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 »
As desert towns and cities grow, the lands of Mojave National Preserve become increasingly important as critical desert tortoise habitat. The desert tortoise population has been in decline for decades, due to a variety of factors including loss of habitat and disease. In 1990, the Fish and Wildlife Service added this animal to its list of threatened species. The listing requires federal agencies to work together to stabilize desert tortoise populations. But desert residents and visitors also have an important role to play in their recovery.
Desert tortoises are well adapted to living in a highly variable environment. During prolonged droughts, they retreat to burrows and reduce their metabolism and loss of water while consuming little food. Adult desert tortoises lose water at such a slow rate that they can survive for more than a year without access to free water. They are able to survive lean years, then grow and reproduce during years of favorable rainfall and forage production.
The Desert Tortoise and You
Tortoises and traffic
Tortoises enjoy resting in the shade of parked cars; always look under your car before driving away.
Keep vehicles on established roads only. Vehicles will crush tortoise burrows, killing the tortoises and eggs within.
Tortoise collecting is against the law
Did You Know?
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...