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Fore-Log: Overview, Scouting, Caching

The Mojave Road runs for 139 miles, from the Colorado River at Fort Mojave, Arizona, to the site of Camp Cady on the Mojave River in California, about 25 miles east of Barstow. It's a 2-track wagon road across mountains and desert, with no supplies or services. Supplies are available around Fort Mojave, at Baker on I-15, and in Barstow, at the junction of Interstates 15 and 40. Rental cars are available in Barstow, and at the Bullhead City airport, 15 miles north of Fort Mojave.

The trail is strictly for off-road vehicles, but it can be reached at several points by 2-wheel drive roads. Here's a list, from west to east:

Afton: by rocky dirt road from I-15 to the Bureau of Land Management Afton campsite in the Mojave River canyon. Road Mile 122.

Basin: 5 miles of rocky, sandy road off I-15 to the mouth of the canyon and the river's sandy floodplain. Road Mile 114.

Rasor: Not recommended for 2-wheel drive, but there's a gas station and minimart where it reaches I-15. Road Mile 104.

Zzyzx: 5 miles of good dirt road, but motor vehicles have to stop at Zzyzx, with the Mojave Road a mile or two further south, at Road Mile 102.

Kelbaker Road: Paved, runs from Baker southeast to Kelso Depot, parallelling the Mojave Road for several miles, from Road Mile 87 to 79.

Aiken Mine Road: Dirt, runs north from Kelbaker Road to intersect the Mojave Road east of the Cinder Cones at Road Mile 79.

Cima Road: Paved, crosses the Mojave Road 14 miles north of Kelso Depot, at Road Mile 62.

Cedar Canyon Road: Graded dirt, runs across the high country 18 miles from Cima Road to the Ivanpah-Goffs (Lanfair) Road. It covers, crosses, and parallels the Mojave Road from Road Mile 62 to 42.

Lanfair Road: Graded dirt, crosses the Mojave Road 17 miles north of Goffs, at Road Mile 42.

US 95: Paved, crosses the road 17 miles north of I-40, at Road Mile 14.

Needles Highway: Paved, crosses the trail at Road Mile 3 on the bluffs above the Colorado River, west of the Avi Casino.

Aha Macav Parkway: Paved, crosses the route just west of the river.

Dike Road: dirt, runs along the river to Road Mile 0, across from the old Fort Mojave site.

You might leave your car at some secure, negotiable point on the west end - Afton, Zzyzx, Baker - and take a rental out of Barstow to Bullhead, caching along the way. From the Bullhead airport it's an easy ride to the Avi hotel-casino near Road Mile 0.

The best route-finder is the Mojave Road Guide, by Dennis Casebier and The Friends of the Mojave Road, available by mail for $24.95 at http://www.mdhca.org/mdhcamrguide.html It's a detailed gude to the road, the country, and the history that adds a lot to the enjoyment of the route. You might also enjoy Mr. Casebier's home at Goffs, featuring a restored early schoolhouse and several acres of desert artifacts from the area's ranchers, miners, and railroaders. Check http://www.mdhca.org/ for "open house" hours and contact info. They may have copies of the book for sale over the counter.

The National Park Service has a visitor center at the restored Kelso Depot that's worth checking out. They'll surely be able to tell you all the forbidden things you can't do at the Mojave Preserve, and these things you must know! Their website's at http://www.nps.gov/moja/

National Geographic's California "TOPO!" CD set came in handy for planning and printing out trail maps. It's available at http://www.offroute.com/product/view_product.asp?x_ID=148777&new=1&fromsearch=1 for $73. De Lorme's Southern Cal print atlas was accurate on the back roads.

I found water at Piute Spring, Rock Spring, Government Holes, and Marl Springs - but you have to be one fire-breathing tough hombre to drink the stuff. It's in its natural state, and pretty lively. Instead, I cached water - 2 gallons at Lanfair Road, 3.5 at Cima Road, 4.5 off Kelbaker Road near the Cinder Cones, and 2.5 gallons near Afton. This was more than enough for riding early in the Spring.

I marked the caches with nicotine and urine to keep the critters away. All packaging was burnable - there's no trash service on the route. Keep in mind any leftovers have to be picked up after the ride, or there'll eventually be a blizzard of paper and plastic scraps trashing up the desert.

I carried water on board to keep me for 2 days between caches - a gallon in each pannier, and three 24-ounce water bottles on the frame. I cut other gear to the minimum to make up for the 20 pounds of water.

Big campfires are for 4-wheelers who can carry in their own wood, but in most places there's plenty of dead-and-down small stuff you can use to boil up some water.

The best time of year for this is probably just before the Spring Break and Easter holidays, when the days are getting longer and warmer, but before the holiday traffic churns up the trail.

More planning information can be found by researching off the links page.

Now for the details.

Mojave Road index