The Mojave Road: ‘God-Forsaken’ and Worth Driving
The Mojave National Park is located in southern California on the border of Nevada between Interstate 15 and I40. A strange mixture of lonesome and raucously busy, the noise and activity level is unpredictable, varying day by day depending upon how many off-road explorers and adventure enthusiasts are doing what Dennis Casebier’s urged and going out int the desert. There are over a million and a half square acres of desert in the MNP sufficient features to keep a wandering adventurer busy for weeks, if not months. Joshua Tree forests, a ghost town, canyons and mesas, sand dunes and volcanic features—it is a place of solemn, if harsh, beauty.
Though there are many hiking trails available in the park, more visitors prefer to drive its trails and walk them. To that end they use the Mojave Road. The Mojave road is an unmaintained, dirt road approximately 140 miles long, running from the site of the old military fort Ft. Mohave to the location where Camp Cady once housed dragoons and infantrymen of the United States Army and California Volunteers who were fighting Mohave, Paiute and Chemuehuevi Indians. Between the two places are the Mojave Mailbox, Hole in the Wall Canyon, the Death Valley Mine, lave tubes and many other features.
The Mojave Road is unique place worth visiting, with many of its own traditions (such as that of carrying a rock from the beginning of the journey to Traveler’s Monument. According to some travelers, four wheel drive capability is not always required though prospective explorers would do well to research their route and prepare for contingencies.
“Imagine driving halfway across California for two full days, without ever encountering another vehicle. Impossible though it may seem in a state with more than 35 million registered vehicles (that’s one for every 130 square feet or so of the Golden State), our two Toyotas had the road — more than 130 miles of it — entirely to themselves…” Greg N. Brown; Four Wheeling the Mojave Trail in a Toyota FJ Cruiser
If you are looking for further information, read Brown’s article of course. Also, someone on Expedition Portal recently discussed his trip across the Mojave Road, which he apparently did in a day, and last year James Rathbun published and excellent overview of his expedition last year. Both are worth looking at, and may provide a good starting point for planning your own desert sojourn – you should also check out the Mojave Desert Heritage and Cultural Association (the MDHCA, which is reporting the Joshua Trees are now in bloom) and the Mojave Road Blog.
“Half a days pull through heavy sandy and gravelly wastes brought us to this God-forsaken Botany Bay of a place, the meanest I ever saw for a military station, where four officers and a handful of men manage to exist in some unexplained way in mud and brush hovels.” Elliot Cones, Camp Cady, 1865.