Portable toilets at Kelso Depot Visitor Center
The water system at Kelso is shut down due to problems with the storage tank. Portable toilets are available; bottled water is available for purchase. Campers note-you won't be able to fill water bottles at Kelso until the system is repaired.
Telephone at Kelso Depot is not working
Kelso Depot Visitor Center telephone, 760 252-6108, is not working. For information on weekdays, call 760 252-6100. On Saturday, try calling 760 252-6104.
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.
"At Kelso, we took on supplies and found that Baker lay just across another small range. There was no road or trail, but once we gained the summit, Baker could be seen in the white alkali sink below. Thirty-six miles away, just twelve merciless hours of walking; and on Armistice Day 1936 we stumbled wearily into Baker."
Cinder Cones & Lava Flows
Aiken Mine Road (19.5 miles southeast of Baker) offers an interesting side trip through the heart of the area and access to a lava tube (PDF, 1.53 MB). High clearance and/or four-wheel drive recommended.
Located 34 miles southeast of Baker, Kelso Depot began operation in 1924 and served as train station, restaurant, and employee housing on the Los Angeles and Salt Lake route of the Union Pacific Railroad. Today, it is Mojave National Preserve's primary information center and museum.
About 42 miles southeast of Baker (7 miles south of Kelso Depot), then 3 miles west on a graded dirt road, Kelso Dunes were created over the course of 25,000 years by winds carrying sand grains from the dried Soda Lake and Mojave River Sink. Nearly 700 feet high and covering a 45-square-mile area, they are among the tallest and most extensive dune fields in the United States.
The Kelso Dunes produce a "booming" or "singing" sound when sand with the right moisture content slides down the steep slopes. Try it for yourself—run down a dune slope (but don't trample vegetation!) to initiate the sound.
No signs or services.
An imposing jumble of granite marks the south entrance to the preserve, 50 miles southeast of Baker on Kelbaker Road. Portions of the Granite Mountains lie within the University of California's Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center; please respect the signs that mark the boundary. High clearance and four-wheel drive recommended.
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...