- Soda Springs
- Zyzyx Sand Dunes
- Drum Barracks
- Afton Canyon