Mojave National Preserve
The Desert Protection Act created the 1.4 million acre Mojave National Preserve in the heart of the Mojave Desert. This act transferred the lands known as the East Mojave National Scenic Area from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service. The National Park Service administers a variety of ecosystems in the Mojave National Preserve to preserve the region's natural and cultural resources. Click here for a video on the area.
The desert in the Mojave National Preserve ranges in elevation from less than 1000 feet to almost 8000 feet. The best months for visiting are October through May. Wildlife is abundant and over 300 different species of animals including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes and desert tortoises roam the area. Many birds live in the area. Golden eagles and several types of hawks can be seen soaring on the desert thermals. Quail, chukar and mourning doves, as well as many other smaller species of birds, live in the canyons and washes where they are able to find water, food and vegetation for cover.
Desert plants are especially adapted to living in this arid climate. Many have small leaves with waxy coverings to minimize moisture loss, while cacti store large volumes of water. Other plants, such as the creosote, have developed extensive or deep root systems that enable them to gather the precious water. Common plants include yucca, creosote and the Joshua tree. If the winter rains have watered the desert, wildflowers spread across the desert in a rainbow of colors during April and May.
Evidence of the people who have lived and made a living from the desert and its resources is scattered across the region. Petroglyphs and pictographs, etched and drawn on the rocks throughout the region, are evidence of a long history of the peoples who followed the natural cycles of plants and animals, gathering and hunting what they needed to live.
Temperatures can be extreme and water scarce. Limited supplies of water are available at the campgrounds, and visitors are advised to bring a supply. When hiking, carry at least a gallon per person per day, and don't forget to drink it!
Wear clothing that will protect against sun and wind. Although it may be hot during the day, nights can be cool, so bring extra layers of clothing. Summer temperatures can exceed 100 degrees and winter temperatures can dip well below freezing, especially at higher elevations.
Be sure that you and your vehicle are prepared for extreme conditions.
Watch out for flash floods. Violent downpours in distant areas may result in flooding where you are. Be alert when traveling in desert canyons and washes. Gas, water and telephones are found only in a few widely scattered locations around the Preserve.
Pets are allowed in the Preserve, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Do not allow them to disturb other visitors or wildlife. Do not leave them locked in your vehicle, as high temperatures can be fatal.
Other locations to visit in Mojave Desert
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Joshua Tree National Park - Black Eagle Mine Road Video - Beginning 6.5 miles north of the Cottonwood Visitor Center, this dead-end dirt road runs along the edge of Pinto Basin, crosses several dry washes, and then winds up through canyons in the Eagle Mountains. The first 9 + miles of the road are within the park boundary. Beyond that point is BLM land. Several old mines are located near this road.
Road Trips Videos
Exploring Route 66 - Historic Mohave Desert Sites
Amboy Road at Sheeps Hole Pass looks into the big basin of Bristol Dry Lake, which was covered by the sea about four million years ago. Across the salt lake, Amboy Dry Crater rises in the distance. The town of Amboy dates back to 1858; it became a critical gas and rest stop on Route 66 after World War II. When I-40 bypassed it in 1972, Amboy almost became a ghost town. Follow the DesertUSA team as they revisit old Route 66 in the Mohave and take a look at some historic sites along the way.
Click here to see current desert temperatures!