Mojave National Preserve – Drive from Cima Rd to Hole-in-the-Wall


What? : A 21 miles dirt-road drive through the desert, from Cima dome plateau, into a mountains and to Hole-in-the-Wall. If you are not visiting at or right after major rain or flooding event this drive can be done with regular car, only specific section of a side road is for 4x4 cars.


Related blogs:

Mojave National Preserve – Cima Dome & Joshua Tree Forest

Mojave National Preserve – Hole-in-the-Wall

Mojave National Preserve – visit planning, 2 days trip itinerary

Mojave National Preserve – Visit Planning


Where? : The drive starts at Cima Rd. junction with Kalso Cima Rd.

Google Map Link


Trip without any need for 4x4 car

Trip with section of 4x4 Offroad

When? : Late fall, winter and spring is the preferred time to visit the Mojave desert, summer is just too hot.


Due note 1: Water - Always take more than what you think you need, this is desert and temperature can be hot, in summer this is extremely hot environment.


Due note 2: Few notes about off-road driving:

For any long off-road driving activity, you must plan a head and know what you are doing!

Understand you’re driving abilities and your car limitations and analyze the driving conditions all the time. Think what if I need to turn around, can I make it back out.

Do not think “if I can pass it?” but rather “what I will do if I get stack?”.

Things can “just” happen, you may have flat tire or other car malfunction, you can get stack in “simple” to pass places, in mud, deep send or river bad, the road can be un-passable, or you may even lose your way in the desert.

It is not about pride, if the road gets too rough for you, turn around!

In the event of an emergency, for un-trained people, staying with your car is probably the most important thing you can do.

Make sure you have a proper map and that you know how to navigate.

Know how to use your gear, change flat tire or how to drive in deep sand or mud conditions.

Garmin satellite phone is always good to have with you for emergency and map.

Make sure you have a basic Firs-Aid kit and that you do know how to use it.

Do not travel cross-country or create new routes. This rule is strictly enforced; violators will receive citations. Driving in washes is not permitted.

In Mojave National Preserve, Groups of more than 7 vehicles or 25+ people require a Special Use Permit.


Important Notice: ATVs and UTVs Not Permitted in Mojave National Preserve at all!


Due note 3: Drive with enough fuel, no gas station in Mojave National Preserve


Due note 4: No cellular reception in Mojave National Preserve (you may have receptions near the main Highways). If you are using cellular map with GPS make sure you download the map in advance where you have cell reception (Wi-Fi connectivity is preferred).


Due note 5: Only few paved roads cross the Mojave Desert, most main dirt roads are in good conditions, but some may be impossible to pass after heavy rain. There are many off-road, 4x4 only trails, make sure you know what you are doing and what your car can handle safely.


Due note 6: This road, although can be done by regular car (if not wet or muddy) it is not recommended for motorhomes or trailers.


Due note 7: You can drive to Hole-in-the-Wall on paved road, no need to drive on dirt road if you do not want to do this trip, see: my Hole-in-the-Wall Blog.


Due note 8: During winter month, bring with you few warm cloths, you may get warm during the day and the hike, but you will need them once the sun is going down in a cold evening.


My thoughts: Easy to drive road when it is dry, it will lead you from the relatively leveled sandy desert section near Cima dome into the high mountain section of the preserve.


The Drive:


The road starts at the Cima Rd. junction with Kalso Cima Rd, here you can see the train tracks that are leading to Navada.

Near the junction you can see an isolated home and old deserted Cima Store. Not a lot more than that.


Mile 4.7:

You will drive south on Kalso Cima Rd parallel to the train tracks for 4.7 miles.

Here you will see turn to the left sign.

Turn left and cross the railroad.

Keep driving and soon the paved road will become a good-condition graveled road.

The road leaves the open landscape and will get into a riverbed creek, after strong heavy rain events it can be muddy or even flooded and maybe impossible to drive.


Mile 10.5:

You will reach a junction with a clear sign directing to Hole-in-the-Wall, here you need to turn right. If you will keep driving straight you can reach Camp Rock Spring.

After turning right, you will climb out of the lower section into the upper open plateau.

Keep driving until seeing a secluded farmhouse on your left.

This section was burned at 2005 fire so there are many dead tress skeletons.


Mile 13.47:

You will reach a trail junction with a clear sign. Turning right will lead you to Mid Hills Campground.

If you are not planning to stay in the campground for the night or you do not drive 4x4 car there is not so much point to turn right, keep driving additional 7 miles on the main road straight to Hole-in-the-Wall, overall, this will be 21 miles drive from the starting point.


If you do have 4x4 car than I will recommend doing this out of the main road loop and not drive directly on the main road to Hole-in-the-Wall.


Mile 15.5:

This is the entrance to the Mid Hills Campground, from this point onward the road is restricted to 4x4 drive car.


Mid Hills Campground:

A Fire swept through the area in 2005, burning much of the vegetation, most tress around the camp are dead. The unburned section is located at the back of Mid Hills Campground.

There are 26 campsites and last time I visit here (Jan 2022) they are all in excellent condition.

At 5,600 feet in elevation, Mid Hills is much cooler than the desert floor below. The access road is unpaved and is not recommended for motorhomes or trailers.

There are pit toilets, fire rings, picnic tables in every campsite.

Mid Hills Campground has no water!

Fees: $12 per site per night.


The below description is relevant to the 4x4 road section:

Mile 15.5:

Keep driving straight into the 4x4 road.

From this point the road is heading down gradually from the ridge top into the river bad.

The road is mostly in good conditions and not real 4x4 capabilities are needed, although high clearance is always good.

Keep driving on Wild Horse Canyon Road.


Mile 20.1:

Here you will get into trail junction, keep driving straight on the main road and do not turn right.

You will cross several dry riverbeds, overall, the road was in good condition without any navigation or driving challenges.


Mile 26:

Here you will reach the end of the dirt road drive and re-connect to a paved road.

Turn left and soon you will see the entrance to Hole-in-the-Wall visitor center on your left.