I have no idea how many times I've been through the Mojave desert. So many times. It's a rather boring strip along the I-15 with highlights ranging from Barstow to Baker and this little sign with Zzyzx written on it. Joshua trees dot the horizon while golden hills line the distance. I'm making it sound far more romantic than it really is. There's also a ghost town of a failed water park right off the freeway. Another ghost town I've never actually been to, and far more easily accessible than I knew, is Calico, 1896, the largest silver mining camp in California.
Calico is only 13.4 miles north of Barstow, about 4 miles directly off the I-15 from the Ghost Town Rd exit. I've always seen the signs advertising Calico from the freeway, always curious, but I never made an effort to go. Studying up on Calico last month I read many people saying that it's a little tourist trap, a convenient, interesting stop if traveling from California to Las Vegas and back.
The big complaint I read was that you have to pay an entrance fee of $8 an adult and $5 a kid, 5 and under free, and on top of that pay for all the little things in addition to the entrance fee such as the train ride, self mining tour, and so on. I read someone write that you pay to shop, and I have to agree with that. I only did the train ride on top of looking through some stores, which was $4 an adult, if I remember correctly, and $2 a kid.
Calico closes at 5:00, and we got there around 3:30. 1 1/2 hours isn't enough time to properly explore. I've read that 3 hrs. is a good average amount to experience the basics of Calico. With that time we were only able to venture up half the street and do the train ride, no eating.
A map and a listing of stores you can shop in.
A view from the entrance of the street. It curves, but we never made it to the curve.
The general store is one of the few original buildings in Calico. Many of the buildings have been restored or replaced and given a facade that looks ol' time western. I would have liked something a little more authentic, though it's fun.
The soap and candle store. This was my favorite shop. It smelled so good!
The store I really wanted to go into, but we ran out of time. I love geology.
Going to the train ride.
The train ride was much shorter than I thought it would be. It was interesting, and we learned some history about the area that was cool, but really you just go slowly around a hill.
We didn't go into this store, though I would have liked to. I bet it looks really cool inside at sunset with the green glass bottled walls lighting up.
Old China Town ruins.
It was a fun little stop. I do agree with the sentiment that you pay to shop. I bought some things from the general store, print shop, and soap. But if you have a long drive through the Mojave desert and would like an interesting place to stop, not minding the entrance fee, I recommend Calico.