Thursday, March 10, 2016

New National Monuments -- see the largest, Mojave Trails

Of the three newly created national monuments, the largest is the Mojave Trails National Monument. Chances are you may have already driven through part of the new monument – that is if you've retraced part of America's "Mother Road," Route 66. Considered to be America's most famous highway, a chunk of Route 66 runs through the monument.



Describing the layout – start at the Nevada-California border and fly west 140 miles. The endpoint puts you in Barstow. Overall, you're looking at more than a million and a half acres of land, highly diverse. From sand dunes to lava flows, toss in a few amazing mountain ranges, and plenty of brush, you've got a partial descriptor of this new American attraction.

What might attract you for a visit?

  • Wildlife: Bighorn sheep are rife in the Cady Mountains. 
  • A big hole: Amboy Crater, a volcanic cinder cone around 80,000 years old, containing a lava lake. Back in the heyday of Route 66, thousands of folks climbed it so they could say they'd visited a "real volcano." 
  • Old fossils: Think you're ancient? Try being a Cambrian trilobite – a small marine crustacean resembling a horseshoe crab. At 550 million years old, these denizens of the Marble Mountains Fossil Beds now live inside a national monument. 
  • Colorful canyons: Rockwalls in glorious Technicolor, complete with ever-changing lighting makes for amazing photo-ops. Catch this at Afton Canyon. 

Camping opportunities? Yes indeed. Where the trail is open, if not otherwise posted against, you're free to boondock in the monument.

Check back next time for our final installment on the three new National Monuments.

Photos: Route 66 -- Dave Johnson on wikimedia.org. Bighorn Sheep -- Magnus Kjaergaard on wikimedia.org. Amboy Crater -- Bureau of Land Management. Trilobite -- public domain photo.

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