Travel + Leisure
At 1.6 million acres, it’s the largest national monument in the contiguous U.S. — and it’s almost entirely empty. Protected by President Obama in 2016 after a 20-year effort to protect this vast area, Mojave Trails National Monument in southeastern California is an untouched wilderness of mountains, volcanic spires, dunes, wetlands, Joshua tree woodlands, petroglyphs and the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of Route 66. It’s also home to some of the last remaining inky-black, starry skies. “You can see the Milky Way here every night in a blanket of stars, and even globular clusters and our sister galaxy Andromeda,” said Elizabeth Paige, an intern on the Women In Science Discovering Our Mojave (WISDOM) research project, and a student at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California.