Mojave Road

Baker, California (SanBernardino County)

Last Updated: 02/10/2021
5 / 5 ( 20 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Permit Information: Permit Required - Click Here
Difficulty: 3-3
(MODERATE )
Length: 139 miles
Highest Elevation: 5093 feet
Duration: About 3 days
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Baker
Nearest Town w/ Services: Baker
Official Road Name:
Management Agency: Mojave National Preserve
District:
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Mojave Road
Filled with oddities, scenic beauty, history, and a sense of adventure it is no wonder that the Mojave Road has such an iconic stature. Formed as an early Native American trade route then an east-west passage for settlers, the road has a long history. Passing through the Mojave Desert Preserve and the Lanfair Valley you are remote and far from civilization. Today it is one of the more famous overland routes in the southwest. Although the road is not at all technical, the sense of adventure you get by being so deep in the desert is what makes it worth the trip.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Mojave Road

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:
Summary:
With a stock high clearance SUV or any vehicle, the only real concern for this trail is if it's wet. There will be areas where high clearance and gearing is required.

Technical Rating: 3-3
(MODERATE )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
Read more about our rating system

Description

The entire 135 miles is made up of mostly a dirt and sand road, miles of whoop-de-doos, or sand moguls, with some rocky areas. The only major obstacle is the Watson Wash drop-in which can be rutted and washed out. In 2016 there was a washout south of Fort Piute, which currently requires you to use a bypass. Time on trail:. Allow a full three days to take in all the desert scenery, the side excursions and pick that perfect camp. If you are short on time, you can drive some sections fairly quickly and make it in two days. Caution: Wet weather could make this overland trail a real nightmare. You cross several washes which pose issues in wet weather, but the true problem in wet weather is the Dry Soda Lake Bed. Staying on course: Various roads intertwine through the entire route. To ensure you are on the correct Mojave Road, always look for the stone cairns. If you are traveling from east to west, the most common route, the cairns will be on the right side of the road. Typically, your base map of your GPS unit will show the Mojave Road as "Government Road". Permits Any groups with 7 or more vehicles (15 or more people) must obtain a special use permit which includes a $69 non-refundable processing fee (at the time of this writing). Permits can be found here. Services: Know your vehicle's range first and foremost. Provisions and fuel purchased in Laughlin, Nevada will be much less expensive than in Needles. Right on the Needles Highway and not far from the trailhead is the: South Pointe Market Address: 3675 Needles Hwy, Laughlin, NV 89029 Other pre-trip gas stations can be found here. If for whatever reason you find yourself needing fuel half-way through you can detour to Baker, California. Guide Notes: There are volumes written on the Mojave Road. The trailsoffroad.com guide is meant to be the cliff notes, and get you out on the trail so you can enjoy your overland adventure. For a detailed history of the trail, we recommend the The Mojave Road Guide by Dennis Casebier. The Mojave Road track for download is complete with extra waypoints which may not be depicted here. Mileage is approximated. Total miles will vary depending on the side trips you take. Some sources list the Mojave Road as different mileages. Mileage shown here is directly from the GPS track. Video: Day 1 - https://youtu.be/_DsrihLzy2U Day 2 - https://youtu.be/MtySEtT9vc0 Day 3 - https://youtu.be/gzc3tEOt4FM
Impassable when wet.

