• 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 »


photo of chuckwalla

Gopher Snake

Reptiles of the class Reptilia are cold-blooded, regulating their body temperature based on environmental conditions. Their thick, scaly skin comprised of keratin, a protein found in human nails, minimizes water loss through evaporation.

Diurnal, or active during the day, lizards are the most widely observable reptile in the preserve. Their varied diet ranges from the horned lizard which feasts on ants to the desert iguana which dines on plants and carrion. Certain lizard species known as "glass snakes" have no functional legs. Lizards have eyelids and ears, which distinguishes them from snakes. In response to stress and other environmental factors, some lizards will change color.

Snakes are the most numerous reptile found within the preserve. They descended from a four-legged terrestrial ancestor, and a few, such as boas, retain skeletal vestiges of hind legs. Lacking eyelids, snakes are unable to blink or close their eyes. A brille or transparent scale acts like a contact lens and serves to protect the eye. All snakes also lack external ear openings and tympanums (eardrums), enabling them to hear only low frequency seismic vibrations. Snakes have unique skulls designed so that they can unhinge their jaws, and swallow prey several times larger than their head. The majority of snakes lay eggs, although some such as the rosy boa, bear live young.

photo of chuckwalla


Doug Slater

Chuckwalla: (Sauromalus obesus) Loose skin, granular scales, and a distinctive paunch, Chuckwallas are the second largest lizard in the US next to the Gila Monster. Fond of yellow flowers, such as those found on brittle bush, 10-16 inch chuckwallas are observed along lava flows and rocky areas throughout the preserve. During breeding season, adults will develop a pinkish hue. Elusive and evasive, chuckwallas can foil predators by trapping themselves in crevices through inflating their bodies.

Common Kingsnake: (Lampropeltis getulas) Although Mojave has its share of venomous snakes, the kingsnake is nonpoisonous. Dark brown or black with bands of yellow and white, it has a wide range and is found in disparate areas from southern New Jersey to the mainland of Mexico. Considered an opportunistic feeder, it eats lizards, birds, mammals, frogs and other snakes including rattlers.

Did You Know?

photo of 4-wheel drive vehicle exploring Mojave

Mojave National Preserve is a great place to explore by 4-wheel drive vehicle. Over a thousand miles of dirt roads are open for exploration. Driving off-road is not allowed. More...