Are you ready for one bumpy, off the beaten path type of adventure? Then I have the activity for you! The Lava Tubes in Mojave National Preserve are most certainly off the beaten path. But next time you are driving to Las Vegas, it is certainly worth the 45 min delay to check out this unusual ancient spot.
Now, let me tell you straight up that this isn’t the easiest adventure to find, but these step by step instructions will ensure you make it their safely. So be sure do keep this post handy before you head out there, so that you know where you are going. Also, be sure that your car has plenty of gas, water for your crew and a car that can handle a bumpy dirt road for about 5 miles. There are no bathrooms, no pit toilets, and no trash cans. So please pack up everything that you bring with you.
With that said, I suggest starting by putting Mojave National Preserve into your GPS. I have included a detailed map below for assistance to your exact destination. Our directions will be from the 15, but you can come in from the southern route.
From the 15 you will take the Kelbaker exit and turn right at the stop sign. As you start down the road to nowhere, the first thing you will see on the right hand side of the road is the Mojave National Preserve sign. We always stop at the signs of every national park/preserve and take a photo to commemorate the adventure ahead!
After you pass the preserve sign, you will head down a paved road for about 30 minutes. The next major sign of importance to get to the lava tubes is shown below, which is the intersection of Kelbaker and Aiken Mine Road. At this junction turn left and head down the dirt road.
Follow Aiken Mine Road, passing an old water tank and corral after 1.6 miles. At about 4.5 miles, bear left at a fork in the road. Continue another 1/4 miles, past a horse corral to the left, to where the road widens into a circular parking area. That is where you will want to park your car and grab those water bottles and flash lights. If you don’t have flash lights the light on your smartphones will also do the job. From the parking area, walk uphill about 300 yards on the jeep path to a fence. Turn right and then follow a beaten path to the metal ladder that descends into the lava tub.
The ladder will be on the left hand side of the trail as shown in the photo below. Watch your step in this area, as there are open lava tubes on the ground.
Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, turn left and head further down into the underground tubes. You will immediately see the first large tube and light shinning down into the cavern. There is also a secondary smaller light tube coming into the cavern behind the larger one. The best time to be in the tubes for the best possible lighting is between 11am and 2pm. There are rocks and it is dark, so be sure to watch where you are walking while you are down in the tubes. Ensure you leave this spot as beautiful as when you found it.