Mojave Road Trip 2012

This past April I was able to go on a journey that I have wanted to go on for many years, the Mojave Road.

The Mojave Road is an old Indian trail that crosses the desert from Fort Mojave on the Colorado River to Camp Cady near Barstow. The trail makes its way to the watering holes that were roughly one days ride from each other. In the 1860’s the U.S. Army came in and built forts and outposts along the trail near the watering holes. This allowed them to control who was able to cross the desert. The Forts only lasted a short time as the trail became obsolete after the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Needles to Mojave line in 1883.

Our group, which consisted of three jeeps, left the Avi Hotel Casino on Saturday morning and set out on the trail. Our group’s goal was to make it about 95 miles to Soda Dry Lake by nightfall.

The 3 Jeeps

We first came to Fort Pah-Ute after traveling about 25 miles. In my opinion, it was one of the better destinations of the trip.

From the Pah-Ute Mountains looking East

Upon stopping at Fort Pah-Ute, we immediately spotted five desert bighorn sheep leaving the watering hole. After seeing us they slowly made their way back into the hills. I also spotted what appeared to be a California Condor, but I can’t be sure that it was.

Five desert bighorn sheep in the distance

After exploring the ruins we headed back out to the main road. For this section of the trail, we had to double back and take another route as the original trail was impassable. The route that we took to get back to the trail was the toughest 4×4 section of trip, but the Jeep didn’t have any problem with it.

We then hooked back into the trail and headed into Lanfair Valley. Lanfair Valley had a Joshua Tree forest which rivaled the ones that I have seen at Joshua Tree National Park. After making it throught the valley, we then stopped at a place called Camp Rock Spring. At this point we could tell that we were at pretty high elevation.

Lanfair Valley

We then ventured through another valley to Marl Springs. This road through this valley had “whoops” the entire way. No one in my vehicle was happy about it, but we had no choice but to keep going.

The day coming to an end

Marl Springs was not as impressive as I had hoped for. If I had to estimate, at least 30 people were stopped at this location.

After leaving Marl Springs we made our way through Willow Wash. At this point we saw what looked like multiple extinct volcanoes in the distance. We then came to our destination for the night, Soda Dry Lake.

After arriving we set up our 12 person tent. Nightfall came and a group of grabbed ultraviolet flashlights and went looking for Scorpions. We ended up finding about 5 scorpions. We then set off to bed.

Scorpion hunting

Morning came and we packed up camp. After grabbing a bite to eat we set off over the dry lake bed. In the middle of the lake was a pile of rocks. Each of us added a rock to the pile.

After leaving the lake the two other jeeps began to have problems. One jeep would not stay running and the other jeep was struggling through clutch problems. We crossed some sand dunes and the jeep that was having problems running died. After some time we figured out that the fuel was getting too hot and for the rest of the trip we had to stop and use water to cool the fuel rail.

We then came to Afton Canyon on which the Mojave River runs through. The canyon was a fairly interesting place but not spectacular. It had a railway that ran through it. At one point we left the Canyon and followed the railway to the crossing of the Mojave River.

Entering Afton Canyon

Resting in the shade

We crossed the Mojave River in two spots in which both were probably no more than 1 ½ feet deep. At this point the Mojave Road continued further another 10 miles but this is where we decided to call it trip. To In-and-Out it was.

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