I visited Mojave National Preserve on a short day trip within my business trip to Las Vegas in 2020.
I rented a car, and drove straight out of Las Vegas down Interstate 15, which goes right through the Preserve.
The Teutonia Creek Trail is a very popular trail that winds through what was once the densest collection of Joshua trees in the world. In the time since I hiked it, it’s all burned up in the 2020 wildfires. Watching those fires on the news was a surreal shock and a stark reminder of climate change. Most Joshua Trees are in fact migrating northwards towards Death Valley and away from Joshua Tree National Park.
The trail itself was really well maintained, and really easy to access off the main road through the park.
Hiking the trail for the first time was almost like walking through a Dr Seuss book. The Joshua trees are all so whimsical and interesting in their shape. Coming from the Eastern US, I had never really seen anything like it. They are really fascinating to see.
What are the hiking is through desert scrub. However, I was surprised at the amount of wildlife that was out and about, especially compared to Death Valley. There were a lot of birds, lizards, and insects.
The trail is pretty flat until it reaches the bottom of Teutonia Ridge. And then it starts making a zigzag climb up.
The trail so far was fairly straightforward to follow. Most of the signs are either plastic direction signs in the ground, or sticks and rocks that people had helpfully placed in the desert to guide the trail.
Most of the trail is only west side of Teutonia Ridge. So you kind of clamber up that side of the ridge till you get to some high points where you can look back east.
The Eastern view is of a another ridgeline and the Joshua tree forest.
The western view is a view of a large rise in the land called the Cima Dome.
There are also a surprising number of cacti along the ridge, that made for interesting hiking.
The Preserve is crisscrossed by several roads. It’s also much larger than I had anticipated. I spent a couple hours taking the long drive through the preserve to get back on the I-15 at a more remote location. The drive was just more desert more Joshua trees. It’s a beautiful enchanting landscape.
I did not have much time to do other side trips. There are plenty of other hikes and lookouts throughout the Preserve. I did make one other small stop to see a lookout over the southern side of the preserve.
Before I went here I thought that the only population of Joshua trees was in Joshua Tree National Park. But Mojave National preserve was a really exciting discovery for me. It’s very accessible to both Las Vegas and Los Angeles. And it’s a great day trip to check out landscape that you’ve never seen before.