Motocamping In The Mojave Preserve

with 3 Comments

The Mojave National Preserve is a massive area of protected Mojave Desert south of Nipton, CA stretching all the way to I-40. Despite its vast size, many city dwellers don’t know about this “hidden” gem in the desert. Home to the largest Joshua Tree forest in the world, the Mojave is the perfect destination for a quick and easy motocamping trip.

Saturday morning a group of friends and I met up at Railroad Pass Casino to begin our ride. Our bikes were geared up with everything needed for an overnight camping trip to the Preserve. There were 6 riders plus Tommy and his Jeep. We had two KLR650s, three KTM 690s and a GS1200.


We headed down the 95 and then towards the solar plants.


We hit dirt and headed down the powerline road towards the Joshua Tree forest. Jeff was very visible on his 690!


Not too far down that road, Dennis somehow lost his top bag. Somehow Jeff, nor I, saw it following behind him. It must have gone flying off the side of the road. Steve and Tim were a ways ahead so I sped up to them to tell then Dennis was going to backtrack and look for his bag. It wasn’t a few minutes later Dennis showed up with the bag. It was only about 50 yards back on the side of the road blending in with some rocks.


With all our luggage accounted for, we continued.


The weather was perfect that morning. The air was crisp and the skies were clear.


We regrouped at the 164 and headed towards Nipton.


Jeff wasn’t having any of this pavement nonsense! He opted for a dirt trail next to the highway.


At Nipton we hopped on the dirt trail that followed the RR tracks towards Ivanpah.


Tommy proved his Jeep was just as fast as the bikes.


Out near Cima, the Joshua trees were massive.


We crossed the tracks on Cima Rd and Tommy led us to check out an old mine and house.


About 3 miles down the road, we arrived at this old house.


The property is full of intact structures and is lined with Joshua trees.


Boarded up, but unlocked and still in decent shape, it appears this place was occupied up until the 1950’s if we had to guess.


This metal framing lined the south and west sides of the house, providing shade when vegetation once grew on it.


Out back was the shitter, like most old houses back in the day.


We took a quick tour inside. To avoid the deadly Hantavirus, we were in and out pretty quickly.


There is a nice view from the upstairs bedroom window.


At the back of the house is a staircase that leads down to a half-underground room, maybe used as a cellar.


Towards the rear of the property must have been the shop. We found a few old auto parts still laying around.


Also out back was a corral. This must have been where they let their children run around in circles.


Looks like they had the luxury of running water.


Next door is another small house. This old house gave me the creeps. Maybe it was haunted.


Upon the hill we spotted some old mining equipment and a couple of other structures so we walked up to do some more exploring.


Walking back to the bikes, Tom showed us this old grave or memorial. Read the sign and tell me if this makes any sense. Sounds like it was two guys, Tom and Lee, with children?


It’s easy to spend a couple of hours walking around these old homesteads. So much history. So many untold stories. After about an hour, we were back on the bikes.


This two-track trail was a blast.


We stopped off at Hole in the Wall to show Tim the famous Rings Loop Trail and get a splash of cold water in our heads.


Climbing down the rings in riding gear. We got this!



It was around 12-1 o’clock so we headed south to Fenner, CA for lunch and fuel.

Welcome to Fenner. Home of the $5.50 tallboy!


I grabbed a roller dog while the rest of the group ordered burgers.


A large group of bikers rolled in with FL plates on their bikes. We’re not really sure where they were from, but most of the bikes appeared to be rentals and many of them had accents. Jeff chatted it up with one of the Vietnam Vets and thanked him for his service.


We waited around for our other buddy, Tom, to show up. He was in his truck and joining our camp for the night. We killed some time and more cold ones while we waited. We had plenty of time. It was nice having the guys in the Jeep and pickup to haul firewood, ice and beer to camp.


Dennis took a nap.


This is the Fenner dog. He belonged to the gas station owner.


Their maintenance rig is on point!


Now 3 or 4 PM, we headed to camp.


We all set up our tents. It always feels nice to get settled and kick those boots off!


I think we brought enough whiskey. Don’t ya think? Jeezzus!




Oh wait, another bottle. Tom brought some Fireball.


The weather was perfect. It wasn’t quite chilly enough to start a fire yet, but we sat around BSing as the sun went down.


Steve busted out some fancy crackers, dried apricots, and brie cheese spread. This was a top-notch BMW-caliber snack.


We all got a kick out of Jeff’s kid’s tent. Steve demonstrated how he was not going to fit inside.


The sun started going down and it was gorgeous out there.


Picture perfect camp complete with the moon!


Dennis camped far away from the snorers and late night drinkers.


The sky was awesome.


Steve shared one of his Lagunitas beers with me. Holy crap this might be my new favorite beer.


Sun down=fire time.


Brian displays more of Steve’s fancy snacks. I don’t even remember what it was. I think it was some sort of spam/sushi. Whaaat?


The whiskey was flowing, stories were being told and we were having a great time.


There were lots of laughs!



The moon setting below the mountain looked really cool. Unfortunately my camera (or drunk me) couldn’t capture it well.


Good morning.


Slightly hungover, some coffee and breakfast were needed.


I whipped up a breakfast burrito. I brought tortillas and used a freeze-dried Mountain House meal (scrambled eggs with bacon) and some taco bell hot sauce. Not too bad.


Dennis enjoying some pour-over style coffee. Good stuff!


These guys got away with some breakfast too.


Jeff spotted this little guy in camp.


We packed up camp and discussed our route back home.


We took Ivanpah Rd back.


At the RR crossing, only half the group crossed before this train passed by.


The rest of the group arrived and waited for the train to pass.


Some headed back home via I-15 while the rest of us took dirt to Nipton. Tommy arrived with a new noise coming from his Jeep. Upon a little investigation, we found out his front driveshaft CV joint was noisy.


We then finished the ride with some asphalt to get home at a reasonable hour. It was some fun times in the desert with some awesome weather…the perfect way to close out the summer of 2017.





Follow Pete:

Do more with less! That is my motto lately. I love getting outdoors and exploring new places, usually on my KTM motorcycle. My wife, Anna, and I recently bought and built out a Sprinter van to do more of the things we love. Traveling and seeing new places is always at the top of our to-do list.

3 Responses

  1. Jimmy Cruze
    | Reply

    Wow that looks like an amazing trip! I loved all the photos, especially the old mining camp and homestead. I love all that old history. I would love to visit this area someday…hanging on to this post for when I do!

    • Pete
      | Reply

      It’s a great area for riding and exploring. Thanks Jimmy.

  2. Orien E ogg
    | Reply

    Great pictures nice to remember how beautiful the desert really is . I lived in California and the desert was one of my favorite places . Big Lagunitas fan as well. My favorite
    good pics of the guys having fun

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