9 Best Things To Do in The Mojave Desert
Winter is coming up, and one of the best places for RVers to be in the winter is the desert!
Sunny, balmy days, stunning desert sunsets, and chilly nights around a campfire are what winter desert RVing is all about.
Over the past 5 years, my wife and I have traveled full-time in our vintage Airstream. We just love winters in the desert.
Since we’re going into the winter season, we’ve put together 9 best things to do in the Mojave Desert.
The Mojave Desert encompasses Death Valley and several National Park Service units. Spanning area throughout California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, there are many incredible places to see and explore. Here are 9 of the best:
Visit A National Park Area:
- Mojave National Preserve is an expansive section of desert where you can find solitude. You might even spot a desert tortoise!
- Mojave Trails National Monument is a well-known area for offroading and overlanding.
- Joshua Tree National Park is the most popular National Park for SoCal locals looking for hiking and rock climbing.
- Death Valley National Park is a huge park full of unique stops, like Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a perfect spot for a stroll to view the red sandstone peaks.
- Manzanar National Monument is one of 10 sites where the U.S. Government incarcerated Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. This is a somber place to visit and learn the history of WWII, and of the Native Americans who used the land long before us.
Why You’ll Love It: Covering almost 50,000 square miles, the Mojave Desert is the driest desert on the continent yet full of unique and interesting places to see. Each National land area offers something just a little different.
What’s the Word: Brad on Trip Advisor wrote this after visiting Mojave National Preserve: “We only drove through but were amazed at the vastness of the preserve. There are more Joshua trees here than in the National Park! It is amazing to be in an area where you have no cell coverage and can see no-one for hours.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 10/10
Explore Mitchell Caverns
Price: $10 for adults, $5 for kids (16 and under), $9 for seniors
Why You’ll Love It: Intricate limestone formations and 300 million-year-old fossils make this strenuous but short hike worth the stop. Entry to Mitchell Caverns is allowed by pre-scheduled guided tour-only, so plan ahead and you’ll get to maximize your visit with the best insider info.
Address: 38200 Essex Rd, Essex, CA 92332
What’s the Word: Peggy on Google Reviews said, “This place deserves more attention and protection. Really worth the drive to pay a visit. A nice walk through living history.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 8.5/10 Worth the visit.
Visit Fort Piute
Why You’ll Love It: Now reduced to remnants of the original historic building, Fort Piute was one of several outposts used to house US soldiers protecting the mail route from San Bernardino, CA to Prescott, AZ. It’s off the beaten path and a good place to stop for a picnic while traveling off road on the old Mojave Trail.
What’s the Word: Chris Hoffman on Google Reviews says Fort Piute is “A great place to start your trek on the Mojave trail. You can’t drive beyond this point, but it’s definitely a piece of history you don’t want to miss.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 8.7/10 A historical reminder of a former life.
Visit the Amboy Crater and Historic Amboy, California
Why You’ll Love It: Classic Route 66 charm in the town of Amboy and the volcanic Amboy crater with expansive desert views gives visitors the feeling of being transported back to the Mother Road’s heyday. Stop for a photo op at Roy’s Motel & Cafe on your way through! This is one of the most iconic things to do in the Mojave Desert.
What’s the Word: Tony Tanz on Trip Advisor says Amboy is “A great place to pull up and re-fresh while you’re travelling along Route 66. The old motel buildings are no longer used, but they are well maintained as a piece of history.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 9.8/10
Seven Magic Mountains in Nevada
Why You’ll Love It: A trip to the desert isn’t complete without visiting a unique art installation. Visible from highway 15, Seven Magic Mountains is made of 7 painted boulder towers, creating an impressively colorful contrast to the neutrals of the desert landscape. It was originally meant to stand for just two years but, because of its popularity, the “mountains” will remain until the end of 2021.
What’s the Word: Lukasz Graniczek on Google Reviews wrote, “Cool structures outside of Vegas! Great place for a sunset. I’ve noticed it gets very crowded in the evenings by young crowds so be aware but other than that, great place!
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 9.5/10 Photo ops galore!
Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam
Price: Free to simply visit, or $30 for a guided dam tour, $15 for a guided powerplant tour, or $10 for a self-guided visitor center tour. $10 for parking
Why You’ll Love It: The Hoover Dam is a hydroelectric engineering wonder of epic proportions that straddles the Nevada/Arizona border.
Lake Mead is the reservoir created by the dam and a great spot to take a swim break from the desert heat. Since Nevada and Arizona are in different time zones, technically the time changes when you cross over the dam! You can also view both Hoover Dam and Lake Mead from above with a helicopter tour departing from Las Vegas!
What’s the Word: Emily Ann Ibarra on Google Reviews says, “The architecture here is absolutely beautiful! Very stunning angles, shapes, and structure. Such an amazing and breathtaking experience. I can say that it was such a peaceful walk along the Hoover Dam.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 10/10 An impressive sight to see!
Visit Lake Havasu
Price: Free in most spots. Lake Havasu State Park is $20 per vehicle on weekends and $15 per vehicle Monday-Thursday
Why You’ll Love It: Nicknamed Arizona’s Playground, Lake Havasu is most popular as a place for water sports and a winter haven for RVers. Miles of scenic shoreline offer beautiful beaches, sunset views, boat ramps, and nature trails. You’d never believe it, but Havasu also became home to the famous London Bridge when it was relocated here in the late 1960s!
Address: 1340 McCulloch Blvd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
What’s the Word: Kimberly on Trip Advisor said, “A lake in the middle of the desert 🏜. Pretty amazing. Tourist boats are available. Awesome town and everything is fresh and new. Obviously a snowbird community. Clean. Everything you need. Sea-doos are available as well as boats or boat rides.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 9.4/10 Great for both summer and winter visits!
Camp at Hole-in-the-Wall Campground
Price: $12 per night
Why You’ll Love It: Hole-in-the Wall is well-known as a primitive basecamp for hikers looking to visit the namesake sculptured rock walls. This first-come, first-served campground offers picnic tables, fire rings, pit toilets, and trash bins but no utility hookups and no water.
Address: Essex, CA 92332
What’s the Word: Patty Wentz on Google Reviews says, “Great spot in the desert and a good place to spend a few nights in between Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Fantastic hiking, petroglyphs, great stars, a wide variety of cacti and other plants, bunnies and quail grazing in the morning, and campsites are not crammed together.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 8.4/10
Stay in an EcoPod
Price: Starting at $250/night
Why You’ll Love It: This is the definition of glamping! EcoPods rentals offer guests the ultimate experiences in solitude and stargazing. These pet-friendly, mini desert cabins are completely off-grid yet provide the essential modern amenities.
Address: 6 miles from Ridgecrest California. Full address disclosed upon booking.
What’s the Word: Sue on GlampingHub says her stay was “Peaceful, unique, calming, beautiful. A once in a lifetime experience.”
Mojave Desert Vibe Score: 10/10 A unique overnight stay!
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