Mojave National Preserve
Located in the heart of the Mojave Desert in the southern part of the US State of California, this park was established in 1994 through the California Desert Protection Act.
The Preserve encompasses 1.6 million acres of mountains, jumble rocks, desert washes, and dry lakes.
Part of the Preserve are included in the Great Basin and Sonoran Desert.
The Kelso Dunes, 600 feet high, are a small part of a much larger sand transportation system that includes the nearby Devil’s Playground sand field and Soda Dry Lake.
Volcanic features, including cones and lava beds, dominate the area south of Baker.
Local temperatures vary greatly by elevation, which ranges from 880 feet to 7,492 feet. Summer temperatures average 90°F (32°C) with highs exceeding 105°F (41°C) regularly.
The desert has often been a place to pass through. For Native Americans traders, early explorers, the military, or those using railroads or our modern freeways – the desert has been an obstacle to cross. Those that did remain had to wrestle a living from a difficult land, and this was a task few had the character to take on.
In the 16th Century, the time the Spanish arrived in the territory, the Mojaves were the largest concentration of people in the Southwest.
Ranching as an industry dates from the 1880s. Homesteading, which included the raising of crops, began in the 1910s. The shortage of water created problems between these two types of farmers.
An important restored historic building on the preserve Kelso Depot opened as the principal information centre in late summer of 2005, with the official grand opening in October 2005.
See map of the park.
We would like to thank Linda Slater, Park Ranger; Andrea D. Morgan, Baker Information Center; and Mary Martin; all of Mojave National Preserve, and the National Park Service, for information provided for us.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)