Discovering the flora & fauna of the Mojave Desert
During his Thousand-Mile Summer walk and on several other trips, Colin Fletcher crossed the East Mojave Desert, an enchanting wilderness area full of history and a surprising richness of wildlife, both flora and fauna.
According to his notes, it was here where Fletcher was ravished by delight, saying: “God is light, we are told, and Hell is outer darkness. But look at a desert mountain stripped bare by the sun, and you learn only geography. Watch darkness claim it, and for a moment you may grasp why God had to create Satan – or man to create both.”
Guided tour: Probably the most stunning experience in the Mojave is the crossing of the New York Mountains, with 7,500 ft. the highest range between the Colorado River and the Panamint Range, which comes up with some natural surprises.
This three to four-day tour of roughly 30 miles makes you understand something of the magic that binds people to the desert. Most interesting are the dramatic changes in vegetation almost every couple of miles. You walk through sage and creosote desert, climb slopes populated with barrel cacti, find yourself surrounded by Joshuas, and get excited following animal tracks on the sandy floor of a green canyon abundantly covered with flowers and trees. After crossing the New York Mountains through a network of canyons, once again you will be surprised by looking over a totally different kind of desert.
The tour ends at Nipton Station, a former railroad hub and a nice motel with – for railroad afficionados – frequent freight trains rumbling along your bedroom.
Date & costs: This trip is scheduled for May or June. This is the best time to explore the higher elevations of the Mojave Desert. The nights aren’t below freezing point anymore, the days don’t hit the three-digits level yet, and many cacti and flowers will be blooming. Tour prices depend on the group size, accommodation and caches. The booking includes:
- Lunch at starting point
- Tour of 3 to 4 days, preparations, cashed goods, photo documentary
- Last night at hotel Nipton Station
- On return, you may want to visit the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association.
Trip schedule (ca. 30 miles)
- 1st evening > Arrival at meeting point, transfer to starting point
- 2nd day > Walk to the southern foothills of the New York Mountains
- 3rd-4th day > Crossing the range, Caruthers Canyon, Keystone Canyon
- 5th day > Overnight at Nipton Station
- 6th morning > Visit to the Mojave Desert & Cultural Association or Las Vegas