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Wild Horse Road - Southbound
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road
Black Canyon Rd at Wild Horse Rd (view S)

Overview

Wild Horse Road is a graded dirt road that forms a 11.5-mile semi-circle off the west side of Black Canyon Road. That is, the road runs west from the north end of Black Canyon Road, runs south some 6 miles, then cuts back east to reconnect with Black Canyon Road just south of Hole in the Wall.

This road provides access to Mid Hills Campground, the Mid Hills Trailhead, several hikes, several primitive campsites, and several dirt-road driving adventures.

Link to map.

Wild Horse RoadWild Horse Rd (view W from Black Canyon Rd)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about being in the desert, ... the road generally is well maintained and passable in sedans, but the road is subject to washouts. In particular, in the section from about 8-1/2 to 9-1/2 miles out, the road runs in a sandy wash. The Preserve tries to maintain this section, bit it can become a bit soft with sandy humps in the center of the road that could drag on sedans. Going downhill in such a situation (north to south) is better than trying to go uphill.

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.

Wild Horse Road
Watch out for little people playing in the road!

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 into California to Nipton Road. Turn left onto Nipton Road and drive east 3.6 miles. Turn right onto Ivanpah Road and drive south 3.2 miles. Turn right onto Morningstar Mine Road and drive southwest 15 miles to Cima, where the road crosses railroad tracks and continues as the Kelso-Cima Road. Continue 4.6 miles on Kelso-Cima Road. Turn left onto Cedar Canyon Road and drive east 6.0 miles. Turn right onto Black Canyon Road and drive south 2.8 miles to Wild Horse Road, on the right.

Wild Horse Road

The Road

From Black Canyon Road (Table 1, Site 0834), Wild Horse Road runs southwest across the open desert climbing towards a low gap in the Mid Hills. This area burned in the 2005 Hackberry Fire, but the vegetation is slowly recovering.

After crossing over the crest of the Mid Hills, the road descends gradually to a 4-way intersection (Site 0835) at about 2.0 miles out. To the right, an access road runs north into Mid Hills Campground. To the left, an access road runs a few yards to the Mid Hills Trailhead where the Mid Hill Loop Trail and the Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail head off to the south.

Wild Horse Road

Continuing southwest, Wild Horse Road runs across open desert where a few Singleleaf Pinyon Pine, Utah Junipers, and California Juniper survived the fire. As the road begins to curve south, a dirt side road (with a broad, triangle intersection) runs north into a stand of trees that survived the fire. Tucked into the trees are several primitive campsites (Eagle Rocks primitive camp area). There is also one campsite on a burned-off knoll overlooking Kelso Valley to the west and the Eagle Rocks to the north. A carefully driven sedan probably can get into this area, but 2WD-HC vehicles are needed to get all the way around the loop and up onto the knoll.

Wild Horse Road

As the main road runs south, it crosses a cattle guard (2.8 miles out) and begins running generally downhill through rolling country. At about 3.9 and 4.4 miles out, side roads are passed on the left. These 4WD roads lead east, crossing the Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail, and emerging onto Black Canyon Road. These roads remain open to the public in support of ranching in the area and search-and-rescue on the trails.

Continuing south, Wild Horse Road runs to a low point at the head of Macedonia Canyon. After starting up the other side of the canyon, Macedonia Canyon Road (Site 1478) turns right and runs 6.5 miles to Kelbaker Road. For drivers with 4WD vehicles, this offers a short-cut from the Hole-in-the-Wall area to the Kelso Depot area. I've driven this road both ways in my jeep using only 2WD, but I wouldn't drive it uphill in a 2WD vehicle because of deep, loose sand in the wash.

Wild Horse Road
Approaching low saddle over Mid Hills (view SW)

Wild Horse Road climbs out of the Macedonia Canyon drainage, bends hard to the left, and begins down into Wild Horse Canyon. At 6.6 miles out, the road passes a working windmill on the right, and at about 7.2 miles out, the road passes another 4WD road on the left.

This side road runs out to a campsite at the base of the Opalite Cliffs, and then continues east to Black Canyon Road using part of the Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail and Barber Peak Loop Trail. Again, this road remains open in support of ranching and search-and-rescue.

