Updated: Oct 31, 2020
The Mojave Road is one of North America's most iconic overland routes. Established over 200 years ago as a local trading route for the indigenous tribes of the area, the Mojave Road has gained cult-like status in the off road world. Come visit the majestic Mojave and discovery why so many people keep coming back.
Adventure Rating: Epic
Trip Length: 2-3 days, 138 miles
Season: October - May
Technical Rating: Mostly green, with a few blue sections.
Typical Terrain: Sandy roads, large washes, whoops, and some rocks.
Recommended Vehicle: Stock truck or SUV with 4x4 and all terrain tires.
Adventure Vans: Yes. We recommend a 144" Sprinter 4x4 with all terrain tires.
Alternative Routes: n/a
Need a Rig?
We partner with respected rental outfitters throughout the continent. If you or someone in your party needs a fully equipped adventure vehicle, please consider one of our partners, and be sure to tell them that Overland Trail Guides sent you.
TopoTerra (San Diego)
Chances are that you've heard or read about Mojave Road from a friend, on a forum, or perhaps on someone's Instagram feed. And for good reason, the Mojave is a magical, and some would even say mythical place. The desert rats, artists, and eccentrics who call the desert have all been drawn by its ethos. Whether you're big on historical sites, geological wonders, or challenging terrain, the Mojave has got you covered (you'll need to explore some of the side trails for technical terrain).
The Mojave Road is typically driven from west to east (although it can be driven in either direction). While the Mojave can be driven just about any time of year, due to extreme temperatures during the summer months (that can top out at 120 F), most people tend to run the Mojave between October and May. If you're not a fan of sub-freezing temperatures, consider running the route in fall or spring. The vast majority of the route can be easily traversed by a stock 4x4. The biggest challenge that newcomers typically face, is keeping on the trail, as numerous roads and trails make it difficult to discern which road you should be on. It's recommended that you load a gpx track to your favorite mapping app, while remaining vigilant of your location in relation to the track (we're also big fans of paper maps and recommend Mojave Guide Book, which contains a wealth of information about the route and surrounding areas). Along the 138 mile route, you'll pass numerous historical sites and ruins, dried lake beds, numerous washes, slot canyons, and lava flows (caves). And don't forget the funkiness factor, the desert is loaded with strange stories and even stranger characters (hello Charles Manson). Some of the more bizarre sites along the route include the old Mojave bus, penny can tree, and frog shrine (weird shit happens in the desert). Take away all of the history and weirdness, and you're still left with the stunning desert landscape. Despite the harsh conditions of the desert, and if you time your visit right, you may just be lucky enough to experience one of the Mojave's desert blooms. Another favorite plant/tree of the region, is the legendary Joshua Tree, which can be found throughout the Mojave (and their namesake, Joshua Tree National Park). If you live in California or the southwest, you need to make the pilgrimage to the Mojave Road at least once in your lifetime. The Mojave is a place where friendships are born, memories are created, and wisdom is shared. If you haven't made the pilgrimage, better start planning!
A word from the NPS: Roadside Camping is allowed in previously used or disturbed sites outside of the "day-use-only" areas. In some cases these sites include a rock or metal fire ring; not all sites contain a fire ring. All fires must be in a fire ring or fire pan; new fire rings cannot be constructed. Camping tramples vegetation and disturbs soils. By reusing existing sites, you help protect the desert from further damage.
Afton Canyon Campground
Mojave Bus Camp
Hole in the wall
Points of Interest
The Mojave Road and surrounding area are loaded with historical and geological sites. We recommend stopping at as many of the POIs as you can (see Google map and GPX file).
Maps + Navigation
>> Always check with local land managers for road closures and conditions. Spring is monsoon season in the Mojave, which can make washes and dry lake beds impassable.
A word from the NPS: Travel only on existing, open roads and not cross-country. Creation of new routes and driving in washes are not permitted.
Gaia GPS (Base map layer, NPS map layer, OpenCycle Map HD)
Download GPX files
TIP: To expose alternative routes and POIs in Google Maps, open the sidebar and select the desired layer.