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Mojave National Preserve, the ‘secret sibling’ to Death Valley —

Considering its size, Mojave National Preserve, in far-eastern California, doesn’t get much attention.

At 1.6 million acres, it’s the third-largest unit of the National Park Service in the continguous United States — but only gets about half a million visitors a year.

Compare that to nearby Grand Canyon National Park, which at “only” 1.2 million acres gets nearly 6 million annual visitors. Or Death Valley National Park, also in the Mojave Desert, which gets about 2 million.

Is it the fact that Mojave is a Preserve rather than a Park, and therefore a kind of second-class citizen in the eyes of tourists?

Whatever the reason, the Preserve’s low profile is if anything more incentive to visit. We visited this past March, almost as an afterthought to a trip centered around Death Valley, and it ended up being the high point of our experience — an enchanting place of Joshua tree “forests,” sandy-red mountain scenery and true solitude.


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