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Mojave Dessert w/ Nina Rathbun

Do you like sand? A lot of it? In a pile? Well boy do we have the trip for you!!! Join Peaks & Professors as we embark on an amazing trip to Mojave National Preserve and Kelso Dunes with IR legend Nina Rathbun (and rumor has it she’ll bring along her husband, Prof. Brian Rathbun!)

Commonly mixed up with the after-dinner treat, deserts are one of California's hidden wonders and our weekend will be legendary. Join us as we explore Mojave’s Lava Tube in the morning, and scramble up Kelso Dunes in the afternoon. We’ll watch the sunset from the summit before we run full-speed down the sand mountains and drive home our campsite at Black Canyon. There, we will have some noms, tell some campfire stories, and gaze at some brilliant stars before heading to bed. The next morning we will hike the easy Hole-in-The-Wall trail before heading home! Woohoo! Sand! EVERYWHERE!

Packing List: 

  • Hiking/athletic shoes

  • A packed lunch for Saturday!

  • Athletic clothing (shorts, shirt, etc)

  • Sweatshirt

  • Raincoat (you never know!)

  • Extra layers (for the cold desert evening ~ 30 degrees)

  • Pillow

  • Sleeping bag

  • Sleeping pad

  • Tent (if you have one)

  • Mess kit

  • Lots of water (3L minimum)

  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses

  • Camera (optional)

  • Sense of adventure (mandatory)

  • 3 fun facts (also mandatory)

  • Snacks you may want

We will Provide:

  • Tents

  • Saturday - dinner

  • Sunday - breakfast, lunch

  • Extra H20

  • Endless supply of puns & fun facts


PEAK: Kelso Dunes!

Come peak some sandy peaks! We’ll climb up the sand pile, chill at the top, and frolic all the way down!


SCENERY: Lots of sand. Think sand, but more.

FUN FACT: The tallest dunes rise up to 650 feet (200 m) above the surrounding terrain.


PROFESSOR: Nina Rathbun

DEPARTMENT: International Relations


“Nina is one of the best professors I’ve had…the most I’ve learned in any class!”

“Very knowledgeable and very engaging!”

Before Nina Rathbun was a beast in the IR department, she was a Foreign Affairs Officer for the U.S. State Department on multilateral nuclear nonproliferation. After that, she got her PhD in Political Science at UC Berkeley. Her areas of expertise are international economic globalization, political economy, and democratization in post-Communist states. But don’t be intimidated! She’s the Director of Undergraduate Studies, a fellowships advisor, and an avid mentor of students, so she’s full of life advice for undergrads from any major!


Trip Lead: Catherine Atkinson

Contact Catherine:

Read Catherine’s bio here.


Trip Lead: Lisa de Rafols

Contact Lisa:

Read Lisa’s bio here.

ADDRESS: Mojave Desert!