A renovated cafe serves sandwiches and coffee at Kelso Depot, Mojave National Preserve's main visitor center.
Even a Gila monster can be hard pressed to scare up so much as a quail egg in California’s remote Mojave National Preserve, where wanderers of all kinds find the pickings awfully slim. Luckily, the Beanery at Kelso Depot has reopened after a hiatus and a restoration that evokes its original 1924 look, with a horseshoe counter and tall windows looking out on the sculpted contours of low mountains.
With its mission-style colonnade, the depot lives incongruously in a land known for its gnarly Joshua trees, volcanic cinder cones, and sand dunes that sing. Once a boardinghouse for railroaders, the depot has been reborn as the preserve’s main visitor center. Patrons include Europeans charmingly besotted with U.S. deserts. “It always blows my mind that they come so far just to see what’s out here,” says Michael Garcia, a Beanery regular. (760) 252-6108, nps.gov/moja.
Photography by Guss L. Vopalensky
This article was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.