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Mojave Trails National Monument

Millions of acres of fragile desert land in southern California will be protected as part of three new National Monuments established this week by President Barack Obama.

The Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument total about 1.8 million acres. Mojave Trails features ancient Native American trading routes, mountains, lava flows, sand dunes, and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of the original Route 66, the “Mother Road” between Chicago and Los Angeles. This new park will be a close neighbor of Joshua Tree National Park.

Like the name suggests, Sand to Snow contains snow-capped peaks rising from the Sonoran Desert as well as ancient Native American petroglyphs and a 30-mile segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, recently made popularly famous in the book and movie, “Wild.” It will sit mainly in the Morongo Valley, close to Death Valley National Park.

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Sand to Snow National Monument

Castle Mountains, too, boasts Native American archaeological sites, along with Mojave Desert habitat for golden eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and bobcats. Like Mojave Trails, it is near Joshua Tree (and the Mojave National Preserve) and itself is home to forests of the prayerful yuccas.

Of the three new parks, only the Sand to Snow National Monument is managed by the U.S. National Parks Service; the others are administered by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. You can read more about Sand to Snow National Monument and all 400-plus other units of the National Park Service in our free Chimani National Parks app.