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I’m calling this series Mojave Preserve Adventure for a reason. Rather than focus on the Mojave Road, on this trip I wanted to experience as much of the Mojave Preserve as Possible. Also, some of the coolest things we saw were many miles off the Mojave Road. We only missed a short section, but we saw Hole In The Wall and the Rings Trail, an exciting scramble through Banshee Canyon on iron rings hammered into the volcanic rock, and Kelso Dune, which is rises 200 Meters above the surrounding desert. If you plan a Mojave Road trip, I highly recommend detouring to these two sites.

Looking down on Kelso from Foshay Pass Road
Looking down on Kelso from Foshay Pass Road.


There are two things our boys love more than just about anything on trips like this. One is sand and the other is “mac and cheese.” While I try to feed them as well as I can Mac-N-Cheese is always there.

Hikinh on Kelso Dune with the boys
Hiking on Kelso Dune with the boys. They were most interested in wallowing in the sand.

So this is the end of Day 2 on the Mojave Road. We began at Government Holes, climbed Banshee canyon at Hole In The Wall, saw a Desert Tortoise, ascended Foshay Pass, coated ourselves with sand at Kelso and set up camp before Sunset. A pretty Good Day.

Playing in the Sand at Kelso Camp
Children love sand.

Our third morning was quiet and peaceful at Kelso Camp. It’s a nice place to spend a night in the desert, provided you get a spot on the edge, far away from the port o potty. But it was a quiet and peaceful camp.

The route back to the Mojave Road took us through Kelso Depot. The depot existed to supply the Kelso Siding of the Union Pacific with helper engines and water for travel between the Port of San Pedro and Salt Lake City. Now it’s just a repository of artifacts and a fairly dry visitor’s center. We watched the documentary, bought the kids new sunglasses and picked up the obligatory patches.

Marl Springs is a good spot to stop and get over the motion sickness and have lunch. While we’re here I want to show you two things I’ve been using for overlanding recently. First is this Stanley Insulated water Jug. I fill it with ice and it keeps water cold for days. I can usually fill it up and it’s easy for the kids to get their own water.

Stanley Adventure Water Jug
Stanley Adventure Water Jug

The other is the Blue Ridge Overland Gear Kitchen tools bag. It holds utensils and sundries for the kitchen and it’s super handy to have it for easy access to the things we need for preparing food on the trail.

Blue Ridge Overland Gear Cooking Tool Bag
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Cooking Tool Bag is a nice accessory to have for camping and overlanding.

Marl Spring isn’t much to see these days as it hasn’t hosted a garrison in 150 years. Not there’s just a tank filled with slime and buzzing flies and scattered relics and rusting fences. It was an important waypoint and trading post on the nascent Mojave road for a time. But the road goes on, and soon you come to one of the stranger things on the Mojave Road, at The Mojave Mailbox.

We signed in at the mailbox, then ran out into the desert to hunt for treasures.

Signs of modern human habitation are all too present in even the most remote places in the deserts of the west. Structures, fences, artifacts, and even roads are still out there because they were left behind as progress ebbed on to some farther horizon and we still can’t take everything with us.

But things like these shrines of frogs, monster trucks and gnomes were brought here specifically for the purpose of being left behind and collected as a monument to those of us who still crave a wild place to leave a civilized mark. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and if you’re being completely unsentimental, it’s just a bunch of trash in the desert.

On the other hand. The kids loved it and reveled in the discovery of treasure and the mystery of it’s existance because they just don’t think about those things yet. And I suppose that’s worth something.

If I were to have to choose, I’d go out with a bunch of garbage bags and bring it all back to where it belongs. And feel better about narrowing the influence of the Mojave Road just that little bit. And that’s why it was so easy for us to relent and let the kids take a monster truck home with them, rather than escalate to full on melt down.

The Adventure

Check out the other videos in the Mojave Preserve and Mojave Road Adventure series, Car Forest to Rock Spring and Government Holes to Hole-in-the-wall. And check out the All-Terrain Family channel on YouTube and the All-Terrain Family Instagram channel.

Mojave Road Resources

Mojave Preserve Travel Route


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