Kelbaker Road

Kelbaker Road, Mojave NP

Kelbaker Road is one of the well-traveled back roads in the Mojave Desert connecting two major Eastern California routes of Interstate system. The I-40 to the south and the I-15 to the north, spanning 50 miles from one to the other.

Kelbaker Rd continues south to T up w/ historic Route 66 near Amboy, CA. Gasoline is very iffy in Amboy, so remember gas up in Barstow.

This region is super scenic portion of Kelbaker Road, which cuts thru the western edge of Mojave National Preserve. The Kelbaker pavement reaches to an elevation of 4024′ at Granite Pass, about 6 miles north of the exit @ interstate 40. Boulder outcroppings, bare mountain peaks, secluded cove camp sites w/ dirt roads, and old mines all over. Joshua tree forest and pinyon pine forest encircle the Mid Hills region.

Some roads are suitable for passenger cars, but many are not. Dirt slides, erosion gullies, wash outs and rocks are common on these roads, so drive slow and pay attention.

There are private property ranches, active railroad tracks & BLM lands along the Kelbaker route. Some of the boundaries of NPS have been extended, so best to bring a map.


Free camping is abundant in this desert region, but it’s all primitive w/ no facilities and all are on dirt roads when your turn off Kelbaker. Some of the best camping areas are around 4000 feet (above sea level), so serious wind and even snow is quite possible in the winter months. Go prepared w/ plenty firewood.

Historic Mojave Trail (aka Mojave Road) is out this way. Dirt bikes, off roaders love this trail that connects the Colorado River @ Avi Casino to Afton Canyon near Barstow.

WILDFLOWERS – joshua tree, yucca, barrel cactus
Higher elevation deserts bloom in late Spring, generally March thru May. Perfect rainfall timing in the autumn, can determine wild blooms and flora months later. Providence Mountains SRA can be a good location for wildflower viewing.

Kelso, CA

Kelso Depot:  historic spot, centered around the old train depot, which has been restored and has become the new visitors center and museum. Totally worth a 2 hour stop and HIKING/WALKING stretch break. The road heads north from Kelso and the name changes to: Kelbaker-Cima Road

Cima, CA

mojave dirt roadsCima Store, 20 miles to the north is one of the few businesses in this region. Post Office next door, maybe. Cima Road connects to I-15 in approximately 15 miles north. Kelbaker Road splits again and it heads up to I-15 @ Baker, CA

See more in this Mojave area —

Kelbaker Rd

Kelbaker Road and Railroad Tracks

Hole in the Rock

Hole in the Rock, Mojave NP

Mojave Scenery

Mojave Mid Hills boulder peaks

Lake Kaweah


Sequoia Foothills Reservoir, CA SR 198
Kaweah Lake

Southern Sierra lake located on Kaweah River, near the mouth of Mineral King Canyon. In between the western Sierra foothills and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. West of Sequoia NP, east of Visalia, California.

Crystal Cave
Mineral King
Sequoia National Park
Three Rivers

The small town of Three Rivers is just up the road from this small reservoir & their slogan is the ‘southern gateway’ to the Sequoia National Park.

There are several recreational reservoirs that are situated at the base of the Sierras, along the western slopes. The Kaweah River transports snowmelt deep from the Sierra Nevada mountains, down to the San Joaquin Valley (Central Valley), for human consumption, households, and agriculture.

Lake Kaweah California

elevation: 1945′
surface area: 1200′
vegetation: minimal trees, scrub oak, wildflower foothills

fishing –

  • bass
  • bluegill
  • catfish
  • crappie
  • trout
  • recreation –

  • backpack
  • bike
  • boat
  • camp
  • canoe
  • hike
  • houseboat
  • kayak
  • sail
  • swim
  • waterski

    Horse Creek Recreation Area
    Horse Creek Campground
    76 camp sites

    Kaweah Rentals

    Kaweah Marina has patio boats, fishing boats, and paddle boards available for rent. Reservations are needed in summer for weekends and holidays. 559-597-2526

    Kaweah Houseboats

    Privately owned house-boats can be seen on this lake, although none are available at the marina for rent. Some can usually be found for sale on

    Weather: Lake Kaweah Dam

    US Army Corps of Engineers
    PO Box 44270
    34443 Sierra Drive
    Lemon Cove, CA 93244


    Sequoia Highway 198 has many side routes worth exploring: Mineral King Road will get you to amazing scenery, but there ARE NOT ANY Sequoia groves up that way; Crystal Cave, open for tours is located near the south entrance of the National Park; and a lesser known campground in this area is called South Fork, off on a residential side route canyon – South Fork Drive (Road #348); Located on the quiet South Fork of the Kaweah River.

    Sequoia Maps:

  • Mineral King Map
  • Golden Trout South Sierra Map
  • Golden Trout Trail Map
  • Kings Canyon High Country
  • Sequoia Kings Canyon NatGeo
  • Sequoia Kings Canyon NP Map
  • Sequoia National Forest Map
  • Sequoia Atlas

    1933 River Kaweah
    Three Rivers is small community located along the Kaweah River.

    North Fork Drive: North Fork of the Kaweah River is a seldom traveled dirt back road that leads from the east side of the lake @ Hwy 198, northbound (along the North Fork of Kaweah River), straight into the backdoor of Sequoia National Park’s ridge line highway @ Dorst Campground. The original town of Kaweah (elev 960′) is along this route. Many small dirt roads to explore up this way and a good topo map is advised.


