city in Kern County, California, United States

Ridgecrest is a city in Kern County in the Mojave Desert of California.

Get in edit

By car edit

US Highway 395 - Northbound travelers will turn right off the highway onto CA Highway 178 Business (also called South China Lake Boulevard), which proceeds north and then northeast about 2½ miles to Ridgecrest. Southbound travelers will take the CA Highway 178 East exit near the town of Inyokern, then proceed east (left) 8 miles to Ridgecrest.

CA Highway 14 - Northbound and southbound travelers will exit onto CA Higwhay 178 East, which drops down the last slope of the Sierra Nevada foothills into Inyokern, then on eight miles into Ridgecrest.

CA Highway 178 - Eastbound travellers take 178 to Highway 14. The roads merge and continue north three miles before 178 East splits off again (right-hand turn). (See CA Highway 14, above.) Westbound travelers coming from the Death Valley area find that 178 goes directly into downtown Ridgecrest, becoming Ridgecrest Boulevard. 178 passes through Ridgecrest, but it involves two 90-degree turns and three different street names. Traveling east from Inyokern, 178 is known as Inyokern Road. In Ridgecrest, 178 turns abruptly south at the intersection of Inyokern Road (which proceeds onto Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake) and follows North China Lake Boulevard. Two miles south at the intersection of China Lake Boulevard and Ridgecrest Boulevard, 178 turns eastward again and follows Ridgecrest Boulevard out of Ridgecrest and on to Trona and Death Valley.

Get around edit

Like most places in California, Ridgecrest is best navigated by car. Public transportation is extremely limited and may require arrangements in advance.

If you need to rent a car in Ridgecrest, here are your commercial options:

Ridgecrest also has the usual accommodations for travel by bicycle and on foot.

By taxi edit

See edit

  • U.S. Naval Museum of Armament and Technology, Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif., +1 760 939-3530. M-Sa 10AM-4PM. China Lake has been involved in development and testing of some of the most famous air weapons and related systems of the 20th and 21st centuries. Legendary air weapons like the Sidewinder air-to-air missile and Shrike anti-radiation missile are displayed alongside some of the most modern air weapons - JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) and JSOW (Joint Stand-off Weapon) - that became household names during the early months of the U.S.'s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also featured is the unique history of China Lake, known for a generation as "The Secret City" where scientists and engineers broke new ground far from the prying eyes of enemy spies.
Maturango Museum
  • Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave (China Lake Blvd. (Highway 178) intersects Las Flores Ave. at the museum. (See Get In, above.)), +1 760 375-6900, fax: +1 760 375-0479, . Daily 10AM-5PM (excl. major holidays). This museum brings the natural history, culture, geology and archaeology of the region under one roof. It is a busy visitor's center for travelers headed to Death Valley and other Mojave Desert points of interest. Also available are a wide collection of gifts and memorabilia from the Upper Mojave Desert. The museum has great displays of local flora and fauna, work of local artists, and regular special programs. (See Do below for information about tours of the petroglyphs - the greatest collection of Native American rock art in North America.) $4 for exhibits; visitor's information center and giftshop free.

Do edit

  • Petroglyph Tours, Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, +1 760 375-6700 (Maturango Museum). The jewel in China Lake's cultural-resources crown is the Coso Rock Art National Historic Landmark, a swath of 36,000 acres that include Big Petroglyph Canyon and Little Petroglyhp Canyon where roughly 250,000 pre-European rock-art carvings can be found. Tours can be arranged directly with the Navy, but doing so can be complicated. People not familiar with the base or the area are strongly advised to join a tour organized by the Maturango Museum (described in See, above). Tours are always on weekends, and because participants are escorted deep onto a military base that does secret development work, special rules apply. No foreign nationals are allowed, and participants must provide bona fide proof of citizenship to get a pass for the tour. Museum staff can explain the process in detail.
  • Desert Empire Fair, 520 S. Richmond Rd. There are two major events at the fairground the first being the High Desert Spring Festival which runs mid-May. And second the Desert Empire Fair which mid to late October. The Ridgecrest Motorsports Complex at the fairgrounds has events every other weekend from 9AM-4PM.

Buy edit

  • Balsam Street, Old Town Ridgecrest (1 block west of China Lake Blvd.). Balsam St. is a historic main street area in Ridgecrest with boutique shops, salons, and eateries. This street is also host to the city's parades throughout the year.

