Mojave National Preserve, Kelso Dunes, Amboy Crater, Joshua Tree National Park, April 28, 2018

Our desert adventures started with a trip to the Mojave National Preserve to hike the singing sands of the Kelso Dunes.  

The hike starts out on a sandy track that heads straight.  As you hike, the terrain is mostly flat until you get closer to the dunes where you’ll begin to cross many smaller dunes before arriving at the base.  There really isn’t an established trail because the wind is constantly shifting the sand, but you can make out footprints where others have made their way up.  Just keep heading towards the highest point, and try to avoid stepping on any vegetation.  As you begin to ascend, hiking becomes more strenuous.  Your feet sink into the deep sand and for every step you take forward, you’ll slide two steps back.  It’s no easy task, but getting up to the top is totally worth it!  Once you’re on top, follow the sandy spine all the way to the peak where it levels off.  You’ll have a great place to sit and enjoy the surrounding views.  

Now for the best part… When you’re done taking it all in, you’ll can slide your way down!  If conditions are right, you’ll hear the dunes boom or sing and feel them vibrate underneath you.  This phenomena is caused by sheets of sand cascading down and rubbing against the stationary sand below.  It’s really something to experience and there are only 30 other dunes in the world that can do this.  I was elated that we were able to hear them sing today!

Our next stop was Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark, just off Route 66.  The crater is a cinder cone type of volcano that last erupted about 10,000 years ago.  To get to it, you hike through a lava field and then up and into the crater where you can walk around its edge.  It’s about a 3 mile round trip hike.  Sadly, we were unable to hike all the way up today because the temperatures were already a scorching 90 degrees.  It was still fun to see and it’s on our list for when the weather cools down.

After the Amboy Crater, we made our way down to Twentynine Palms where we spent the night.  We had some dinner before heading into Joshua Tree National Park to relax and watch a gorgeous desert sunset before retiring for the evening.  

It was a great day!  I’m really looking forward to exploring more of the Mojave National Preserve.  There’s so much to see!

 Starting off at the trailhead.  There are interpretive signs here with information about the dunes and some of the critters that live here.  

Starting off at the trailhead.  There are interpretive signs here with information about the dunes and some of the critters that live here.  

 Most of the hike is flat until you start getting closer to the dunes.

Most of the hike is flat until you start getting closer to the dunes.

 Mojave fringe toed lizard (Uma scoparia), also known as "sand swimmers".  We saw lots of these along the way.  They can move very fast across the sand because of their "snowshoe-like" feet.

Mojave fringe toed lizard (Uma scoparia), also known as "sand swimmers".  We saw lots of these along the way.  They can move very fast across the sand because of their "snowshoe-like" feet.

 Desert wildflowers.

Desert wildflowers.

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 My husband up ahead.

My husband up ahead.

 Another Mojave fringe toed lizard.  Some of them were quite curious about me.

Another Mojave fringe toed lizard.  Some of them were quite curious about me.

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 Almost to the top of the spine.

Almost to the top of the spine.

 Winds blowing the sand.

Winds blowing the sand.

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 We followed the spine upward all the way to the highest point.

We followed the spine upward all the way to the highest point.

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 Looking back at my husband.  It's a struggle through the sand to the top.

Looking back at my husband.  It's a struggle through the sand to the top.

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 Reached the top!  There's a nice flat section here where you can sit and enjoy the views.

Reached the top!  There's a nice flat section here where you can sit and enjoy the views.

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 This is my view as I slid down the dunes all the way from the top which made them "boom" or "sing".  Only 30 other dunes in the world can do this.  It was pretty amazing to experience.

This is my view as I slid down the dunes all the way from the top which made them "boom" or "sing".  Only 30 other dunes in the world can do this.  It was pretty amazing to experience.

 Looking down at my husband as I was making my way down.

Looking down at my husband as I was making my way down.

 Looking back up behind me.

Looking back up behind me.

 Another look back from where we had just been.

Another look back from where we had just been.

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 Another Mojave fringe toed lizard.

Another Mojave fringe toed lizard.

 Wildflowers.

Wildflowers.

 Lots of Cresote in bloom.

Lots of Cresote in bloom.

 After leaving the dunes, we stopped off at this vista just off Kelbaker Road to enjoy the views and some lunch.

After leaving the dunes, we stopped off at this vista just off Kelbaker Road to enjoy the views and some lunch.

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 Next stop... Amboy Crater.

Next stop... Amboy Crater.

 You can hike all the way to the crater and then climb up.

You can hike all the way to the crater and then climb up.

 Walking through the lava field.

Walking through the lava field.

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 It was too hot to hike all the way up the crater today, but we'll be back another time.

It was too hot to hike all the way up the crater today, but we'll be back another time.

 After checking into our Bed & Breakfast in Twentynine Palms and having some dinner, it was time to relax and enjoy a Joshua Tree National Park sunset.

After checking into our Bed & Breakfast in Twentynine Palms and having some dinner, it was time to relax and enjoy a Joshua Tree National Park sunset.

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