Mojave Desert

October 14, 2016 · Mojave National Preserve


21.3 mi

Elevation gain

2,859 ft


3 days

The trail

Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.

Fri Oct


To the desert

The Scouts rendezvoused in Las Vegas for our short drive to the Mojave National Preserve. We took two rental SUVs and drove around town picking up groceries and trying really hard to find gas for our stoves (we didn’t bring any because we all few to Las Vegas from San Francisco). After finally getting what we thought would work (a normal propane canister), we set south. A roller coaster at a hotel on the border of California caught one of the cars eyes. They pulled over to take a ride, but it was closed because of high winds.

After one final stop at a gas station, we crossed back to California and into the Mojave Desert. It was fun cruising down the very straight and flat roads, with the occasional dip. We drove along some dusty dirt roads until we got to the location of our first camp, near the east side of the New York Mountains.

We set up camp in a dry river bed (probably frequented by flash floods). It was perfect for our group, as it provided lots of flat, soft camping spots. A few of us took an evening hike to a nearby high spot and returned in the dark. We made a camp fire, roasted sausages and veggie dogs, and drank beer.

Sat Oct


New York to Kelso

In the morning we took it slow and had fun cooking breakfast. We realized that we forgot some key pieces of equipment and also found out that the propane we picked up was not in a canister that was compatible with our stoves. The crew was pretty creative and showed lots of ingenuity. K Dog (K2) opened a can of beans by scraping the can against a flat rock, and The Jieg cooked egg and sausage on a rock placed in the fire. We also got pretty good at cooking using the pots and pans in the fire.

After breakfast, we cleaned up and set off towards the New York Mountains on a dirt road that passed near our campsite. It was a hot and sunny day, so we took a few breaks under the shade of trees. We got to the end of the rough road and forged off trail to the summit. The was a cairn marking the summit of our little peak, and we hug out in the high winds for a bit of a rest and snack.

We scrambled back down to the road, and were back to the campsite relatively quickly. We packed up the site and started the journey to the second destination. We cruised along more dusty roads in our cars towards the southern part of the park. We hit pavement and eventually started skirting the bottom of the park. We stopped at a gas station and picked up a different propane canister with our fingers crossed.

We arrived at the Kelso Dunes during a beautiful sunset. We set up camp around a large bush, and got cooking dinner and drinking more beer.

Sun Oct


Sunrise Dunes

We got up early and hike to the top of the dunes to catch sun rise. It was a total slog up steep sand, but the colors were amazing. We got to the top just in time to see the sun peak over the distant mountains. We sat at the top of the dunes, appreciating the view, snacking, and taking photos.

Our hike down was super fun. We essentially played all the way down. Rolling, running, and getting tones of sand everywhere. We got back to the camp, de-sanded, and cooked our last camp meal. After packing up I decided to test the “sand” mode on our SUV. It was a disaster and we got stuck in the sand. Luckily there was a guy with a truck, and helped hull our asses out of the sand.

We make one more stop and attempted to hike to some lava tubes. Our maps were wrong, but we hiked to a little hill and explored an abandoned mine just for fun.

We drove back into Nevada and decided to take a pit stop at the hotel with the roller coaster, but it was still closed because of winds. We realized that we were disgusting from hiking and camping, and decided it would be a good idea to rent two rooms so we could shower. The rooms were super cheap and it was the best idea ever. We cleaned up, killed some time by looking at some of our photos, and set off for the air port in Las Vegas.

Preparing for this trip

Here is some information that comes in handy when preparing for this trip like this.

Trip posted by KP