Waypoints

1. Needles Highway Trailhead (3.5 mi)
This is a popular starting point for the trail. Enter the sandy wash and follow the cairns. The area can be confusing but generally follow the wash and stay to the north side for the next turn out of the wash. The Dead Mountains Wilderness Area will be in view to your west and southwest.
2. Out of Wash (5.2 mi)
Turn north out of the wash where there is an unmarked road leading northwest to the mountains.
3. Right/North (5.5 mi)
Stay generally right/north. There are tire tracks all over and the area looks confusing, but follow the most prominent tracks.
4. Obstacle (6.2 mi)
Drive up the hill. There is minor undulation to the surface, but any higher clearance vehicle can get up.
5. Obstacle (6.3 mi)
Another fun hill to climb over.
6. Left/Southwest (6.5 mi)
At the sign marker, turn hard left/southwest.
7. Wash (6.8 mi)
Turn hard right/northwest into a wide and flat wash. This will follow along with the Nevada and California border for a short distance before you finally enter California.
8. Straight Left/West to Balancing Rock (10 mi)
Continue straight/north to follow the Mojave Road. Turn left/west to reach Balancing Rock Campground.
9. Fork Left (11.2 mi)
Fork left/west at the sign markers.
10. Obstacle (11.3 mi)
Most vehicles will drive over this obstacle with ease. Longer wheelbase vehicles, or those pulling overland trailers may drag.
11. 103 Intersection (11.9 mi)
Stay straight at the intersection of NN 103. Roughly at this point, you enter the Piute Valley.
12. US 95 (14.4 mi)
Cross over US 95.
13. NN 28 - Straight (15.3 mi)
Straight at the intersection of NN 28.
14. Wash (16.7 mi)
Cross over the minor tributary of The Piute Wash.
15. Wash (16.9 mi)
Enter and cross The Piute Wash.
16. 108 Intersection (17.1 mi)
Continue straight on the Mojave Road.
17. NN 043 (18.2 mi)
Continue straight at the intersection of NN 043.
18. Scenic (19.2 mi)
View of Homer Mountain to the south, and the Piute Range to the west.
19. NN 049 Intersection (20.6 mi)
Continue straight at the intersection of NN 049.
20. Pole Line Road and Fort Piute (21.7 mi)
Turn left/south onto Metropolitan Water District Road to follow the Mojave Road. Cross the road with a slight jog south to visit Fort Piute, cross the road and follow the rocky road up into the Piute Range. At this point, you cross over into the Mojave National Preserve (note: specific camping regulations are listed in the camping section of this guide). If you ever wonder where all our electricity comes from, the lines above you carry electrical power generated at the Hoover Dam. Continuing on to Fort Piute, you will pass building remains on the south side of the road. These remains are what is left of the George Irwin Ranch. Visible are the foundations of the home and turkey pens.
21. Fort Piute (23.5 mi)
There is plenty of parking for a large group to stop and take in the sites. The area near the spring is dense and much cooler than the temperature you have been driving in. The foundations of the old buildings are worth exploring. You can see where the Mojave Road used to continue up the streambed, but today is closed to motor vehicle travel and you must return the way you came in, and turn south on Metropolitan Water District Road. The fort, actually a sub-post of Camp Cady, was one of a chain of military stations erected to protect the travel route from San Bernardino across the Mojave Desert to Fort Mojave. While the Piute post was misnomered a "fort," all the others were designated either "redoubt" or "camp," and all were strategically situated near sources of water. During the years of the Civil War, the posts were garrisoned by elements of the California Volunteers and evacuated at the end of the war. But local protests, stressing the critical need for the travel route and increasing mining activity in western Arizona, compelled the reoccupation of the posts in 1866. Upon reoccupation, the post was renamed Fort Piute or Fort Piute Hill and was usually garrisoned by troops from Camp Cady. Fort Piute was abandoned sometime in 1868.
22. West to Follow Mojave Road/South to Bypass (26.6 mi)
Turn right/west onto The Old Underground Telephone Road. This portion of the road is closed due to washout as of 2016 and may or may not be reopened in 2017. An alternate route can be found here. Current Mojave Road Conditions.
23. Straight (33.4 mi)
Continue straight at Fort Piute Road. You are now in the Lanfair Valley.
24. Straight (34.3 mi)
Continue straight at unknown road.
25. Lower Fork (35.9 mi)
Take the lower fork at Cable Road intersection.
26. Into Wash (36.5 mi)
Drop into and cross the deep wash.
27. Old Bus (37.1 mi)
Things change on this trail all the time and the once-famous old school bus pictured above is no longer a stop along this trail. It has been removed. The story of the old bus was as unknown as its whereabouts today. There are residents in the area, so be respectful of the their reclusive nature.
28. Right/North (37.9 mi)
At the well defined crossroad, turn right/north.
29. Left/West (38.1 mi)
At the fenced area, turn left/west to continue.
30. Take North Fork (39.1 mi)
Take the right/north fork at Cedar Canyon Road.
31. Straight (40.4 mi)
Continue straight where the road to Indian Hill and well goes north.
32. Penny Can Tree (41.2 mi)
If you look up into the tree, you will see a small 12 ounce can hanging. Tradition is, leave a penny and continue on. There is a large space here for camping that has been pre-disturbed.
33. Lanfair Road - Straight (41.7 mi)
Continue straight across Ivanpah-Lanfair Road. This is what is left of the roadbed of the old Nevada Southern Railway that was built in 1893. From this point, the trail becomes highly vegetated with Joshua tree, yucca, and cholla. Turn south to explore the old ghost town of Lanfair.
34. Grotto Hills Road (43.5 mi)
Continue straight at the intersection of Grotto Hills Road.
35. Carruthers Canyon Road (45.6 mi)
Continue straight to follow the Mojave Road or turn right to inspect the old homestead and or continue north up Carruthers Canyon for camping and exploring.
