For those out there who are passionate about road trips and the unique stops found along the way, I highly recommend traveling along California's Hwy 395 and visiting the Rustic Oasis Motel.
Located in the tiny Owens Valley town of Olancha, California, the Rustic Oasis is a survivor of roadside stops from the 50's. The motel's epithet itself suggests a basic, bare-bones sanctuary in the desert, yet while the amenities are as spartan as the inn's name advertises, there is truly an oasis to be found in much of the motel's offerings. With warm and cordial service, wonderful panoramas of both desert and mountains, accessibility to numerous natural venues, and clean, affordable, and cozy rooms, the benefits of this humble place make it a charming and pleasant stay.
There are eight assorted rooms of differing size; some larger rooms have a microwave and fridge, but don't worry, all have the basic necessities: fresh soap, plastic wrapped cups, clean sheets, towels, and of course, a t.v. For those who enjoy "roughing it" a bit but still want items like mouthwash, shampoo, or conditioner, this is where the word "rustic" comes into play. While you may have to bring these extra items yourself (as they're not part of the stay at the Rustic), don't let these little unnecessary details hold you back from staying, as this is part of the motel's charm. Yes, there may not be any jacuzzi or valet parking, but there is the very friendly and obliging staff to make your stay memorable: Judy is always there to answer your questions, offer friendly tourist recommendations, and make a hot cup of coffee in the morning. She is also very flexible with late check-ins, and if you call ahead, she will helpfully work with your scheduled arrival. However, because this is a small establishment, please be patient if you call and your get a message machine--just a leave a message, as the staff is out of the office tending to the rooms or guests. However, your call is always returned promptly, so don't let that stop you from booking a night or two.
Another great reason for staying in this secluded location is to visit the natural surroundings and recharge in the solitude of the area. Olancha's proximity to many secluded locations makes staying at the Rustic Oasis ideal, as the small town is surrounded by beautiful desert and mountain views. This is a perfect base of operations for travelers visiting Death Valley, Whitney Portal, Manzanar, and even the Bristlecone Pine Forest, as well as other stops, like Olancha Dunes for those ORV enthusiasts or the "Dirty Socks" Hot Springs on the edge of Owens Lake. The Rustic is also an ideal stopover for photographers looking to take shots of mountains, deserts, oases, and roadside ruins. This motel is also close to Lone Pine, which hosts a film festival every October.
The Rustic Oasis also can fit the budget of the more cash-strapped traveller. While so many inns easily charge over $60 per evening and then include taxes, the Rustic is more affordable and can assist those low-income travel enthusiasts. Of course, there's no room service or pool here, but the character and simple charm of this place beats out any of the costly frills that franchised competitors boast in surrounding towns.
One recommendation for those hungry visitors stopping in Olancha: there is only one restaurant in town called the Ranch House Cafe, along with a Mobil gas station deli. However, latecomers and early risers might find these establishments could be closed. In these instances, travelers can head north on the 395 about 25 miles to Lone Pine where a few more restaurants can be found, or south about 22 miles to Pearsonville, where a Shell gas station has a Subway. However, for those that appreciate the isolation and solitude, this will probably not be an issue if they pack an ice chest with extra snacks and food.
The Rustic Oasis Motel is truly distinctive, and represents a dying breed of motel along the open road that is now too few and far between. While this place might not be for everybody, the Rustic is a wonderful stay for those who want affordability, cleanliness, and quiet. If you appreciate getting away from the rat race of the city and embrace the simplicity of a bygone era, please do yourself a favor and drop in on this little gem.
Unique Quality: This hotel has wonderful views of desert, mountains, the Sierra Nevada Range, close proximity to Owens Lake, ORV areas like Olancha Dunes, Death Valley junction, Whitney Portal, Manzanar. The Rustic Oasis offers seclusion, affordability, and cleanliness not found in motels in other towns nearby.
Directions: When heading north on Hwy 395, the Rustic Oasis Hotel is located on the left-hand side of the road. It is the first stop in Olancha when approaching from the south.
2055 Highway 395, Olancha
2051 Highway 395, Olancha
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Address: 2055 Highway 395, Olancha, California, 93549, United States