The Lonely Gem Of The Mojave Desert
This striking desert beauty is easily seen from U.S. 95 and captivates any would-be peakbaggers once they lay eyes upon it! It rises dramatically from the Mojave desert floor with its spire-like shape, presenting impressive vertical faces and buttresses on its north and eastern sides. Surprisingly, the summit of this lonely gem barely sees a half dozen parties per year. Generally, the rock quality is fair to poor, making options for traditional climbs quite the challenge. There is one known traditional route on the northern flanks but little is known about it. The easiest, more popular established route on Mopah Point is the impressive and enjoyable 'East Face Route' (Class 3/4)
. The approach to the East Face is easily gained via a trail established by the BLM and requires only 2.5 miles of hiking on the trail, with a little less than a mile more of moderate crosscountry travel to reach the base of the East Face.
Getting To The Trailhead
If coming from LA or San Diego, head out on Interstate 10 East until you reach Highway 62, heading east to Morongo Valley, Joshua Tree, and 29 Palms. After getting onto Highway 62, follow it for approxiamtely 91 miles to Vidal Junction, where Highway 62 intersects with U.S. 95. Turn left onto U.S.95 (north) for 12.1 miles. Look for a dirt road on the left side of I-95 (west side) signatured by a BLM marker for 'Mopah Peak Wilderness'. Follow this dirt road west for 4.4 miles until it ends at the wilderness boundary, at a permanent liftgate (constructed in 2004). 4-wheel drive vehicles or two-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance are needed to travel this dirt road to its end (there are several spots where the dirt road drops in and out of sandy washes). At the end of the road, there is a small parking area and camping spot. There are no facilities here. Be prepared to bring plenty of water, food and essential needs to camp in this primitive setting.
The Leading Particulars
Permits and user fees are not required to hike into the Turtle Mountain Range Wilderness or climb Mopah Point The BLM wilderness boundry starts 2 miles west from the I-95. Currently, no seasonal closures for access into this area exists. This desert can see temps range from the low 30's in thw winter time, or as high as 115 degrees in the height of summer. Preparation for wilderness survival in a desert setting apply. Since the area has no water source at the trailhead, bring plenty of water!! Dress appropriately and be prepared for either warm or cold weather. In addition, protect exposed skin with sunscreen. In general, respect the delicate desert ecology and practice minimum impact methods while camping, climbing and hiking in and around the Mopah Peak Wilderness. Again, there are no toilet facilities and piped in water at this trailhead so bring plenty of water and your own toiletries. Most parties climb this peak as a day hike without setting up a base camp near the trailhead or closer to the peak. But if the choice to spend a few days at the trailhead is desired, please pack out all trash and "dead out" any fire rings.
When To Climb Or Hike Around Mopah Point
The best time to climb this peak is from November to April. Mopah Point is much harder to climb outside of this fall to spring window because of the heat and very low humidity levels. There is no supply of water in the immediate area. Carry plenty of water for each traveller. Use caution when travelling into this area during the summer time as the temps run up to furnace levels. Be knowledgeable in the prevention to heat stress issues, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If you choose to climb or hike in these conditions, get a very early start, wear appropriate clothing and keep the fluids topped off. As a side note, the Mojave desert in general, is home to a host of desert denizen, which range from the western diamondback rattle snake and sidewinders, to tarantulas and fire ants. Use common sense if you encounter any of these by avoiding them completely by using an alternate path around them.
Camping....A Spartan Affair
The best time of year to camp, hike and climb in this area is winter and spring. Camping IS allowed at the trailhead but be prepared for spartan settings. There are no toilets or piped in water. The closest water is either back at Vidal Junction or by chance, at Mopah Springs, north of Mopah Point. There is an existing fire ring but there is no dead fell of trees in the area (you're in the desert, for cryin' out loud!). Bring your own firewood and pack out what you don't need. Plese respect the boundries the BLM has established and refrain from skirting around the fenced liftgate. Besides, it's only less than a mile to the mouth of the wash that leads to Mopah! When setting out from the trailhead, ensure you prepare your vehicle for possible theft. This is no popular trailhead but its an easy place for theives to target since the desert is so vast and open, with the option for a quick getaway on the I-95. Cover up and conceal any valuable articles left in your vehicle before hiking out. All in all......you're on your own at this trailhead!
Weather And Conditions
For current and forecasted weather conditions, try NOAA.com
. For road conditions, you can either check the
CalTrans Highway Information Website or call directly @ 1-800-427-ROAD, which is the CalTrans automated phoneline. If you are coming through or from LA, check 980 and 1070 AM on the radio for traffic conditions, especially on Interstate 10.
More Information And TidbitsA Trip Report From Our Very Own Bob Burd
Juicy Trip Reports Of Mopah and the Turtle Mountain Range by the Desert Peaks Section