36. Old Building ( mi)
Look, but do not take or destroy any of this property.
37. Camp Phallus ( mi)
A quick diversion from the main Mojave Road takes you to one of the more beautiful designated camps along the road.
38. Drop Into Wash (48.4 mi)
Drop into and cross the wash/cable road.
39. Follow Northwest On Cedar Canyon Road (48.8 mi)
Follow the wide graded Cedar Canyon Road a short distance to the northwest .4 miles to a faint turnoff.
40. Left/West (49 mi)
Turn left/west at the cairn/rock stack marker.
41. Watson Wash Drop In (49.2 mi)
This is the most technical part of the Mojave Road. Wet weather could make this impassable for some vehicles.
42. New York Mountain Road Go Left/South (50.3 mi)
Turn left/south.
43. Go Left/Southwest (50.5 mi)
Turn left/southwest.
44. Bert G Smith Homestead ( mi)
Who is Bert G. Smith? Bert George Smith was a WWI veteran suffering from the effects of poisonous gas. He was certified as totally disabled by the Bureau of Veterans Affairs. He homesteaded here in 1929 with the hope he might live a little longer in the high desert climate.
45. Go Straight (50.6 mi)
Continue straight.
46. Government Holes (52 mi)
Stop and take in the old corral, windmill, and operational wells. The first well was dug in 1859 and this was a common overnight stop for travelers of yesteryear.
47. Kelso Cima Road Crossing (61.9 mi)
Continue straight. Roughly after this point, you encounter a 10-mile stretch of whoop-dee-doos that never seem to end.
48. Straight (66.5 mi)
Continue straight.
49. Left/South (67.2 mi)
Turn left/south.
50. Mojave Camp (68.1 mi)
Mojave Camp is an ideal camp for a large group. Several fire rings surround the rock outcropping and all the ground is flat and perfect for setting up tents.
51. To Marl Springs (70.2 mi)
Go straight for Marl Springs.
52. Marl Springs ( mi)
Marl Springs is not named after a person, but rather someone used the term "marly" to describe the soil conditions of the land surrounding the springs. The name stuck as Marl Springs.
53. Mailbox and Frog Shrine (73.4 mi)
In 1983, the Friends of the Mojave Road erected a mailbox for travelers to sign in. Inside the mailbox, you will find the sign in register, as well as other trinkets left by the those before you. Just behind the mailbox is the Frog Shrine. This is an odd scene in the desert where travelers have started piling all sorts of frog statues, resembling a shrine.
54. Lava Tubes ( mi)
Cinder cones stand out in the desert ready for you to explore. There are stairs to descend into the tubes. A single ray of light is the only light available - so bring a flashlight. If you want to create the beam of light for photography, kick-up a little dust and have your camera ready!
55. Dunes ( mi)
To reach the dunes, look for an access road on the north side of the Mojave Road. Otherwise, continue straight for the main Mojave Road.
56. Dry Soda Lake Bed (96.5 mi)
If it has rained recently, avoid the Dry Lake Bed. While the road may look dry, there could be impassable mud just underneath the top surface. Maintain reasonable vehicle intervals, in case a recovery may be required. If necessary, you can bypass up to Baker by back-tracking to just west of the Sand Dunes and taking the road traveling north to the town of Baker. Note: The Soda Lake mud is corrosive. If you encounter it, be sure to wash it off when you get to Barstow.
57. Travelers Monument (100 mi)
The custom is to carry a rock with you from the start of the trip to leave here for good luck. There is a plaque hidden in the middle of the cairn.
58. Begin Fun Sandy Stretch (108 mi)
There is a notable terrain change from here on out. Deep sandy fun where you can accelerate the pace before entering Afton Canyon.
59. Borax Mine (116 mi)
Old mining remnants. To reach this area look for the side trail on the north side of the Mojave Road.
60. Union Pacific RR Bridge (117 mi)
The first of many railroad bridges you will encounter.
61. Train Car ( mi)
Legend has it that this car was a leftover from a train derailment. To reach this, look for the side road going up the hill just southeast of the bridge.
62. Spooky Cave (118 mi)
Spooky Cave is just on the north side of the tracks you are following. This slot canyon-turned-sand-cave is something worth seeing. Just make sure you don't touch the walls or it might cave in. When you get deep into it, it becomes very narrow and if you have a rope you can climb all the way out the top. Make sure to bring flashlights. Here is a video of inside the cave.
63. Middle Railroad Bridge (121 mi)
Continue straight. Intermittently, water can be found here.
64. Water Crossing - Afton - Mojave River (122 mi)
The notorious water crossing has been filled in with cobble as of mid-2020 and is no longer a considerable obstacle, but it may become notorious again in the near future. In the past, this water crossing is long and can be very deep as evidenced in the third photo. If you see the water moving and not standing still, do not cross as the rocks have been removed and the water can be extremely deep. A note about the current rocks filling in this obstacle: The railroad company is working on the tracks and filled in the water obstacle to allow their equipment to pass through without issue. Apparently, this has happened a few times in the past and when their work is complete, they restore the obstacle back to its original and significant form.
65. Afton Canyon Campground (122.1 mi)
Vault toilets, water, and picnic tables can be found here with 22 designated camp locations.
66. Railroad Bridge (123 mi)
Continue straight.
67. Triangles (131 mi)
Behind barricade posts to prevent people from driving over them, are approximately twenty intaglios, or geoglyphs, created by prehistoric people by removing stones from the desert pavement. All of the intaglios at this location are in the shape of triangles.
68. Manix Wash (136 mi)
Continue straight.
69. End (139 mi)
Turn right to hit the old Route 66 and travel south to town.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 35.052309, -114.676146

