The Mojave Desert is a quiet, peaceful setting with more going on than what appears. The Mojave National Preserve has dunes, canyons, rock formations, wild life and an abundant amount of cactus. We spent two days here exploring, and loved it.
Where We Stayed
We camped at the FREE campground near the Kelso Dunes. About 2 miles past the trailhead there are a few fire rings and shady spots. We took the best spot of course and for one of the two nights were by ourselves. The area is filled with Blacktail Jackrabbits. Sparky would lose his cool once he got on a scent or saw one.
What We Did
We did a lot of driving around the desert. We first checked out the Granite Mountains Natural Reserve. This interesting rock formation is beautiful. We attempted to do some off-roading in our truck, but it became too extreme. So most of our scenic drive was attempting to go down a road, realizing halfway down we were in over our heads, reversing and attempting a different road.
We did do one trail in the desert heat – the Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Loop. This trail was so much fun! It was about 1.5 miles and actually required us to climb up rock with the help of ring loops. Sparky got to go with us and showed off his rock climbing skills. There was only one part that we needed to give him a boost. The actual trail part had lots of jackrabbits, which made walking Sparky a bit challenging. He would lose it for about 5 minutes trying to track them. In areas where if you step off the trail may mean stepping on a cactus, we had to keep vigilant and keep Sparky on a tight leash.
The visitor centers have odd operating times, so the day we left (Thursday) was the day the Kelso Depot Visitor Center was open. Kelso Depot is an old train depot with the remains of a small town – jail, post office, etc. for a mining community. Today, the train depot is a visitor center with a museum and exhibits.
There are actually quite a bit of trails to do here, and if we were here during the winter with cooler temperatures it would be a lot of fun. I don’t know if we will return, although, with Sparky and most trails are dog friendly we may.
Joshua Tree National Park, California