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!