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.
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:
- Avis, 901 N. China Lake Blvd., ☏ .
- Dollar Rent-a-Car, ☏ .
- Enterprise Rent-a-Car, 437 N. China Lake Blvd., ☏ .
Ridgecrest also has the usual accommodations for travel by bicycle and on foot.
- Ridgecrest Taxi, ☏ .
- , Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif., ☏ . 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, 100 E. Las Flores Ave (China Lake Blvd. (Highway 178) intersects Las Flores Ave. at the museum. (See Get In, above.)), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- Petroglyph Tours, Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, ☏ (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.
- 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.
- La Fiesta/Sandwiches 'n Things, 119 N. China Lake Blvd, ☏ . 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.
- Farris' Diner/Italian Gardens, 309 E. Ridgecrest Blvd, ☏ . 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.
- 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.
- Mon Reve, 126 Balsam St, ☏ . 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.
- Junk Food Junction, 221 E. Ridgecrest Blvd, ☏ . 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.
- Tokyo House, 890 N. China Lake Blvd, ☏ . 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, ☏ . 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.
- Mickey's Pub & Grille, 1661 N Triangle Dr, ☏ . 6AM-2AM. A full-service restaurant featuring fish and 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.
- 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.
- 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, ☏ . 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.
- Tommy T's, 117 E. Ridgecrest Blvd, ☏ . 11AM-2AM. 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.
- DJ's Pub, 135 Garnet Ave, ☏ . 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, ☏ . Billiards and beer. Beer is all they serve here definitely a place to go for the cold one you crave.
Ridgecrest offers a range of accommodations from three-plus-star hotels to very cheap, bareboards establishments.
- Motel 6, 535 South China Lake Blvd, ☏ , fax: .
- Best Western China Lake Inn, 400 S. China Lake Blvd, ☏ , fax: . Popular with business travelers.
- Comfort Inn & Quality Inn, 507 S. China Lake Blvd, ☏ .
- Vagabond Inn Ridgecrest, 416 S. China Lake Blvd., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Outdoor pool, free high-speed WiFi, and free parking. Rooms are equipped with air conditioning. Queen-bed rooms from $63.
- SpringHill Suites Ridgecrest, 113 E. Sydnor Ave, ☏ . Complimentary continental breakfast, a few blocks from China Lake NAWC.
- Rodeway Inn & Suites Heritage, 1050 N. Norma St, ☏ . Offers interior corridors, onsite bar and restaurant and a nice location.
- VIP Housing, 225 E Ridgecrest Blvd, ☏ . Long-term, furnished, specialty.
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).
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|
|Bakersfield ← Inyokern ←||W E||→ Death Valley N.P. → Pahrump|