The Mojave Road is an east-west route located within the Mojave National Preserve, in southwestern California, USA. The trail enters the park near Piute Spring on the east side and on Soda Dry Lake near Zzyzx on the west. The total mileage is about 130+ miles long and can be done in 3 or 4 days.
Located in California, within the confines of the Mojave National Preserve, it’s one of North America’s more famous routes. This rough road, also called the Old Government Road, stretches 140 miles (230 km) from the site of the old Fort Mohave (on the west bank of the Colorado River, roughly 10 miles southwest of Bullhead City, Arizona) to the site of the old Camp Cady (on the west bank of the Mojave River, roughly 12 miles northeast of Newberry Springs, California). This desert track is the remnants of a wagon trail once connecting the old Mojave Fort along the Colorado River, to Camp Cady, about 20-miles east of Barstow.
How long does it take to drive the Mojave Road?
The Mojave Road requires self-reliance. Some sections are rough and sandy; 4 x 4 recommended. Roads can become slick, muddy and impassable after rains. Be sure to inquire about road conditions, especially if you plan to cross Soda Dry Lake. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required for all but a few short stretches of this road, which is unmaintained. Under optimal conditions, its full length can be travelled in 2-3 days. This is a real adventure, so it’s not for everybody.
Is Mojave Road dangerous?
This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. 4 wheeling is an inherently dangerous activity and shouldn’t be attempted without the appropriate training and equipment. Although considered an off road trail, most any standard four wheel drive SUV should be able to navigate the majority of the terrain, weather permitting. It’s important to note that any 4×4 trail is subject to change. A brief heavy downpour of rain can make some trails impassable in a short period of time and it’s no different on this route. Besides the possibility of rain causing problems, blowing sand, extremely high temperatures and even snow can turn this mild trail into a difficult passage. It’s always best to call about the condition before attempting it. Be aware that there are portions of the trail that might require specialized equipment that doesn’t come stock with the average factory equipped SUV. Correct tires and recovery equipment along with the knowledge of how to use these items may be crucial in making it through some of the tougher sections. Most of the difficult parts of the trail can be bypassed but there are no warning telling you what’s ahead. Another issue can be cactus such as the Teddybear Cholla. These little spiny plants can puncture the sidewall of your tire and ruin your trip. A good spare, a compressor, tire repair kit, and a can of flat repair is worth having on board.
How long is the Mojave Road?
The drive is definitely worth it. It’s around 222km (138 miles) long. It starts at the Colorado River near Laughlin, Nevada, and ends in Afton Canyon near Barstow. Used by Indians to transport goods from the southwest to trade with the Chumash and other coatal tribes, this route later served the cause of westward expansion. Military forts were established along the route to protect key water sources and provide assistance for travelers. Today it is a popular four-wheel drive road. You should be prepared for desert travel and plan according to the current weather which can vary widely depending on the time of year. Both well equipped smaller or larger 4×4 vehicles are suited for the run. Sand is the biggest issue so knowing how to deal with it is a huge plus.