Mojave National Preserve Things to Do

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    by Yaqui
  • Things to Do
    by Yaqui
  • Things to Do
    by Yaqui

Most Recent Things to Do in Mojave National Preserve

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    Kelso Depot & Visitor Center

    by Yaqui Updated Oct 25, 2013

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    Kelso Depot Visitor Center has loads of information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area. You have to see it to really appreciate it!

    Hours of Operation
    Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Entrance Fee~Free

    In August 1900, Utah Senator William A. Clark, a wealthy mine owner, bought a small railway in Los Angeles. With this purchase, he then started construction on what would become the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad. In 1902, UP made a deal with Clark and purchased half the stock of the railroad before it was even completed.

    Construction of the line, known as the Salt Lake Route, began at the two ends near Salt Lake and Los Angeles and spread across the Mojave Desert in between. By 1905, the route had grown to nearly 235 track miles and reached Siding #16. The site gained its present name when two warehousemen put their names into a hat along with that of a third worker, John Kelso. They drew out a name and Siding #16 was renamed “Kelso.”

    By the end of 1905, the track stretched from the west coast port of San Pedro to Salt Lake City, giving UP access to markets in southern California. Later, UP persuaded Senator Clark to sell his stock in the Salt Lake Route, giving UP full ownership of the line.

    The first depot at Kelso opened in 1905, followed a few months later by a post office, an engine house, and an “eating house” to serve railroad employees and passengers on trains without dining cars. Over time, the town grew as more workers were needed and their families moved to Kelso to join them.

    Railroad civil engineers in Los Angeles drew up plans in 1923, labeling the drawing “Kelso Club House & Restaurant.” For UP, a “Club House” was a company rooming and boarding house with recreational facilities (in later years the building was commonly called the Kelso Depot). The building would have a conductor’s room, telegraph office, baggage room, dormitory rooms for staff, boarding rooms for railroad crewmen, a billiard room, library, and locker room. Construction started in 1923 and the depot opened in 1924.

    Originally, the restaurant (sometimes called “The Beanery”) and telegraph office were operated around the clock. This continued through the boom years of the 1940s and ‘50s, when Kaiser’s Vulcan mine contributed to Kelso’s growth. In those years the population grew to nearly 2,000. When the mine closed, and diesel engines replaced steam, jobs and families moved away from Kelso. The depot function ended in 1962, although the restaurant and boarding rooms remained in use. In 1985, with a dwindling need for crew members to eat or stay overnight, UP decided to close the Kelso Depot.

    With the passage of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994, the East Mojave National Scenic Area became Mojave National Preserve, and the Depot passed into the hands of the National Park Service. Renovation began in 2002. Kelso Depot reopened to the public as the primary visitor center for Mojave National Preserve in October 2005.

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    Cinder Cones, Lava Flows, and Lava Tube

    by Yaqui Written Jan 1, 2012

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    Another missed adventure, but someday:)

    Driving across the Mojave Desert on Interstate 15 or Kelbaker Road, visitors might notice a series of peculiar features on the horizon: thirty-two conical mounds of red and black volcanic rocks rise abruptly above the desert landscape. Surrounded by a sea of hardened lava flows, these little volcanos—cinder cones—began erupting into existence 7.6 million years ago. Lava last flowed just 10,000 years ago. Abundant and well preserved, these geo- logic features were designated as Cinder Cone National Natural Landmark in 1973.

    I overheard the ranger tell someone that there is NO SIGN, that you have to pay attention of the miles you drive to know where the dirt road is, 19mi/30km from Baker or 15mi/24km from Keso Depot.

    The lava tube is not maintained by the National Park Service. Enter at your own risk.

    To Aiken Mine Road:
    From Interstate 15:
    19 miles south of Baker, Calif. on Kelbaker Road; turn north (left) onto Aiken Mine Road.

    From Interstate 40:
    28 miles west of Ludlow, Calif., turn no2r6tmhi onto Kel- 42km
    baker Road; continue 23 miles to Kelso Depot Visitor Center

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    Kelso Dunes

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 1, 2012

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    We didn't get to this since we didn't have time and my family wanted to get home.

    Yet, for those who want an adventure such as hikers. Hikers at sunrise and sunset are treated to both cooler temperatures and the rose-colored glow of the dunes. The roughly 3-mile round-trip hike might take several hours as you slog through the sand, then slide down the slopes. Moving sands sometimes create a "booming" sound—run downhill and get the sand moving to hear the sound.

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    The Mojave Road Historical Marker #37~

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 1, 2012

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    The Mojave Road

    Long ago Mohave Indians used a network of pathways to cross the Mojave Desert to reach the Pacific Coast from their homes along the Colorado River. In 1776, the Spanish Missionary Francisco Garces became the first non-Indian to trek these trans-desert routes. In 1826 Jedediah Smith trod these trails to become the first white man to reach the California Coast overland from mid-America. The route became a military wagon road in 1859 when Fort Mojave on the Colorado River was established. This travel route remained a major link between Los Angeles and points east until a railway was completed across the desert in 1883.

