• Kelso Mountain


    National Preserve California

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  • Lower speed limits are temporarily in effect until road damage can be repaired

    The Superintendent has temporarily reduced the posted speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph on all roads within the preserve as road crews work to repair damage from recent heavy rains. Call 760 252-6108 for more information.

  • 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 »

Historic Preservation

Hilltop House at Bighorn Mine
Hilltop House Restoration at the Bighorn Mine

Among the Joshua Trees, beneath the desert sands, or settled within rocky outcrops of Mojave National Preserve, lie the remnants of an exciting and intriguing past. Petroglyphs, pictographs, hand tools and other artifacts attest to the presence of Chemehuevi and Mohave tribes within the preserve for centuries. In the 19th century, Euroamericans began to settle here as well.

With the first discovery of silver in 1863, miners started digging adits and shafts, building headframes and milling structures, and establishing camps and towns with the goal of striking it rich. Temporary U.S. Army outposts, such as Camp Rock Spring and Fort Pah-Ute, served to protect the mail route and new mining areas.

Kessler snow

Kessler Spring Ranch

By the mid-1870s small-scale ranching developed to support these towns and with the incorporation of the Rock Springs Land & Cattle Company in 1894, ranching became an industry in its own right. Ranch homes, blacksmith shops, bunkhouses, barns, and corrals were built with available materials. Since wood is scarce in the desert, ranchers found a convenient resource in the railroads.

Beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the 1900s, the railroad completed several criss-crossing lines that brought jobs, people, small towns and old railroad ties (great for fencing) to the desert. In 1910 homesteading opened up in the eastern Mojave and families tried farming in the Lanfair Valley. It seemed the desert was becoming a prime place for the innovative, the hardy, and the entrepreneur.

In 1932, Jack Mitchell began to lead tours through Mitchell's Caverns in the Providence Mountains. Twelve years later "Dr." Curtis Howe Springer, a radio evangelist and mineral-health salesman, developed the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort on the shores of Soda Dry Lake while America was at war.

The U.S. military used the preserve area for army training, most notably General George S. Patton's Desert Training Center of World War II and "Operation Desert Strike" of 1964.

The stories of these people in the remnants of these places are what the historic preservation crew at Mojave National Preserve is working to sustain for you and future generations to experience and enjoy.

Did You Know?

photo of rattlesnake

The venom of the Mojave rattlesnake is extremely toxic and causes more respiratory distress than that of any other North American rattlesnake. Due to its unique hue, it is known locally as the Mojave green.