At 8.3 miles out, Wild Horse Road passes yet another side road to the left. This road runs out to a couple of low-end campsites and ends for no apparent reason; in fact, the road seems to have no apparent reason.

Wild Horse Road
Descending towards campground road (view SW)

Wild Horse Road, now running low in Wild Horse Canyon, enters Wild Horse Wash at about 8.5 miles out, and for the next 0.8 miles, the road runs in a ditch formed by attempts to grade the soft sand off the roadway. Unfortunately, the sand is bottomless and gets churned up, so this area can be a bit of a problem for low-hanging sedans. It should be passable going downhill, but consider carefully before going in the opposite direction.

Back on firm soils, Wild Horse Road passes a short spur road left (10.0 miles out) leading to a primitive campsite. At 10.4 miles out, the road passes Wild Horse Trailhead, which provides access to several trails, including the Tall Yuccas Route.

Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road at 4-way intersection (view SW)

Now heading due east, Wild Horse Road passes another spur road left (10.9 miles out) leading to the mouth of Banshee Canyon. There is no camping on this road, but it remains open in support of search-and-rescue efforts on the trails. Just past this side road, Wild Horse Road crosses another cattle guard, and at 11.0 miles out, passes another spur road to the left that leads to a well-used primitive campsite. On the right in this area are the buildings of a working cattle ranch.

Continuing east, the road bends a bit to the left and runs out to the pavement at Black Canyon Road (Site 1267) after a total of 11.5 miles on the dirt. Hole-in-the-Wall is to the left at the intersection, and Interstate 40 is to the right.

Wild Horse Road
Mid Hills Campground sign (view W)
Wild Horse Road
Mid Hills Campground Road (view N from Wild Horse Road)
Wild Horse Road
Mid Hills Trailhead (view S from Wild Horse Road)
Wild Horse Road
Directional sign opposite Mid Hills Campground Road (view S)
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road
Eagle Rocks camp area on the right (view SW)
Wild Horse Road
Crossing high desert flats (view S)
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road
Approaching side road to the left (view S; 3.9 miles out)
Wild Horse Road
Side road to the left (view S; 3.9 miles out)
Wild Horse Road
3.9-mile side road (view SE from Wild Horse Road)
Wild Horse Road
Approaching side road to the left (view S; 4.4 miles out)
Wild Horse Road
Side road to the left (view S; 4.4 miles out)
Wild Horse Road
4.4-mile side road (view NE from Wild Horse Road)
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road
Little road hazard, especially at night
Wild Horse Road
Big road hazard, especially at night
Wild Horse Road
Approaching Macedonia Canyon Road (view S)
Wild Horse Road
Macedonia Canyon Road (view S from Wild Horse Road)
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road
Another road hazard, especially at night
Wild Horse Road
Approaching Opalite Cliffs Road (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Opalite Cliffs Road (view SE from Wild Horse Road)
Wild Horse Road
Gravel laid to stabilize the road surface
Wild Horse Road
Dropping into Wild Horse Canyon (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Wash; note recent grader activity (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Loose sand in Wild Horse Wash (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Not-so-loose sand in Wild Horse Wash (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Loose sand in Wild Horse Wash (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Loose sand in Wild Horse Wash (view SE)
Wild Horse Road
Beyond the sand in Wild Horse Wash (view E)
Wild Horse Road
Approaching Wild Horse Trailhead (view NE)
Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road (view E)
Wild Horse Road
Approaching Black Canyon Road (view E)
Wild Horse Road
Wild Horse Road at Black Canyon Road (view E)
more to come ...

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0834 Black Cyn Rd at Mid Hills Rd 645618 3889147 35.13646 115.40166 5,282 Yes
0835 Wild Horse Rd at MH Camp Rd 642866 3887646 35.12332 115.43212 5,522 Yes
1267 Black Cyn Rd at Wild Horse Rd 646945 3878305 35.03853 115.38903 4,153 Yes
1268 Wild Horse Trailhead 645313 3878094 35.03687 115.40695 4,216 Yes
1478 Wild Horse Rd at Macedonia Canyon Rd 640789 3882685 35.07889 115.45575 4,965 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130612

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