    Dedicated April 1986 by Transierra Roisterous Alliance of Senior Humbugs of E Clampus Vitus and Plaque Erected by Billy Holocomb Chapter E Clampus Vitus 1986. Billy Holcomb Chapter Marker Map

    See also California Historical Marker #963 at Baker, Ca

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    Feldspar Crystals~

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 1, 2012

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    Just across from the Teutonia Peak Trailhead is the Granite Toes, I notice this line of different stone embedding into the granite rock. After many hours of research I surmise this line to be Feldspar Crystals. As much as I love history, I enjoy geology too.

    Feldspars have two cleavage planes that intersect at 90°. Fragments of pure feldspar crystals thus tend to form rectangular blocks with irregular ends. Feldspars have vitreous lusters and occur in opaque shades of white to gray to pink to very dark gray. Other rarer colors are also possible!

    The feldspars are divided into two main groups: Potassium feldspar ("K-spar") and plagioclase ("plag"). Both display two cleavages and an overlapping range of colors, but only plagioclase displays tiny grooves on one cleavage known as striations.http://www.pitt.edu/~cejones/GeoImages/1Minerals/1IgneousMineralz/Feldspars.html

    For more info:
    Kelso Depot Visitor Center
    Information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area.
    Hours of Operation
    Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Entrance Fee~Free
    Location
    From I-15: Exit Kelbaker Road at Baker, Calif. Continue 35 miles southeast on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
    From I-40: Exit Kelbaker Road (about 29 miles east of Ludlow Calif., or 28 miles west of Fenner, Calif.). Continue 22 miles north on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.

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    Granite Toes~

    by Yaqui Written Jan 1, 2012

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    Teutonia Peak in background
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    Your probably thinking "Granite Toes?" That is what they looked like to me and my family. My youngest was "look at the toes mom!" They are just across from the Teutonia Peak Trail and plaques. Be careful before you cross the road, it may appear to have no traffic, but you never know when someone is flying by.

    Weathering and erosion in arid regions underlain by granitic bedrock produce unique characteristic landforms. Spheroidal weathering is a form of chemical weathering in which concentric shells of decayed rock (ranging from a few millimeters to a couple meters) are successively loosened and separated from a block of rock. In the subsurface, groundwater penetrates along fractures and causes the chemical breakdown of rock along surfaces. Sharp corners at the intersection of fractures tend to break down first. In this manner, blocks of granitic bedrock (or other rocks that do not have layers or bedding) tend to become rounder as weathering proceeds. In humid regions, spheroidal weathering of granite typically occurs in the subsurface. In contrast, in arid regions the rate of chemical weathering is slow relative to the rate of surface erosion. As a result, in granitic terrains knob-shaped outcrops and spheroidal blocks accumulate on the surface. In the Mojave region, granite typically breaks down to form fairly uniform quartz- and feldspar-rich, coarse-sandy sediment compared to other rock types. In addition, many of the major pediment areas in the Mojave National Preserve have granitic bedrock. This is probably directly related to the more-or-less uniform weathering and erosion characteristics of large, homogeneous granitic intrusions.http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2004/1007/granite.html

    For more information visit:
    Kelso Depot Visitor Center
    Information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area.
    Hours of Operation
    Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Entrance Fee~Free

    760-252-6108

    Location
    From I-15: Exit Kelbaker Road at Baker, Calif. Continue 35 miles southeast on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
    From I-40: Exit Kelbaker Road (about 29 miles east of Ludlow Calif., or 28 miles west of Fenner, Calif.). Continue 22 miles north on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.

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    Teutonia Peak Trail Plaques~

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 1, 2012

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    The plaques reads:

    Desert Woodland
    A striking symbol, the Joshua is the only tree in the Mojave Desert that thrives on open flatlands. The range of this yucca tree is limited to the areas shown on the map below, and the forest that surrounds you is on of the largest and densest in the world.

    Why are there so many Joshua trees here? While no one knows for sure, scientists agree that deep, sandy soils, elevations between 2,000 and 6,000 feet, sufficient rainfall, and absence of recent wildfire contribute to the suitability of the site. Historic land use may also play a role. Livestock grazed this area for over a century, impacting soils and vegetation and influencing wildfires.

    Bunch grass, once common in the area, is a favorite food of cattle. Intense grazing here reduced the bunch grass, while less palatble woody shrubs spread. Spiny shrubs protect tender Joshua tree seedlings from plant-eating animals until the seedlings grow large enough to develop their own protective, spine-tipped leaves and tough, fibrous tissues.

    Kelso Depot Visitor Center
    Information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area.

