Ridgecrest is a city in Kern County in the Mojave Desert of California.
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 2 1/2 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 travelers 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. Note: 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.
Inyokern Airport - Ridgecrest is served by Inyokern Airport (KIYK), which is mostly a General Aviation airport in the Indian Wells Valley Airport District. It was previously served by United Airlines via Skywest Airlines. Later it was served by Boutique Air  in 2017, though this did not last very long. These airline routes had one direct route to Los Angeles International Airport of which the connections are endless. Most of the aircraft traffic are through private planes, cargo operators for FedEx and UPS, or by private air medical flights. As of October 2020, there are no commercial flights to Inyokern Airport, and no future airline service for the foreseeable future.
Public transportation is virtually non-existent in Ridgecrest; therefore, driving a car is a must. Kern Transit  has a few stops in Ridgecrest; though the frequency is very limited at best. Due to Covid 19, there may be a reduced schedule.
If you need to rent a car in Ridgecrest, here are your commercial options:
- Avis / Budget - 901 N. China Lake Blvd (760) 446-5556
- Dollar / Thrifty - 103 W. Inyokern Road (760) 446-4554
- Enterprise - 437 N. China Lake Blvd (760) 384-2816
Ridgecrest also has the usual accommodations for travel by bicycle and on foot.
- Ridgecrest Taxi (760) 384-2227
- Southland Yellow Cab (760) 384-2424
Ridgecrest has very limited rideshare through Uber or Lyft. Due to Covid 19; be sure to wear a face covering and sit in the back seat away from the driver. Driver may refuse pickup if rules are not followed.
- China Lake Museum Foundation, 130 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (intersection of China Lake Blvd and Las Flores Ave), ☎ (760) 677-2866, . 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tue. - Sat.. Formerly known as the U.S. Naval Museum of Armament and Technology. 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. The museum also features several aircraft on display such as the first built F/A 18 Hornet which become the the U.S. Navy's multi role fighter. There are also surviving prototypes that were test flown, but never entered service, which established the baseline for future carrier fighters. Museum was formerly located at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, which was moved to allow for better public access. edit
- Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (China Lake Blvd. (Highway 178) intersects Las Flores Ave. at the museum. (See '''Get In''', above.)), ☎ (760) 375-6900 ([email protected], fax: (760) 375-0479), . 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily (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. edit
- Petroglyph Tours, Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, ☎ (760) 375-6700 (Maturango Museum). The jewel in China Lake's cultural-resources crown is the Coso Rock Art National Historic Landmark, a recently dedicated 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. edit
- Death Valley Nat'l Park, (NE of Ridgecrest). Take a day trip up to Death Valley Nat'l Park. See the amazing sights as well as the popular Scottie's Castle. But remember it is also one of the hottest places on Earth. Bring water. edit
- 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. Both are fun filled for the entire family. Also in recent years the fairgrounds has opened a motorsports complex on the ground which has events every other weekend from 9am-4pm.Ridgecrest Motorsports Complex edit
- Historic USO Building (Hist. Society of U. Mojave Desert), 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd. (China Lake Blvd, turn east on Ridgecrest Blvd, on North Side), ☎ 760-375-8456, . 11am-3pm. A vintage 1945 U.S.O facility, refurbished now houses the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert. Exhibits on area gold/silver/borax mining and Ridgecrest's local history. Gift Shop with area souvenirs, extensive books, consumables. Entertainment-every other Friday Open Mic (local accoustic music performances)($2 entry) and every other Wednesday - Hollywood Classic Movies (free-accept donations) Geneological desk. Photo archives and library. free. edit
- Balsam Street, Old Town Ridgecrest (1 block west of China Lake Blvd.). Balsam St. is a historic main street feeling area in Ridgecrest with boutique shops, salons, and eatery's. This street is also host to the city's parades throughout the year. edit
- La Fiesta/Sandwiches 'n Things, 119 N. China Lake Blvd., ☎ (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. edit
- Farris' Diner/Italian Gardens, 309 E. Ridgecrest Blvd., ☎ (760) 371-1470. Diner - breakfast and lunch; Italian Gardens - dinner. American diner by day, Italian hideaway by night, this pair of sister restaurants are operated by a local family with decades in the restaurant business. The diner has a simple 1950s theme with traditional breakfasts (pancakes, waffles, fruit, eggs, etc.) and a range of lunch options (sandwiches, hamburgers, chili, tuna-stuffed tomatoes). The Italian Gardens is a softly lit, intimate restaurant with a lounge atmosphere. Italian dishes are ably prepared (though you should ask for extra spice unless you like it a little plain). What sets this place apart, however, is its bar - the best selection within 90 miles at least. The food, however, is questionable in value. Moderate. edit
