California City Travel Guide

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California City Things to Do

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    by Yaqui Written Oct 25, 2009

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    The BLM, with assistance from the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, established the Desert Tortoise Natural Area (DTNA) in 1976. this is a special place, a traditional home for a species now threatened with extinction. The DTNA is managed to protect this unique habitat in its natural state, free from conflict with other land uses. The total area encompasses over 25,000 acres of public land.

    Located in the western Mojave Desert in northeastern Kern County, the DTNA was designated an Area of Critical environmental Concern (ACEC) in 1980 through the California Desert Conservation Area Plan. It has one of the highest known densities of desert tortoises per square mile in the species' geographic range (California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and northwest Mexico). Tortoise populations are from 100 to 200 per square mine in some parts of the DTNA.

    The desert tortoise (Gopherus agazzizi) is the official California State reptile. It is long-lived, slow to mature, and has a low reproductive potential. Individuals may live 60 to 100 years and may reach a length of about 15 inches. Tortoises do not mature until 14 to 20 years of age and even then eggs are not necessarily laid every year. Hatchling tortoises receive no parental care. Since their shells don't completely harden for 4 to 5 years, the young tortoises are especially vulnerable to predators.

    Tortoises live in underground burrows that shelter them from the summer sun and provide a place to hibernate in the winter. These burrows are often found under perennial bushes where the root system stabilize the burrow and the foliage provides additional shade.

    Tortoises feed on annual wildflowers and grasses in the spring and sometimes again in the fall. During feeding periods, they accumulate fat and store water. These food reserves must carry the tortoises through the summer and, in some years, to the next spring.

    Spring (mid-March to mid-June) is the best time of the year to visit the area, for temperatures then are most agreeable to animal and plant life, as well as people. Tortoises may be seen outside their burrows in the morning and the late afternoon. From mid-June through February, most tortoises are usually deep in their burrows and are seldom seen.

    Bring a good supply of drinking water, as there is none at the site. Sunglasses, hat, windbreaker or sweater, and sturdy shoes or boots are recommended. Visitors may also wish to bring binoculars and a camera. Since rattlesnakes live in and around the area, watch your step!

    To help protect the tortoise and the DTNA, please observe a few common sense rules:

    Please leave the tortoises in their home! collecting wild tortoises is prohibited by California and Federal laws.
    Do not handle tortoises or approach them too closely. When frightened, a tortoise may lose water from its bladder -- water that could otherwise have been reabsorbed into its system. Excessive water loss can cause fatal dehydration.
    Captive tortoises (pets) should not be released in the DTNA: they may carry diseases that are hazardous to wild tortoises, and pets do not fare well in the wild.
    Dogs and cats should be kept on leashes and in the parking area only.
    Plants must not be picked or damaged; they are the tortoises' food.
    Visitors should stay on marked trails.
    Vehicle use is prohibited in the DTNA.
    Please don't litter; pack out whatyou packed in.
    Groups of 25 or more should contact the Ridgecrest Field Office before visiting the DTNA.
    Additional information can be obtained from the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee. For information on adopting a desert tortoise contact the California Turtle & Tortoise Club. (http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/deserttortoisenaturalarea.html)

    Bureau of Land Management
    Ridgecrest Field Office
    300 S. Richmond Rd.
    Ridgecrest, CA 93555

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    by Yaqui Updated Oct 9, 2008

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    This is a beautiful 80 acre resort hidden like a little treasure in the vast landscape of the Mojave desert. It is one of those hidden treasures just outside of California City. It has so many wonderful trees, streams, ponds and a lake that you can use a canoe or paddleboat on. Paths allow you to ride a array of bicycles that you can rent, yet you have a pay a different rate if your not a memember. You can rent a room or a RV trailer with your private camping area. They have a minature golf, pool, playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a different kind of shooting range. They even have a riding stable to enjoy. There is lots to see and do here. Oh, I almost forgot, they have even a dinning area to enjoy too. Even if it is to just spend a day walking around and enjoying the day, it is worth it.

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    by Yaqui Updated Oct 5, 2008

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    These wagons use to be located at Borax Bill Park, but have recently been relocated to the California City Police Department so they can keep them from being further vandalized. They are a prized reminder of our colorful desert communities past.

    They ran these wagons through here from 1884 to 1889 from the Death Valley to the railhead at Mojave, which was 165 miles. This is a true testament to the beast of burden and the hardiness of man.

    Twenty Mule Teams which were 7,800 pound wagons each hauling at least 12 tons of borax and bone on wheels seven feet high with eight inch steal tires with a train that measured 160 feet long with the best trained twenty mules. They then transported the Borax to the Mojave Desert Railhead 165 miles of scorching desert heat in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter.

    The driver "Skinner", had to handle his mules in all conditions. He was veterinarian, blacksmith, and a repairman when something had to be fixed on the wagon.

    The drivers assistant "Swamper" had numerous duties. Going up grades he walked along the teams. On downgrades he handle the brakes on the rear wagon. He also was in charge of making the camp, hooking and unhooking the mules, and feeding them. Gathered fuel for the fires, cooked, and washed the dishes.

    It was easy driving them on a straight path, but when they need to manuever around corners is when their intelligence and skill came into play. The mules consisted of specialized teams to perform a specific function. As the team started around a sharp curve, the chain tended to be pulled into a straight line between the lead mules and the wagon. To keep the chain going around the curve, some of the span of mules were ordered to leap the chain and pull at an angle away from the curve. These mules the "pointers" the "sixes" and the "eights" would step along sideways until the curve successfully was a real demonstration of the training and intelligence of the mules as well as the skill of the driver. The (1st) row where called, "The Leaders". The next (5) rows were called, "The Swing Teams", the next (7th) row called, "The Eights, (8th) row called the sixes, (9th) row called the pointers, and the (10th) last row called, "The Wheelers" which were the largest and strongest of the mules. The driver rode the "high wheeler" (left hand mule) and from this position operated the brake on the front wagon.

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California City Hotels

California City Restaurants

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    by Yaqui Updated Oct 6, 2012

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    Sadly this restaurant is gone literally. They have completly removed it. Very sad though. It was fun to experience.

    My hubby brought me here as a surprise and what a wonderful surprise that was. We both really enjoy 50's decor and the waitress was so nice. The food was very good and the price was right. The seat was very comfortable and we enjoyed the old fashion chute box. It was very clean too. That is always a plus to me.

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California City Off The Beaten Path

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    by Yaqui Updated Jun 27, 2009

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    This wonderful marker sits by the very route these massive wood wagons carrying borax from Death Valley to the Mojave railhead traveling over 165 miles all year long during the harsh winters and deadly heat of the Mojave Desert. You will find this marker at the Bill Borax Park located outside of town. A very popular OHV park that has all the amenities.

    16363 Twenty Mule Team Parkway
    California City, CA 93505

    Take I-58 East turn left on I-14 North / Bishop.
    Turn right at California City Blvd.
    Turn left on Randsburg Mojave Rd. (Turns into Twenty Mule Team Pkwy.)%

    For those GPS users: N35* 10.278' W117* 50.247'

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    by Yaqui Updated Jun 27, 2009

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    Built by the Rice & Shippee Company of Mojave in 1896 to help transport goods and people to Mojave railhead from Randsburg mine and town. I know I know, another marker...ugh! Yet, its these markers let everyone know how significant these places changed the evolution of transportation and made our lives a little more easier.

    Take I-58 East turn left on I-14 North / Bishop.
    Turn right at California City Blvd.
    Turn left on Randsburg Mojave Rd. (Turns into Twenty Mule Team Pkwy.)

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