Starting Point: Laughlin, Nevada

To drive the trail in its historical entirety, start from Laughlin, Nevada at the Avi Casino & Resort. Turn to the north out of the casino parking lot onto Aha Macav Parkway. Drive 2.7 miles north on the paved highway to reach a dirt road on your right. Continue .8 miles to reach the Colorado River and the start of the Mojave Road. An alternate starting point, described in this guide as Waypoint 1, is also from Laughlin, Nevada, but directly off of the Needles Highway: Turn left on Aha Macav Parkway out of the Avi Resort & Casino parking lot and go 1.6 miles to Needles Highway. Turn right/north towards Laughlin. In 2.5 miles you will cross the state line and enter Nevada. .7 miles from the border crossing you will see a washy area on the left, this is the alternate start of the Mojave Road

Camping

Dispersed
Designated
There are dispersed camping opportunities along this route for small groups. In addition, there are several designated areas. Camp Phallus at waypoint 37 and Mojave Camp at waypoint 50 are worthy designated locations to spend the night. General Rules: Camping in the area: Reuse of existing campsites is required for four-wheel drive trips. Do not make camp in a dry wash—flash floods develop quickly in the desert. Camping is limited to a maximum of 14 consecutive days per visit/stay and 30 total days per year. Campsites must be more than 200 yards from any water source. Camping is not permitted: within 1/4 mile of any paved road or the Zzyzx Road; within 1/2 mile of Fort Piute or Kelso Depot; within 1 mile north (i.e., the crest of the dunes) or 1/4 mile south of the Kelso Dunes access road. Dispose of Waste Properly: Store all food and garbage in a manner that will prevent access by wildlife. Carry plastic bags and pack out all trash. Bury human waste in catholes 6-8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Don't bury toilet paper or hygiene products - carry a plastic bag and pack it out. Pet excrement must be collected and disposed of in garbage receptacles. Minimize Campfire Impacts: Campfires are allowed in established fire rings only, or with use of a portable firepan (be sure to pack out ashes). Do not leave fires smoldering or unattended. Cutting or collecting any wood, including downed wood, is prohibited. All firewood must be brought into the preserve.
Camping: Mojave Road

Trail Reviews (27)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove the trail west to east from 2/10-2/12. This was our first overland experience and what an amazing experience. The moonless nights really brought out the best stargazing possible. Then you follow that up with the multitude of sonic booms from jets flying nearby. If you are reading this and pondering the trail, do it. You will not regret it. As for the the trail conditions, the water crossing is less than a foot deep and still filled in with rocks. The various shrines have been removed as well as the bus. The dry lake bed was passable but still had some slick spots from recent rain so tread carefully if you wander off the trail.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Old Trail Video

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail and it was a good time. Had a few issues that slowed us down but didn't stop us. Can't wait to go back.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail definitely lives up to the hype! What an amazing overland route. I can't wait to come back and spend more time. We did 3 days/2 nights along this trail and it was just barely enough time to see a few side attractions. If I had all the time in the world, I would do minimum of 3 nights along the way stopping frequently to see all the cool stuff. Must do if you are in the area!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Not sure if true but I am seeing photos around the internet that the rail company filed in the water crossing

