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Highways, Roads & Trails - Mojave Desert History:

Historic Roads & Trails

Historic roads and trails are those that have been used over a period of time developing historical importance.

Old Spanish Trail in Spanish Canyon, Mojave Desert
Spanish Canyon - Old Spanish Trail

Mojave Desert, located in the southwestern United States, is known for its vast and arid landscape. Throughout its expansive terrain, there are numerous historic roads and trails that offer a glimpse into the region's rich history. These roads and trails have played a significant role in the development and exploration of the Mojave Desert.

One of the most famous historic roads in the Mojave Desert is the Mojave Road. This 138-mile-long trail stretches from the Colorado River in the east to the Mojave River in the west. It was originally used by Native Americans as a trade route and later became an important thoroughfare for Spanish missionaries, explorers, and American settlers. Today, the Mojave Road is a popular destination for off-road enthusiasts and history buffs, as it allows them to experience the challenges and beauty of the desert firsthand.

Mormon Wagon Road at Cajon Summit
Mormon Wagon Road

Another notable historic road in the Mojave Desert is Route 66, also known as the Mother Road. This iconic highway connected Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, and passed through the Mojave Desert along its way. Route 66 played a crucial role in the migration of people from the Midwest to the West Coast during the 1930s and 1940s. Although the original Route 66 has been decommissioned, portions of the road still exist in the Mojave Desert, attracting tourists who want to relive the nostalgia of this iconic American highway.

Union Pass between Bullhead City and Kingman, Arizona
Union Pass, Arizona

In addition to these famous roads, there are several historic trails that crisscross the Mojave Desert. One such trail is the Old Spanish Trail, which connected Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles, California, during the 19th century. This trail was used by traders and explorers and played a vital role in the expansion of trade and commerce in the American Southwest.

The Mojave Desert also boasts the Mojave Preserve Backcountry Trails, a network of trails that offer visitors the opportunity to explore the remote and rugged areas of the desert. These trails vary in difficulty and length, catering to hikers, backpackers, and horseback riders. The preserve is home to diverse flora and fauna, including Joshua trees, desert tortoises, and bighorn sheep, creating a unique and captivating experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Overall, the Mojave Desert historic roads and trails provide a window into the past, allowing visitors to appreciate the challenges faced by early explorers and settlers. Whether it's traversing the Mojave Road, driving along the remnants of Route 66, or exploring the backcountry trails, these historic routes offer a chance to connect with the desert's rich history and natural beauty.

Sidewinder Road

Route 66

Sierra Highway/El Camino Sierra

Rim of the World Drive

Angeles Crest Scenic Drive

Arrowhead [Trails] Highway

Midland Trail

Eichbaum's Toll Road

National Old Trails

Twenty Mule Team Road

Road to Panamint

Wagon Roads

Van Dusen Road

Brown's Toll Road

Fort Tejon Road

Mojave Road

Beale's Wagon Road

Salt Lake Road

Old Spanish Trail

Mojave River Trail


Wagons, Carts & Carriages


Armijo Route - Old Spanish Trail

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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