• Kelso Mountain

    Mojave

    National Preserve California

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  • 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.

Things To Do

Montage of three photos of cinder cones, joshua trees, and sand dunes.
On the scenic drive from I-15, you'll see cinder cones and lava flows, Joshua trees, and the Kelso Dunes.
NPS PHOTOS
 

Just passing Through?: Take the I-15 Scenic Detour

A visitor to Yosemite National Park once asked long-time park ranger Carl Sharsmith, "I have less than one day to visit. Whatever shall I do?" Ranger Sharsmith thought for a moment and replied, "Madam, if I were in that sort of a fix, I'd go down to the river and have myself a good cry."

Well, if you plan to drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles and have even an hour to spare, you can at least sample some of Mojave National Preserve's spectacular scenery. Heading northeast toward Las Vegas, exit I-15 at Kelbaker Road in Baker, Calif. Travel south for 34 miles past cinder cones and lava flows to Kelso. The Kelso Dunes are visible in the distance. Be sure to stop at the Kelso Depot Visitor Center. From Kelso, turn north on Kelso-Cima Road and travel along the Providence Mountains. You’ll see more Joshua trees as you gain elevation up this easy grade. The Cima Store, 19 miles from Kelso, sells cold drinks and snacks. At Cima, bear right onto Morning Star Mine Road for a ride up the Ivanpah Valley. After 22 miles, turn left on the Nipton Road for a 4 mile drive back to I-15 just south of Primm, Nev.

You may well want to weep as you merge onto I-15, leaving Mojave National Preserve behind. Keep in mind, however, that you'll have to do your crying elsewhere—we have very few rivers...

Did You Know?

photo of deer hunters

Park or preserve? Like other parks with the designation of "national preserve," Mojave National Preserve is managed under the same guidelines as national parks. The main difference is that hunting is allowed in national preserves, but not in national parks.