• 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 »

Backpacking & Backcountry Travel

Leave No Trace

www.lnt.org

Backpackers at Mojave National Preserve enjoy a variety of challenges, with sweeping views, solitude, dark night skies, and nearly 700,000 acres of designated wilderness. Although there are few established hiking trails in the preserve, abandoned dirt roads, washes, and ridges offer an abundance of cross-country hiking and backpacking opportunities. To ensure a safe and rewarding experience, be sure to plan ahead carefully.

While pets are welcome as backcountry travel and camping companions in Mojave National Preserve, they must be leashed and never left unattended. Pet excrement must be collected and disposed of in garbage receptacles.

Backpackers should adhere to National Park Service regulations and are further encouraged to follow Leave no Trace guidelines to minimize their impact on the fragile desert environment. Leave No Trace is rooted in scientific studies and common sense. The message is framed under seven Leave No Trace Principles presented below with accompanying regulations and guidelines specific to Mojave National Preserve:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • There is no permit or registration system for backcountry camping at Mojave National Preserve; be sure to notify others of your travel itinerary.
  • Few established trails exist; carry a good map and familiarize yourself with desert travel and survival skills before beginning your trip.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Reuse existing campsites.
  • Do not make camp in a dry wash—flash floods develop quickly in the desert.
  • Camping is limited to a maximum of 14 consecutive days per visit/stay and 30 total days per year.
  • Campsites must be more than 200 yards from any water source.
  • Camping is not permitted: within 1/4 mile of any paved road or the Zzyzx Road; within 1/2 mile of Fort Piute or Kelso Depot; within 1 mile north (i.e., the crest of the dunes) or 1/4 mile south of the Kelso Dunes access road.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Store all food and garbage in a manner that will prevent access by wildlife. Carry plastic bags and pack out all trash.
  • Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • Pet excrement must be collected and disposed of in garbage receptacles.

4. Leave What You Find

  • Disturbing, defacing, or collecting plants, animals, rocks, and historic or archeological objects is prohibited. As part of our national heritage, these resources should be left as they are found for all to enjoy. Metal detectors are not allowed.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires are allowed in established fire rings only, or with use of a portable firepan (be sure to pack out ashes). Do not leave fires smoldering or unattended.
  • Cutting or collecting any wood, including downed wood, is prohibited. All firewood must be brought into the preserve.

6. Respect Wildlife

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For more information or materials, please visit www.LNT.org or call 303-442-8222.

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...