Things to See Near Mojave
A snowflake hasn’t been seen in the southern California town of Mojave for more than 50 years, making it an ideal place to escape a cold winter.
The small town is easy to pass by unnoticed in the the vast desert its named for, but it’s a worthwhile stop with a variety of sights geared to outdoor adventurers, history buffs and techno geeks alike.
Out of This World
The town’s welcome sign informs you that you’ve reached the gateway to space. The town is known for experimental air and spacecraft endeavors, which you can learn about at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The first privately piloted spacecraft, Space Ship One, launched from the site in 2004, and plans are in the works for an updated version that will propel tourists 62 miles into space on short commercial tours.
See both historic and experimental aircraft on site and enjoy aeronautically-inspired fare at the Voyager Airport Restaurant in the historic terminal building. Similar points of interest include Edwards Air Force Airport 20 miles east of town and Dryden Flight Research Center 30 miles south.
Everything’s Coming Up Poppies
See stunning floral displays of springtime wildflowers at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, 35 miles southwest of Mojave. Blooms pop as early as mid-February and linger until mid-May. Blossoms proliferate after a wet winter, appearing as a brilliant golden blanket of flowers on the park’s rolling hills.
Eight miles of trails winding through the park include a paved, wheelchair-accessible nature trail. Keep an eye open for rattlesnakes, which emerge from winter dens about the same time wildflowers begin to bloom.
A 360-Degree View
Get an unparalleled view from one of the mountain peaks outside of town. Tehachapi Mountain Park lies just 25 miles west, with a 7,980-foot summit towering over a mountain range of the same name. The peak’s name means “hard to climb” in the Kawaiisu language, an apt description for the steep trail that gains 2,000 feet in elevation over 3 miles.
Camp at the trailhead campground to enjoy the view for days at a time. If you prefer looking up to see the view, colorful cliffs surround Red Rock Canyon State Park 30 miles north of Mojave. Hiking trails and campsites provide views of wind-swept rock wrinkles and folds in hues of mauve, white, red, pink and brown.
Beware of Ghosts
Old West enthusiasts won’t want to miss the ghost towns of Johannesburg, Red Mountain and Randsburg, all of which lie about 35 miles northeast of Mojave. Randsburg has shops, a restaurant and an old-fashioned soda fountain.
Two miles east, Johannesburg sits near the historic King Solomon mine of the late 1890s. The family-oriented town had banks, churches and even one of the area’s first golf courses. Another mile west leads to Red Mountain, where a rickety grocery store and church from over 100 years ago preside over the mostly tumbledown remains of the once prosperous town.
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