The Mojave Cross

Once we were inside the expanse of the Mojave National Preserve one of the sights we wanted to see as well as pay our respects at was the controversial Mojave Cross. There is lots of information available online about the history of the cross so we will spare you recounting it all here. Since we had read about it only a few years ago when the stolen cross was recovered in Half Moon Bay we decided to stop by and give it a look-see.

It is situated in a one acre plot of private land inside the National Preserve on the top of Sunrise Rock on Cima Road about 12 miles south of Interstate 15 in Nipton, California. Once again our GPS maps led us astray and we ended up, ah…elsewhere before retracing our steps back into Cima and up Cima Road to the cross site.

Paying her respects below the cross
Paying her respects below the cross
Plaque below the actual cross
Plaque below the actual cross
IMG_20151119_150308 copy
The camping spot under the tree behind the Tacoma is too close to the road and the monument itself for our tastes

Our little scenic detour put us behind schedule so we decided to camp near the cross. There is a fire ring and picnic table right there at the cross when you first turn in. That spot is really near the road and other visitors might drive or walk through that area so we decided to head back into public land towards Kessler Peak and find a more suitable spot to camp.

The little dirt access road that circles off Cima Road and around the monument also has an offshoot dirt road heading back into the Kessler Peak area. About an eighth of a mile out of the parking area for the cross itself you dead-end onto Kessler Peak Road. If you head to the right you end up back at Cima Road in about a quarter-mile. If you instead take the left you are offered dozens of miles of dirt roads and little offshoots leading hither and yon all over the Kessler Peak area where you can find lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.

satellite photo showing where we camped in relation to the Mojave Cross
We stayed at the red circle

Since we were a bit tardy in finding our spot for the night we chose to stay at one of the two existing camping spots on the little dirt road between the monument’s access road and Kessler Peak Road.

Willow thinks this is a good spot
Willow thinks this is a good spot

With a nice fire ring, a rock outcropping for a wind break and a hearty Joshua Tree guarding the site we unloaded what we needed and set up camp. To celebrate another good day of adventuring Willow enjoyed a quick session of power napping in a sunny spot

dog napping on her pad in the sun
World Class Napper

followed by some of her nasty dry crap and a fresh bowl of water.

dog eating

I mixed up a concoction of some of that iced tea we found at Dead Horse Ranch State Park and Maker’s Mark bourbon.

Maker's Mark bourbon and Arizona brand iced tea
Actually quite tasty. Hit the spot.

I don’t know what the drink is called but it was lovely.

As the sun starts its descent, shadows turn amber-colored and a chill reminds us that the fire ring is empty and now would be the time to rectify that. But first a quick picture back in the direction of Cima Road, through the Joshua Trees and towards a hill in the distance brilliantly lit with the last direct light of the day.

pic of hill bathed in the last light of the day shot through some joshua trees
I think this is a stunning view

The next morning we awoke to the sun beginning to paint the desert with light and start beating back the nice, brisk chill that had blanketed the area overnight. Standing in place and doing a 360 degree turn to take it all in made me again appreciate the beauty to be found in this high desert expanse.

Morning panorama in this high desert wonderland
Partial panorama. Click for larger view if you wish

After the morning coffee ritual Willow decided to explore our camp sport more thoroughly. Within seconds she had her nose in the rocks, standing still and doing her version of “pointing” and whatever little critter she had sniffed out in the crevices.

dog standing and "pointing" at some hidden crtitter in the rocks
Something is in there

During the 10 minutes it takes me to clean up she has seemingly not moved a muscle. Whatever is hiding in the cracks is apparently doggie crack. I called her away to give the little thing, whatever it was, a breather and chance to make a run for it. As I’m putting on my hiking boots and getting Willow’s pack ready for the morning hike she is continuously making little grunting sounds, looking longingly in that direction and pulling on her leash. Once we’re ready to head out on the hike I let her off the leash and she makes a mad dash back over to that spot and begins to frantically try to get at whatever is in there.

dog back "pointing" at whatever little creature is hiding in the rocks
Back for a second attempt

I’m now intrigued and go to take a closer look myself. I’m careful because it might be a rattlesnake or monitor-type lizard or scorpion. While I do have an extensive first aid and trauma kit I don’t carry antivenom and we’re quite a long way from a hospital. Silly me, it is a baby bunny who would fit in the palm of my hand. Cute. As. Shit. Shivering with fear though. As I held Willow back I reached into the crack and gave it a nudge with a finger which was enough to snap it out of its paralysis and it bounced up and raced away across the campsite, Willow practically screaming in frustration that I’m not letting her have a run at it. It made it into a warren at the base of a bush, hopefully to join the rest of its rabbit family. Lucky bun bun. After that excitement we headed off for our hike among the Joshua Tree forest and Willow had a BALL running around keeping the native fauna on its toes for a few hours.

This ended up being one of our favorite spots during this trip. We liked it so much we stayed two nights. Not one person drove past us at the campsite the entire time we were there nor did we see anyone else as we popped on and off Kessler Peak Road and its little offshoots. This is definitely on our list of places to do some more exploring in the next time we are in the area.

Leave a Reply