Whilst planning our Californian Road trip I wanted to visit more than just the big cities so I tried to hunt around for other places that might be of interest to us.
On our trip from Twenty-nine palms to San Diego we were taking Route 62 and we noticed a place called Pioneertown on the map which I was sure I had read about as an unusual place to visit so we made a bit of a detour.
Travelling West along highway 62 you take a right turn in Yucca Valley on to the aptly named Pioneertown Road and follow this road up a rather steep climb until you reach the town itself which I think was about 5 miles from Yucca.
Pioneertown was built in the mid-1940s as a film backdrop for the Westerns that were so popular at the time. The idea was that the actors such as Roy Rogers would live there and spend their lives living amongst the actual film sets to enable them to really live the life of the Westerns that they were starring in. This all sounded quite interesting so we were looking forward to seeing something that would be reminiscent of the Wild West movie sets that we had seen at Universal Studios only more "real". Filming of such classics as Gunfight at the OK Corral took place here.
As we drove in to the town there were a couple of ranches, one of which obviously took in guests. We then drove along a road where on the right we could see some buildings facing onto a dirt track but it was not at all clear whether this other road was private property or whether it was acceptable to walk around. There was no-one around at all except for a car that followed us which was obviously even more disappointed than us which did an immediate U-turn and left. My husband presumed we hadn’t reached "it" yet and kept driving but then we realised we were on barren road so had to turn back.
We saw a saloon type place which I now know was probably Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown palace but we couldn’t be sure it was open and it didn’t look terribly inviting for a family. I think it does have quite restricted opening hours so was probably shut when we were there but is supposed to be quite a place for a good western night out but I can’t vouch for that.
On Saturdays in the main season there are western style gun-fights in the street and the Pioneerbowl bowling alley which was built by Roy Rogers is also open on a Saturday.
After about two minutes we hopped back in our car and left, highly disappointed by what we saw. There did look like there were a few buildings which could have been fun to look at and photograph but we felt like we were intruding even though we didn’t see a single person. In fact being there was a bit creepy.
I would have to say that if you are driving along the Highway 62 mid-week then don’t bother taking the 10 mile detour to take in Pioneertown, it really isn’t worth the trouble. However if you are heading around there on a Saturday then I think it might be worth the trouble of dropping by and if we are ever that way again at a weekend then we may swing by to see if there is any more "life".