Sand and solitude—that’s what I was looking for when I went to Kelso Dunes last Monday morning. I left Las Vegas at 3:30 a.m. hoping to see a beautiful sunrise over the dunes. I saw a beautiful sunrise over Baker, California and enjoyed the early morning, wandering the sand dunes, never seeing another soul until my departure at 9 a.m.. The experience was very special as there was not even another human foot print to be seen. The wind during the night erased all human sign and gave the sand a virgin surface to be freshly inscribed and sculpted by the myriad of native creatures. There were tracks of all sorts from foxes to beetles, from snakes to jack rabbits. I hiked to the summit of the dunes which was beautiful and pristine as the wind continuously scours the great wave of sand leaving no trace of interlopers. They say the dunes moan or hum at times when the sand shifts just so. I listened but all I heard was the wind. The hike was strenuous and I recommend making sure you are well hydrated and that you are in good shape for walking.
The dunes are located in the southern portion of the Mojave National Preserve. I missed the sunrise over the dunes because the sun rose at around 5:30 a.m. and I didn’t make it to the dunes until 6:30. Ito get to the Kelso Dunes. From Las Vegas, I drove south on I-15 for two hours until I reached Baker. At Baker I turned left or south east on Kelbaker Road toward Kelso Depot. After about an hour I drove through the settlement where Kelso Depot is located. Kelso Depo is worth a visit after returning from the dunes. It has a very interesting museum which celebrates the railroad’s influence on the development of the country. I went past Kelso Depo for about 5 miles to a turn off to the right to Kelso Dunes. This road is dirt and has some wash boards so it is a bit bumpy. The first pullout with a rest room is a good place to park for easy access to the dunes. There are no motorized vehicles in the dunes so it is quiet and fairly well preserved. It is well worth a visit, especially in Fall or Spring when it is not 110 degrees.
I did most of my photographing with a wide angle lens, especially shots encompassing an entire dune or two. I also used my 70-200 mm zoom to shoot close ups of tracks and lizards. I was hoping to see more wild life but when it is hot like it is now, I’m sure they are well hidden from the sun pretty early in the morning.