Athena and I did a three day Vegas road trip with Kia in a brand new Kia Sedona and we found some of the most beautifully bizarre road-side stops. I’ve always heard the people in the desert can be unusual but not the stops. From alien shops to magic mountains, from massive thermometers to bottle tree ranches, the drive from Orange County, California to Vegas, Nevada is one bizarre ride. Check out these beautifully bizarre Vegas road trip destinations.
Number One – Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
During our Kia Sedona Vegas road trip, I veered off of the usual Highway 15 and onto Route 66 from Victorville, California to Barstow, California. Route 66, the mother road, is a step back into the history of California and original American road trips. One of the most bizarre stops on Route 66 is Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is a labor of love by one man to create a unique piece of art for others to enjoy. This collection of steel poles with bottles stuck on them is fun to walk through and even better to photograph. Although it’s private property, the gates are usually open and we talked with Elmer himself for well over an hour. He explained that his father started the ranch and he picked it up from there. He’s married with children and grandchildren and he loves discovering hidden gems in the desert. He’s stories we exactly what I expected from Route 66 and he made me feel like part of the journey.
Number Two – World’s Tallest Thermometer
The World’s Tallest Thermometer is a 134-foot-tall symbol of the record high temperature in the U.S., in nearby Death Valley – 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. It juts skyward next to Bob’s Big Boy in Baker, a small town near the Nevada border that calls itself, “Gateway to Death Valley.” The site chosen for the thermometer was along the main drag through town, visible from the interstate. It was a whopping 108 degrees when we parked under the thermometer and we were hot, hot, hot. I can’t image how stifling 134 would be.
Number Three – Alien Fresh Jerky
Alien Fresh Jerky was founded in the year 2000. The idea was to sell healthier snack alternatives for the road warrior. These snacks include beef jerky, nuts, trail mixes, dried fruits, stuffed olives, honey, and souvenirs. Although we didn’t try any Alien Fresh Jerky, we did spend at least thirty minutes taking photos with all of the alien stuff like a car with two aliens, a spaceship, and a massive robot.
Number Four – Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale public art installation located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately ten miles south of Vegas. Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high, Seven Magic Mountains is a creative expression of human presence in the desert. The exhibition opened May 11, 2016 and will be on view for two years. Athena thought they were rock climbing walls and she tried to climb each one. I was worried at first but I figured if they could survive the high winds of the Nevada desert, a forty pound child is not going to bring them down.
Athena is a true road warrior. We stopped at the most unusual places in the Nevada heat and she was excited and happy every step of the way. At Elmer’s, she chatted with him like she’d known him her whole life. She asked questions I didn’t even think about and she made him laugh. At the Baker stops, she handled the soaring temperatures like a champ and spotted every photo opportunity in the area. She made an adventure out of Seven Magic Mountains and she sang happily for the entire ride.