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Our group of 5 vehicles did the trail west to east. We started at the Basin Rd intersection and ran it straight to Laughlin, we did it in 2 days and camped at Camp Mojave. Whole trip was 108 miles and my gas guzzling 96 Bronco did the whole trip on 3/4 of a tank. It was one of the most trail rides I have done. This GPS file is very accurate and made the trip stress free. We easily completed the whole trip in 2 days and even took time to stop at all the sights. Cell phone coverage (Verizon) was good for about 60% of the time. The weather was perfect. The landscape by Bert G Smiths homestead was the peak of the trip, absolutely amazing! The school bus was removed, the kids were bummed. The only issue we had was the amount of wash boards, huge wash boards at time. I aired down to 18psi and it was still brutal. So be mindful that probably a good 50% of the trip has big nasty wash boards. Either go 10 mph or 50 mph.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on the water crossing in Afton Canyon. Im planning a trip next week and wanted to check out how deep the water was. It is 30" deep. To bypass this water crossing going West to East-Take the Afton canyon road to the 15, drive east and get off at Bison Road, make a left at the fork in the road and it will meet up with the Mojave trail. Its about a 15 mile detour. Ill post pictures and current conditions next week after I complete it! Super excited!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Was only able to do a small portion of the trail and camped up at Carruthers, but the trail was easy and the landscape beautiful. They are currently doing a bunch of grading from waypoint 42 to 47 which has made it very nice and smooth.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had to put this up brilliant trail! This time of year deep waters for the Mojave River. I was able to pass stock jeep gladiator with 33" Missed some sights and no more frogs!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Have tun this a couple of times. First time was a 2 night, 3 day trip east to west with two vehicles. Pretty much the entire route is doable with a stock 4x4 with 4 low. However if you intend to go off the main trail you will find some very loose sand. Nothing too drastic but better to have a partner vehicle just in case. You will traverse some really cool different terrain. The joshua forests are particularly pretty. The roads turn to washboard regularly so be prepared to take your time and enjoy the scenery. There is no cellular service in many sections Lots of really nice dispersed camp sites. I liked 35.14945, -115.35562 a lot. Sheltered by rocks you could watch the stars and listed to the coyotes at night,. Ideally you will take three days to do this trip. However there are many ways of doing day trips with access at Baker and other places to the trail. The water crossing on the East entrance should be spotted before crossing. When we were there is was over 3ft and we had to rescue a motorcyclist who learnt about the mix of oil and water the hard way. If it's too deep, or you just aren't sure.. no panic... turn around and go back past the dunes and ranches to Rasor Road and head out there. Also good to know, if you are low on fuel (or beer) for some odd reason, that both Baker and the Rasor Road entrance have gas stations.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail is great. Did it in two days east to west. Couple of things worth to note. Looks like the GPX file was created in 2016. Some time after at the waypoint 66 area where the trail used to be has been closed for recovery. If you want to continue at this point to the west trailhead you need to take another trail Mojave River/Wash. Or just continue onto Afton road straight to I-15. You will not miss much if you skip this part. Unless you enjoy driving in the sand with not much to see around. At Mojave camp (waypoint 50) at the farthest spot there is a large rock. I climbed it to shoot a video and got t-mobile reception there. No ATT though. Didn't try Verizon or Sprint. Forgot to say and added later: two full 3 gallon fuel canisters made a big difference: we did the entire trail without looking for a gas station.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I’ll try to keep this review short and to the point. When they say don’t cross the Soda Lake after rain, they aren’t joking. While our group of 6 rigs made it across without getting stuck (barely) the aftermath of the corrosive mud was not worth it. Leaving the mud on for less than 12 hours still did plenty of damage to our vehicles and took hours upon hours to clean off completely. And that was three days since the last rain. Other than that, the trail was absolutely amazing and made for an exhausting yet fulfilling adventure.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trip was planned for a few months in advance for our 2019 Thanksgiving trip. Fast forward to about 4 days before our trip and San Diego was gong to get hit with a hard Thanksgiving storm. We debated going and against better judgement, decided we had put too much thought and planning into it so we went. And boy are we glad we did! We got out there at about midnight on the 27th of November. Set up a quick camp and went to sleep. Woke up to the sound of rain on our tent but the day cleared for the most part. We set out on the first leg of our trip and we were not disappointed. It was a day mixed with sun and clouds. It was perfect. We made it out to Fort Piaute, saw the ruins and found some petroglyths. Spent about an hour there and then went on our way. As we progressed in our trip, the weather started to change. When we got to the downhill portion of the road, it had started to rain but not too heavily. We made it down and moved on and made it to the Rock House. At this point the rain was coming down pretty good and we decided we needed to find a place to camp for the night. As we drove, the rain turned to sleet and then to snow. We finally made it to an amazing campground that had a few fire rings to choose from. Somewhere between Rock Spring and Marl Springs. We had our choice of spots.As we were setting up camp, the rain turned to snow and we were in for a cold night. Good thing we came with that in mind. As we woke up the next morning, we (I-the wife) was pleasantly surprised that there was no snow on the ground, though there could have been as it was extremely cold. We packed up camp and started our next day. The higher up we went, the more snow was on the ground, and we were the first to travel through it. It was amazing. As we were on our search for the "mailbox", the snow kept getting thicker and thicker. We finally came to the mailbox and all its monument gloriousness only to find out that they will soon be removing them in 2020 (get out there and see them now before they are gone). We took a quick walk around to check everything out. It was breathtaking with all that snow cover. As we came down the mountain, the snow began to thin and we were back on dry (sorta) ground. We took some time to check out a few other things along the way to Soda Lake. We knew at this point, crossing Soda Lake was likely out, and it was. Even the detour around it was almost out of the question as the water line was higher than we expected, but we went for it, and boy was it fun!! With Travelers Monument out of the way, we made our way to Baker, filled up on gas and headed a few miles down the freeway and exited on Rasor Rd to back track to leave our rocks. We finally made it there, left our rocks, read the secret plaque and headed on our way. We decided it was it was time to find a place to set up camp and found a hidden wash in Afton Canyon to stay for the night. It was perfect! We were tucked away from the wind for the most part and enjoyed reflecting on the days adventure. When we woke up the next morning, we decided to take our time to pick up camp and cook a nice bacon, sausage and egg breakfast (again, me the wife ). We knew what the day ahead entailed. As we drove along the trail, there were so many amazing and beautiful things to see. Slot Canyon, the Spooky Cave with a passing train (put a quarter on the tracks and bring the kids home a prize) and best of all, the dreaded water crossing. Now as you might imagine, there was so much rain that we were all a bit hesitant at first but the husband decided that we were gonna give it a go. We jumped in the jeep and went for it. It was the most crazy feeling. It felt like we were floating, cause we probably were lol. Needless to say, we made it across with little water intake. My sister and her boyfriend went next and that was fun to watch. Adam, the husband, decided he wanted to go again, mainly because I wanted to get a video of our jeep crossing ( I may have missed that opportunity) and he took in a lot more water ( yes, my jeep, my daily driver STINKS, but it was so worth it!) Anyway, there is a great little campground right there and we used the facilities and left some money to support it just because it is awesome that it is there for us to use. We moved along and at this point there really weren't too many places to camp as I think most people end their fun here. We weren't ready for that just yet so tried to find one last place to camp. We had to find a place in a wash up in the hills and make do. It was by far the best place we camped. The fire was perfect, the hiking and views of the 15 were on point and the company could not have been any better. To end this long fairy tale, I just want to say if you plan on doing the Mojave Rd, just do it. Get out there, enjoy the ride and live life to its fullest. If you stuck around this long to read my short story and check out our short video's I cannot say thank you enough and I appreciate you for it! And thank you to Trails Offroad for the GPX, it was an invaluable tool! -The Wife

