Mojave Preserve
February 2012
Kelso Depot, in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve, was a busy place 70 years ago. Today, it's the Park Service visitor center for the preserve. Several times a day, a mile-long Union Pacific freight train rumbles through.
Banshee Canyon, in the Hole-in-the-Wall area of the preserve.
Banshee Canyon.
On the aptly-named Rings Loop Trail.
Because of the direction I had chosen for the loop, I had to back down this stretch. The bleeding from my index finger stopped in only about 20 minutes.
Banshee Canyon.
Banshee Canyon.
Exiting Banshee Canyon, and the beginning of the Barber Peak Loop Trail.
The Opalite Cliffs.
Along the Barber Peak Loop Trail.
Along the Barber Peak Loop Trail.
Table Top, about five miles away, seen from the Barber Peak Loop Trail. This is high desert, at an altitude of roughly 6000 feet.
Along the Barber Peak Loop Trail. Because the Mojave Preserve is vast, and not close to any major town, it's mostly empty. On the trail, I was usually completely alone.
Along the Barber Peak Loop Trail.
At the western edge of the preserve is Zzyzx Spring, a pool of fresh water at the edge of an enormous salt flat. Decades ago, it was touted as a health spa. The buildings are now used as a desert research center.
Kelso Dunes.
Kelso Dunes. From the base to the summit, the highest dune is about 700 feet tall.
The highest of the Kelso Dunes - a tough climb on loose sand.
The slide down the center of the main dune, about 200 feet long. As you slide down, the sand makes a booming sound, not unlike car tires on a grooved metal bridge deck.
Kelso Dunes. I thought a direct assault on the main dune would be exhausting, but do-able. I was right about the first part, and manifestly wrong about the second part.
Kelso Dunes. I found a climbable path to a col to the east of the main dune, and reached the summit.
Kelso Dunes.
The only wildlife I saw in the Kelso Dunes.
Kelso Dunes.
The sand gives way abruptly to the hard-packed mesquite desert that surrounds the dunes.
Kelso Dunes.
Kelso Dunes.
Near Granite Pass.
The Teutonia Peak Trail.
Joshua Trees along the Teutonia Peak Trail.
A Joshua Tree along the Teutonia Peak Trail.
Joshua Trees along the Teutonia Peak Trail.
Along the Teutonia Peak Trail.
The Teutonia Peak Trail.
Along the Teutonia Peak Trail.
From Teutonia Peak, 5755 feet.
From Teutonia Peak.
From Teutonia Peak.
From Teutonia Peak.
Along the Teutonia Peak Trail.
From Teutonia Peak.
From Teutonia Peak.
Bizarre geology, seen in the distance from the Teutonia Peak Trail.