You'll want to bring a fair amount of food with you. Baker has a few chain restaurants and a
good, inexpensive Mexican restaurant called Los Dos Toritos. There are also a few decent general
stores in Baker, but no full-size grocery store. On the northeast edge of the Preserve near
the Arizona border, Nipton has a general store that closes at 6 p.m., and a small restaurant
has opened there since I last visited in 2000. (See the Nipton
web site for more information.)
In the middle of the Preserve, Cima has a few snack items at the post office, but its hours
are limited, so it may not be a reliable source. On the southern edge of the Preserve, the store
at Goffs is now closed (2006), but the Fenner gas-staion store is open. East of the Preserve,
is Needles, a larger town, but there is no direct bicycle route between Needles and the Preserve
without riding on the freeway.
Water is the biggest concern and has the most bearing on how a tour is organized. Bottled water
is available along with foodstuffs as mentioned above and is available on tap at the camping
locations mentioned in the section below. Water tanks and a few springs also exist in the Preserve,
but water (if any is found) from these sources would require treatment prior to consumption.
The general rule is a gallon of water per day per person, but should you wish to "waste" some
on washing yourself or cooking, you will need more. Upon leaving a water source, I stocked a
1.5-litre bottle of water in each of my four panniers, and carried a fifth one in the outer
pocket of one of my rear panniers for water breaks. Although adequate (and heavy!), I wouldn't
consider this sufficient for more than a day and a half. If you get delayed by a breakdown or
camp at a place where there is no water, you'll be extremely pleased with yourself if have any
As might be expected after reading the above, there are no accommodations inside the Preserve.
Baker is the main stop-over place, with a couple of truckstop-style motels. The most interesting
nearby accommodations are at Hotel
Nipton, which has a cute, four-room bed and breakfast desert chalet and a couple of tent
cabins. Camping is the other option.
Nipton also offers a few tent spaces (and showers and an outdoor hot tub). Within the Preserve,
National Parks Service offers campgrounds with water (unless frozen), but no showers, at Mid
Hills and Hole in the Wall (Mid Hills is superior for the tenting person). California State
Parks operates a small campground at Mitchell
Caverns in the Providence Mountains. There are a few informal roadside campsites in the
Preserve (with no water or services) and it is permitted to camp off-road in most places.
Speed and distance matter because you need to be able to reach reliable water sources within
whatever schedule you've set for yourself. If you only have a bicycle, water sources become
an integral part of your route. If you have a car, you can store quantities of water there,
but you will need to backtrack to the car at regular intervals instead of following a route
that always moves forward (unless a second car meets you with supplies at pre-determined locations).
Don't forget that speed on the often sandy dirt roads is much slower than on the paved ones!
A 15-mile ride on a very sandy back road might be equal to a 60-mile ride on pavement in terms
of energy and time required, and might not be much faster than walking in an extreme case.