By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews)
Sources: National Park Service and Mojave National Preserve (Information)
Pictures: National Park Service and Mojave National Preserve (Courtesy)
San Bernardino County, California: Several roads in the Mojave National Preserve along with the Hole-In-The-Wall Visitor Center have reopened on Friday, August 12th, 2022.
According to the Mojave National Preserve, reopened today are Cima, Kelso-Cima, South Kelbaker, Morning Star, Ivanpah, Essex, Black Canyon and Lanfair roads.
Along with several roads reopening, the Mojave National Preserve said that the Hole-In-The-Wall Visitor Center will also reopen and maintain normal hours.
For the last 2 weeks several storms have moved over the Mojave National Preserve area causing a lot of runoff down mountains leading to flooding, debris and washouts along several roads in the Mojave National Preserve.
Starting during the afternoon on Sunday, July 31st, 2022, spotty areas of heavy rain with lightning and thunder developed over the Mojave National Preserve area.
According to the Mojave National Preserve, Sunday afternoon, rainfall totals ranged between 3.4 to 4.5 inches in a period of a few hours in some areas of the Mojave National Preserve.
Pictures from the Mojave National Preserve show the aftermath from the passing storms left on roads; debris and washouts caused from the heavy rain fall.
According to the Mojave National Preserve, North Kelbaker and Zzyzx roads will remain closed due to serious damage, including a washout at “Seventeen Mile” on North Kelbaker Road which over 100 feet of pavement and culverts washed away at that site and floodwaters eroded 3-4 feet creating a deeper channel.
The Mojave National Preserve said North Kelbaker and Zzyzx roads will remain closed until repairs can be completed, including repair to “Seventeen Mile” on North Kelbaker Road which may take months.
In addition, the Mojave Road, a historic trans-desert pathway and now a dirt road, also sustained two significant washouts near Piute Canyon and at the North Kelbaker crossing at Seventeen Mile.
The portion of the Mojave Road across the Soda Lake portion remains impassable due to the heavy rains.
Additional rain may lead to closures as deep mud can strand even four-wheel drive vehicles which causes drivers to divert from the pathway and into closed or sensitive areas that leave long-term impacts.
Loose gravel, soft shoulders, and steep shoulder drop-offs are common on preserve roads now.
The Mojave National Preserve said that this is a 200-1000 year flood event based on weather data which resulted in widespread damage to paved and dirt roads throughout the preserve.
Additional monsoon rains are forecasted, and travelers may find new debris on roads.
Park staff caution motorists to drive cautiously while traveling through the preserve.
Abundant rain and mild temperatures have transformed the normally dry landscape to bright green with new foliage.
Wildlife sightings have also become a regular occurrence, particularly desert tortoise and bighorn sheep.
Desert tortoises move out of their burrows to seek food and water in these conditions and can often be seen on roads after rain.
The Mojave National Preserve reminds motorists to “Drive Like A Tortoise,” even small rain events can deposit debris on desert roads, undermine pavement, or create steep shoulder drop-offs.
According to the Mojave National Preserve, wildlife are also more present after rain, particularly desert tortoise, and “Driving Like A Tortoise” allows everyone to see road hazards, help protect wildlife, and get to their destination safely.
For the most current updates on closures and road status conditions in the preserve, please visit the Mojave National Preserve at: https://www.nps.gov/moja/road-conditions.htm
Thanks to all of the work crews who are working to clean up and repair access to the Mojave National Preserve.