Enjoy Scenic Vistas in Mojave Monument - Mountain News : Mountain Living

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Enjoy Scenic Vistas in Mojave Monument

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Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2016 6:00 am

Some of us never get tired of the pine trees, cedars and oaks of the mountains. But now and then it’s good for the spirit to switch to the quiet beige and brown tones of the desert, the silence, solitude and majesty of pristine places.

Thanks to the new Mojave Trails National Monument, a wealth of treasured attractions will be protected in perpetuity. Mountaineers can enjoy a series of day trips and camping trips to explore points of interest within the 1.6 million-acre monument.

At the heart of the Mojave are an abundance of now-protected natural assets:

Amboy Crater is already designated as a National Natural Landmark, North America’s youngest volcano and the site of scenic lava flows.

Afton Canyon is where the year-round Mojave River creates a desert oasis surrounded by colorful canyon walls.

Cady Mountains are among the best areas for seeing bighorn sheep.

Cadiz Dunes, Kelso and numerous other sand-dune systems are unique and merit protection.

California’s largest cactus garden is partly situated in the monument.

Goffs was once a bustling community, a railroad town established in 1883. It was a famous stop along Route 66 that now is a cultural center. The centerpiece is a one-room mission style school built in 1914 to serve the growing population. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

Lobeck’s Pass has outcroppings that exemplify the magnificent scenery preserved along Route 66.

Marble Mountains: Imagine trilobites, the first animals on Earth with eyes and skeletons. This is where you can find fossil beds of 550 million-year-old trilobites.

Pisgah Crater and Pisgah Lava Flow are the most researched areas in North America for the effects of volcanism on evolution.

Ship Mountains are so-named because they appear to be an armada at anchor in an ocean. It is a popular area for finding opalites and fossils.

Sleeping Beauty Valley, on the eastern edge of the west Mojave Desert, is the last intact valley representing the ecosystem of west Mojave plant associations.

Sacramento Mountains are critical habitat for the desert tortoise and many other important species of interest. Nearby is a popular off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation area.

Ward Valley lies between the Old Woman Mountain and the Piute Mountains. Sacred to a number of Native American tribes, it is mentioned in memorial and other ceremonies.

Wildlife and recreational corridors connecting two national parks and 13 wilderness areas are a haven for campers and explorers among the bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, fringe-toed lizards, golden eagles, kit foxes and other rare animals. Desert wildlife tend to flourish around stunning springs emanating from underground water sources, which are great places for photography. Also, plan to visit the desert twice a year to see the riotous displays of spring and fall wildflowers.

Did you know there are shifting sand dunes that hum in the wind? The absence of OHV activity in such places, and the monument’s protected status from industrial development, will ensure that the singing sand dunes will entertain your grandchildren as well as their grandchildren.

The monument designation for Mojave Trails means these pristine landscapes will be preserved for current and future generations to enjoy. In addition to all of these remarkable natural, historic and cultural landmarks, explorers will find existing recreational opportunities such as camping, hiking, rock climbing, rock-hounding and hunting.

Why rock-hounding? It’s just the desert...but it’s a desert rich in geology, a treasure trove for research and education.

For those who wish to take advantage of 1,400 miles of rugged roads that require four-wheel drive, remember to limit OHV use to the designated roads only. Do your part to protect the desert tortoises and wildflowers.

Those who are willing to stay on the main road through the monument will be enjoying the most pristine remaining stretch of historic Route 66. The most famous highway in America, the “Mother Road” became an international icon through literature, film, television and song. As the shortest, best-weather route across the United States, Route 66 linked Chicago with Santa Monica and prompted America’s automobile-oriented society.

Just as the residents of mountain resort communities rely upon tourism for a healthy economy, remember that the gateway communities outside the Mojave Trails National Monument also value the economic opportunities that tourism brings to their towns. When you go down to the desert to warm up winter-chilled bones, patronize the businesses in those communities, and invite them to cool off in the mountains during their hot summer months. Reciprocal hospitality can put stars on the map for all of these lands we love, and the places we play.

But remember to leave these places—these awe-inspiring landscapes and vast vistas—unblemished by the hand of humans. Leave no trace.

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