After successfully navigating the Mojave Road, there were a few things that I felt needed to be shared to aid those who decide to venture down the same path as us. First off, I do not think that we chose the correct vehicle to traverse this trail. Yes, we did complete it safely, and we were very comfortable at night once we reached camp, but I feel that our daily stress level would have been much less with a smaller and nimbler vehicle such as our 100 Series Land Cruiser. We also understood that Mambo was a completely different vehicle on-trail and we took this into consideration when deciding to take this trip.
The largest misconception given by most websites is that this is virtually a dirt road. This is plainly untrue, and this misinformation is what lead us to attempt the road in Mambo. Sooooo….for all of those considering traversing this road in a van, ensure you have adequate amounts of off-road experience to ensure you can safely navigate the cross-camber washes safely. There were times where if the wrong tire placement was chosen, we could have easily tipped placing us in a very dangerous situation. Also, when the book states that conditions can vary, this is absolutely the truth as seen in some portions of the road which were completely impassible in our vehicle, and I would of not of attempted in our Land Cruiser.
My second thought is that I personally would not attempt this trail without the official Mojave Road guide, which can be found on Amazon.
It is a bit spendy, but the information gleamed from this book is priceless when travelling the road. In fact, we not only enjoyed the directions given, but also the historical accounts, and forewarnings of portions of the trail that may prove to be difficult. Some portions seemed a bit over cautious with statements like, “this should never be travelled alone!”, but overall this guide is highly recommended. In fact, most GPX files do not include the bypass around Soda Lake, whereas the manual provided clean and clear directions on how to safely bypass what can at times be an impassible portion of the trip.
While on the topic of directions, I would not rely solely on the book, but would recommend a tablet or even a phone with a trail map app installed. We used BackCountry Navigator with the maps of the Mojave area downloaded for offline use and downloaded the waypoints and trail GPX files from “The Friends of the Mojave” official website. Reason being is that there are MANY offshoots during the entire length of this trail and we found ourselves off-trail and heading in the wrong direction in a moment notice after choosing the wrong fork. The friends of the Mojave have erected rock cairns to help guide the way, but there were a couple sections where people have assembled multiple cairns misleading travelers. (one of those fake markers lead us down the wrong path)
Furthermore, it is very important to know the fuel burn of your vehicle, which is something that we had yet to identify before attempting the road. In fact, I at times was a bit nervous that we were not going to be able to travel for 3 days on a single tank, and found myself anxiously watching my gas gauge, which is why we chose one of the high way junctions to jump off the trail and top off our tanks for peace of mind. (In my opinion it is much easier to enjoy the scenery and beauty of the MR if you are not always worried about something like gas)
Overall, this was an outstanding overland trail and would highly recommend it to any off-road enthusiast that enjoys being off the grid for a few days and is comfortable being self-sufficient as help many not come around for days. In fact, we met a couple that attempted the first portion of the MR in a 2WD Sprinter and got stuck in the soft sand. Unable to self-recovery they were forced to MTB to the nearest pavement and wave down someone to call a wrecker who charged a hefty 450 dollars to pull them out and get them back to the highway.
The scenery was amazing, with awe inspiring sunrises and sunsets. The ability to traverse such barren landscape in a land that often feels overcrowded was incredible, seeing only one other vehicle in a 3-day period spent on the trail. So, I would say, get out there and explore this great land, enjoy the scenery, take in the challenges of the Mojave Road!