Mojave,  Southern California,  Trip Report

Trip Report – Mojave Road May 2015


Trip Review – Mojave Road May 2015


30 second review: Mojave Road is an epic must do trip. It’s a very long trail with plenty of desert scenery and it’s so remote we only ran across 1 small group of people over 3 days. There’s plenty to explore and we plan to go back and spend at least 4 days.


Fees: None, unless you stay at Afton Campground then it’s less than $10/night. Otherwise just pull off to the side of the road and set up camp.

Amenities: None. You’re going to need your own water, fuel, and dig or bring your own toilet.

Offroad Difficulty: 2/5 – Most of the trail is passable on a stock 2 wheel drive SUV. However there are multiple spots you’ll wish you had 4 wheel drive. Finally, there are some areas where 4 wheel drive is necessary however there are detours (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the photos below).

Kid Friendliness: There is a ton of driving on this trip, almost 130 miles, and you need to put in major hours per day. I won’t be taking Ava on this trip for many years since she needs breaks to move around and that would just be impractical for a trip of this length. Joshua Tree is a great alternative for desert scenery that’s much easier to do as a family with toddlers. You can read our report here.


As mentioned above, this trip is not really suited for toddlers but I’d like to go over some of the highlights of the Mojave Road to let others know what they’re missing out on and determine if they want to take the trip for themselves. The first step is to pick up a guide and I highly recommend Guide to California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails. Unlike the upcoming trip reports I won’t be providing GPS route data here since this was not something I recorded at the time, however, the guide book will cover you.


Day One: Rendezvous at the casinos off the 163 on the California-Nevada border. Fill up on gas and head to Balancing Rock Campground.

Balancing Rock Campground (N 35.1025, W 114.7747)

Day Two: Check out Fort Paiute, take a shortcut, and then head up into the New York Mountains to camp.

And we’re off!


Fort Paiute’s foundation.


I’m sure they’re fine.


You’ll see a lot of Joshua trees. and A LOT of whoops.


Not for the faint hearted.


You’re gonna get sideways on this shortcut. I had a buddy hanging off the passenger side to counterweight my truck – probably didn’t need to but it made me feel better.


Phallus Campground – And its eponymous rock


More views from our campsite.


Phallus Campground – One of the coolest camp grounds I’ve ever been to. Be warned your truck will earn some pin striping getting here.

Day Three: Race Mother Nature to cross Soda Lake before we get trapped, then do the two water crossings to get to Afton Campground

We woke up to some dark clouds which was not good. Be aware that you should not cross Soda Lake if it is raining or rained recently because the mud is very sticky and can trap your truck. It is recommended to bypass Soda Lake by way of the 15 leaving at Kelso Depot and returning near Zzyxx.


Those clouds are looking ominous for our crossing of Soda Lake.




Take that Mother Nature!


Made it past Soda Lake just in time to beat the rain and the sticky mud that follows which WILL trap your truck. We left our contribution to the monument and after some lunch it was time to get to our final camp site.


Afton Canyon looked really cool. Definitely need come back to spend some more time and explore.


It was another long day of driving and we had to cross to get to Afton Campground just on the other side.


We didn’t know how deep the water was and we were thinking about crossing on the bridge. Thankfully a horn changed our mind.


Taking the plunge!


Maintain momentum.


Made it!


Last sunset on the Mojave trail.


Kangaroo Rat Visitor

Day Four: Pack up camp, air put the tires and head home

The truck has seen some stuff.

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