Just getting around to giving a read-out on my late March camping trip in the Mojave National Preserve. We started out with a drive to the lava cinder cones in the western portion of the preserve. Lots of shrubs blooming along the road, and some wildflowers here and there. Plenty of greenery on the desert floor amidst the lava flows and the cacti looked fresh and ready for the spring.
The cinder cone area is scattered with creosote and Yucca, with some ephemeral washes coursing through the lava flows.
Plenty of amazing desert scenery along the Aiken Mine Road if you take the time to get out of the vehicle and appreciate what the Mojave has to offer, like this cactus growing out the side of a huge boulder.
Once you get past the cinder cones, Aiken Mine Road brings you into Joshua Tree woodland as you skirt the enormous Cima Dome. Some of the Joshua Trees were already blooming, and there were a few wildflowers blooming as well.
As you cross the Cima area you will come across scattered remnants of the Mojave's past ranching settlements, although there is still an active ranch as you get close to Cima Road, so tread carefully. The picture below is an old windmill at an old corral we cam across not long after leaving the cinder cones.
The road is sandy and rough at points, so be prepared and take a vehicle that has high clearance. We arrived at Cima Road after about an hour or hour and a half of driving, although that included a lit bit of hiking along the way. If you take this route, it's worth checking out Teutonia Peak trail, which is on Cima Road and affords some nice views of the Cima Dome and Joshua Tree woodland. I had already hiked this peak on a previous trip so we bypassed it on the way to Kelso. I'll post some photos from the rest of trip in a future post!