For those of you adventurous types who have vehicles capable of driving the well-maintained dirt roads within the Preserve, I recommend you check out this popular hiking area and campground, appropriately known as Hole-In-The-Wall. Besides being able to camp here, there are 2 really cool trails to hike on. There is an easy 1/2 mile (round trip) nature trail and a more challenging 1/2 mile loop trail. These hikes take you through a bizarre rocky landscape which was created millions of years ago. The most popular of the 2 trails is known as the "Hole-In-The-Wall Rings Trail". The rocks and cliffs around here literally have holes in them! In ancient times, a nearby volcanic eruption occurred which blasted out tons of gas and ash. When the gas cooled and the ash dissipated, it left behind these porous holes within the walls of the cliffs and rock formations. As you hike the trail through these canyons, there are heavy metal rings anchored into the rock to use as hand holds to ease your passage through some of the narrower and steeper sections. There is a bathroom, information center, and picnic area located at the trailhead. No fee is required for hiking around, so have fun and check it out! Here's a look at some of the rings within the walls:
Should you decide to camp here, there are picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. The campground has 35 sites for RV's and tents and lies at about the 4,400 foot elevation. Due to extremes in weather during summer and winter months, it is recommended you visit during the fall or spring time periods when the temperatures are very comfortable. Bring plenty of gear, food, and water! Campsites are about $12 per site last I checked, $6 for seniors (which I'm sure are in the minority!). This also makes an excellent base camp for exploring Mitchell Caverns which is located just a few miles away.
From I-40: Take the Essex Rd. exit (as you would to go to Mitchell Caverns) and drive 10 miles to the junction with "Black Horse Canyon Rd." - Take Black Horse Canyon Road north (unpaved, but in good condition) for another 10 miles and you're there!
The Mojave National Preserve has so much to offer! This huge area of open space can easily be accessed from I-15 or I-40 via the well-paved Kelbaker Road which connects these 2 highways. Be safe with your travels and come prepared with the essentials - hiking gear, food & water, a cell phone, and a well-maintained car. Always let people know your plans when venturing into these isolated locations! Researching this area will reveal a lot of these hidden desert gems, including: the largest Joshua tree forest in the world, huge sand dunes, a recently-restored railroad depot (Kelso Depot) and even some (hopefully extinct) volcanoes you can hike on! Here's a few teaser photos to spark your interest:
Enjoy your desert travels!