Added by Alex Anderson
This hidden gem under the The Mojave Desert is a Photographer's dream on a cloudless day. Explore the dark caves to find a magical beam of sunlight shining through the lava tube ceiling.
When visiting the Lava Tubes, you must have a full tank of gas, radiator coolant, and a couple gallons of water before you enter the Mojave Desert Preserve! The preserve doesn't offer any services other than the occasional place to fill up on water.
From The North: From Baker, CA on Interstate 15, drive 20 miles southeast on Kelbaker Rd until you come to Aiken Mine Rd. Turn left/northeast on the dirt road. Most of the year the road is well maintained enough that almost any type of vehicle can drive on the road, but a vehicle equipped for off-road travel is ideal. Travel on Aiken Mine Rd for 4.5 miles. After a mile you will pass the intersection of the famous Mojave Desert Road 4x4 Trail marked by a large rock cairn. Continue on Aiken mine Rd past Cima Domes, which are old extinct volcanoes and two water wells surrounded with a wooden staked fence. After 4 miles you will come to a "Y" in the road, stay to the left and follow the sign that says Lava Tube Trail. At the end of the road, there is a small parking area--if you don't have a vehicle with four wheel drive, its time to park and walk 200 yards up the jeep trail to the trailhead for you. If you have four wheel drive you can continue northeast on the small but rugged jeep trail all the way to the trailhead. Park at the trailhead and walk up the well marked trail for 100 yards until you see the large hole in the ceiling of the lava tube below. Continue 50 more feet to the metal staircase that lowers you into the lava tube. Turn left and watch your head as you crawl on all fours into the bigger room of the lava tube which the light shines into. There are three different holes in the ceiling of the lava tube that allow light to shine through. The cool, damp lava tube offers an amazing relief from the dry desert heat outside. Bring a headlamp/flashlight to navigate through the small dark section of the lava tube. The light shines into the lava tube during anytime of day, but the most optimal times are between 11 and 1 o'clock on a cloudless day.
If you are looking for a little more adventure on your way to the lava tube you can drive the Mojave Desert 4x4 Road to access the lava tube from the east or west. The Mojave Road is a staple of American history and the roots of the West. The trail stretches from the Colorado River, 140 miles to the Mojave River. The trail was first used by Native Americans to access water holes in the middle of the desert. Today the trail is a fun way to access the desert landscape with a four wheel drive vehicle. Even if you don't take on the entire trail, you can access small sections of the trail and take advantage of the primitive campsites. If you do decide to take on this trail, prepare properly and understand some basic ways to troubleshoot car troubles. I had a plastic hose connection brake on my last trip, and had to jerry rig a connector with chapstick and rubber bands just to make it to the nearest gas station.
- Full Tank Of Gas
- Radiator Coolant
- 2 Gallons of Water
- Good Shoes for the Sharp Lava Rocks
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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