Where are some of the best areas to get off-road and venture through the desert in CA? If you’re looking for expansive dry lake beds surrounded by beautiful desert mountains, make your way through the Grass Valley Wilderness Area and head to the Mojave Desert.
Now you might think that with a name like “Grass Valley” you would see lush green grass rolling over the hills and through the valley – but don’t be fooled. Maybe whomever named this area had an idea similar to the Icelandic murderer who was exiled to Greenland and called it so in hopes that settlers would be attracted by the name. In reality, Grass Valley is an area with rolling reddish and yellow hills with desert brush vegetation, Joshua trees, some raptors, tortoises, and ground squirrels. The area really is a beautiful place with awesome views as you travel down the roads and head into the desert.
To get there, the old Barstow-Red Mountain Road bisects the wilderness area and provides easy access. Note that while in the Wilderness Area you must remain on the route if traveling in any sort of vehicle. A lot of people will start their adventure in Randsburg where they fuel up and head west over Red Mountain or down the 395 to Atolia and then out on the designated travel route through the Grass Valley Wilderness Area and into the Mojave Desert.
Along the way there are some abandoned mines and a couple really cool landmarks you can’t miss, including the Husky Monument. The monument was created originally as an homage to Jim Erickson who loved riding the area. It was started as a half buried Husqvarna with a small plaque and has since grown as others have memorialized their loved ones. The monument continues to grow each year with hand crafted monuments and plaques and has become sacred ground for desert riders.
Not far from the Husky Monument is a memorial for an F-22 Crash site where pilot Dave “Cools” Cooley lost his life. The military uses the Mojave Desert to test planes and there are a fair amount of crash sites out there. So much so, that many people have made it a hobby to find them.
Camping is allowed in the wilderness area for up to 14 days in a single location, and then you must relocate to at least 25 miles from your previous site. Remember that you can’t take your vehicle off the route in the Wilderness Area but you can do more exploring once you leave the Wilderness Area and head further into the Mojave.
So what are you waiting for? Pack up the gear and grab your buddies to head out on an adventure where you can blast through the desert surrounded by some beautiful mountains.