Mojave Road

4.8/5 (42 reviews)
Baker, California (SanBernardino County)
Last Updated: 10/17/2022
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Trail Information

Highlights

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.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

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.

Trail Reviews

4.8/5 (42 reviews)
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/27/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

We were on the trail Nov 25, 26, 27, and went east to west following the TOR app and the Mojave Road Guide book. We saw many other solos, and a few groups along the way. Everyone was super nice and helpful along the way. This was my first MR trip, and we tackled it in our stock Gladiator Mojave with no problems, while pulling our Oregon Trailer Do Drop. The trip was awesome! We spent the first night near Camp Phallus (cold, 28f) and the second night at Afton Canyon Campground (also cold, 27f) The water crossings were good, but navigation through the dunes after dark was challenging as daylight is cut short this time of year. Also, after the last train bridge you cannot go straight. You must turn right, and follow the fence line until you end up in the wash. This will keep you safe from the Riparians hiding in the river bottom.
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/24/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Trail guide was pretty spot on. Didn’t see too much other traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and had our pick of locations to camp. We decided to bypass pulling our camper down Watson Wash, no sense taking unnecessary risks when traveling solo (no matter how prepared). We skipped the lava tubes because NPS site said Aiken Mine Road access was extremely rough and we didn’t want to haul the camper up it. I wish I had seen latest reviews here because access is apparently in good shape(?). The only bad experience was West of Traveler’s Monument to mile 117. The late fall, late day sun combined with weekend SxS traffic made visibility very difficult. Once the sun set, it got a bit easier.
Trail Review: Mojave Road - Henri Brady
Trail Review: Mojave Road - Henri Brady
Status: Open
Visited: 11/05/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Still need bypass around Piute washout but otherwise open and passable. Another group we met said they made it through the washout but had to shovel, stack rocks and "fix" the road to go through. Tried to go up to Brannigan Mine Cabin and there was a sign at the gate that the road is washed out and not passable, we did not confirm, just turned around and camped on Paymaster Mine Road instead.
Trail Review: Mojave Road - Rolando Manrique
Status: Open
Visited: 10/24/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Just an update on trail conditions. Did MR this weekend 10/23/22 - 10/25/22. One section of MR is washed out, Paiute washout. Listed and updated on MR national park website. We didn’t actually see the washout ,just took the detour around. Soda lake bed is open and dry. Afton water crossing are very low to non existent. Road to lava tubes is clear and regular dirt road. Kelbaker road is still closed, intersection of MR and Kelbaker Rd, going into Baker. We were able to take Brannigan Mine Rd to Kelbaker Rd and bypass all washout areas. Spooky canyon had a lot of water from the summer monsoon and not the same easy hike, be ready to climb and scramble over boulders and ledges. Overall, road conditions are great and another great MR trip. Cheers Bob
Todd
Official Crew
103150
Status: Partially Open
Visited: 10/17/2022

Still issues from the monsoon damage: Washout on east side of Paiute Range (35.0905677, -115.0028316) make road impassible to all vehicles. Basically: CLOSED at Soda Lake and Paiute Gorge. Other portions of the road are open.

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