Friday Favorites: Climbing the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve

Climbing large sand dunes can be a lot of fun. Running down them is even more fun. It was a lot of effort to get to the top this 600+ foot dune, but definitely worth it. You can find the Kelso Dunes in Southern California in the Mojave National Preserve.

For fun I added some background music, also to cover up my panting because I was really out of breath. Stay to the end to watch Josh go all the way down the dune. rk

Sunday Hikes: Great Sand Dunes


Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve boasts North Americas largest sand dune, Star Dune. Star Dune is 750 feet tall and looks giant even with the mountains surrounding it. It takes about 5 hours to hike to the top of Star Dune and back from the parking lot. Unfortunately when I went recently we didn’t have time for the whole hike so we hiked up to the top of the first tallest Dune we could find. From the parking lot you cross over a small creek and then across the flat sand before you reach the first sand dune. 



The sand dunes get taller and steeper with every one you traverse. With the desert sun blazing down on us and reflecting of the sun back at us again we tired out pretty quickly and took often breaks to catch our breath and take in the views of the surrounding mountains. At some point we reached a nice tall dune and decided to call that our turn around point. We had a granola bar snack and enjoyed the views some more before heading back down! 




Hiking up a sand dune sucks, but going down is like a big sandy rollercoaster! It is hard to slide down further than a couple feet at a time but if you pick up enough speed running down you feel like you’re floating. Once the ride down was over we walked back to the car and dumped six tons of sand out of our boots and said goodbye to the sand. Great Sand Dunes is dope and definitely worth a visit! I would love to go back and do more backpacking in the park as well as reach the top of Star Dune! 

Thanks! – Josh

Kelso Sand Dunes

The Mojave Desert stretches from Southern California to the southwest corner of Utah and takes up almost 50,000 square miles. We recently visited the Mojave National Preserve while driving from Joshua Tree National Park to Las Vegas. We had been hiking a bunch that past four days and were pretty tired so we decided to hike at the Kelso Sand Dunes. The sign at the trailhead said the trail was 3 miles to the top of the 600ft high Kelso Dune and back but we thought it looked like much less.


It was high noon in the desert with barely a cloud in the sky. We set out towards the big sand dune and about half a mile in the sand dunes began to get so tall it was almost a struggle to get up them. After the next half mile we were all tired and really hot with the temperature being close to 90F that day. Being low on water we were tempted to turn back but we wanted to conquer the giant sand dune ahead of us so we kept going. We reached the bottom of the largest sand dune and Anya decided to sit down in the sand while dad and I attempted to climb the sand dune. We followed the very hard to see trail up the side of the sand dune. Some parts of the sand were black and a little easier to walk on for me but dad wasn’t wearing shoes and burned the bottoms of his feet on the sun baked sand.


I reached the crest of  the sand dune’s ridge and the peak was in sight. Dad who seemed like the heat was getting to him sat on the sand for a minute and drank the little water we had left and we finished the last stretch to the top. The views at the top were beautiful and we could see pretty far in every direction. We agreed the view made the trek up definitely worth it as we took pictures and enjoyed our sand dune conquering.


The next step was getting down via the steep 600 foot slide to the bottom of the dune. You can’t really slide down on your bottom (I tried) but if you walk down and lift your feet quick enough it feels like you are gliding down. This was a lot of fun to me and I would have gone back to the top just to do it again!


I reached Anya and the bottom and dad soon followed. We all began going back but dad decided to run back so he got there before us but when we arrived we all hopped in the car, chugged some water, and dumped out the pounds of sand in our shoes. Despite being a little more strenuous than expected I really enjoyed this unique and beautiful hike!


Thanks for reading – Josh