TravelFilter: Drive from Zion, UT, to San Luis Obispo, CA.
June 11, 2024 5:45 AM   Subscribe

This leg is part of our summer adventure and I'm looking for info/recommendations. We don't want to meander too much, and Google Maps routes us through Las Vegas, the Mojave Desert, and Bakersfield, Routes 1I5-58-I5. Anything special worth stopping for? General advice? Alternate routes to suggest that don't lose several hours?
posted by Miko to Travel & Transportation around California (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Valley of Fire is definitely worth a stop. I also loved driving on back roads through the Mojave when we drove from Vegas to Joshua Tree. Obviously it doesn't really make sense to do that but I'd get off the highway and drive a few miles in at least.
posted by ambulanceambiance at 6:00 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Dewar's ice cream and candy shop - the taffy chews! I see they also do tours.

Also for ice cream: Rosemary's (spouse does not recommend their other food)

The area also has good Basque cuisine and my spouse says Chalet Basque is really good, and is right off the 58.
posted by brainwane at 6:14 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]

I just did a portion of this route a couple weeks ago and had some of the same thoughts regarding alternate routes, but there aren't any really. Sorry. Leave as early as possible to get through the desert. The road doesn't get very interesting until you are past Bakersfield IMHO.
posted by eleslie at 6:41 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Primm Mural Oasis - Right on the border of NV/CA. An almost completely dead outlet mall that has several murals on the outside, and is just COVERED with murals on the inside. It's a great bathroom stop, since it has a ample parking, barely used bathrooms, and lots of indoor space to stretch your legs. Also, the murals are pretty amazing.

Alien Jerky - In Baker, CA. It's a touristy thing, but I feel everyone should stop once just to see how many different kinds of jerky and novelty hot sauce can be in one location at the same time. You can look at the world's largest thermometer while you're in Baker, which is not as interesting as it sounds, and can actually been seen from I15 while you're speeding past it.

Zzyzx - Just outside Baker. An old mineral spa from the 40s-60s that was actually a huge scam. It's now owned by California State University for desert studies. You're free to wander around.

EddieWorld - Yermo, CA, outside of Barstow. Tourist trap. This is our go to bathroom stop driving to and from Vegas. They have so much candy, assorted mixed of nuts, and stuffed animals.

Calico Ghost Town - Also in Yermo. Not necessarily a quick stop, though, as there's a fair amount to see.

Liberty Sculpture Park - Anti-communist sculpture park across from EddieWorld. You could theortically park at EddieWorld and walk over, but there's actually an entrance at 37570 Yermo Rd, Yermo, CA 92398 that you can drive into.
posted by mrphancy at 7:03 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]

Get a strawberry shake at The Mad Greek in Baker.
posted by Dashy at 8:16 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Mojave is a very interesting drive though you'll want to confirm the roads are open. Also, it will be *very* hot, and it's a very remote area - if you were to have car trouble, it could get deadly. Taking a detour via Death Valley will still be very hot but if you stick to the main roads of the park, a little less isolated (would still bring several gallons on water in your car just to be safe). Then you could do a slight detour to Lone Pine and see the Eastern Sierras/ Alabama Hills. That drive is incredibly beautiful.

A smaller detour outside Vegas is Red Rock Canyon - even if too hot to hike, the scenic loop is, well, scenic.
posted by coffeecat at 9:20 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Consider cutting up 395 and across Yosemite on 120, if Tuolumne Pass is open (you don't say when you're going - it usually opens around July 4th but you need to check). Will add hours but worth it.
posted by bluesky78987 at 10:17 AM on June 11

I've done a couple 24 hr trips to Tehachapi (just east of Bakersfield) for an annual event. We usually just have time for breakfast before we hit the road home but I've always thought I'd be happy to hang and explore for a few hours longer. The railroad loop looks interesting and we've had pretty good luck with several of the downtown restaurants/coffee shops.
posted by snowymorninblues at 3:31 PM on June 11

also - what are you doing for the last leg of your trip, i.e. Bakersfield -> SLO? You mentioned 5 but not what hwy you'd get on from there. If it was me, I'd jog north up 5 to 46W through Paso Robles and then head south down 101 to SLO that's going to be a lot more interesting I think than just taking 58 into SLO and about the same amount of time. If you're on 101 there's various little towns you can stop and poke around in or grab a bite to eat at, Paso being the largest/tourist friendly.
posted by snowymorninblues at 3:40 PM on June 11

I've driven through that area. Zion is really cool. I didn't find the rest of that region terribly interesting, so we sped through to get to LA.

Seeing a former ghost town is neat, there are several.

If you drive in the desert, please bring SO MUCH WATER (a gallon per person per day? research it!) and make sure you have a healthy car, functioning air conditioning, a full gas tank, and your phones are charged. It's interesting to see, but holy crap is it scary hot, you could really see how someone could die quickly if the air conditioning stopped working or they tried to walk somewhere. If I had ANY doubts about my car or AC possibly breaking down, I would not go anywhere near that desert.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:21 AM on June 13

Response by poster: Yeah we're good on desert prep but thanks. Not my 1st rodeo!
posted by Miko at 1:13 PM on June 14

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