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Kelso Dunes Route

Intermediate
 4.3 (3) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A short, yet steep and sandy hike to the top of the Kelso Dunes for stunning views.


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Map Key

2.8

Miles

4.5

KM

Out and Back

2,952' 900 m

High

2,583' 787 m

Low

391' 119 m

Up

390' 119 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

18%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

This hike includes sections of off-trail travel. Please ensure you are equipped and well prepared before venturing beyond official and mapped terrain. These areas may or may not be regularly patrolled and access to help may be limited.

Overview

One of the Mojave National Preserve's more popular destinations, the Kelso Dunes are the largest sand dunes found in the Mojave Desert. The dunes cover 45 square miles and rise up to 650 feet. The dunes are known as "booming dunes," a reference to the low-frequency rumble that can occur when large amounts of sand flows down the slopes.

Need to Know

Pit toilets are located at the trailhead. Water and visitor information is available Kelso Depot, 8.0 miles to the north on Kelbaker Road.

The Mojave Desert is very remote and the temperatures can range from extreme heat to below freezing at night, even outside of summer. Always carry extra water and follow good backcountry safety practices when visiting.

Description

The dunes are accessed from a marked trailhead just off Kelbaker Road. Take Kelbaker Road south from Kelso Depot for approximately 8.0 miles to Kelso Dunes Road. The trailhead is a short distance down the road on the right. There are information signs and pit toilets at the trailhead. The trail travels about a half mile to the edge of the sand. One can turn around here, or continue cross-country up the steep, sandy slope to the top of the dunes.

Flora & Fauna

Many species of desert wildlife call the dunes home, and their tracks are visible all over the soft sand. There are several species that are endemic to the sand dunes, such as the Kelso Jerusalem Cricket.

Contacts

Shared By:

Ryan Dunn

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 3 votes

#3119

Overall
  4.3 from 3 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#449

in California

#3,119

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4 Views Last Month
530 Since Nov 5, 2018
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Photos

Kelso Dunes in desert in Mohave Preserve.
Dec 20, 2018 near Needles, CA
Kelso Dunes from the trail.
Nov 5, 2018 near Needles, CA
Kelso Dunes
Nov 12, 2018 near Needles, CA
Kelso Dunes
Nov 12, 2018 near Needles, CA
Animal tracks are abundent in the sands of Kelso Dunes.
Nov 5, 2018 near Needles, CA
Interpretive signs at start of Kelso Dunes
Dec 20, 2018 near Needles, CA

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Check-Ins

Nov 1, 2018
Ryan Dunn
Beautiful Views at this unique and surreal location 3mi — 2h 00m