Mojave National Preserve

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About Mojave National Preserve

Ever wanted to release your inner Indiana Jones? With 1.6 million acres of towering mountains, volcanic rock walls, sprawling deserts, and massive sand dunes, the Mojave National Preserve offers an epic Wild West landscape and plenty of freedom to explore it all. Hike over singing dunes and drive across open dirt roads. Bring your horse or trusted bicycle and ride off into the vibrant pink sunset. Set up camp anywhere you’d like (0.5 miles away from the road and 0.25 miles away from any water source) beneath the unobstructed star-covered sky. Explore lava tubes, dried up salt lakes, and abandoned silver mines. This is the perfect place for adventuring across a seemingly endless desert playground. So get out there and start exploring!

Campgrounds in Mojave

Hole-in-the-Wall Campground

1. Hole-in-the-Wall Campground

94% Recommend (9 Responses)

Accessible from one of the few paved roads in Mojave National Preserve, the Hole in the Wall Campground is easily reachable no matter what vehicle...

Jeff
Jeff: The winds can be particularly high in the Mojave Desert, so if you'll be sleeping in a tent, make sure that you have strong...
43 Saves
Mid Hills Campground

2. Mid Hills Campground

100% Recommend (3 Responses)

Mid Hills Campground is at an elevation of 5,600 ft, so it provides amazing cool breezes. It’s also shrouded by pinyon pine and juniper trees for a...

Kristina
Kristina: Mojave National Preserve is on of my favorite national parks! Mid Hills is an awesome campground as it's for tents only, is in...
19 Saves
Black Canyon Campground

3. Black Canyon Campground

Desert shrubbery speckles this area, a vast open stretch that certainly preserves the Wild West vibe. If you want to travel through the desert (and...

4 Saves

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14 Reviews

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Drop some Mojave knowledge on us.
Hipcamper Jeff

The winds can be particularly high in the Mojave Desert, so if you'll be sleeping in a tent, make sure that you have strong stakes to hold your tent down!

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Paved roads are limited, but you are more than welcome to traverse the open, dirt roads. 4WD will give you more free-roam across the preserve!

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Hipcamper Kristina

Mojave National Preserve is on of my favorite national parks! Mid Hills is an awesome campground as it's for tents only, is in the high desert (which means cooler temps and trees for shade). It's $12/night and is first come first served, but rarely fills up (holiday weekends are a little bit of a gamble, so be sure to get there on Friday evening). There is potable water spigots and vault toilets making this a great basecamp in the Mojave for all your adventures. The park is very spread out in terms of things to do, but there are some very unique places to see including the Kelso Dunes (45 min drive), the lava tube (1 hr drive from MH and partly on an unmarked 4x4 road), and Teutonia Peak trail (1 hr drive) in a lush desert landscape.

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Hipcamper Kristina

Hole-in-the-Wall is a great little campground in the Mojave NP. It does get a bit windy as another Hipcamper noted. This campground is pretty exposed and has no trees, but if you have a tent you can camp at Mid Hills Campground where trees are plentiful in the back portion of the campground. Also neither campground has firewood for sale, so be sure to bring your own!

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

For a more pleasant visit, check out Mojave in the morning or the cooler months or the desert heat (we’re talking 100 degrees, people!) might prevent you from exploring as much as you’d like to.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

If you don’t have 4WD, you can still come camp here. The Hole-In-The-Wall Campground is accessible via a nicely paved road that will lead you there straight from the highway!

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Be sure to pack up everything you need and fill up your tank with gas. There aren’t any gas stations or convenience stores anywhere on the preserve (it is the middle of the desert after all). And for the most part, you won’t find cell service either.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Interested in history and geology? Check out Camp Rock Springs to see some sweet rock engravings from Native American tribes who lived in the area.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Stake your tent into the ground like you really mean it. You don’t want to lose it to the strong desert winds!

Hipcamper April

I pulled off one of the many dirt roads and wandered for a mile or so before I found a little "hidden" area to car camp. This place is pure beauty. A must see!

Hipcamper Sarah

A little scary because it's sooooo isolated

Hipcamper Elynn

This campsite is really the perfect campsite. The views are gorgeous, the hiking nearby is on point and the campsite is kept clean. As other people have said, the wind does tend to pick up, so we found car camping to be the best option for us. That said, the stars are breadth taking and a real treat.

Hipcamper Elynn

I think that Mojave is the most underrated park in CA! It combines the wonders of both Joshua Tree and Death Valley, with its own flare. Be sure to have a full tank of gas cause it is large, but worth days of exploring. Would go back again in a heartbeat!

History of Mojave National Preserve

The Mojave Desert has a vibrant history. Before contact with the Europeans changed their world, the Chemehuevi lived on prickly pear, mesquite and roasted agave blooms and hunted deer and bighorn sheep. They resided in the Kingston, New York, and Providence Mountains west to Soda Dry Lake and south to the Whipple Mountains. Mojave tribal peoples were concentrated along the Colorado River and the Mojave trail became their main trading route.
When explorer Father Francis Garces traveled across the Mojave Desert, in 1776, he was met by members of the Mojave Tribe. Other intrepid explorers would follow Garces, including Jedediah Smith in 1826 and John Fremont in 1844. Concern abounded about tribal attacks on the mail carriers who traveled the Mojave Road. During the 1860s government outposts were established providing protection for the mail wagons.

During this same era, gold fever struck California. The General Mining Law of 1872 permitted individuals to stake a claim on an area of land where a mineral deposit was discovered. Copper, iron, gold and silver mines rapidly became established in the Mojave. In 1883, on the eastern side of the Providence Mountains, silver was discovered in the Bonanza King Mine. In the 1940s the Kaiser Steel Company extracted more than two million tons of iron ore from the Vulcan Mine which was used in the construction of the Liberty ships during World War II.
Mojave's history is as varied and colorful as the individuals who staked their claim in the desert. During the 1930s, Mary Beale hiked the Providence Mountains and identified several species of plants and wildflowers. Her friends, Jack and Ida Mitchell, built a road, trails and stairs where they led tours of limestone caverns. About 10 years later, Dr. Curtis Springer established a mineral springs resort, Zzyzx. From there, he would broadcast his syndicated radio show on how to achieve sound physical and spiritual health. Now, Zzyzx is home to California State University's Desert Studies Center.

Kelso Depot, which once provided food, recreation and accommodations for Union Pacific Railroad employees is now the principal visitor center for Mojave National Preserve. Although the last passenger train crossed the tracks in 1997, freight is still transported and reminds visitors of days past.