Located just off I-15 in Yermo, about 145 miles away from both Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Calico, California, is a trip back in time between two modern-day playgrounds.
A silverstrike boomtown, Calico sprung up virtually overnight in 1881. Located in modern day San Bernardino County, the colors of the mountain are every bit as beautiful now as they were the day an anonymous prospector called them, “as purty as a gal’s calico skirt.”
Like many other Old West boomtowns, Calico experienced a boisterous but short-lived heyday. By 1904 only tumbleweeds and ghosts walked the streets. Today, Calico lives on as a historic glimpse into frontier lore. Many of the original buildings still stand, while others have been carefully reconstructed to preserve their frontier mystique.
What to do in Calico:
- Cruise around town on a narrow gauge mining train
- Try your luck at gold panning
- Affect your best prospector strut down Main Street as you saunter past the General Store, the Apothecary and other period shops
- Tour the blacksmith shop, schoolhouse and Maggie’s Mine
- Marvel at water running uphill at the Mystery Shack
- Visit the Lane House Museum
Where to eat and shop:
- The Calico House Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and (early) dinner with a view of the silver hills that made Calico famous. Open daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Calico House specializes in classic Old West fare: silver dollar pancakes, smoked chicken, buffalo burgers and BBQ beef.
- Calico Woodworks offers a “vast array of quality, handcrafted wood and metal items” including puzzles dating back to the 1800’s. The store also showcases woodcrafts made by local artists and can make you that perfect custom-made wooden sign for your RV.
- The Calico Art Gallery, housed in the beautifully restored circa-1880 Hanks Hotel, offers a tremendous collection of Western art. Aspiring artists can also purchase supplies to create their own High Desert masterpiece.
Seasonal Special Events:
- The Lights at Calico – beginning the first week of December, Calico offers a sleigh full of holiday fun including a visit from Santa, live holiday music and reindeer games for the kids
- New Years Celebration – ring in the new year with the Winter Wonderland Carnival, the Masquerade Ball and Champagne lunch on New Year’s Day
- Civil War re-enactments – camps, music, battles and living history displays
- Spring Blue Grass Festival – an authentic bluegrass hootenanny that’s fun for the whole family
Other Nearby Attractions:
- The Desert Discovery Center houses the second largest space rock, the Old Woman Springs Meteorite, ever found in the United States. 831 Barstow Road Barstow, CA 92311.?
- Rainbow Basin is located 8 miles north of Barstow off Irwin Road. Hike through scenic, multi-colored canyons. Snap pictures of mesas and rock formations that seem to change color at different times of day.
- Afton Canyon, called the “Grand Canyon of the Mojave,” is the point where, after flowing 50 miles underground, the jade-colored Mojave River resurfaces. This excellent hiking and photography opportunity is located just off I-15 about 36 miles northeast of Barstow.
Where to stay:
- Calico Campground offers full and partial camper hookups onsite in Calico. Conditions are a bit cramped, but the view offers a pure panorama of Old West desert vistas. To learn more about Calico, to view a town map and secure a campsite, visit www.calicotown.com.
- Shady Lane RV Camp in nearby Barstow (36445 Soapmine Road, Barstow, CA 92311) offers nice sites and friendly service for smaller and mid-size rigs. Call 760.256.5322 for rates and other information.
- The Barstow/Calico KOA is located at 35250 Outer Highway 15 North Yermo, CA 92398.
Weather conditions here are often hot and dry during the day and cooler at night. Wild fires are a frequent danger, but so are sudden and torrential rains. Washouts take with them both roads and structures faster than mapping programs can keep up. If you are traveling down back or side roads, don’t be surprised if your mapping program tells you to keep going but the view out your windshield suggests otherwise. In addition, not all attractions at Calico are ADA accessible.
Visit Lazydays in Tampa
After visiting the ghost town of Calico, make your next destination a bit livelier at the Lazydays RV Resort in Tampa. Offering full amenities and the largest selection of RVs in the country, Lazydays RV is ready to meet any of your RVing needs!