To most people traveling on the I-15 from Orange County to Las Vegas, it's just a boring drive through a desert wasteland, stopping only for gas and food until reaching the sprawling oasis of Las Vegas. Typically with no traffic it is a 4 hour drive but during holiday weekends that time can be tripled. Breaking up the trip by stopping for scenery is a great way to stay alert and not be bored. Here are some things you can check out on the drive while driving through the largest county in the United States.
List is in order traveling from Orange County to Las Vegas. More stops will be added as we discover them for you, please email us with suggestions.
A piece of American History lies right next to busy I-15, just after passing the 215 freeway as you begin your ascent up Cajon Pass, exit Kenwood Ave and go left and cross under Interstate 15, as you parallel the freeway, you are now driving on infamous Route 66 which was the original route through the cajon pass that allowed travelers to get from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1926. After a few miles, you'll notice older sections of Route 66 next to the newer roadbed. Just before you pass a small road called Swarthout Canyon Road, you'll notice an area you can pull off with trees and a natural creek that flows through, also if you look up away from I-15, you'll notice mountain with a pretty straight slit between them with a road going right up it, that is the San Andreas Fault. If you drive up Swarthout Canyon Road just a mile up the dirt road, you'll see a parking lot for "Lost Lake" which is a sag pond that sits directly on the San Andreas Fault which is why that lake is there.
As you continue up Route 66 you will go back under I-15 where it crosses with Cleghorn Road where you will enter the freeway and continue on your way to Las Vegas.
Another part of history lies just a few miles off the beaten path in Yermo, a historic silver mining town known as Calico Ghost Town where over 500 mines once produced silver. In the early 1950's, Calico Ghost Town was purchased by Walter Knott who also owns Knott's Berry Farm, Mr. Knott restored the old mining town and all of its building by referencing photographs of it in order to keep it exactly how it looked in its boom days. Walter Knott donated the ghost town to San Bernardino County who currently owns it and charges a small fee to enter, it is a great stop on the way!
You probably have noticed this exit with the really weird name and wondered who came up with that? Well the area got its name in the 1940's when a man developed a mineral springs resort that served as a spot for travelers to get fresh water and also to relax in the spas.
Located only 4.5 miles from I-15, keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep anywhere along this stretch of seldom traveled road. The road dead ends at a parking area where you'll find a natural spring fed pond, restrooms, abandoned bath houses and pools, and buildings that are still in use for desert studies for several Southern California colleges. The remnants of the old spa facilities are cool to check out, they were abandoned when the government took the land back in the 1970's.
Notable animals you are likely to encounter while walking around Zzyzx Springs are bighorn sheep, gray fox, lesser nighthawk, vermilion flycatcher, bat, and coyote.
Probably the most noticeable icon during the road trip is the World's Tallest Thermometer which is fun to look at, back before cars had temperature gauges on them, it would be fun to guess what the temperature as you approached Baker, CA.
Exit here and check out the gift shop here while stretching your legs and enjoying the ice-cold air-conditioning. The current owners purchased the monument and gift shop in 2014 after the previous owner stopped operating it in 2012, for 2 years the thermometer sat unlit and abandoned, the current owners are family of the original owners that sold it to another man in 2005.