I have no idea why I wanted to see the Mojave desert. But once there, I realized… why people don’t goto a desert in the summer. Death Valley is in the Mojave Desert.
There is no ATT cell service. I didn’t verify it, don’t think Verizon has towers there either.
Mojave Preserve has a multitude of life there, plants and wildlife. The backcountry camping there is free. There are several existing sites where people have camped where there are metal and stone fire rings. You can camp at any unoccupied site.
There are also established campgrounds there. And if access to restrooms and water are a must, the campgrounds are recommended, but if not, there are a few backcountry sites that are accessible by regular car. More with a 4×4. They however cost nightly around $12.
There are 2 backcountry sites near the Kelso Dunes on the south side of the Preserve, which if pretending you are in the Arabian desert is your thing, go ahead and give it hike. The sediment there is a different color than the surrounding land, according to the displays, because they were formed over time as wind blew sand and the sand couldn’t get over the mountains, and it all settled in the same place, the Kelso Dunes. But as the park ranger recommended, the backcountry site is very popular, but only after 7p in the summer. I tried to get there earlier to camp on the spot. But there is almost nothing you can do, to keep the sun from overpowering any mechanism you’ve put in to keep cool. Eventually I realized I’d be waking up in this heat, and moved on.
And decided on the ranger’s second recommendation, and moseyed onto the Mid-Hills Campground. She recommended these fantastic giant boulders near the campground itself. Great place to hide myself from the sun. And from the look of improvised fire rings, everyone else realized it as well. The giant rocks look fun when you’re much closer, and provide serious shade. But seriously, don’t go to the desert in the summer.
And this creepy thing, which kinda looks like a giant face.
You will see some wildlife like jackrabbits, some birds, lizards, and supposedly desert tortoise but I suspect they are the smarter species and avoids the sun. You will see Joshua trees, and those poofy green shrubs.
Mojave Cross, which is a veterans memorial. It’s on Cima road, toward the north side of the Preserve.
There are lava tubes, which are caverns within the hardened cooled lava fields. You can see and even hike to the lava fields, but the tubes themselves are located far enough from the paved roads where you need a 4×4 to get closer. The lava field is on the west side of the preserve.
Union Pacific has a rail going right through Mojave Preserve. In fact, Kelso Depot (near the dunes) is the location of a ranger visitor center and was a prosperous rail stop in the past. Both UPS and the US Military seems to deliver there now (joke).
Also further west than even the lava fields, is a dried lake bed, which can be seen from a distance, past the lava fields, as a white plain.
South of the Preserve is Amboy, which intersects with historic Route 66. It also has some pretty expensive gas, but it is the ONLY gas for 50 miles. And has the Amboy Crater (take a look at satellite view on Google Maps for perspective).
But south of Amboy, beyond the salt ponds, north of Joshua Tree, is a Death Valley like scene where nothing grows. The desert of fiction. Not the usual desert filled with shrub brushes.
Indeed, this part of the desert illustrates Looney Tunes cartoons where people see mirages of water in the desert. The dunes look like islands from far away, but a zoom lens reveals that the reflection-like effect is just the heat from the desert surface.
(1/5, rating as a tourist location, unless you like camping in the desert wilderness a lot)