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Kelso Dunes, Essex

(4.6/5 based on 45+ reviews on the web)
Kelso Dunes, also known as the Kelso Dune Field, is the largest field of eolian sand deposits in the Mojave Desert. The region is protected by the Mojave National Preserve and is located near the town of Baker, San Bernardino County, California, and the Preserve Visitor Center. The dune field covers and includes migrating dunes, vegetation-stabilized dunes, sand sheets, and sand ramps. The tallest dunes rise up to above the surrounding terrain.GeologyThe dunes are composed predominantly of light-colored quartz and feldspar, most likely eroded from the granitics of the San Bernardino Mountains to the southwest. Magnetite and amphibole can also be found, often accumulating at the dune crests.Kelso Dunes represent part of a much larger sand transport system, which includes the nearby Devils Playground region. The composition and morphology of the sand grains indicate that most originated from the Mojave River sink near Afton Canyon, which lies to the west of the dunes' current location. The sand has accumulated at the southeastern end of the Soda Lake-Kelso basin, where the Granite Mountains and Providence Mountains form a barrier to prevailing winds. At present, only the area around the Mojave River sink and the westernmost parts of Devil's Playground are receiving new sand through this system; sand is no longer accumulating at Kelso Dunes itself.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This was such a fun, unique thing to do! It's a good hike out to the dune and then up to the top - it will take about 2 hours or so round trip, but my husband and I (mid-50s, moderate fitness level) a...  more »
  • It was a warm sunny day and I left my car in flip flops and no sunscreen, after about 15 minutes, I started walking barefoot, after 30 minutes I passed a group of people sandboarding, and at about 45 ...  more »
  • It's a fun drive from anywhere in the Morongo Basin and, at times, a breathtaking one. There is a ~2 mile drive on a dirt road to get to the parking lot and it is not even in some spots, but my Toyota...  more »