Mojave National Preserve

Hello all! Hope everyone is planning a safe 4th of July holiday weekend that doesn’t include lighting the Western U.S. on fire. Myself, I’m heading to Mojave National Preserve for two days of field survey, because that’s the type of thing you get to do as an archaeologist in southern California. I’ll be examining “guzzlers” installed in the 1940s that provide drinking water for birds and other small game.

1930s abandoned car in the middle of Mojave National Preserve

While there, I should have a chance to drive part of the Mojave Road, a popular 4WD route today that has a long history. Also known as Old Government Road, it began as a series of Native American footpaths across the desert and later carried Spanish explorers and American mountain men. In the late 1850s it was improved for use by wagons and forts were built along the route to protect watering holes, gold-seekers, and the U.S. Mail.

Mine shaft among the Joshua trees in Mojave National Preserve

I was last out in this area in August and September (see a pattern here?) of 2019, investigating gold and silver mines. Since that last trip, Magical Nipton has shut down (so we’ll be staying in Barstow instead, which is not quite as magical), and the Dome Fire wiped out a large swath of Joshua Tree forest. Pics are from my 2019 trip. Stay tuned for a deep dive on Mojave Road coming up later this year. Have a safe holiday weekend, whether you’re out exploring or hunkering down in the air conditioning!

Miner’s shack in Mojave National Preserve

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