There are some trails and adventures that you journey across that really move you. This was one of those kind of adventures. Old Government Road or Mojave Road as it is more known today was used by indigenous people to transport goods from the southwest to trade with the Chumash and other coastal tribes. The route also assisted American settlers later who were on their westward expansion. Although we were traveling in Toyota Tacomas and Jeeps, we too were making the same 150+ mile journey into the backcountry of the California desert.
Note, there are no road signs leading you through the Mojave Road; only rock cairns. This is what makes this particualr adventure and journey memorable, you really get to experience a sense of how the trail must have been for the early tribes and settlers back in the 1800's. It is a trail that should be respected and is highly recommended to take with at least two vehicles, as the area is very isolated and desolate. Be mindful and carry extra water and fuel if you plan to complete the whole journey. We completed the trail in three days, with a good amount of miles put in each day.
As previously mentioned, the trail was used by early settlers and military forts were established along the the route to protect key water sources and provide assistance for travelers. Remnants of these forts can be explored such as Fort Piute, which was built in 1867.
The National Park Service has informational markers at the site, and you can walk freely among the foundation ruins of the old Fort Piute. Please be respectful of the structure and refrain from sitting or standing on the stone walls so that they can be preserved for as long as possible.
The terrain on the Mojave Road consists of washboard roads, sandy trails, moderate rocks, and a fun section of whoops. Although most of the trail is fairly easy, there are a few difficult sections with deep washes and rutted out pockets. We can only imagine how the settlers crossed these areas in covered wagons.
Also along the trail are some fun quirky site markers such as the Penny Can Tree, the Frog Crossing, and the Mojave Mailbox. The Penny Can Tree, during our visit was an old rusted can hanging from a Joshua Tree, where it is customary to leave an offering (a penny) and a wish.
The mailbox is covered in stickers and a notebook is tucked inside for guests along the trail to sign. Travelers also leave mementos and small things to share. We left something behind, and whoever picks it up, we hope it compliments your collection. The mailbox also makes a great area to park off trail and enjoy some lunch. The time here was also utilized so that the two Jeeps traveling with us could refuel their gastanks.
We don't want to be like other articles and give away all the sights along the trail, because it is our hope that you too make this amazing trek across the land to discover and see them for yourselves. A helpful resource that you might want to consider picking up for your journey is the the Mojave Road Guide - An Adventure Through Time and Map, by Dennis G. Casebier. Mr. Casebier is a historian who rediscovered the old wagon road, which is now a major recreational trail known as Mojave Road. The guide also includes camping and other helpful recreation information.
In an earlier article/posting we wrote about "Passion for Adventure" It is our hope that we can encourage you and inspire you to get out there and live life to the fullest. There are so many wonders to be seen out there on the road less traveled. Find some people who share that passion, and hit the Open Road!