Mojave National Preserve
After an incredible morning in Joshua Tree National Park, we went off to another park on my bucket list. This time, it wasn’t an actual national park (which saved us the entry fees), but rather a national preserve. What’s the difference, you may ask? I had to look it up, too: It’s quite a simple difference but one that can have a big effect on your experience. National parks are designated for their natural beauty, unique geological features, diverse ecosystems, and recreational opportunities. National preserves were established to protect areas that have resources often associated with national parks, however, certain natural resource-extractive activities such as hunting or mining may be permitted.
The Mojave National Preserve is located in the Mojave Desert, such as parts of the Joshua Tree National Park are. It is a very large natural area bordered to the north by I-15 and to the south by I-40. You will find Joshua tree forests in parts of the preserve, but also ancient volcanoes and expanses of petrified lava.
Because of its remote and unique location, the Mojave National Preserve is not as frequently visited as the rest of the parks in California. I personally really enjoyed the serenity and calmness of the streets – or, to be precise, paths, if not trails, and we also witnessed a fantastic, unique sunset here. However, be aware that a National Preserve is not equipped with the best streets, but may have only sand paths going through. We were a little confused when we, after sunset, ended up on a remote track that only allowed us to drive about 5 miles an hour. All of a sudden, a cow was in the way, too. The full remote experience, really!
We had enough water and snacks in the car, and due to the daylight savings, it was pitch black despite only being late afternoon, hence I was not too afraid. However, I can’t recommend anyone driving through the Mojave National Preserve at night, especially not for the purpose to cut down time. It is an experimental, unique drive, no through road. If you love visiting desert landscapes and like having places all to yourself, then the Mojave National Preserve is the place for you, guaranteed!