The Super Bowl versus The Mojave

Last week a couple thoughts hit me:

  • Super Bowl Sunday would happen on the weekend
  • Joyce had never camped in the Mojave National Preserve


Almost 50% of all American households will tune into the Super Bowl, and around 110 million Americans (35% of the population) will watch it. I don’t know what the other 50% of the households will be doing, but I suspect a large majority of them won’t be outdoors hiking, backpacking or camping.


This park is comprised of close to 1.6 million acres. It is the 3rd largest unit maintained by the National Park Service in the continental United States, behind Death Valley and Yellowstone. Approximately 50% of the preserve is designated wilderness.

There are only two developed campgrounds in the preserve; both in a fairly remote area. There are a total of 61 campsites between both campgrounds. Although I have backpacked extensively throughout the preserve, I have never stayed at either campground. Sites are first-come, first-served; meaning no reservations. I like that!
The preserve is nestled between Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park. Elevations range from 800 feet to nearly 8,000 feet. It is desert – meaning temperatures over 100 F in summer and most parts of the preserve get snow in most years.

There are many habitats in the preserve to include sand dunes, cactus & yucca scrub, sandy washes, Pinion & Juniper woodlands, and Joshua Tree woodlands. It is one of my favorite destinations.

Some of the wildlife you can see includes the Desert Tortoise, Coyotes, 3 species of rattlesnakes (including the dangerous Mojave Green), Bighorn Sheep, Deer, Mountain Lion, Kit Fox, birds of prey, quail, Road Runners, and a diverse selection of lizards.
There are few trails (cross country hiking is allowed almost everywhere) and there are quite a few 4WD roads in the non-wilderness areas.


Since it was Super Bowl time and Joyce had never camped in the preserve, I put these facts together and with my excellent ability to reason, came up with the conclusion we should go camping in the Mojave Preserve. My experience is that few people are out enjoying outdoor activities on Super Bowl weekend, and we could expect few people to be in the campgrounds.

Only 10 of the 35 campsites were taken, reinforcing that the Super Bowl is more important to most people… too bad, but we enjoyed the solitude.

Many people don’t care for these campgrounds, as it is often windy. Hell, it’s the desert and deserts are windy. I should know… we live in a desert and there are over 4,000 windmills practically in our backyard.

Daytime high temperatures ranged from around 48F – 60F. Nights dipped below freezing. Saturday night dropped down to a very chilling 17F.
We did the usual camping things to include some hiking. Had we stayed Sunday night, we would have seen snow.

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Buckthorn Cholla
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Mojave Yucca
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Cactus Wren nest in a Pencil Cholla

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