Calico Ghost Town
We ran the gauntlet, through the heat up the I 15 and we had stop somewhere, at least somewhere interesting was preferable. We had some cloud cover as we arrived and it helped moderate the heat so we decided to give it a night or two perhaps to dissipate.
So Calico Ghost Town it was. I’d read a few reviews for the campground, avoid on the weekends and whenever there is a holiday unless you like to be sandwiched very closely and endure the noise and dust OHV users (avoid like the plague) as there are trails nearby, but it looked like it could hold some promise. The skies were fairly dark and a ghost town is always a promising feature!
Calico is an old Silver mine that had it heyday in the 1880’s when silver was at a premium. Over 500 mines operated in the area but when silver lost it’s value in the 1890’s the town became deserted. Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm) purchased the town in the the 1950’s and slowly restored most of the buildings, or recouped them and returned them to their original places. Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County, and Calico became a County Regional Park in the 60’s. The town offers mine tours, railroad rides and a cornucopia of touristy shops and drink and restaurants that may interest somebody. It’s quite commercial to say the least.
The campground has 265 sites…yikes…loop A and B have full hook up, A’s are a bit more spacious, B’s are sandwiched in but farther away from any lights. You need to level on pretty much all of them it seems. It could have used a good raking and rock removal would have been grand…buy these guys some rakes, San Bernadino County Park guys that is. The sites looked like they could have used a good cleaning and once over but the bathrooms were very clean. We pulled in and drove about the loops, had our choice as there was only one other camper there..sweet:) You are down in a canyon so not much in the way of views unless you hike up. The camp is patrolled by a security guard who drives about and as we found out you are confined to the campground after business hours 9-5…no straying..anywhere…so, a good time to sit, cool down and watch the wildlife.. it was hot, not unbearable the day we arrived, but hot. No where to check in until 9 a.m.when the County Park office opens in the ghost town. At $40 a night, even with the free entrance to the ghost town and showers you have to pay for, it is a steep price.
A leaking faucet was a gathering place for all things that flew, crawled and walked! The finches and sparrows were enjoying a drink as well as what looked like a giant quail..so I go to Google, there are no giant quail but I eventually came up with Chukars. Introduced to the South East United States in the 1930’s from India it seems they have flourished. They sound like chickens, look like giant quails and wow, can they run..mostly away from me as I stalked them about the campground;) Even a family with chicks…sigh..happy photographer:)
The antelope squirrels were very amusing. They scrambled about looking for shade, and bird seed, any handouts probably. They fanned themselves with their tails and plonked down in the shade on the concrete to cool themselves…way better than TV:)
It did not cool down much overnight but it was bearable. In the morning at 9 we headed up to pay for our stay and wander about the ghost town. It was already over 90. The buildings were disappointing for me with the exception of the school house, the view was stunning and the outhouse is there:). Most of the buildings have fabricated facades made to look old, lacking most of the old hardware, doors and windows, but hey, they tried, and if it provides income for Yermo all the better.
We tried breakfast at the Calico Restaurant, the waitress looked like she had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, not surly, but we can’t say she was friendly. The restaurant was full of flies, this I expect at a Baja Taco stand on the street but not here…we noticed the flies at the campground were horrendous as well. Food looked like standard fare, breakfast of eggs was average with partially cold not quite cooked through hash browns, bacon deep fried I think, so hard I had to break it up to eat it. I think it was smart to avoid the coffee, one star, save your money.
I was glad we went early, by the time we walked to the top and circled back in the shade five busloads of school kids had arrived and the town was busy and it was getting much hotter, over 95° now and more and more tour busloads were pulling in, they even had a wrangler to get a hold of them tenderfoot doggies and direct them on how to park;)
We headed back to the trailer to broil. At 95-100° the single AC unit can keep up in the Sunset Trailer…at 106° the interior temperature was 95°..a wee bit toasty, but what to do other than to sit and sweat, wait for the evening to come, or sit in the truck with the AC on. Obvious reason why the RV park was empty, too damn hot:). Visit here in the Spring or late Fall folks…not June:) When it did finally cool down to 90° and the trailer temperature was the same I headed out to the B section after dark to do some star trails and Milky Way photography. My battery made it through the two hour star trails exposure but after midnight it died and I called it quits as we were heading early before the heat settled in. It was still hot…but what a beautiful night! So glad to see the stars and Milky Way after all the city light pollution, I was even rewarded with a very bright falling star.
Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
Cooler temperatures…please:) Headed North East to elevation…goodbye California, Hello Nevada, Arizona and Utah! See you on down the road! Saludos mis amigos!