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Did the trail mem day weekend, overall it was really great, but a couple things to consider. 1-the trail up to the mailbox wash washed out for us, ~1-2m cliff, so we chose to drive around it. It has been marked as such by the rangers as well, we just walked around the barrier to check out how washed out it really was. 2-The water crossing seemed high compared to the pictures, it came up to the top of my 33s during the last stretch of the crossing 3-PSA: DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE PATH ON THE SODA LAKE BED. It's not clearly marked, but deviating from that central path can land you with big fines and the rangers were camping out there this weekend to enforce it. Beyond that, there are endangered species in the dirt so you don't want to be harming them anyway. OHV land is just past the lake for silly stuff. Definitely want to do this trail again, it was an awesome experience!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Quick 1.5 day trip from east to west (3 vehicles, stock Silverado, modified T4R, Jeep Renegade), GPX map from here to Gaia was spot on with all points of interests. Joshua tree "forest" neat to see. We bypassed Watson drop due to night time and found camp site up in hills south of Bert G home. Backtracked to Watson drop in daytime, a 4th vehicle (Jeep rental) joined in at Kelso Cima road, lots ground covered, lots of whoops, more whoops, hit up mailbox/shrines, lava tubes, minor vehicle problem prior to dry soda lake, rock drop off at travelers monument, R/R bridges to Afton water crossing. After seeing the high water markings on a lifted jeep that went thru and discussion, we opted to backtrack to Basin exit. Great time, need another trip with extra day for for time at the dunes and other camping sites.

Author:
Status: Open
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AWESOME TRIP - video says it all!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Although I only did the first half of the trail from Bullhead/Colorado River, it was amazing. A completely awesome scenic route and with almost a scavenger hunt game feel when you read along the markers only to discover the information to be exact. I was alone and decided I had enough fun after navigating and stopping for pics and video all day. It had just got dark and I was at Cima Road and had a gut feeling to come on back with friends and finish the trail from there another time. Perfect stopping point to start up again when return. I simply got too lonely after an amazing day with nobody to share it with. I scrammed to Big Bear to do some extra wheeling around company.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I headed a group of 4 trucks on this trail, started it 3/22. our group was my stock height, open diff 2wd 99 F150 on 35s( camo with 2 American flags incase anyone saw us out there) a lifted 2013 Tundra 4x4 on 37s, a 09 2wd f150 with limited slip on 33 mud terrains and a 2015 4x4 Ram 2500 on 35s. We started the trail at the Colorado River and made the drive up to Fort Piute and then to camp Phallus on day 1. Camp Phallus was quite full but a beautiful area. day 2 we made it to the Watson Wash drop in, the rock house, government holes, the mojave mailbox, the lava tubes and to our campsite at the base of a sand dune past Kelbaker Rd.. Day 3 we got a late start from our camp site(left camp just before noon), from our camp site it was a 20 minute drive to Soda Dry Lake which we were able to cross without issue, dropped our hitchhikers at the travelers monument(loved the plaque!) had some fun in the sandy section and in to Afton Canyon. had a lunch break in the shade of the RR bridge and worked our way to the water crossing. considering how much rain we had I wasn't sure how the crossing was going to go but since I had a coiled tow strap in the bed of the truck already hooked up to the receiver mounted shackle and the water wasn't flowing I went for it. The water went about 1/3 of the way up the doors on the truck but didn't get anything in the bed wet. the group made it through without issues and we were eager to press on. we had some confusion at the RR bridge after it and weren't sure which way the Mojave rd. went. pics above said to continue straight but the way ahead of us was blocked off with cables and a gate(also pictured above) after a few minutes of discussion and heavy consideration of the fading sunlight we decided we needed to call it for the trip at Afton Canyon Rd. we will be returning to finish the trail although I'll be in a different truck. all in all the trail was a lot of fun, we managed to get through what we did without mechanical failures, punctures or major injury(couple of scraped heads from the low clearance in the lava tubes) and we had an absolute blast doing so. be warned there are some tight sections through the Joshua tree forest and desert pinstriping is likely(especially in longer and wider vehicles) definitely a trail to do at least once!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Waypoint 64, at the water crossing, be very wary after the heavy rains. For reference, the photos above were taken in dry weather conditions.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
A must do. I used it to avoid driving on freeway and to check overall condition for future exploration trips. Beautiful location with almost nobody on the trail. East side from Kelso road is easy and fast. West side is slow, lots of ‘waves’ or ‘whoop dee doo’ and washboard. Whatch your speed as there are ‘surprise’ dips and bumps. The drop in the Watson wash (point 41) is a dangerous one so continue on the main road if you don’t want those types of thrills. The photo in this trail guide does not do it justice.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
First time on the Mojave. Loved the history of this trail. The whole trail was in great shape and the detour wasn't necessary. Even did the water crossing. Full triplog and photos are here. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nTmHOMWjya5Uw5gK_IDokg5J87srmQgy7nXaW9Vu5fk/edit?usp=sharing

