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mojave camps
The mighty Mojave Desert spans several southwestern states, from US 395 at Death Valley to Joshua Tree, Las Vegas to Apple Valley. The National Preserve called Mojave is located in eastern California - inside the huge triangle of interstates, between the Nevada state line and Barstow, CA. High desert mountains, rocks, boulders, sand dunes, lava tubes, mines, rail road history. Free camping on back roads, or camp inside developed campgrounds, near the freeway. Extra large desert park is popular all year round.

elevation range: 4000-7532'

When people hear the phrase "the middle of the Mojave Desert" , they often think of desolation, open flat lands with nothing around for hundreds of miles. That may be true for some sections, but not this portion of Mojave National Preserve. The park itself features cool volcanic rock formations, historical railroad systems, sand dunes, plenty of vegetation: joshua trees, sage, junipers.

Ranger Station - 760/ 733-4040
SuperIntendent - 760/255-8801
Desert Info Center - 760/326-6322

Some Wilderness Areas
limited 4x4 use, follow signs


Nearby cities & towns:

mojave desert maps
Mojave Desert Maps

Mojave Map
NatGeo Mojave Map

lupine wildflowers
high desert wildflowers
March - May
California Bouldering

mojave desert

Scenery along Loop Road south of Mid Hills

Excellent view from Campground at Mitchell Cavern

Mitchell Caverns & Winding Stair Caverns
- Providence Mountains State Recreation Area


Tour Hours
no tours of cave at this time due to gov budget cuts

Little water
No telephones
No gasoline.
Dress warmly!

Mojave Desert Hiking

Mojave National Preserve Hiking mojave hiking<

Rings Trail @ Hole-in-the-Rock - Self Guided trail w/ steel rings as ladders. Climb up steep walls with 'metal rings' near Hole-in-the-Wall Campground; picnic area & Visitor Center nearby.

Teutonia Peak Hike - 10.4 mi. south of Interstate 15 on the east side of Cima Rd. Trail head for Teutonia Peak is nearby on the opposite side of Cima Rd.

Boulders for Scrambling located near Mid Hills campground. Easy to get to via the dirt roads located behind the campground. Great views and seclusion can be found atop the biggest boulders. Pack a picnic and make of whole day of it, exploring Mojave desert just the way you want.

ENVIRONMENTAL NOTE: The decade of drought in California has truly taken a very serious toll on the natural brush and desert vegetation. Areas of Mojave Mid Hills experienced a wildfire recently, so some pinyon pine forest areas are a bit toasted. Wet weather is needed for the high deserts to thrive.

  • Kelso Dunes
  • Mitchell Caverns
  • Mojave Lava Tube
  • Tallest Yucca

    Night hikes are super cool and the lava tube is dark in some spots.
    Bring a flashlight in any case.

    Mojave Campgrounds

    click on campground name for photos & more descriptions

    campground elev spots  veg toilet water fee    comments


    24 yucca pit piped yes rock formations

    centrally located

    Black Canyon
    corrals / group camp


    20 yucca pit piped yes open area

    equestrian camps equestrian

    Mid Hills Campground


    20  junipers pit   piped yes in the trees

     8+ mi.
    of dirt road travel

    Providence Mountains
    Mitchell Caverns



     yucca pit   piped yes

    exposed, but
    great views

    limited RV spots

    benchmark maps California atlas

    Primitive Camping

    ROADSIDE CAMPING: Get a park map & explore the dirt back roads .. there are plenty of great hidden spots to camp along these roads. Rangers ask that you please use an existing site (with rock ring) in order to prevent additional scars. Some places are not suitable for RV travel & many roads will require 4wheel drive. Remember not to slow down or stop in soft sand, you are likely to get stuck.

    Directions to some up of the roadside camping areas:

    Kelso Sand Dunes - sites are located near the gate and the end of the access road to the dunes. 2-3 sites.

    Rainy Day Mine Site - 15.2 mi. south of Baker on Kelbaker Rd. Go 0.3 mi. north of Kelbaker Rd. on the road leading to Rainy Day Mine. 4x4 vehicles only. No RVs. 3-4 sites.

    Black Canyon Rd. - 5.2 mi. south of Hole-in-the-Wall Visitors Center on the east side of Black Canyon Road. 3-4 sites.

    Powerline Site - 11.8 mi. north of Kelso on Kelbaker Rd., where power lines crossed the road. 2-3 sites.

    Caruthers Canyon - 5.5 mi. west of Ivanpah Rd. on New York's Mountains Rd. 1.5 to 2.7 miles north of New York's Mtns. Rd. to camp sites. No RVs. 3-4 sites.

    Sunrise Rock - 10.4 mi. south of Interstate 15 on the east side of Cima Rd. Trail head for Teutinia Peak is nearby on the opposite side of Cima Rd.

    Mojave BackRoads



    The majority of this Natural Scenic Area is dirt back roads, so get your self prepared & take precautions: water, warm clothes, matches, tune up. Also get your SUV out & ready to explore. Many roads will require 4wheel drive, but there are still plenry suitable for 2WD. Remember not to slow down or stop in soft sand, you are likely to get stuck.

    Easy Loop Rd./ Wild Horse Canyon Rd. - Off of Black Cayon Rd, just south of Hole-in-the-Wall Visitors Center starts a loop road that circles around the back side of Hole-in-the-Wall & leads up to Mid Hills campground. A few spur roads trail off & are limited in use. Pay close attention to signage.

    Mojave Park has 1600 miles of dirt roads open to explorers. Only street legal vehicles are permitted in this desert preserve. ATVs, quads and dune buggies are not permitted; All vehicles must remain on open roads. So read this: No cutting across the desert like a wild man. Save that 'froadin' stuff for the deserts of Barstow baby!

    Maps waterpacks

    The Renovated Kelso Depot
    Historic Kelso Depot is now the main Visitors Center for the park. Well worth a visit.

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