Day 3- Mojave National Preserve- Kelso Dunes and Granite Mountain

The wind finally died down sometime in the early mornings. We woke up to a beautiful day and took a hour long hike towards the cinder cones on the jeep trail.  During our walk, we noted that ecosystem here is really different compared to Hole in the Wall where it was mostly young Joshua Trees and cactus versus short brush near the lava beds. For the second time during our trip, we noted how nice it would be, if we had our mountain bikes with us on this trail.

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Bonding time for L and his babies

By the time we finished our hike and cleaned up around the van, it was time for Baby S’s first nap of the day. We took this opportunity and headed to Kelso Depot visitor center to refill our water and do a little laundry. The nice thing about camping in the desert is how quickly your clothes dries after being washed!

Our agenda for the afternoon was to check out the Kelso Dunes before finding a camp spot for the night. The hike to the top of the dunes takes about 45 minutes. It was not an easy hike carrying a baby! I was worried about Baby S getting too much sun, so we turned back to the car at the half way point. The dunes looked very similar to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at Death Valley National Park, so we didn’t feel like we were missing much from not making it to the top.

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Dakota looking for prey

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After the hike, we looked around the campsites next to the Kelso Dunes and saw it was mostly filled. After camping alone the last few nights at secluded roadside camp spots, we decided to try our luck and search for another spot tonight. It took a few tries down several dirt trails but we finally found our third roadside campground south on Kelbaker Road at a dirt road turnoff.  Located at the southern most area inside the National Preserve, this area was called the Granite Mountains.

At about a quarter mile into the dirt road, we saw a primitive campsite between 2 creeks on the road. L was hesitant to camp on a creek bed so we proceeded further down the deep trail in pursue of another campsite.  This turned out to be a bad idea as there were no more campsites (see road side camping tips here) and the trail was too narrow for the Sportsmobile to turn around. We ended up having to reverse all the way back to the first campsite near the creek. Thankfully, L has a phenomenal driving skills and we got back to the original campsite in one piece.

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Dakota scoping out the campsite for us

The seasonal creek by the campsite was lined with loose sand, we had to be careful not to drive too far in and get stuck in the sand. It was another beautiful sunset that night with the Granite Mountain as a back drop. We were also glad to find there was Verizon cell phone reception in this area as we quickly sent updates to our family about our trip so far.

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Camping against the Granite Mountains

Read more about our Southern California desert road trip here.

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