Cedar Canyon Road at Black Canyon Road (view E)
Black Canyon Road (southbound) runs north-south through the central portion of the Preserve connecting Cedar Canyon Road with Essex Road and Interstate-40. The northern 9.1 miles are graded dirt, and the remaining 10.7 miles are paved. The dirt portion generally is fine for sedans, but it can be badly washboarded.
This road provides access to several hikes, homes, ranches, and developed and primitive camping areas in Round Valley, Gold Valley, and Fenner Valley. This road also connects with roads leading to the Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center and Fire Station.
Link to map.
Black Canyon Road (view S from Cedar Cyn Rd)
Other than the standard warnings about being in the desert, ... the road is easy in a 2WD-HC vehicle, and it should be passable in a carefully driven sedan. If driving a sedan, inquire locally about current conditions and use your own good judgment about the road, as the road is subject to washouts. Much of the dirt road can be driven at 45 mph, but if driving that fast, pay attention to unsigned curves.
Watch for cows on the road, and especially watch for black cows on the road at night!
While out in the desert, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, the area is remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.
Getting to the Road
This road is located in Mojave National Preserve, about 2 hours south of Las Vegas.
From town, drive south on I-15 to Mojave National Preserve. From Kelso-Cima Road, turn left onto Cedar Canyon Road. Drive east 6 miles to Black Canyon Road (Table 1, Site 0833) on the right.
From the south, exit I-40 onto Essex Road northbound (Site 1474). Drive north 9.9 miles to Black Canyon Road (Site 0845) on the right.
On Cedar Canyon Road (Site 0833), Black Canyon Road forms a T-intersection to the right. Black Canyon Road drops into and crosses Cedar Canyon Wash, which can be washed out, and heads south and up a fairly steep canyon. Near the top of the canyon, the road winds through S-curves. When going by, note a bedrock outcrop in the road, as this can be quite a surprise when going down too fast. I was a passenger in a van that nearly crashed here when an idiot driver hit the bumps going downhill too fast.
The road breaks out into Round Valley where the road is broad, fairly straight, and tends to be smooth. At about 2.5 miles out, a side road to the right leads to nice, primitive campsites near a rock outcrop by a working windmill.
Continuing south, Black Canyon Road passes a T-intersection with the north end of Wild Horse Road (Site 0834). This road leads to Mid Hills Campground and will loop back into Black Canyon Road about 7-1/2 miles farther south.
Beyond Wild Horse Road, Black Canyon Road starts down into Black Canyon. The road becomes narrow and winding as it hugs the hillside above Black Canyon Wash. The road can be bumpy with rocks and heavily washboarded.
The road eventually crosses Black Canyon Wash and begins to cross Gold Valley where the road again tends to run broad, smooth, and slightly downhill. At about 8-1/2 miles out, notice Hole-in-the-Wall Campground ahead on the right.
The pavement (Site 1473) begins at 9.0 miles out, and shortly the road arrives at the entrance to Hole-in-the-Wall Campground (Site 0836). This is a nice campground with tent and trailer sites, including a dump station, but no hookups.
Continuing another 1/4-miles, the paved road reaches a 4-way intersection (Site 0836). To the right is Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center and picnic area, plus trailheads for several hikes. To the left is the Fire Station and a group and equestrian campground.
Continuing yet another 1/4-miles, the road reaches a T-intersection (Site 1267) where the south end of Wild Horse Road departs to the right. From there, the road runs south, southwest without interruption for 9.5 miles to Essex Road (Site 0845).
Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Cedar Cyn Rd at Black Cyn Rd
||Black Cyn Rd at Mid Hills Rd
||Black Cyn Rd at Hole-Wall Rd
||Black Canyon Rd at Essex Rd
||Black Cyn Rd at Wild Horse Rd
||Black Canyon Road at Pavement End
||Essex Road at I-40