THE THIRD LARGEST DESERT PARK in the country, Mojave National Preserve protects 1.6 million acres of spectacular arid lands at the heart of the Mojave Desert. Part of the celebrated Great Basin province, it is a spellbinding region of mighty mountain ranges rising thousands of feet above vast inland basins. Famous for the majestic Kelso Dunes, the Devils Playground, and the world's largest Joshua tree forest, the preserve also holds considerable natural and cultural wealth, including a wild range of landscapes, striking plant communities, and a rich mining past. Above all, it is a land of contrasts, alternatively forlorn and vibrant with life, stark and colorful, blanketed in snow in the winter, awash with wildflowers in the spring, and scorching hot in the summer. Being high-desert country and generally a little cooler than Death Valley, topographically less rugged, and far less visited, it offers a tremendous potential for comparatively easier hiking in complete solitude.