Kelso Dunes

Baker, California

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3 Reviews
5 out of 5
This unique half-day desert hike leads to the second tallest, but most extensive field of sand dunes in the California desert. To many persons, sand dunes represent the essential desert landscape, but dune systems are few and widely scattered in California’s deserts. Most of these are administered by the National Park Service in Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve. Surprisingly, the vast, sandy expanse of the Kelso Dunes hosts vegetation, including many species growing solely in sandy environments. Colorful spring wildflowers and far-ranging vistas are major attractions of a hike in the Kelso Dunes, but the dunes’ most interesting attribute is the booming or rumbling sound the sand makes as hikers create miniature sand avalanches while walking along the narrow crest of the dunes.

Kelso Dunes Professional Review and Guide

"This unique half-day desert hike leads to the second tallest, but most extensive field of sand dunes in the California desert. To many persons, sand dunes represent the essential desert landscape, but dune systems are few and widely scattered in California’s deserts. Most of these are administered by the National Park Service in Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve. Surprisingly, the vast, sandy expanse of the Kelso Dunes hosts vegetation, including many species growing solely in sandy environments. Colorful spring wildflowers and far-ranging vistas are major attractions of a hike in the Kelso Dunes, but the dunes’ most interesting attribute is the booming or rumbling sound the sand makes as hikers create miniature sand avalanches while walking along the narrow crest of the dunes."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Baker
Distance: 3
Elevation Gain: 524 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 1.5 hours
Season: Best October through April
Trailhead Elevation: 2,590 feet
Top Elevation: 3,114 feet
Local Contacts: Mojave National Preserve
Local Maps: USGS Kelso

Kelso Dunes Reviews

5
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icon3 Total
4/11/2009
Absolutely beautiful place. It had rained in the morning before we got there, so the sand was more compacted and easier to walk on. Views are magnificent. Great day hike. Didn't get to hear the 'booming' of the sand, but maybe next time! Dog friendly and good exercise for them too!
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5/3/2008
Amazing, never experienced anything like it. We went in Mid march and in the mid morning and it was tad bit too warm to hike all the way up. I would suggest getting there early. Very intense walking in the sand.
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3/22/1998
I visited the Kelso Dune area four times in 98 and 99. The stark beauty of this part of the Mojave desert never failed to delight me. The Dunes, the mines of the New York Mtns, and the puzzling rocks of the Cima Dome are great examples of the lonely and rugged west.
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Jun 2018