Kelso Dunes


I haven’t taken my daughter to the ocean yet this year, but this weekend we did play in the sand. We explored the amazing Kelso Dunes, at Mojave National Preserve (CA.) I had been to the dunes before, but it was the first time my daughter visited this part of the park. 


Kelso Dunes is a 1hour 45min drive from the Las Vegas Strip. It’s a beautiful drive through Mojave National Preserve, passing the visitor center. If you haven’t been to the visitor center it’s a great idea to stop there on the way. It is a very nice visitor center, with lots of interesting books downstairs, and a small museum at the upper floor. 


It requires some endurance to hike in the sand at Kelso Dunes. The sand at Kelso Dunes covers 45 square miles, and rises in numerous peaks, the highest 650 ft (200m) over the desert floor. It’s a 3 mile round trip from the trail head at the parking lot (trailhead coordinates: 34.89235, -115.69906) to the top of the highest dune and back. 



The dunes are composed mainly of light-colored quarts and feldspar, most likely eroded from the San Bernardino Mountains to the southwest. At the beginning of the trail head there is a well visible trail, but the closer you get to the dunes you’ll have to make your own way to the top, as the wind moved the sand around. It is wonderful to step on the “untouched” sand. Sometimes the sand makes noises as the warm sand on top moves, and the cool sand underneath comes up to the surface. We made many stops in the beginning as we got used to walking in the sand. There’s so many layers in this landscape, moving sand, and vegetation that desperately clings to the sand. Not to mention the ever changing light in the desert. The light changed numerous times during the 6 hours we spend at the dunes Saturday afternoon/evening.


This post is part of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #67: Layered.

If you have a Mac computer using the MacOS Mojave maybe you recognize the view in the first photo? I dare to say that it’s taken right here at Kelso Dunes. I took that first photo one hour before sunset, 3/4 way up on the dunes, a little to the right of the highest dune. I don’t know for sure if MacOS Mojave default background picture is taken here, but my gut tells me it is. We had a fabulous time at Kelso Dunes, and we are planning to go again. The only thing my daughter was upset about was that we didn’t have more time, arriving so late in the day. I promised her that she would get to spend more time at the top next time. 


Mojave National Preserve is a 1.6 million acre park between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. When I moved to Vegas it quickly became one of my favorite go-to-places for a day trip, or weekend getaway. (Less crowded than Red Rock, and Mt.Charleston.) It offers amazing solitude, sand dunes, rock formations, Joshua Trees, mountains, canyons, and cactus gardens. There is no fee to get into Mojave National Preserve.


This photo of the very last light this fabulous day is entered in Tuesday Photo Challenge -Sunset

If you are visiting Las Vegas and are looking for a fun day trip, I can highly recommend renting a car and driving out to Kelso Dunes. There is even cellphone reception here, which is not the case with most of Mojave National Preserve. I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of the dunes, I sure enjoyed taking you!



Published by Sagittarius Viking

It’s all about experiences, and the healing power of nature. Life is about choosing happiness. I entered the magic world of photography when I was five years old. My gypsy soul have taken me to many different countries, and definitely taught me to be more humble. I believe that you are what you eat, body and soul. I enjoy growing my own food, and spending time outdoors. A Sagittarius loves to travel, have an open mind and, and a philosophical view. It motivates them to wander around the world in search of the meaning of life. Sagittarius is extrovert, optimistic and enthusiastic, and likes changes. A lot of that perfectly describes me. The fact that my ancestors, on both parents sides, were vikings, doesn’t exactly lessen my desire to explore. Maybe a slightly more mindful exploring, compared to the average viking. My blog, and my art prints is a results of my (inner and outer) explorations. Love, Maria

40 thoughts on “Kelso Dunes

    1. Thank you so much! The first photo is my favorite too 😉 I moved to Las Vegas a little more than a year ago, and I immediately started to explore the desert around Las Vegas. That’s the only thing that’s kept this country girl sane this past year. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Such BEAUTIFUL photos and I agree, the first photo is super cool!! ♥️ The country girl is doing a wonderful job getting to know her country side and I’m so thankful we all get to share with you through your photos! ♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are spectacular Maria – you’ve really captured the adventure perfectly. There’s a similar feature, believe it or not in Michigan called Sleeping Bear. So difficult to climb! Thanks for joining the challenge – looking forward to seeing more of you

    Liked by 1 person

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