- The Great Wall, 100 N. Balsam St.. The Sarraburin family operate this Thai/Chinese combination restaurant. Noodles, curries, stir-fries and rice dishes are all prepared with skill by the friendly owners and staff. The "express" part is the option to order combination meals from the cafeteria-style selection of several entrees, sides, and appetizers - no waiting! Moderate. edit
- Mon Reve, 126 Balsam St., ☎ (760) 375-3212. Meaning "My Dream," Mon Reve is the dream come true for a husband-and-wife team of French expatriots. A truly French experience, the owner has been known to give a friendly slap to an uncooth 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. edit
- Junk Food Junction, 221 E. Ridgecrest Blvd., ☎ (760) 375-3626. Sometimes you've just got to make the tough decisions - like whether you want to splurge and have the mozarella sticks with your chili-jalapeno dog and milk shake or just have a nice vegetable side, like fried zucchini or fried mushrooms. When you feel like keeping your tastebuds happy and your cardiologist employed, this friendly Ridgecrest landmark offers all the bad stuff...er, good stuff...you're looking for. Cheap. edit
- Tokyo House, 890 N. China Lake Blvd., ☎ (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 Teppan Yaki 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. edit
- John's Pizza, 348 W Ridgecrest Blvd., ☎ 760-375-4407. 10a-9p. A great Ridgecrest staple John's Pizza and Fun Factory offer great family dinning at reasonable prices. Enjoy warm homemade breadsticks, pasta, salads, pizza, and much more. Some of the famous dishes include a Peanut Butter Pizza, Turkey Grinder, as well as specialty pizzas which are named after notable figures in the community. A true hometown restaurant everyone can enjoy. $$. edit
- Mickey's Pub & Grille, 1661 N Triangle Dr, ☎ 760-446-0805, . 6AM - 2AM. A full service restaurant featuring fish `n chips and half-pound hamburgers and specializing in fine steaks and prime rib dinners. Breakfast served all day. Inside seats 150 people, in addition to outside patio. On and off-site catering is available. Enjoy karaoke every Wednesday and Thursday, live music and dancing Friday and Saturday. Come play with five pool tables, darts, video games and California Lottery. All major credit cards accepted and an ATM on the premises. Moderate. edit
- Casey's Steaks and Barbecue, 1337 N. China Lake Blvd.. Casey's is now located where the former El Charro Avitia was. Like they say steaks and BBQ. Some of the better barbecue in the high desert. Located right outside NAWS China Lake. A good choice for the larger parties in town. $. edit
- Ephen Tacos, 221 E Ridgecrest Blvd, ☎ 760-371-1737, . 10:30AM - 8PM. A self-made taco and smoked meat joint, located near the local newspaper. The menu is small, but you get what you came here for: amazing tacos, in a variety of styles, including Barbecue and Shrimp. $$. edit
- Farris' Italian Gardens, 320 E. Ridgecrest Blvd.. It's no joke - the best bar in Ridgecrest when selection and quality are the priorities is inside a quiet little restaurant. An array of call drinks - anejo tequilas, single-malt Scotches, fine wines and beers, etc. - are poured by a skilled staff. Even the "cheap" drinks are good - the Long Island Iced Tea is smooth as velvet. edit
- Indian Wells Brewing Company, 2565 N. Highway 14, . 10a-5p. Indian Wells Brewing Company is a local brewery which is experiencing rapid growth. With its award-winning brews its no wonder you can now find its products in Whole Foods in most states across the country. The Brewery offers tours as well as contract brewing for ideas and recipes you may have. In addition to the alcoholic beverages the brewery also produces soda pops. A local favorite is their Root Beer and Cream Soda. The perfect evening trip to stop by and see the mechanics of a local brewery then go next door to the Indian Wells Valley Lodge for and elegant dinner looking out over the airport, city, and the base. (Prices range- $$-$$$) edit
- The Partners (Partners Bar), 1033 W. Inyokern Rd., ☎ 760-446-4400. 1100-0200. The Partners. A long time Ridgecrest bar welcoming people from all walks of like. Live band nights, Karaoke, Billiards, Satellite Jukebox, and a Big Screen TV. Offer you the local bar entertainment with good people and beverages. $. edit
- Tommy T's, 117 E. Ridgecrest Blvd., ☎ 760-371-4112. 1100-0200. Tommy T's in Ridgecrest. The only local club vibe bar in the town offering 3 serving bars, 2 dance floors, Oasis card room, and special entertainment. Cover charge required weekends for men. Not always the friendliest place in town to be. Everyone is welcome to enter but homosexuality is frowned upon and will get you escorted out of the bar. Rumors in town say that they have the most watered down drinks definitely not the most economic bar for you, but the entertainment is the best in town. $$. edit
- DJ's Pub, 135 Garnet Ave., ☎ 760-375-3321. DJ's Pub definitely a hole in the wall joint with great drinks and a relaxed atmosphere. Located across the road from Tommy T's it is the better value in drink prices. $. edit
- Fury's Bar, 1353 W. Inyokern Rd. #J, ☎ 760-446-4900. Fury's. Billiards and Beer. Beer is all they serve here definitely a place to go for the cold one you crave. $. edit
Ridgecrest offers a range of accommodations from three-plus-star hotels to very cheap, bareboards establishments.
