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Trip Destination: Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve

The Mojave National Preserve is probably what most people think of when you say that you're going on a trip to the Mojave. Located just south of Death Valley and just west of the California-Nevada border, it encompasses 1.6 million acres of land that remain largely unchanged for the last 100+ years. The preserve can be visited any time of year and in any type of vehicle, though naturally some locations are reachable only with high-clearance 4WD. Whether you go to visit old mines, climb signing sand dunes, have an offroad adventure, or walk in the footsteps of adventurers of old, leave plenty of time to be awed by what you find. Stop and gawk at the Joshua Trees. Snap a photo of the fiery cholla glowing in the afternoon sun. Just remember - it's our job as to keep it largely unchanged, for generations to come.

Note: While the Mojave National Preserve is largely sandwiched between two major highways, there are areas within the preserve that are extremely remote, with only a handful of visitors each year. Plan accordingly. Know where you can get fuel and water, and carry extra. If you are travelling alone, be extremely cautious - if you get stuck out here, it could be many days before someone else comes along to help.

If Mojave National Preserve is on your short list of places to visit, here are some Mojave National Preserve highlights worth checking out, or jump straight into one of the trips below.

Alternatively, for even more, broaden your horizons to the entirety of the Mojave Desert - there's so much more than just the National Preserve.

A Bit More EMHT (Dec 2023)

There was no way we were going to run the entirety of the East Mojave Heritage Trail when we set out to do it at the end of November. At something more than 700 miles long - even without the nearby side-adventures that I added for our enjoyment - it might seem like a Backcountry Discovery Route, but the roads are significantly slower and more technical, and the percentage of on-dirt miles is significantly larger. Frankly, these two things make it easily twice the length of a BDR, not to mention the fact that we were trying to do it at…

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East Mojave Heritage Trail (Nov 2023)

For the first time in five years, the "annual" TacomaWorld trip has morphed into two trips. I suppose, technically, I should call it a trip-and-a-half, given the debacle that became Half a Trip in Montana, but I prefer to see the glass always full (there's always something in there) so we're just going to call it two. The timing of the second trip - in December - clearly ruled out anything up north, so returning to Montana for redemption would just have to wait until next year. Plus, given the unexpectedly good time that we had in Death Valley a…


Rock Art Three Ways (Mar 2023)

We didn't plan to go to the Mojave. In fact, I've felt as though - over the last year - I've spent too much time in California, and I've had an urge to find myself back in places like Utah and Colorado. Alas, with a fantastic trip planned to hike the canyons of the Grand Gulch and Cedar Mesa, the weather did not cooperate. Snow - and lots of it - blanketed southeast Utah, rain spread across much of the lowland south. And so, at the last minute, I whipped up an itinerary to the only place I could find…

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Short Days and Long Hikes in the Mojave (Dec 2020)

Visiting the Mojave National Preserve has - unconsciously - become a traditional "last trip of the year." For three years now, the pull of the desert sun has drawn us south - out of the gloomy grey of the Pacific Northwest. This year the trip would center around foot travel - something that had been uncharacteristically difficult on our last visit - allowing us to immerse ourselves in our surroundings. Over the course of a week - at the end of this most unusual year - we'd take advantage of every moment of daylight to discover the solitude, history, and…

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Bridge-to-Bridge in the Middle of Nowhere (Jul 2020)

Having just completed the Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR), we now found ourselves in at the southern most tip of Nevada, quite a distance between us and home. We found ourselves there with a week to spare, having finished the trip a few days sooner than we'd originally expected. Only the timing was unplanned however, as we'd run the BDR this direction on purpose. By doing so, we hoped that we could meet up with Pops on our way home at the same spot we'd spent a few days with him just a month before. Well, as it turned out,…

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Mojave Redemption (Dec 2019)

After visiting the Mojave National Preserve in December 2018 to run the historic Mojave Road, and test out the new rear shocks I'd installed, we ended up having remove the shocks after less than a mile and the run the entire trip with no shocks on the rear of the Tacoma. We needed to redeem ourselves. Plus, I knew I needed to get back to explore this vast wonderland more than a single road could ever allow. With nearly two weeks over Christmas and New Years reserved on the calendar, our initial goal was to explore everything. Like as in…

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Mojave Road (Dec 2018)

Having never visited the Mojave National Preserve, and being down in the area already to do some work on the Tacoma, the Mojave Road seemed like the perfect place to test out the recent modifications (to the suspension) while seeing some new terrain at the same time. It was quickly apparent that the suspension modifications weren't going to work out, but the new terrain was just the opposite - not only did it work out, but it opened up a whole new world that I knew I'd need to return to explore in more depth. Our trip along the Mojave…

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