Monday, December 19, 2016

Kelso Dunes Wilderness Powerline Road

Here's another nice powerline road across the Mojave desert.  This section runs from Kelbaker Road at Kelso Dunes, west toward I-15.  I've driven this section a few times and almost all of it is easy.  


The road is signed with the BLM route marker NN15.  I drove it a few months ago and it was in good condition.  There are a few short sections with moderate sand (5 inches or less) and one section with deep sand that can be avoided by taking an alternate route.  Here's the view after leaving Kelbaker Road.  You can see the Kelso Dunes off to the right.


Since it passes by Kelso Dunes (the 2nd highest dunes in California) you might consider taking this road back toward LA after visiting the dunes.  Most of the road is like this...


Here's the view looking back to the east from the western border of the Mojave National Preserve.



The hilly section is not sandy and has always been well graded.


The most difficult section is the part immediately west of the dunes.  It's not really difficult.  Annoying is more appropriate.  The road crosses the fall-line of the local gentle bajada and so there are many shallow washout channels from past rain storms.  Those require you to slow down, unless you're driving a modified Jeep or you enjoy beating up your suspension.  Once you're past that (less than 10 miles) then it's pretty easy.  High ground clearance isn't needed on this road, however 4wd is definitely helpful in the loose rock/gravel and sand sections.


Entering the valley with Broadwell Dry Lake...


You don't need to drive the entire route shown above that I drove.  You can bail out at Crucero Road and head south to Ludlow for gas and ice cream.  The 76 station there has a Dairy Queen inside.

If you do continue westward, as I did, then the road becomes BL8810 and then becomes BL8560 after the dogleg turn.  That's not important information.  I don't think there are any signs.  I know the BLM route numbers from the maps I have.

The last section of road passes by the F-4 jet fighter crash site.  Years ago it had some large pieces of the engines and fuselage surfaces, but now that site has mostly been picked clean.  My previous posts about that site are here, and here.

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