    Hours of Operation
    Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

    Entrance Fee~Free

    Location
    From I-15: Exit Kelbaker Road at Baker, Calif. Continue 35 miles southeast on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
    From I-40: Exit Kelbaker Road (about 29 miles east of Ludlow Calif., or 28 miles west of Fenner, Calif.). Continue 22 miles north on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.

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    Teutonia Peak Trail~

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 1, 2012

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    Explore the world's largest and densest Joshua tree forest en route to a rocky peak with expansive views of Cima Dome and beyond. 3 miles round-trip. We didn't do the whole trail, but explored it a little. We had our little dog, so we didn't want him to get too many thorns in his paws, so we had to carry him off and on. Yet, he enjoyed exploring with us.

    For more information:
    Kelso Depot Visitor Center
    Information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area.
    Hours of Operation
    Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

    Entrance Fee~Free

    Location
    From I-15: Exit Kelbaker Road at Baker, Calif. Continue 35 miles southeast on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
    From I-40: Exit Kelbaker Road (about 29 miles east of Ludlow Calif., or 28 miles west of Fenner, Calif.). Continue 22 miles north on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif

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    Teutonia Peak Trail Plaque #2~

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 1, 2012

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    Although these are very educational, they are essential information before you begin your hiking adventure.

    While crossing the slope of Cima Dome in its first mile, Teutonia Peak Trail passes through the densest concentration of Joshue Trees in the world. After passing the remnants of the old Teutonia Mine (STAY OUT~ STAY ALIVE) Mine, the trail gains 750 feet ascending the rocky peak in the distance.

    Teutonia Mine
    The silver mine was first worked in 1896, but was quickly abandoned. In 1906, Charles Toget discovered the old mine, interested investors, and build roas and small camp called Toget City. However, Teutonia Mine was soon abandoned again - like so many others in the Mojave Desert.

    CAUTION~(STAY OUT~ STAY ALIVE)
    Mine shafts are unstalbe-observe shaft openings from a safe distance. Watch children and pets.

    Cima Dome
    Cima Dome from the Mid Hills Campground, located about 15 miles away.

    Kelso Depot Visitor Center
    Information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area.

    Hours of Operation
    Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

    Entrance Fee~Free

    Location
    From I-15: Exit Kelbaker Road at Baker, Calif. Continue 35 miles southeast on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
    From I-40: Exit Kelbaker Road (about 29 miles east of Ludlow Calif., or 28 miles west of Fenner, Calif.). Continue 22 miles north on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.

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  • Kelso Dunes

    by Echo_29 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Kelso Dunes.

    No trip to the Mojave Preserve is complete without a climb to the top of the Kelso Dunes!

    The dunes are over 700-feet (213.3 Meters) tall and take from 1-1/2 to 3 hours to climb, play and walk back to your car. Graceful dune grasses sweep the desert creating ever evolving and disappearing patterns on the dunes. As the trek becomes steeper you’ll think you’re taking two steps forward while sliding three steps back, but press on for the reward is at the top. From the top you’ll experience views in every direction, over 100 miles to the west to the Tehachapi Mountains and to the north you can see the southern edge of Death Valley.

    After taking in the views and regaining your strength it is time to make the dash/slide down the dunes. This is best done alone or with a group of 10 or more. With one you’ll hear the subtle booming of the desert sand singing as you slide along the top or with more you’ll experience the cacophony of the dunes roaring as you slide down in together.

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    Hole-in-the-wall rings trail

    by rasquache Written Apr 3, 2009

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    This short 1.5 mile loop trail takes you through a bizarre landscape that was created millions of years ago. A nearby volcano went off with an eruption of gas and ash. The ash cooled and the gas dissipated, leaving behind the porous "holes in the walls." Ringbolts serve as hand holds to ease passage through a few steep and narrow sections. They provide this trail with its name and a fun hiking experience.

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    Kelso Railroad station in the old days

    by Alice-Kees Written Jun 25, 2003

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    Kelso railroad station -many years ago

    I found this picture of Kelso Railroad Station on the internet. It shows how this place used to be a busy port of call for trains in the days when the gold and silver mines in the area were still operating.

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    Your own private western movie.

    by Alice-Kees Updated Jun 24, 2003

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    Kelso railway station, Mojave Desert

    The railway station of ghost town Kelso is a good place to stop and make your own private western movie. The picture explains why.

    Thanks to a local group of citizens, the railroad building has been preserved from demolishing by Union Pacific, which owns the railroad line. Well done!

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    hike up Teutonia Peak

    by rasquache Written Apr 3, 2009

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    Located on the edge of the Dome, Teutonia Peak offers great views of Cima and the surroundings. This two mile trail crosses the desert through a Joshua tree forest, before climbing up to the peak.

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  • Cima Dome

    by Echo_29 Written Aug 4, 2003

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    Cima Dome from Teutonia Peak

    Apparently Cima Dome is the largest and most geologically perfect dome in the world that can be best viewed from the top of Teutonia Peak an easy 4 mile roundtrip hike.

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Mojave National Preserve Things to Do

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