Mojave Desert

Mojave Desert is in San Bernardino County, Kern County, and Los Angeles County.


Map of Mojave Desert
Cima Dome in the Mojave Desert
  • 1 Baker - Baker is the only significant town on I-15 in the remote desert stretch between Barstow and the Nevada border and, as a result, is frequented by travelers on their way to Las Vegas. It offers food, fuel and lodging, is home to the world's tallest thermometer, and is the starting point for those journeying north to Death Valley. Not to be confused with another town called Baker on the eastern side of Nevada.
  • 2 Amboy - Lying out in the desert, this ghost town has a population that today varies between 4-8 people. A stop on the historic Route 66, the town is worth a visit to see a decaying piece of American history.
  • 3 Barstow - Barstow is located on the former Route 66 and offers visitors several historic and natural attractions ranging from the 200,000 year old Calico early man site to the Western America Railroad museum.
  • 4 Boron Boron, California on Wikipedia
  • 5 Cima Cima, California on Wikipedia
  • 6 Kelso Kelso, California on Wikipedia — Ghost town - part of Mojave National Preserve.
  • 7 Lancaster - Lancaster provides extensive services for travelers, as well as the whimsical "Musical Road", a recreation of a road built in Lancaster for a Honda commercial that has grooves cut into it that generate an approximation of the William Tell Overture when a car passes over them.
  • 8 Mojave - Mojave is a hotbed of aerospace activity, with the Mojave Spaceport the headquarters of Scaled Composites, the first private company to launch a human into space. Edwards Air Force base, a landing site for the space shuttle and a center for the development of experimental aircraft, is located adjacent to the town.
  • 9 Needles
  • 10 Palmdale - In 1962 Palmdale became the first city in the Antelope Valley to incorporate, and today it is home to over 150,000 people. While it lacks exciting tourist destinations, the town does offer a vast number of hotels, restaurants and other services for travelers.
  • 11 Ridgecrest - Ridgecrest is a desert town that is adjacent to China Lake Naval Weapons Station. Many visitors pass through this area on the way to Death Valley or sites further north along the Eastern Sierra.
  • 12 Trona Trona, San Bernardino County, California on Wikipedia
  • 13 Victorville

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Mojave National Preserve - Stark mountains and shifting sand dunes in the remote desert
  • Edwards Air Force Base is in the western Mojave. The airfield is used for aircraft testing; it is also an alternate landing spot for the Space Shuttle. Aircraft designer Burt Rutan operates out of Mojave but occasionally uses the long runways at Edwards for testing or noteworthy flights such as the Voyager around-the-world. Tours are sometimes available but have been cancelled indefinitely due to COVID-19 (2021).


The majority of visitors to the Mojave Desert see it only through their car windows as they traverse I-15 to Las Vegas. But the beauty and isolation of this desert is immense and should be experienced first-hand by travellers with time and adequate vehicles and supplies.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The Mojave Desert is located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on Interstate 15. Highway 395 passes through the middle from Victorville in the south; Highway 14 comes in from Lancaster in the southwest. Highway 40 runs from Barstow, roughly in the middle, out through Needles in the east.

By plane[edit]

Scarce airports are in the area; most have really long runways and rainy, stormy weather; few have commercial flights.

By train[edit]

Amtrak operates its Southwest Chief route through the area from Los Angeles to Chicago, stopping at Victorville, Barstow, and Needles. Eastbound Train 4 leaves Victorville at 8:55pm, Barstow at 9:41pm, and Needles at 12:08am. Westbound Train 3 leaves Needles at 12:31am, Barstow at 3:45am, and Victorville at 4:24am.

Get around[edit]

Aside from main roads, most of the Mojave is criss-crossed with dirt roads; some of these are shown as standard roads on maps; others are unmarked. In either case you should have a medium- to high-clearance vehicle, with four wheel drive if you plan extreme backcountry driving.




  • McDonalds "Barstow Station" was once purported to be the "world's largest".
  • The "Mad Greek" in Baker (described on that page) is a good stop-over on the way to Las Vegas.
  • The Barstow Del Taco locations are regarded as the birthplace of the franchise, as the original Del Taco restaurant in Yermo has long since closed. As such, they offer "Barstow" versions of their menu items with extra toppings.
  • The Emma Jean's "Holland Burger" Cafe on Stoddard Valley Highway (D Street) in North Victorville has been featured in numerous movie productions including director Quentin Tarantino (photos are kept within the restaurant.)



The best way to experience the Mojave is to camp. Much of the area is Bureau of Land Management land, with open camping allowed. In the Mojave National Preserve (National Park Service), camping along roadsides is prohibited.

  • The Mojave Road - No camping within the Mojave National Preserve along this road.
  • Dumont Dunes - BLM
  • Kelso Dunes - Mojave National Preserve. Obey Preserve camping designations.
  • Zzyzx - Mojave National Preserve. No car camping allowed anywhere. Designated wilderness off the road.

Stay safe[edit]

See also: Arid region safety

When travelling in the desert, follow the standard precautions; carry any needed parts and fluids for your vehicle, and at least a gallon of water per day for drinking. Rattlesnakes will only bite you if they feel threatened.

Go next[edit]

To the North of the Mojave desert is Death Valley.

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