The Mojave Desert, which lies mostly within California, also stretches into small portions of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Death Valley National Park is the desert’s most notable attraction, but there is much to explore here. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, outside of Las Vegas, is popular for its rugged rock formations, while Mojave National Preserve features sand dunes, Joshua trees, and endless wildflowers.
The region attractions all kinds of visitors, from outdoorsy travelers interested in hiking and camping, to rock-climbing adventure-seekers, to those just passing through en route from Los Angeles or San Diego to Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon. Aerial Grand Canyon tours provide views of the desert from the sky, while multi-day US West road-trip tours stop at various parks and preserves.
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Things to Know Before You Go
The Mojave Desert is a must for outdoors lovers, adventure seekers, and all first-time visitors to the region.
Be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection on any trip into the desert.
Avoid hiking in the middle of the day, especially in the summer months, when temperatures can be dangerously high.
Some parks and preserves in the desert are free to the public while others, such as national and state parks, require a fee.
Many desert attractions, such as visitor centers and lookouts, are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
Death Valley National Park sits on the edge of the California–Nevada border; enter the park on California Highway 190 from Death Valley Junction, 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Palm Springs. Mojave National Preserve lies between Interstate 15 and Interstate 40, 120 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of Palm Springs.
When to Get There
Parks and preserves are typically open between sunrise and sunset; some sites may close or have shorter hours in the summer months, when it’s the hottest. To avoid the heat, go hiking in the morning or evening. Wildflower season is in the spring, after the rainy periods.
Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve
Together with the Colorado Desert, the Mojave Desert forms a UNESCO World Heritage–designated biosphere reserve to promote and protect the ecology of the region. Located on the border of the Mojave and Colorado deserts is one of the region’s most popular places—Joshua Tree National Park—230 miles (370 kilometers) south of Death Valley.
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