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I led a group of 6 vehicles in November 2017 along portions of the Mojave Road. We ventured away from "The Road" every day to check out lesser known areas of the Mojave National Preserve. Highlights included: - Piute Gorge - Hart, which only had the remnants of a chimney - Hike to Sagamore Mine - OX Ranch and the Mojave National Preserve's Artist Foundation - Carruthers Canyon's Big Foot Rock, Phallus Rock, and Tigershark Rock - Evening Star Mine - Riley's Cabin - Geer Cabin - Mojave Mailbox, where we kindly added a "Trailsoffroad" sticker

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
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This is a must do road and lives up to its hype. Its not a hardcore wheeling trail and there are few challenges. The reason you do this road is the experience!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Was with 10 members of Jeep Expeditions on April 8th & 9th, 2017 crossing the Mohave Road. We decided to skip the bypass and see if we could navigate the washout area. Now there are signs at the trail head leading to the washout that says the trail is closed but people are using it anyway. One area of the washout was a bit tricky but everyone got thru it just fine. Part of the washout seems to have been partially filled in by concerned off-roaders. Someone, perhaps Park Rangers have put orange cones and caution tape in the area to keep you from slipping off the trail. Trail from Cima Road full of whoop de doos and going faster than 5mph for the next 15 to 20 miles is just about impossible.

Author:
Status: Not Reported
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Fantastic trail! I did it solo and the sense of solitude is incredible. There's a travelers log box along the route which can tell you how many days apart you're from the next vehicle and there are some cool stories to read. I went through about a week after torrential rain in CA after their drought and fires. The Afton Canyon water crossing went up to the grill on my Tacoma with a 3.5" lift and Soda Lake had super thick mud but was not impassable. I switched on my rear locker with 4wd and had no problem, so long as I didn't stop. I completed the trail in 3 days and 3 nights but I recommend at least another day if you want to have some time to stop to hike and relax. 31.5" KO2s had no issues traversing the ever changing terrain. There's so much to see. I highly recommend it!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Traveling the Mojave Road in Autumn is really fantastic. The weather and light conditions were phenomenal, and made the adventure truly epic. It's a long, long, road, but there are so many points of interest to see along the way--the journey truly is the destination! There were historical points of interest from multiple eras, and an eclectic kind of Americana dispersed throughout, which made the voyage fascinating.

Author:
Status: Open
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Love this trail! It is fine for newbies and experienced wheelers alike. It's the journey that makes it worthwhile. Also, the route is filled with historical markers, derelict vehicles, and other peculiarities. Learn about them and enjoy them, don't pass them by!

We did the trip in 2 1/2 days and that was too fast. Spend an extra day and enjoy the side trips. Don't miss the lava tubes; they are a short distance off the main trail and you'll know when you're at the cinder cones -- they're impossible to miss!

While it is not necessary, this is a great trail to bring a second driver on, especially one who isn't sure he wants a jeep. The driving is fun and easy and after spending a few days on this trail, he'll be at the jeep dealer once he's home!

Just the two Mojave River water crossings make this trail worthwhile.

I've attached below some pictures and a video of my rig crossing the Mojave River.

Questions & Answers (9)

