CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips

Roadside Camping In Mojave Desert National Preserve California

CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips
In an age of economic belt-tightening and staycations, it is heartening to keep in mind that there are some recreational options, like camping, that won’t break the bank. However, with camping seeing something of renaissance during the past couple of years, one might be hard-pressed to find isolation in popular places like Yellowstone National Park or Yosemite National Park. Earlier in the month, we shared about a great option for those who are looking to camp – free camping or dispersed camping. We also shared how to find free campsites in the US.
CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips
The desert, on the other hand (at least for Americans), is emblematic of isolation. In the case of California’s Mojave Desert National Preserve (MDNP), it is also a camping option, one that offers something the deep woods doesn’t – isolated roadside camping. While the prospect might not sound initially appealing, watching the sunset along in the middle of a quiet, desolate desert landscape is a rare and pleasant experience found in few other places in the U.S.

The Rules of Roadside Camping

The Mojave Desert National Preserve (MDNP) is, as the name suggests, officiated by the National Park Service. It is a relatively recent addition to the United States’s protected recreation area. In general, it has the same camping rules as another national park. Fortunately, according to the Park Service website, the continued use of sites utilized for decades by roadside campers has been sanctioned by the Park Service.
In the interest of keeping the desert as pristine as possible, the Parks Department recommends that roadside campers locate existing fire rings as a means of identifying ‘disturbed sites,’ which already have proven themselves suitable for camping. The prospective roadside camper would do well to consider that this is extremely difficult to do when arriving near dusk. As roadside camping sites are widely distributed across the MDNP, sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips
General guidelines for camping in the preserve can be found on the NPS’s MDNP website. It is also strongly encouraged that campers observe the tenants of Leave No Trace ethics during their stay at MDNP.

Roadside Camping Spots in Mojave Desert National Preserve

There are four main roads on or near which most roadside campsites endorsed by the Park Service are located. In order from most to fewest available ‘disturbed sites,’ here are some options

  • Kelbaker Road
  • Cima Road
  • Black Canyon Road
  • New York Mountains Road (near Cedar Canyon and Ivanah Roads)
CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips
These sites are spread out all across the MDNP and can be found near the National Preserve’s many attractions. Access to some sites may require the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles; consulting a map of the area and checking the information on individual sites at the National Park Service website would be a good idea.

Other Things to Keep in Mind in the Mojave Desert

The preserve offers a number of sites and activities for the roadside camper, including cave tours, volcanic rock formations, railroad, and beautiful sunsets. They also have traditional campsites if the roadside turns out to feel too remote or just too hard to find. You can find more information on the traditional campsites here.
Naturally, one should not plan on camping in the desert without adequate food, water, and first aid supplies. A flashlight or headlamp is another excellent yet often overlooked necessity for a roadside camper. Arriving without these items could prove something of a problem, as the nearest convenience store is in Fenner, which is well over 20 miles away from most sites.
CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips
The intrepid roadside camper should remember that while nature is majestic, it is not always accommodating. If you are car camping, here are some things to keep in mind when you opt to sleep in your car. Car campers not equipped with the four-wheel drive should be aware that parking or stopping on soft sand may result in the car getting stuck (not to mention damage to the desert from desperate attempts to free it). They are also the typical residents associated with the desert, including a variety of both innocuous and less-than-innocuous reptiles. So keep an eye out for those. It is also noteworthy that, unlike in National Park, National Preserves allow seasonal hunting.
CulturallyOurs Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping Tips
The climate is tolerable year-round in Mojave, but the California Parks Department website suggests Spring and Fall are the best seasons during which to visit the preserve. Summer temperature are often too extreme – hot during the day and very cold at night.
Have you tried free camping before? Have you camped at Mojave Desert National Preserve?

Pin for later!

Mojave Desert National Preserve Camping By Culturallyours

Related Reading

Leave your comments below