    Eshom Campground (on western border of NP), a small slice of Giant Sequoia National Monument land, Redwood Creek and a trailhead called Redwood Saddle are all back up in here. Have a few good maps to cross-reference while traveling back roads and trails. This major dirt route is often closed and gated by the rangers during wet, winter months.

    Kaweah River Sequoia

    nearby destinations:
    Lemon Cove, CA
    Mineral King, CA
    Sequoia National Park
    Three Rivers, CA


  • California Countryside Hikes

    California Wine Country Hikes, Gold Country Hiking, Sierra Foothills, River Trails


    Snow Goose Festival

    BIRDERS unite under the Pacific Flyway


    19 years running, the Snow Goose Festival’s mission is to increase public awareness, understanding, appreciation and conservation of the diverse wildlife and unique habitats of the northern Sacramento Valley.

    Workshops and field trips; advanced reservations online

    Annual event; January


    California Off Road Maps


    Dirt roads, backroads, desert trails, OHV routes, single tracks, dunes, fire roads, gravel roads, 4×4 roads

    When you wanna explore a new area, California has plenty of public land to offer. Off Road Maps can get you away from the crowds & the main staging areas. Maps can show you prime areas to ride & camp that you may not have ever imagined. Secluded, wide open, or freeway close. Terrain – the endless deserts, the mountain foothills, the higher hills , way above the city. The choice is yours.

    Whether you seek secluded stream side camp sites, with some fishing or a dusty, long, desert trail that spans the entire Mojave desert, you can find these secret spots with good old fashioned topographic maps. Hard copies! The real deal. No cell signal? No problem.

    4x4 routes

    4×4 Panamint Valley has numerous canyons & ridges to conquer

    our random list
    California off-roading maps:

    Jeep Roads Atlas
    Benchmark California Atlas

    The most trusted full-state book-atlas that Total Escape recommends. When you must have a (hard copy) map for local road trips – Benchmark Atlas is the best one by far.

    Forest Atlas:
    National Forest Topo Atlas
    Spiral bound book of all topographic quads, of select National Forests in California.

    DeLorme California Gazetteer

    National Forest Service State Parks California BLM backroads camping jeeping

    • SAN BERNARDINO OHV MAP (outta print)
    • HUNGRY VALLEY OHV MAP (outta print)
    • ANGELES FOREST OHV MAP (outta print)
    • MOUNT PINOS OHV TRAILS (outta print)
    • ROCK CREEK OHV Eldorado

    NorCal Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (book)

    SoCal Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (book)

    OHV maps California

    California Off Road Areas

    Awesome California locations w/ off-road trails nearby. DanaMite has compiled a list of first-hand knowledge information, links, photos, campsites, maps, all revolving around rural California. Check out the ever growing list and get ready to explore the back roads, like never before.

    PDF Off Road Maps

    OHV area, motor vehicle use, 4×4 camps, dirt trails, forest routes; Download maps for various off-roading areas in California.

    Quatal Canyon

    What the heck is it ???

    4WD = 4 wheel drive
    4×4 = (same as above)

    2WD = 2 wheel drive
    4×2 = (same as above)

    AWD = All wheel drive
    SUV = Sport Utility Vehicle

    MTB = Mountain Bike
    MX = Motocross (dirt bike motorcycle)
    SNOMO = Snow Mobile (sled machine)

    GAS-POWERED RECREATION: The past two decades have emerged with vehicle redesigns from well known brands, creating a number of new “utility vehicles” for the sport of off-roading (otherwise known as, burning gasoline while recreating in the outdoors). Here is a breakdown on the acronyms, but they all basically refer to much of the same “off road type vehicles”.

    ATV = All Terrain Vehicle (quad)
    MOHUV = Multipurpose Off-Highway Utility Vehicle
    ROPS = Roll Over Protection System
    ROV = Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle
    RUV = Recreational Utility Vehicle
    SxS = Side by Side Vehicle (2 seated)
    SSV = (same as above)
    UTV = Utility Task Vehicle

    Common abbreviations for off-road on public lands:

    OHV – Off Highway Vehicle
    SVRA – State Vehicular Recreation Areas
    BLM – Bureau of Land Management
    NFS – National Forest (USDA)
    MVUM – motor vehicle use map (NFS)

    PVT – private land / keep out
    MTR – motorized

    RD – road
    CO – county
    RTE – route
    SR – state route
    FR – forest route / road
    EXT – exit
    CK – creek
    EL – elevation
    MT – mountain
    STA – station (ranger/fire station)
    PO – post office

    Big Bear Backroads

    Ojai Map Elkins Flat

    Around 2012 the National Forest Service printed up a bunch of nice off-road maps for various popular regions of California. Oddly, they told me not to sell them and I never heard anything about them again after that. Not even sure if these above are available to the public, but if you dig around you might find ’em. Call the rangers, they might know.

    off road maps

    If interested, you could call the ranger station and ask about any local off-road maps, and availability. Mostly they have freebie one page print-outs, black & white — to keep the crowds where they want them. Other times they might have real color, printed maps for sale at the station. Maps that can get you deeper into the terrain, with wild edges of reality nearby. 4×4 maps, OHV map, MVUM

    BLM Maps (Bureau of Land Management)

    Government agency that manages large amounts of California land. Public lands that do not fall into the National Forest or National Park or State Park realm. BLM oversees some mountain areas, river canyons and primarily, desert regions within California. Visit a local BLM office to see the selection of area maps.

    Turtle Mountain Rd

    Turtle Mountain Road

    Decent & FREE: dirt road maps can be found at BLM ranger station, south of NEEDLES, on US Hwy 95. Explore Turtle Mountain and find free camping IN ROUTE; Eastern California Desert.