Tag Archives: Kelbaker Road

Kelbaker Road

signage

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.

4x4Some 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.

map file case

MOJAVE DESERT
topo maps

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.

wildflowerWILDFLOWERS – 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.

depot desert

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

train

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

Mojave Road Map

Mojave Road Trail

The Mojave Road

Mojave Desert Back Roads

The historic Mojave Road spans the high desert region of east California – crossing the Colorado River westward to roughly Los Angeles. Now a network of dirt and paved routes follow the original overland trade route. Click the plaque photo below to read more.

The Mojave Road

The rugged, dirt road cuts right through the middle of the Mojave National Preserve. Mid Hills, Kelso Depot, Cima.

mojave topo maps

Joshua Trees, mountains, boulders, sand dunes, railroad history. The high desert is abundant with wildlife, plant life, lava tubes, caverns, camping, and dirt roads. Plus wild windy weather.

Mojave Loop

MOJAVE PARK
Located on the way to Vegas, NV – or the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Mojave NP is in the triangle space in between Interstate 15 and Interstate 40, on the eastern side of southern California. Freeway close, free camping in the Mojave does indeed exist, if you know where to look.

Mojave Map by Trails Illustrated NatGeo 

NatGeo Map Mojave California

National Geographic acquired Trails Illustrated Maps more than a dozen years ago. Ever since these plastic topo maps have gone 2 sided, full-color w/ more details featured than ever before. Updated regularly. Waterproof plastic, perfect for outdoor desert travels.

Mitchell Cavern, called Providence Mountains SRA, has camping, but it is situated up on an exposed bluff overlooking the freeway. Location gets windy as hell. Better campground is at Hole in the Wall, or even better, Mid Hills Camp.

Mojave Peaks

Primitive, free camping can be found off of Kelbaker Road, but be warned: dirt roads can get deeply rutted and impassible during extreme wet weather. 4WD may be required sometimes.

  • CAMPGROUND CAMPING
  • FREE CAMPING
  • GROUP CAMPING
  • HIKING TRAILS
  • HISTORIC MONUMENTS
  • HORSE CAMPING
  • HORSEBACK TRAILS
  • JOSHUA TREES
  • LAVA TUBES
  • MINING HISTORY
  • MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS
  • OFF ROAD CAMPING
  • RAILROAD HISTORY
  • RANCHES
  • RV CAMPING
  • SAND DUNES
  • VOLCANIC TERRAIN

Mojave Desert Map by Tom Harrison

Mojave Road Map

One of the first readily available topographic style maps of the Mojave desert. Waterproof plastic, Tom Harrison brand maps are perfect for any type of backcountry travel, on foot, on horse, or off-road.

Campsites

AAA & NPS: one-page freebie; excellent overview map created by the Automobile Association of Southern California w/ the National Park Service. Handed out at Visitors Center and ranger stations (1990s)

BLM Maps of Mojave: OHV (off highway vehicle) maps can be found at the local Bureau of Land Management ranger stations:

Benchmark California Atlas

California Atlas
Best map for statewide coverage!

This premium full state atlas has the whole, massive Mojave desert covered, which extends north into Death Valley National Park and south to Joshua Tree National Park.

Mojave Desert Books


Kelso Dunes

Kelso Dunes, Mojave NP

Kelso Sand Dunes are a unique geological feature in the middle of the Mojave desert; Located in triangle of high desert in between Barstow, the Interstate 40 and the Interstate 15. The main road access is off of paved Kelbaker Road, which is just south of the train depot at Kelso, CA

KELSO DUNES

Kelbaker Road is located right off Interstate 40, at the eastern edge of Mojave National Preserve. From Barstow California take Interstate 40 eastbound to Kelbaker Road exit, turn north & follow the signs  20+ miles to the Kelso Dunes. The dirt road that accesses the sand dunes is a coupla miles of washboard & low rider passenger cars should use caution.

NPS

There is no off road OHV access on these dunes – as this vast desert area of flowing & blowing sand is part of the protected Mojave NP. Nearby, the historic Mojave Road is a dirt 4×4 trail that cuts straight thru the desert 138 rough miles, from the Colorado River to Afton Canyon near Barstow, CA

Kelso Depot, Mojave NP

depot desert

kelso weather

Primitive Camping Mojave Desert

Granite Mountains has secret boulder coves and primitive camp sites. Mountain biking, stargazing and bbikeouldering (rock climbing) are abundant this region. Open camping on nearly any dirt road is an option, but pay attention yo signs as there are a few private ranches in these parts. Free camp spots serve as an excellent overnight stop for hikethose traveling to and from the east — Vegas, NV, Grand Canyon, AZ or Utah.

camp

Campground Camping Mojave Desert

Mojave National Preserve

campgrounds

Afton Canyon Campground BLM



View Larger Map of Kelso Dunes

DanaMite Dunes

more Mojave links –