fun to do kids mojave desert california   Travel for Kids
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Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve is not as famous as Death Valley National Park further north, but the preserve has the best dunes for kids (also bigger and taller than Death Valley). Kids will also see spiky Joshua trees, cholla and barrel cactus, yucca, rock formations, fresh water springs, and wildlife of the desert.
    Read our blog post "Mojave National Preserve: Play in the dunes" for more information, wildlife and plants, and tips for visiting the preserve.
    Kelso Depot Visitor Center – The visitor center is situated in an old railroad depot, where long freight trains still come down the tracks, but don't stop.
      Pick up a brochure and map of the preserve, and check out exhibits of wildlife and plants – desert tortoise, creatures that leave their tracks in the sand such as lizards, kangaroo rats, beetles, snakes, flowers that bloom in spring – and look into the old telegraph office.
      Restrooms inside, picnic tables outside, and if you're lucky, a train will go by.
    Kelso Dunes – Kids love playing in the sand dunes, and these are fun for kids of all ages, toddlers to teens. From the parking lot, are two trails (footprints in the soft sand), both go to the summit of the tallest dune.
      With little ones, just go as far as you like, then play in the soft, fine, white grained sand – it's one big sandbox. For older kids, hike up to the summit, then run back down! Parents, just like your kids, open your arms wide, and go. Coming down the slope, listen for the sounds of the “singing sands,” a low-pitched ka-boom, ka-boom sound.
      Tip: Bring lots of water with you! Also snacks if you plan on hiking to the top of the dunes. Wear sunscreen, hats, lightweight shoes are best (when they fill up with sand, ones you can easily take off to dump out the sand). Get an early start. By noon, it's much hotter on the dunes.
  Joshua trees – Throughout the preserve are striking Joshua trees, perfectly adapted to the harsh, dry climate. The trees can withstand intense heat and cold, spiky leaves catch every bit of rain, which is stored in the trunk.
    The best place to see Joshua trees is Cima Road. Stop at the Teutonia Peak Trail, and walk through the forest of Joshua trees. Not like a green leaf forest with tons of water, this forest is like the Bristlecone pines, with an extreme climate that the trees can live hundreds of years.
    Zzyzx Soda Springs – Plan to stop here for a picnic lunch or dinner. Fresh water springs bubble up in a large pond, surrounded by palm trees (in the mid 20th century, this was a health resort). Ducks are floating on the water, it’s quiet, peaceful, picnic tables in the trees next to the parking lot. A desert oasis!
      The road to Zzyzx is just off I-15, 6 miles west of Baker.
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