• Kelso Mountain

    Mojave

    National Preserve California

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  • Kelso Depot Visitor Center hours

    Kelso Depot Visitor Center is open Fridays through Tuesdays from 9 am to 5 pm, closed Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Beanery Lunch Counter is closed.

  • Watch for storm damage on all roads

    Recent storms have caused flash flooding and damage to roads. Reduce speed and use caution when traveling through the park after storms. Call 760-252-6100 or 760-252-6108 for updates. Check our Current Conditions page for information on specific roads. More »

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the vehicle requirements for driving on dirt roads in Mojave?
Vehicles must be street legal as defined by the laws of the state of California. This includes current registration and tags, lights and turn signals, and valid insurance. California "Green Sticker" and "Red Sticker" programs are not recognized.

Are there dirt roads where vehicles are not allowed?
Yes. Tracks into congressionally designated wilderness areas are now closed. These areas are generally marked with wilderness boundary posts.

What areas are accessible that don't require driving on dirt roads?
Kelso Depot Visitor Center, newly restored to its appearance in 1924 is 18 miles north of I-40 and 34 miles south of Baker along Kelbaker Road. It is open 7 days a week from 9-5 and includes exhibits on desert ecology and history.

Kelso Dunes, 8 miles south of Kelso Depot on Kelbaker Road, tower over 600 feet high. The dunes are accessible via a gravel road that does not require four-wheel drive.

Teutonia Peak Trail with elevations upwards of 5,000 feet, located along the paved Cima Road. From this vantage point, visitors will observe Cima Dome which boasts the largest, densest Joshua Tree forest in the world.

Is there camping at Mojave?
Yes. There are two National Park Service Campgrounds, as well as other camping options nearby. Roadside camping and backpacking are also permitted.

Are pets allowed?
Yes. Pets outside vehicles must be on a six- foot leash at all times. Please do not leave your animals locked in your vehicle, particularly during the brutal heat of summer.

Is there cell-phone service?
Cell phone service is sporadic and unreliable.

Are there gas stations or motels?
No. The nearest gas stations are available at Baker, Cima Rd. & I-15, Primm, Searchlight, Fenner, Amboy and Ludlow. Lodging is available in Baker, Nipton, Ludlow and Needles, California, as well as Primm and Searchlight, Nevada.

Is there food service?
Yes. The Beanery at Kelso is the only restaurant within the preserve. The historic 1920's lunch room offers hot & cold beverages, soups, salads, sandwiches, snacks, and desserts. Located at the Kelso Depot Visitor Center. Open Friday through Tuesday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed Wednesday and Thursday.

What is the difference between a national preserve and a national park?
Both are managed by the National Park Service, and there is generally no difference in management principles. Hunting and some other extractive uses are allowed in national preserves but not national parks.

What types of wildlife inhabit Mojave?
Desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bobcats, roadrunners, golden eagles, gila monsters, and jack rabbits are just a few of the animals that live in the Mojave Desert. Most wildlife in the park is nocturnal and therefore, not as readily observable during the day.

Are there poisonous snakes?
Several kinds of rattlesnakes, including the highly toxic Mojave green live in Mojave. To avoid an encounter, watch where you put your hands and feet, especially when climbing on rocks. Staying on trails makes it easier to see snakes in your path.

When is the best time to see wildflower blooms?
March through April is the ideal time to see carpets of wildflowers blanketing hillsides and canyonsides. The intensity and duration of the blooms vary depending upon precipitation and other weather conditions.

Did You Know?

photo of detail on Kelso Depot.

The railroad town of Kelso in Mojave National Preserve was named in 1905 by railroad construction workers. Two men placed their names in a hat, along with that of a third who had just moved away. The name drawn from the hat was that of John H. Kelso, the man absent from the drawing. More...