For those looking for an adventure, the desert often seems like an uncharted playground. The Mojave Desert has a mystique that is hard to define and is a challenge for visitors to unriddle. There are iconic landmarks lining Interstate 15, expansive sandy landscapes highlighting desert dunes in Kelso, and mountain ranges in Big Morongo Valley Preserve.
Don’t know where to start on your desert adventure? Check out this itinerary for a full day of sightseeing in the Mojave Desert.
Take a photo at The World’s Largest Thermometer located in Baker, CA
Make your first pit stop to have one of the best photo ops in the desert. At 134 feet tall, the fully functioning thermometer stands as an iconic structure in the desert. It can be seen from miles away, while driving along Interstate 15 so you can’t miss it! And you can pick up a cute souvenir at the nearby Temp 134 Gift Shop.
Explore Zzyzx (Zye-Zx, like Isaac)
Have you seen a strange exit sign for a place called “Zzyzx?” Just five miles off of Interstate 15 the deserted town of Zzyzx lives up to a definition of a ghost town. Now a Desert Studies Center for local students, it used to be known as the “Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort.” The swaying palm trees and unchanging pond give a hint to what the “natural desert oasis” once was. See remnants of the bizarre desert retreat and snap a few photos of the last destination listed on any map.
Lunch at The Mad Greek
A hidden oasis of Mediterranean bliss, The Mad Greek’s authentic cuisine is brought to life using family recipes from Chef Larry Dabour’s grandmother. Did we mention this high desert hot spot was featured on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” You can’t go wrong with their home-cooked gyro and zucchini fries and don’t forget to order some Greecian baked goods and milkshakes to-go.
Take in the Sights of the Mojave National Preserve
In the heart of the Mojave Desert, the Mojave National Preserve is a 1.4 million acre outdoor playground. Fun fact: it’s the third largest national preserve in the U.S. Many take to the preserve to hike the Kelso Dunes. At more than 600 feet high, the wind-blown sand dunes give you a great vantage point to catch beautiful desert sunrises and sunsets. If you’re looking to learn more about the region stop by the Kelso Depot for brochures and maps.
Spend the night at Pirate Cove Resort
End the day with a stay at Pirates Cove Resort. Along the Colorado River, the resort is a secluded desert oasis that offers relaxation along white sandy beaches and more adventure in the desert. It has everything you need for a luxurious stay along with an award-winning pirate-themed restaurant and beach bar, spacious beachfront cabins, riverfront RV resort, boat rentals, children’s water park, and playground.
Photo Credit: Pirate Cove Resort