Old Road

From the Mojave to the Sonoran Desert, Old Route 62

How long does it take to hike from the Mojave Desert to the Sonoran Desert? This sounds worse than it is. It all began with a trip from Yucca Valley to Palm Springs; my wife and I always sightsee along the road looking down on the Old Highway 62 on our way down New State Highway 62 going to the Coachella Valley.  One day she said that she would like to hike down this pass known as the Morongo Grade on foot to the east of the current road and hike the remnants of the old road.  Today we did it! Our group did the 2.5 mile journey in 1.5 hours. The route has an elevation gain/drop of approx. 1000 feet and is pretty easy going down hill.  Click on the map below to see the route:

Highway 62 has traversed this mountain pass for over 100 years. It continues all the way to the town of Earp on the Colorado River, but we will be focusing on the portion of the road that thrusts you upward into the Mojave Desert, thanks to the San Andreas Fault.  This road was originally a dirt wagon road that was paved and made into a two lane road in the 1930s.  In the early 1960s this road was widened through the pass and what was left of the old road was abandoned in the wash that runs on the east side of the current State Highway 62.

On this warm winter day in February, spring was just around the corner, and some flowers were beginning to bloom.  The vegetation change was interesting to see as we decended into the Sonoran Desert. A few plants from the higher elevation struggled to survive in the warmer and drier Sonoran Desert.  Unfortunately there was more trash strewn about than I would like to see, though some of the trash was old and thus ended up being very interesting. There were old cans with pre-1970s style pull tops that we saw a few times along the way.

At the end of our journey we crossed the San Andreas Fault on foot to get to our car – the same fault that is responsible for this change in elevation.  The following pictures record the journey. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed our hike and can feel a little of the history of this lonely road that was known as the Gateway to the Hi-Desert, Old State Highway 62.

UPDATE: After I wrote this blog I wrote another one about the same area, Bighorn Sheep are often found here, this is the blog post: https://www.desertusa.com/dusablog/mojave-bighorns-easy-see-car.html

Take It Easy – Mojave


3 thoughts on “From the Mojave to the Sonoran Desert, Old Route 62”

  1. I’ve been down that grade many times over the years but not in the last 15 years. Even back in the 60s, I recall seeing remnants of an old road. When was the new road built? Has it been since 2007?

    Thank you for sharing your adventure.

  2. The first time up hwy 62 was in 1969. The gent we were with pointed out part of the old road to us. We were north of Indian Ave. Thanks for the story…very interesting!

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