Mohave National Preserve probably doesn't feel like a northern California road trip, but in addition to being a destination in its own right, it makes a logical stop on the way back from Death Valley National Park or the parks in southern Utah if the traveler elects to take the southern route home. If time permits, it is also within striking distance of Joshua Trees National Park or can be a waypoint on the way west to the Pacific Coast, either to Interstate 5, Highway 101, or better yet Highway 1.
The preserve is at the confluence of Interstates 15 heading west from Las Vegas and 40 heading west from Flagstaff, AZ and points east. Interstate 40 is closer to the things you'll want to do, but either road will get you there. From Interstate 40 you'll exit at Essex Road (Exit 100) to get to Mitchell Caves and the two established campgrounds and at Kelbaker Road (Exit 78) to get to Kelso Depot and Kelso Dunes. A tip: if you are camping at the Hole-in-the-Wall or Mid Hills campgrounds and want to get to the Kelso area, do not backtrack to Interstate 40; instead head north on the mostly gravel Black Canyon Road, turn left at the end onto the Mohave Road, and then left again on the Kelso-Cima Road. It's shorter, prettier and much more rewarding. The only exception would be if rain were in the forecast or it had recently rained enough to make the gravel part of the road problematic. The road is well maintained and perfectly suitable for any type of vehicle. More.....
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