The Mojave National Preserve is located in the Mojave Desert in Southern California, USA. It lies between Interstate 15 and Interstate 40. The preserve was established October 31, 1994 with the passage of the California Desert Protection Act by the US Congress. Previously, it was the East Mojave National Scenic Area, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management.
Natural features include the Kelso Dunes, the Marl Mountains and the Cima Dome, as well as volcanic formations such as Hole-in-the-Wall and the Cinder Cone Lava Beds. The preserve encloses Providence Mountains State Recreation Area and Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve, which are both managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Impressive Joshua Tree forests cover parts of the preserve. The Cima Dome and Shadow Valley forests are the largest in the world. The defunct railroad depot and ghost town of Kelso is also found there. The preserve is commonly traversed by 4 wheel drive vehicles traveling on the historic Mojave Road.
The climate varies greatly. Summer temperatures average 90 °F (32 °C), with highs exceeding 105 °F (41 °C). Elevations in the Preserve range from 7,929 feet (2,417 m) at Clark Mountain to 880 feet (270 m) near Baker. Annual precipitation varies from 3.37 inches (86 mm) near Baker, to almost 9 inches (230 mm) in the mountains. At least 25% of precipitation comes from summer thunderstorms. Snow is often found in the mountains during the winter.
The California Desert Protection Act (CDPA) of 1994 designated a wilderness area within Mojave National Preserve of approximately 695,200 acres (281,300 ha). The National Park Service manages the wilderness in accordance with the Wilderness Act, the CDPA, and other laws that protect cultural and historic sites in the wilderness.
Photo by Ken Lund