The Castle Mountains National Monument is one of the newest national parks and this scenic area is well worth checking out while doing a tour of Mojave Desert. The location of this park is situated on the California side of the border near Searchlight, Nevada, which is a convenient spot for stocking up on supplies. Modern accommodations can also be found in Searchlight, while plenty of camping options exist in the neighboring Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the BLM Public Lands. The reason why it is important to mention what can be found in the surrounding area amounts to the newness of the Castle Mountains National Monument, which currently offers no facilities at all. The signage is minimal too, so it may be best to chart a course on a map to alleviate any confusion.
There are a few dirt roads that go to the Castle Mountains and one begins near Nipton, California. This travel route goes through the Ivanpah Mining District and navigating this area can be a challenge, so it is not really recommended. The second Castle Mountains access option begins a few miles west a Searchlight on the Nevada side of the state line and this pathway is far easier to navigate. Walking Box Ranch Road is the one to look for and this well maintained smooth dirt road goes all the way into the heart of this national monument. The roadside signage is not easy to spot along the way, but the dramatic looking mountain peaks that resemble gothic castles will confirm that you have indeed arrived.
A previous article features the old historic Walking Box Ranch and this museum offers plenty of information about the Castle Mountains, so stopping here first is highly recommended. From the old ranch, about 20 more miles of smooth dirt road driving is required to get to the center of the Castle Mountains National Monument. A small national monument sign can be seen next to Walking Box Ranch Road near the California Border, but there are no more indicators up ahead, so charting the points of interest on a map prior to arrival will be necessary.
The views of the gothic looking mountaintop needles truly are mesmerizing, so be sure to pack a camera for the ride. This national monument was founded with the goal of protecting an endangered Mojave Desert ecosystem of vast Joshua Tree forests where the rarely seen Desert Gopher Tortoises roam. In fact, conservation groups have designated the entire area around the historic ranch as a critical habitat too, so a visitor will see nothing but amazing natural desert landscapes from the paved highway all the way to the Castle Mountains. The panoramic views from the high ground seemingly extend forever into the distance, so a landscape artist will feel right at home in this unique place. The only option for taking a closer look is hiking and there are only a few trails, so this environment is as pristine as can be. These are all the reasons needed for placing the Castle Mountains National Monument high on the list when planning a grand tour of the Mojave Desert!
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