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The Mojave Desert Travel Guide

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  • Photo: kojihirano / Shutterstock

Plan Your Mojave Desert Vacation

Dust and desolation, tumbleweeds and rattlesnakes, barren landscapes and failed dreams—these are the bleak images that come to mind when most people hear the word desert. Yet the remote regions east of the Sierra Nevada possess a singular beauty, the vast open spaces populated with spiky Joshua trees, undulating sand dunes, faulted mountains, and dramatic rock formations. With a few

exceptions the area is not heavily peopled, providing expanses in which visitors can both lose and find themselves.

The topography is extreme; while Death Valley drops to almost 300 feet below sea level and contains the lowest (and hottest) spot in North America, the Mojave Desert, which lies to the south, has elevations ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Owens Valley is where the desert meets the mountains; its 80-mile width separates the depths of Death Valley from Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Nostalgia Old neon signs, historic motels, and restored (or neglected but still striking) rail stations abound across this desert landscape. Don't miss the classic eateries along the way, including Summit Inn in Oak Hills and Emma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe in Victorville.
  2. Death Valley wonders Visit this distinctive landscape to tour some of the most varied desert terrain in the world.
  3. Great ghost towns California's gold rush brought miners to the Mojave, and the towns they left behind have their own unique charms.
  4. Cool down in Sierra country Head up U.S. 395 toward Bishop to visit the High Sierra, home to majestic Mt. Whitney.
  5. Explore ancient history The Mojave Desert is replete with rare petroglyphs, some dating back almost 16,000 years.

When To Go

When to Go

Spring and fall are the best seasons to tour the desert and Owens Valley. Winters are generally mild, but summers can be cruel. If you're on...

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Check historic weather for your trip dates:

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