Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve: March 24-26, 2018


Great boondocking spot at Kelso Dunes


For a long time now, even before the Airstream, spring break has been about going to the Hurricane/Gooseberry Mesa area for biking.  We were just there in November, so that gave us a good excuse to do something different this spring break.  So our first stop was Kelso Dunes.

When telling friends and family about our plan we were typically left with blank stares when we mentioned Kelso Dunes.  Kelso Dunes is part of the Devil’s Playground within the Mojave National Preserve.  It took us about 5 hours.  Once we got through the unbearable Inland Empire it was an easy drive.  Amelia was driving as we were going up the Cajon Summit and she blurted out, “Whoa did you see that?  Two Bald Eagles just flew by!”

“Are you sure?” I responded.  “I didn’t see anything.”

“Yes, I’m sure, gosh darn it.”  (Only she didn’t say gosh darn it, she cussed.)  “Why do you always doubt me?  Plain as day, two huge raptors with white heads and tails.

A couple of hours later I was driving on the I-40 just past Ludlow, Amelia blurted out, “Oh my God, I just saw a Borrego!”

“A Bighorn sheep?  Come on, are you sure?  I didn’t see anything.”

“Gosh darn it yes!” ( She didn’t really say gosh darn it, she cussed again.)  “Why do you always doubt me?  Plain as day, it was standing a on a hill just off the road.  Horns and all.”

“Riiiight….next thing you are going to tell me is you just saw an orange Orangutan.”

20 plus years and I don’t know who’s the slower learner, probably me because instead of just believing her, I tell her it’s not that I don’t believe you, it’s that I don’t believe anyone.

Once you exit the pavement off of Kelbaker Road to get to the dunes, the first 3 miles were a quasi-paved road, full of pot holes, which wasn’t bad.  Then the next 1.2 miles were terrible washboard.  It sure seemed like we were going slow and being careful, but when we got to our spot the TVs were swinging off the hinges, the faucet handle fell off the kitchen sink, an unknown plastic piece was on the floor, along with some small piles of saw dust.  The Airstream is a lot of things, but it’s not a Sportsmobile.  That kind of explains why we were the only trailer out there.  Mostly it was tents, one pop-up trailer, and a few Class C motorhomes.




She didn’t see anything either on the drive.


The handle to the faucet was on the counter in the corner by the stove!



Sunrise over the Providence Mountains


Panoramic view of the morning light on the Kelso Dunes



To the right of Amelia on the horizon is the snow capped Mt. Baldy


Running down sand dunes puts a big smile on Amelia’s face



Eastern view from the top


About the same pitch as Dave’s Run


Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard


It was never warm because of a constant cold wind.  One morning it was 32 degrees!


Wind ripples


A dead Dune Primrose, as the plant dries out, the stem branches curl toward the center and produce a characteristic cage shaped skeleton called a Devil’s Lantern.



Evening light on Granite Mountains


Bladderpod Bush, we saw about 10 of these on the side of the road


Large Yellow Desert Primrose.  We saw two of these and a few Desert Marigolds.  Other than that there really weren’t any flowers.  I don’t count the Creosote bushes.


Leaving on the washboard, driving extremely slow, like walking speed.  We didn’t want a repeat of the drive into the dunes.


3 thoughts on “Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve: March 24-26, 2018

  1. Images and words documenting your forays always provide a nice contrast to my parenting, cooking and driving around Fort Collins. Now I am on a solo trip and staying in moist Minnesota with Tony’s parents. I am here to help them pack to move into a senior home. I am navigating the land of daughter-in-law and trying to be polite and loving while trying to move them toward making as much progress as possible while I am here.

    The vast open land and sky of the desert sure is fun to see. Thanks again.

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