The Mojave Road

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Name: The Mojave Road (marked as `Old Government Road` on some maps)

General Location: East Mojave Scenic Area

Difficulty: Easy to moderate along most of the road, a few difficult spots especially at western end.

Starts at: 35°06’54″N, 114°46’25″W

Ends at: 35°02’16″N, 116°23’03″W

Elevation Gain: Starts at 1798 ft, Climbs to 5171 ft, then drops to 796 ft.

Comments: You will need extra gas cans for this trip. Take the I-40 east to Needles. Exit north at River Road. Follow River Road about 5.7 miles to Pew Road. Continue north on Pew Road 10.5 miles, crossing into Nevada. At 35°03’04”, 114°40’37”, turn onto the 4WD track. You should be heading northwest following a pole line. After a mile and a half, the road forks. DONT CROSS UNDER THE POLE LINE, TURN RIGHT UNDER THE WIRES.

Continue northwest, over some fun ‘roller coaster’ terrain, curving around the prominent conical hill. Continue northwest following the wash. The wash forks around 35°04’46”, 114°43’48”. Bear right and you will soon pass under some powerlines. Continue up the wash, all the time heading northwest. The road divides and rejoins a couple times until you reach an east-west dirt road at the California/Nevada border at 35°06’54”, 114°46’25”.

This is the actual start of the Mojave Road. Originally a trail used by the Mojave Indians to trade with the coast, The Mojave road became a major freight road in the mid 19th century. You are now travelling in the same tracks as Jebidiah Smith, John Fremont and Kit Carson. The road passes through varied terrain, past old army forts, indian petroglyphs, and other historical points of interest. The road was abandoned when the first railroads pushed through California, and much of the scenary is unchanged from that time. Continue due west.

After about 3.25 miles, you will cross over paved Hwy 95. Continue due west. After about 11 miles, you curve north around a Butte. Just on the other side of this butte is a path headed south. Park and get out, walk the trail to the wash. Examine the Petroglyphs. Back to you car and continue west into the canyon to 35°06’53”, 114°59’07”. Stop again, get out and examine the ruins of Fort Piute. This army outpost guarded the nearby springs. A walk up the canyon will take you to more petroglyphs. Back to you car, you must backtrack 11.1 miles, back around the butte, to the powerline road headed south. Proceed due south about 1.5 miles, turn west again at 35°05’28”, 114°57’19”.

This bypasses the closed section of Mojave Road around Piute Spring. Continue west to 35°05’41”, 115°01’10”, turn northeast for .5 miles, then west again back on the Mojave Road. After another 2.2 miles, you’ll cross a wash with several roads branching off. Consult your topo maps, you should be heading just slightly north of west. Another 7 miles later, you’ll cross a north-south road. A short trip north will take you to Eagle Mountain, a sheltered spot with petroglyphs and a well. Continuing west, you’ll soon cross Ivanpah Road just north of Lanfair. Continue west. After another 8.5 miles, you proceedup a steep hill and enter Watson Wash.

The road swings a bit north, briefly merges with some other trails, then continues west. Your next stop is Government Holes at 35°08’50”, 115°21’32”. From here the road heads northwest into Cedar Canyon. Go down cedar canyon, continue west, eventually intersecting Kelso-Cima Road and the Union Pacific rail tracks. Continue west 5.25 miles to a fork n the road. Take the left fork headed southwest 3 miles to Marl Springs. Now the road heads north, curving west. Keep left at each fork in the road. Continue west toward the lava flows. Just before you reach the volcanos, the road drops into Willow Wash and heads southwest, curving around the lava fields. Continue down Willow wash emerging at Seventeen Mile Point.

From here, the road is straight southwest 9.38 miles to the edge of Soda Lake. Get out and examine the surface. If it is dry, follow the green stakes and proceed with caution. Beware of channels and muddy zones. Once across the lake, continue southwest. There may be deep sand in this area. Around 35°05’32”, 116°10’53” the road turns south. The road has been marked with cairns, keep them on your right. Proceed through more sand and hazzards before the road swings abruptly west again.

You are now heading up the floodplain of the Mojave River. Proceed slighly south of west, until you enter Afton Canyon. Here, the bedrock rises to the surface, forcing the river to run above ground. You will have to ford the river back and forth a few times, following the established trail. Most people exit here, but you can follow the Mojave wash further, turning northwest into Manix Wash and finally intersect with I-15. The original road actually ended at Camp Cady on the banks of the Mojave.

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