- Motel 6, 535 South China Lake Boulevard, ☎ +1 760 375-6866 (fax: +1 760 375-8784), . edit
- BevLen Haus, 809 N. Sanders Street, ☎ +1 760 375-1988 (BLH_B&[email protected], fax: +1 760 375-6871), . Ridgecrest's best-known Bed & Breakfast. Centrally located but off the beaten path in a quiet neighborhood. edit
- Best Western China Lake Inn, 400 S. China Lake Blvd., ☎ +1 760 371-2300 (fax: +1 760 375-8785), . Popular with business travelers. edit
- Comfort Inn & Quality Inn, 507 S. China Lake Blvd., ☎ +1 760 375-9731. Remodeled in 2005. edit
- OYO Hotel Ridgecrest, 416 S. China Lake Blvd., ☎ +1 760 350-6206, . checkin: 3:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Formerly Vagabond Inn Ridgecrest. edit
- SpringHill Suites Ridgecrest, 113 E. Sydnor Avenue, ☎ +1 760 446-1630, . Opened 2008, Springhill is part of the Marriott International, Inc brand. Hotel offers complimentary continental breakfast, free Wifi, and free parking. Located only a few blocks from China Lake NAWC and across the street from Ridgecrest Hospital. edit
- Hampton Inn & Suites Ridgecrest, 104 E. Sydnor Avenue, ☎ +1 760 446-1968, . Hampton Inn & Suites is part of the Hilton brand portfolio. Hotel offers complimentary continental breakfast, free Wifi, and free parking. Located only a few blocks from China Lake NAWC and across the street from Ridgecrest Hospital. edit
- Heritage Inn & Suites, 1050 N. Norma St., ☎ +1 760 446-6543, . Offers interior corridors, onsite bar and restaurant and a nice location. edit
- Clarion Inn Ridgecrest, 901 N. China Lake Blvd., ☎ +1 760 446-7910, . Popular site for formal gatherings, with onsite cafe, bar, and lounge. Free breakfast, wifi, and parking. Avis / Budget Rent-a-Car on site; across from the hotel lobby. Access to several restaurants within walking distance and across the street from Walgreens Pharmacy. Very easy to find for highway travelers and close to the main gate of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. 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. Parts of Ridgecrest have no street lights so exercise caution as there may be pedestrians crossing the street in the dark. Some areas are no go areas due to possible encounters with drug dealers and addicts. The area is served by 6 different law enforcement agencies due to it being located at the intersection of 3 county lines as well as a military base. Your main concern in the area is from desert animals. Stay alert and be aware as there are many venomous creatures including spiders, scorpions, as well as many snakes. The Mojave Green rattlesnake is a highly venomous reptile living in the area surrounding Ridgecrest. There are also coyotes present both inside the China Lake base and possibly in the outskirts of Ridgecrest. Although most do not present a threat to humans, they are wild animals and can be very unpredictable. Avoid dark areas when possible as this is what a coyote uses to attack its prey. If you listen closely, you may even hear their howls at night. Ridgecrest is also served by Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) should their services be needed.
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.
Distance and estimated drive time from Ridgecrest:
- Los Angeles: 150 miles; 2.5 - 3 hours
- Bakersfield: 112 miles; 2 hours
- Palmdale or Lancaster: 92 miles; 1.5 hours
- Bishop: 137 miles; 2 hours and 15 minutes
- Mammoth Lakes: 179 miles; 3 hours
- Death Valley National Park (Furnace Creek): 122 miles, 2 hours
- Lake Isabella: 62 miles; 1 hour and 15 minutes
- Las Vegas, NV: 240 miles; 3.5 - 4 hours
|Routes through Ridgecrest
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