Christmas Cheer in the Mojave: Granite Mountains Walk

Mike plots our route into the Granites on a chilly but sunny winter afternoon.
Mike plots our route into the Granites on a chilly but sunny winter afternoon.

After Christmas we spent a day exploring part of the Granite Mountains in Mojave National Preserve.

The range lies within a transition zone—between the Colorado (Sonoran) Desert to the south, the Great Basin Desert to the north, the Colorado Plateau to the east, and the western Mojave Desert—so there is a wide variety of flora and fauna here. Part of the range is also home to the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, an ecological study area managed by the University of California.

We made the most of a short winter day exploring an area on the northeastern end of the range. There is clearly a lot more to do here.

We followed low ridges up into the mountains, with Kelso Dunes behind.
We followed low ridges up into the mountains, with Kelso Dunes behind.
An old, faint trail led along the ridge up into the mountains.
An old, faint trail led along the ridge up into the mountains.
Old cairn, possibly left by a prospector. The Granites saw some prospecting activity, but the area was never heavily mined.
Old cairn, possibly left by a prospector. The Granites saw some prospecting activity, but the area was never heavily mined.
Perennial water in Bighorn Basin makes for thick brush in places, including cottonwood, catclaw acacia, baccharis, grasses, and other shrubs.
Perennial water in Bighorn Basin makes for thick brush in places, including willow, catclaw acacia, baccharis, and other shrubs.
Coffee, cactus and pie break, Bighorn Basin.
Coffee, cactus and pie break, Bighorn Basin.
Cresting a ridge of the Granites before dropping off to the east.
Cresting a ridge of the Granites before dropping off to the east.
We found this small, water-washed gorge at the base of the Granites.
We found this small, water-washed gorge at the base of the Granites.
Less than 100 feet long and just 10 feet wide, the gorge was an unexpected find.
Less than 100 feet long and just 10 feet wide, the gorge was an unexpected find.
Happy to have winter layers as alpenglow hits the Providence Mountains to the north, signaling the end of a beautiful winter day.
Happy to have winter layers as alpenglow hits the Providence Mountains to the northeast, signaling the end of a beautiful winter day.

 

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