Eat edit

  • La Fiesta/Sandwiches 'n Things, 119 N. China Lake Blvd, +1 760 375-5901. A family-owned and -operated restaurant offering traditional Mexican favorites along with homestyle American favorites. The enclosed patio with misters is a great place to relax with a beer and some nachos on a hot desert evening. Moderate.
  • Mon Reve, 126 Balsam St, +1 760 375-3212. Meaning "My Dream," Mon Reve is the dream come true for a husband-and-wife team of French expatriates. A truly French experience, the owner has been known to give a friendly slap to an uncouth patron and the waitresses are treated like princesses. But with the generally good-natured haughtiness comes a very friendly and sincere desire to serve great food with warm hospitality. French onion soup, quiches, and full French entrees are paired with a solid wine list and an even better beer list. Pricy.
  • Tokyo House, 890 N. China Lake Blvd, +1 760 384-1948. This brightly lit, lively restaurant has three distinct options for diners - sit at the sushi bar, get a table and order from the menu of Japanese favorites or take your group to one of several Teppanyaki grills - seated bars around open grills where highly trained chefs light the grill on fire, fling condiments, aim shrimp at customers' mouths and generally turn cuisine into a circus. Pricy.
  • John's Pizza, 348 W Ridgecrest Blvd, +1 760-375-4407. 10AM-9PM. Provides breadsticks, pasta, salads, pizza, etc. Some of the locally famous dishes include a peanut butter pizza, turkey grinder, and specialty pizzas which are named after notable figures in the community.
  • Casey's Steaks and Barbecue, 1337 N. China Lake Blvd (outside NAWS China Lake). Some of the better barbecue in the high desert. A good choice for the larger parties in town.

Drink edit

  • Indian Wells Brewing Company, 2565 N. Highway 14. 10AM-5PM. Indian Wells Brewing Company is a local brewery which is experiencing rapid growth. You can now find its products in Whole Foods in most states across the country. The brewery offers tours, and brews alcoholic beverages and soda pops. Their root beer and cream soda are local favorites. Next door, the Indian Wells Valley Lodge offers an elegant dinner looking out over the airport, city, and the base.
  • The Partners (Partners Bar), 1033 W. Inyokern Rd, +1 760-446-4400. 11AM-2AM. A long-time Ridgecrest bar. Live band nights, karaoke, billiards, satellite jukebox, and a big screen TV. Offer you the local bar entertainment with good people and beverages.
  • DJ's Pub, 135 Garnet Ave, +1 760-375-3321. DJ's Pub is a hole-in-the-wall joint with great drinks and a relaxed atmosphere. It's across the road from Tommy T's and offers the better value for drink prices. $.
  • Fury's Bar, 1353 W. Inyokern Rd. #J, +1 760-446-4900. Billiards and beer. Beer is all they serve here definitely a place to go for the cold one you crave.

Sleep edit

Ridgecrest offers a range of accommodations from three-plus-star hotels to very cheap, bareboards establishments.

Budget edit

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

Stay safe edit

Ridgecrest has a very low crime rate with virtually no violent crimes. However while driving use caution as the highways surrounding the area are frequented by impatient drivers who often speed and lose control of vehicles. Report any dangerous driving right away. The area is served by 6 different law enforcement agencies because it is at the intersection of 3 county lines and has a military base. Your main concern in the area is from desert animals: there are many venomous creatures including spiders, scorpions, and many snakes. Ridgecrest is served by Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH).

Go next edit

One of the best things about Ridgecrest isn't what's in Ridgecrest at all - it's what's just outside of it! Many people who live here have come to recognize it as a kind of hub that is surrounded by an array of outdoor adventures, scenic places, and great getaways.

  • Mojave - 60 miles south of Ridgecrest via Highway 14, Mojave is a hotbed of aerospace activity, with the Mojave Spaceport the headquarters of Scaled Composites, the first private company to launch a human into space. Edwards Air Force base, a landing site for the space shuttle and a center for the development of experimental aircraft, is next to the town.
  • Death Valley National Park - Northeast of Ridgecrest, Death Valley is a good day trip in the winter, spring and autumn months - if you plan to visit one of the world's hottest places in the summer bring plenty of water.
Routes through Ridgecrest
BakersfieldInyokern  W   E  Death Valley N.P.Pahrump

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