• 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 »

Mojave Wilderness: FAQs

What is the difference between designated Mojave Wilderness and other undeveloped areas in Mojave National Preserve?
It may help to think of designated wilderness as an additional "layer" of protection. Other "wild," undeveloped areas of national parklands (often called "backcountry") could be considered for development, such as road building, parking, and administrative buildings. Congressionally-designated wilderness areas however, such as Mojave Wilderness, prohibit permanent roads and structures, except for those that may provide for recreational or other purposes of the Wilderness Act.

Wilderness areas generally do not allow motorized equipment, motor vehicles, mechanical transport (i.e. bicycles), temporary roads, permanent structures or installations. Wilderness areas are to be primarily affected by the forces of nature, though the Wilderness Act does acknowledge the need to provide for human health and safety, protect private property, control insect infestations, and fight fires within the area.

Isn't wilderness just a "lock-up" of public land that locks people out?
Wilderness is not a kind of hands-off "nature museum." It is meant to be experienced. Wilderness areas are protected by law "for the permanent good of the whole people." With the Wilderness Act, Congress secures "for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness."

More than 12 million people visit wilderness areas each year, where they may hike, fish, camp, watch wildlife, photograph, or hunt (where legally authorized). Park visitors who do not enter into a wilderness area, might nevertheless enjoy wilderness as a scenic backdrop to developed park areas.

What should I do differently in Mojave Wilderness?
If you are currently familiar with and practice the guidelines and regulations for traveling and camping in the backcountry of Mojave National Preserve, you probably don't need to do anything differently. Just enjoy! The Wilderness Act does, however, prohibit motorized equipment or mechanized transport in designated wilderness areas.

In Mojave Wilderness, you'll have an exceptional opportunity to experience the intellectual, inspirational, and recreational values of a truly wild land. Wilderness areas are places where humility and respect play a role in both individual and management activities.

Can I drive in Mojave Wilderness?
No. In addition to motor vehicles, the Wilderness Act prohibits all mechanical transport and motorized equipment in wilderness areas. Open roads in Mojave National Preserve do, however, provide access to most Mojave Wilderness boundaries.

Can I bring horses into Mojave Wilderness?
Yes. Horses and other pack animals are permitted. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations for camping and traveling with horses.

 
Wilderness Boundary Sign

Motorists, especially, should be aware of wilderness boundaries.

NPS/Michael Glore

How do I recognize wilderness boundaries? How will I know if I’m in Mojave Wilderness or some other backcountry area?
Many designated wilderness areas may appear no different from undeveloped backcountry. When planning any backcountry or wilderness trip in Mojave National Preserve, visitors should consult a map marking wilderness boundaries (e.g., a current Trails Illustrated map for Mojave National Preserve—available at all information centers). Information centers are also a good source of information: park rangers can assist you in planning your trip and offer advice for traveling in Mojave Wilderness.

Wilderness boundaries are also marked by means of flexible, brown wilderness marking posts. Motorists, especially, should be aware of such boundaries when traveling in Mojave National Preserve. Roads open for travel by motor vehicles are indicated on current Trails Illustrated maps and in the official Mojave National Preserve brochure or "uni-grid" (both available at information centers).

Did You Know?

photo of rattlesnake

The venom of the Mojave rattlesnake is extremely toxic and causes more respiratory distress than that of any other North American rattlesnake. Due to its unique hue, it is known locally as the Mojave green.