California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 18

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

3

Amazing Desert Oddities
A big part of any road trip is stumbling upon bizarre roadside
attractions. That's especially true in the California desert, the
domain of both eccentrics and the occasional visionary.

Just outside Borrego Springs, sculptor Ricardo Breceda created
roughly 130 gigantic scrap-metal sculptures of prehistoric animals,
including dinosaurs and a saber-toothed cat, that seem to march
across the scruffy flats. Check out these creatures, then treat yourself
to a night at nearby La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort & Spa.
In the morning, head out on Borrego Springs Road past the park's
badlands to go east on State Route 78. If you have a 4-wheel-drive
vehicle, make a detour to the definitive desert view at Font's Point.
You'll then follow Highway 86 along the Salton Sea, the mirage-like
saline lake formed when waters from the Colorado River accidentally
filled a desert basin.
Stop at Indio's Shields Date Garden to pick up fresh dates and dine
on such specialties as a burger topped with Deglet Noor dates, bacon,
and blue cheese. Tthen explore the Walk at Shields, a path through
oasis-like groves. Beyond the thousands of wind turbines just outside
Palm Springs, you'll climb into the high desert. Although Pioneertown
looks like it has been around since the 1800s, these rustic structures
were built as a tourist attraction and film set in 1946. Stay in Westernstyle rooms at the Pioneertown Motel or catch live music at Pappy &
Harriet's, where Paul McCartney played a show in 2016.
There are more good vibes nearby at the Integratron, a wooden
dome near Landers built on a geomagnetic vortex by inventor George
Van Tassel. Come here for a sound bath, touted as a sonic healing
session that uses sound waves to rejuvenate mind and body.
More earthly than Van Tassel, the late sculptor Noah Purifoy
arrived in this area near Joshua Tree National Park in the 1980s and
began creating large-scale art from found materials. His works grew
into the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Art, where

RIC A R D O B R E C E DA'S FANTASTIC AL S CULP TURE S

you can take docent-led tours or wander among the 10 acres of
sculptures on your own.
Past the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, you'll leave
Highway 62 and turn off for Amboy Road, which continues north

reach the desert's vast expanses on a journey into Anza-Borrego

for about an hour through an especially barren patch of desert. The

Desert State Park, through Joshua tree forests, and past Mojave

Amboy Crater towers to the west, and you can pose for selfies in front

National Preserve's surreal scenery. As you drive east along I-8, the

of the famous sign at Roy's Café, a retro landmark on Route 66.

Cuyamaca Mountains rise in the distance. Past the town of Alpine, the

North of Interstate 40 in Mojave National Preserve, the golden

landscape opens up to hills strewn with large boulders before you

Kelso Dunes rise 650 feet above the desert floor. Scramble up the

reach Desert View Tower. Built in 1923, the tower offers sweeping

slopes and listen closely to hear these dunes "sing" as cascades of

panoramas from 3,000 feet in the In-Ko-Pah Mountains. Give yourself

sliding sand sometimes produce an unmistakable moaning sound-

time to wander through the maze-like Boulder Park Mystery Caves to

one of the world's only places where the phenomenon occurs.

see folk art-style carvings from the 1930s.
You'll quickly give back all of that gained elevation as you drop

Kelbaker Road leads north, deeper into the preserve, where the
landscape transitions from the soft, shifting sands of the dunes to the

into the desert before turning northwest on Highway S-2 to enter the

jagged terrain of Cinder Cone National Natural Landmark. Soon you'll

tawny terrain of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The air is parched

reach Interstate 15 and the town of Baker, famous for the otherworldly

and the vegetation sparse, but there's no denying the stark beauty

dried meats at UFO-themed Alien Fresh Jerky, the place to stock

at the Carrizo Badlands Overlook-or the surprising and refreshing

up on such tasty, ET-inspired flavors as Abducted Cow Pineapple

coolness of Mountain Palm Springs, a natural oasis just off the road.

Teriyaki-the perfect souvenir for the folks back home.

3
days

S TA R T San Diego
F I N I S H Baker

468
miles

B E S T P L AC E TO WATC H T H E S U N S E T Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve

18
VISITCALIFORNIA.COM

I N S I D E T I P Late winter
and into spring is the best time
for the drive, both to avoid hot
weather and to potentially see
wildflowers.

PHOTOGRAPH: VANESSA ROACH

H E A D I N G E A ST F R O M B E AC H Y S A N D I E G O , you'll quickly


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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
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