BLM: Jawbone Station/Ridgecrest Field Office
Location: a huge expanse around 30 miles north of Mojave in the Mojave Desert.
Highlights: several trails of various skill levels, connecting into the Sierra Nevadas to the west, and into the Dove Springs and Jawbone Canyon OHV Areas. These trails are among my most favorite to ride in the desert. They offer amazing views of the surrounding landscape and many reach some amazing places. The area also has a massive amount of camping opportunities, providing a pleasant alternative to Dove Springs and Jawbone Canyon, especially on crowded holidays.
Type/Size of Area: Limited Use, where only trails marked by brown posts are considered open. All other trails, whether marked closed or without posts, are considered prohibited. Actual acreage unknown, but the area is massive. It spans to CA 178 West to the north, to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west, to Jawbone Canyon OHV Area to the south, and to CA 14 to the east. The area also surrounds the Dove Springs OHV Area.
Vehicles Permitted: All OHVs and any size rig, including 2WD passenger vehicles.
When Open/Fees: year-round, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week/No fees
Best Months/Climate: October-May (hot in summer)
Elevation: 3000 feet
Map: Friends of Jawbone OHV Riding Areas & Trails Map. Visit BLM’s Jawbone Station or Ridgecrest Field Office, or Friends of Jawbone online. Also available is a pdf link on BLM’s Dove Springs page, including surrounding Jawbone-Butterbredt ACEC and Jawbone Canyon to the south.
Facilities: No restrooms available in the area. See the Dove Springs and Jawbone Canyon information for their available restrooms. No potable water.
Camping: there are no established campsites, but primitive camping is permitted virtually anywhere in the open area. Day use and overnight use permitted. Please use previously used sites and do not disturb vegetation. Many sites are accessible by any size rig, whether two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Camping limited to 14 days. Campfires permitted. Do not burn local vegetation or wood with nails. There are no trash receptacles in the area, so please pack out all trash. The size of the area offers limitless places to camp.
Riding: the area has many trails traversing this massive landscape, including those that connect with the Dove Springs and Jawbone Canyon OHV areas. The two aqueduct roads, LA1 and LA2, are very wide, graded fire roads perfect for beginners. They run from CA 178 West to the south for several miles. SC5 is a more traditional trail, more narrow and uneven, but still easy enough for beginners. It also runs north-to-south for several miles and connects to other trails.
SC65 is a fun trail that goes up to McIver’s Cabin in the Scodie Mountains. As the trail approaches the mountains, the trail goes up a switchback. Here the trail is made up of cracked, weathered asphalt, where chunks have been removed. Be very careful on this part of the trail, as the ground is not only uneven, but offroading tires have trouble gripping the surface. The trail continues onto dirt through a more forest environment. The trail eventually crosses the Pacific Crest Trail. Always yield to hikers and equestrians. The trail winds in much tighter, steeper, and pitched fashions. Because this trail is a flood chute, beware of large chunks of rocks on the trail. Because of these aspects, beginners should not attempt this trail. Eventually, this trail ends up on a plateau of sorts in a burned area. The Panamint Range to the east can be seen. After crossing this burned area, the cabin will be reached, which is a great resting place. When coming back down the trail, watch your speed on the switchbacks, as vehicles catch a lot of speed. If the trail has a lot of debris, you can easily lose traction and slide of the trail, which is steep most of the way down. Do not attempt this trail alone. While this trail can be tough, it is a great challenge for intermediate to experienced riders, and for UTVs and Jeeps. The entire length of SC65 is roughly 42 miles round trip. I recommend driving 6 miles in, as close to Horse Canyon Well as possible, to cut off some excess trail.
SC120 is another fun trail that reaches the Pacific Crest Trail. Trails connecting to it are more traditional trails, while SC120 is wide and graded. It heads into the mountains through some pretty desert, especially in springtime. It eventually reaches the Pacific Crest Trail, just below a looming Skinner Peak to the north. Motorized travel is prohibited on the PCT. Always yield to hikers and equestrians. The trail continues west into Kelso Valley. At the PCT junction, SC228 travels south to offer some amazing views of both the desert to the east, and Kelso Valley to the west. Beginners can handle both SC228 and SC120.
There are many more trails within the JB-ACEC that are fun and rewarding. Consult the online map and the Friends of Jawbone map for more trails and information.
Directions: from the town of Mojave, travel north on CA 14 for about 31 miles. Pass through Red Rock Canyon State Park. At 28 miles, the entrance to Dove Springs will be passed. Continue for about three miles to a large turnout area to the left (west). At the south end of this turnout is a graded road entrance (SC192) marked by a white sign. This entrance is about 10 miles south of CA 178 West. It’s accessible by any size rig, leading to several camping and riding opportunities. Another mile or two up the road is an abrupt entrance to the left at SC65. It comes out of nowhere, and can be dangerous to quickly slow down and turn onto. Another three miles up the road are entrances at SC343 and SC51.
Weather: nearby Red Rock Canyon State Park
Nearest Amenities: Jawbone Store, just south of Jawbone Station, has gas and basic groceries, but is only open seasonally. Nearest full amenities are in the town of Mojave, around 30 miles to the south via CA 14.
Nearest Hospital: Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, about 52 miles south via CA 14. Also, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital in Ridgecrest, about 30 miles northeast via CA 14 and CA 178.
28111 Jawbone Canyon Rd.
P.O. Box 1902
Cantil, CA 93519
Ridgecrest Field Office
300 S. Richmond Rd.
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Main Contact Number: 760-384-5400
Fax Number: 760-384-5499
Also: Friends of Jawbone