Kelso Dunes Dog-friendly

Sunset Watching at Kelso Dunes


After we visited the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah back in 2017, I was hooked! Sand dunes are so cool, and it’s a fun place to explore with your dog. This winter, we headed to another sand dune park that is closer to home.

During our recent road trip to the Mojave National Preserve, I made sure to stop at Kelso Dunes. Enter “Kelso Dunes Trail” into Google Maps and get the directions before entering the park. Cell phone reception is mostly unavailable in the park.

The trailhead is clearly marked on Kelso Dunes Road. In the beginning, the hard-packed sand trail was easy to walk on. But soon it ended, and we were left to explore the vast plain of deep soft sand.


The wind can wipe out a trail anytime so there is no designated trail at the sand dunes. You just walk whichever direction you want to go to.


Xena was keeping me company while impatient Joy was running back and forth.


These two adventure pups made it look easy. Going up and down and up and down.


But it sure was one of the most challenging 3-mile hikes I’ve done. And of course, I chose to do the shortest distance to the top so that means it was the steepest route.

Do you see the tiny people at the top of the dune?

Climbing 560 feet in deep soft sand kicked my butt! 2 steps forward then 1 step back. You can notice the steepness of the slope by seeing how Xena is leaning toward the hill for balance. As usual, Xena kept checking in to see if I was ok every time I took a break. 🐶💭Why you so slow…  I envied her 4 legs and low center of gravity.


In the end, my lower back couldn’t take it anymore. I was on my knees and crawled the last 10 feet to the top laughing the whole time because I looked ridiculous. Xena thought it was funny.

We made a perfect time for the sunset.



Kelso Dunes


Climbing down the sand dunes in the dark was yet another interesting experience. How quickly we get disoriented in the dark. I had to herd my pack to the car.

Good to Know:

  • Hike Date:  1.20.19
  • Distance:  2.6 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain:  560 ft
  • Minimum Elevation:  2,525 ft
  • Maximum Elevation:  3,085 ft
  • Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
  • Trailhead:  34.892319, -115.699065
  • Permit/Fee:  None
  • Vault toilet at the trailhead
  • Avoid summer months, weak cell phone reception

Get Our Latest Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here. Enjoy!

Happy Hiking!

KEEN Footwear discounts starting at 25% OFF





2 comments on “Sunset Watching at Kelso Dunes”

  1. Loved my hike in Kelso two years ago but we did the sunrise. The surrounding mountains were spectacular and it felt like we could even see part of the Sierras and San Bernardinos off to the west!

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