Q: Hey guys! 2016 4Runner 2WD on 33 inch aggressive all terrains and a 3” lift. Just wanted to get your input on doing this in my RWD Rig! :) thanks in advance
–Matt Johnson (08/24/2020)
A: Hi Matt!! When I ran it, I went into 4wd very few times, but I could see where I would have not wanted to be out there without it. I would recommend 4wd as good practice due to the sand, if you are going up Watson Wash Drop in, and of course the water crossing. As always, If the trail is wet or rain is forecasted absolutely do not attempt it. If you do go, make sure you go with a group that are equipped with winches and recovery gear. Always have extra supplies with you and plenty of water. I hope that helps!
–Todd (08/25/2020)
Q: I am a father of one of the participants for this event taking place at the moment. I received a call from him yesterday, letting me know the engine of his friend's Jeep completely shut down due to going under water. Does anyone know where or who to contact to get information regarding their safety and welfare. Yesterday we experienced really bad weather and just concerned. Would like to get some peace of mind. I can be reached at 909 762-4654 - Carlos My son's name is Adam and is driving a White Jeep Wrangler license plate #8ATJ986.
–Adam Lopez (03/20/2020)
A: It is likely this spot you are talking about is in Afton Canyon at the river crossings, which is near the west end of the trail. There is plenty of high ground there and they should be fine. In fact the only low ground is in the water crossings. You can reach out to the Barstow Field office to see if anyone is going out there. Phone: (760) 252-6000 . I would also go on facebook and see if anyone is going out there. FYI - you can get a 2wd to the water crossings on a normal day if you exit at Afton Canyon on the 15 Freeway.
–Josh Noesser (03/20/2020)
Q: Hi guys - i clicked the link "permit required" - its super confusing, one site says $91, the next is $302! Is it required to drive thru? sorry for the noob q but its real hard getting solid info-tx!
–Francois Brand (01/15/2020)
A: Hey Francois, They don't make it easy do they? As long as you are out there for recreational purposes only and less than 7 vehicles in your group, you don't need a permit. If you have a larger group, give them a call at: (760) 252-6107 to square up your permits.
–Todd (01/16/2020)
Q: Can you do this in reverse?
–Michael (11/28/2019)
A: Hey Michael, you sure can! Many people run it that way. Be cautious at the water crossing with the recent rains.
–Todd (11/28/2019)
Q: Still, wondering about the water crossing section. Does anyone know if a Subaru Forester can drive pass the river? Watched lots of answers, I'm still a bit confused about the depth of the river (Some said 18" and some said over 2 1/2 ft). Also, if I bypass the river crossing section using BL9470 ( https://www.trailsoffroad.com/trails/2186-bl9470-hidden-valley-wash ), where exactly is the route (or exit) to go from this trail to the BL9470?
–Ryan L (10/14/2019)
A: As of late October 2020 the water crossing has been filled in by a crew working on the RR tracks. Maybe 4" deep now.
–Paul Berglund (01/27/2021)
A: Hi Ryan, thanks for the question! For the water crossing, I spoke with our internal team here and they stated all of the last times they have driven it this year, the water crossing has been 30" plus deep. Although now it is late in the year and may end up being more shallow, they are thinking a "no go" on the Subaru. Be sure to test the depth before attempting it! For the BL9470 bypass: From WP 60, head east on the road at the south side of the train tracks. Continue parallel to the tracks ( on the south side ) for 8 miles to Crucero Road (just past the stoplight on the tracks). Go south on Crucero fo 6 miles to WP7 of BL9470 It's a long bypass.
–Todd (10/16/2019)
Q: Is it open camping just west of Mojave city along the trail? I am looking for a place to camp on a Friday night not to far outside of town, maybe 3-5 miles in, or just west of the needles highway. Any recommendations? We will have up to 4 vehicles and will be waiting for some late arrivals before we start out on the trial early Saturday morning.
–Evan Cook (05/03/2019)
A: Josh, thanks for the info. I contacted the BLM in Needles and he confirmed it is all BLM land. Waypoints 1-8 are all in Nevada and it is open camping up to that point. Somewhere around waypoint 9 you cross over in to California. We camped near waypoint 7 just after you drop into the wash. We hiked down the canyon and saw the camping area you mentioned. Super cool location to check out.
–Evan Cook (06/10/2019)
A: From last I remember, it is open camping over there. We camped just past waypoint 7 one time. But there is a cool canyon that used to the main trail near waypoint 4 that has rather large dry fall. That area would make for good camping. Check it out on Google Maps Satellite view.
–Josh Noesser (06/03/2019)
Q: Primitive Camping Sites Recommendations: I am looking into traversing this road in three days. What are some primitive campsite to consider?
–JV (09/03/2018)
A: Hi JV, we do not have all the potential locations marked, but they're a bunch of options for you, its really just going to depend on when you are tired or not. The ones mentioned above in the camping section are pretty darn good!
–Todd (09/04/2018)
Q: Can you do this on one full tank of gas? (Jeep JKU)
–Josh Farol (08/28/2018)
A: Without running any AC or other side trips, I did this trail in an 08 JKU and had just under a 1/4 tank left. We did it in 2 days.
–Todd (08/28/2018)
A: Without running any AC or other side trips, I did this trail in an 08 JKU and had just under a 1/4 tank left. We did it in 2 days.
–Todd (08/28/2018)
Q: Is there a bypass for the Afton/Mojave River crossing? Seems deep enough to need a snorkel, and I would not want to risk it.
–Brendan Keegan (01/19/2017)
A: I have never read a single account where the water was too deep for a snorkel-less vehicle. I did the trail in May 2015 and the water was halfway up my 35" tire. See the picture from my trail review below. That said, always approach these crossings with caution. However, if most accounts say the water is not more than 18" deep, that should be easy to test. Bring along your mud boots and walk across the river before venturing out with your vehicles.
–Tom H (07/19/2018)
A: Hey Brenden! I took the video and the angle is a little misleading. The water was only about 1/2 way up my 35" tire.
–Todd (01/19/2017)
A: If you are hoping to bypass the water crossings in Afton Canyon, unfortunately there is no easier way. But you can bypass Afton Canyon in its entirety, either by exiting at Baker, after that is Rasor Road (Rumored it might be closed), then Basin (just before Afton) or you stay to the south as you get close to Afton and take BL9470. I would take BL9470 if it was up to me, plus there are a couple cool sites along that trail. ...................... ( https://www.trailsoffroad.com/trails/2186-bl9470-hidden-valley-wash ) .................. But as far as the water depth, as long as the water isn’t moving and is still, it is usually around 2 ½ feet deep. I would say almost any 4x4 outside of cars can make the crossing. Jeeps, Toyotas, P/U’s, Isuzus, and like vehicles. Just take it slow to keep the wave down and be safe.
–Josh Noesser (01/19/2017)

Writer Information

Todd

Founder

Todd is an avid wheeler who loves to explore new trails whenever and wherever he can. They say necessity is the mother of all invention and that holds true for Todd. His want and desire to find passable trails and new nooks and crannies of the Great American West to explore were his reasons behind starting Trailsoffroad.com. On any given weekend you can find Todd on some obscure 4x4 trail or using his legs to hike to an alpine lake.
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