Pioneertown, California was founded in 1946 by a group of Hollywood personalities led by cowboy actors Dick Curtis and Russell Hayden as a permanent 1880’s town for filming Western Movies.
Over 200 movies and TV shows were filmed in Pioneertown including The Gene Autry Show, The Cisco Kid, Annie Oakley and The Adventures of Judge Roy Bean.
The Pioneertown Post Office is said to be the most photographed post office in the United States.
It had been exactly a month since I returned from my Seven State Tour and I needed a ride. I’d heard of Pioneertown for years and for all the times I’d been to Palm Springs I’d never taken the CA 62 east turn off and visited Pioneetown. Today was the day.
The Route To Pioneertown
Mapquest told me it was 134 miles from Dana Point to Pioneertown so that seemed like the perfect ride. I headed out around 9:30 and was in Pioneertown just past noon.
I took the route that Mapquest suggested which was:
I-5 north to CA 55 north, to CA 91 east, to CA 60 east to I-10 east and finally CA 62 east. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
The ride up the 5, 55, 91, 60 and 10 were uneventful except for riding through Riverside which hovers near the top of the list of “Places The World Can Do Without”.
Riverside is hot, dusty, smoggy, congested and just plain dirty. However the chunk of CA 60 that I rode through was interesting. See, most of the roads in Riverside County are total crap. CA 60 was not. In fact it was so freshly paved you could still smell the tar.
My ride on the 60 was about 20 miles through a winding corridor of dark brown hills. It was the hottest part of the ride and the windiest. But because the road was so new I almost forgot I was in Riverside. It actually was a pretty cool leg of the ride.
Pioneertown is about 30 miles northeast of Palm Springs on CA 62 east, off of Interstate 10. CA 62 east is the road to Joshua Tree and 29 Palms.
Once you leave I-10 you head up into the rocky hills passing through Morongo Valley and Yucca Valley. About two miles inside the Yucca Valley city limit you come to Pioneertown Rd. a beat up four mile stretch of road that takes you right into Pioneertown.
If you blink you could easily miss Pioneertown but since the road ends about 5 miles further in a place called Rimrock you’d figure it out fairly quickly.
Other than the Pioneertown sign the first and really only indication that your in Pioneertown is Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. An old west style bar and restaurant which has no windows on the road side of the place.
The rest of Pioneertown or at least the movie set portion is set back a good ways from the road. And speaking of the roads. Once you’re off the main thoroughfare the roads are dirt and sand and in some places just sand, which could be a bit tricky if you’re not paying attention. I didn’t drop the bike or even come close but I did do a couple slow speed fishtails turning a corner or two.
I parked outside of Pioneertown proper as it’s blocked off and only accessible by foot. I grabbed my camera and snapped the traditional tourist photos including the Pioneertown Post Office which as mentioned above is supposedly the most photographed post office in the United States. I didn’t want to be the only one left out.
There were two shops open on the Old West movie lot. A pottery shop that I didn’t find all that interesting and Chaparrosa Outfitters which was a very cool “Cowboy Workshop” as their business card described it.
The place was mainly leather goods including about half a dozen very ornate saddles. I didn’t check the price of the saddles but the leather saddle bags hanging on the wall started around $160 so I can only imagine the price of the saddles themselves.
I spoke a bit with Gary Suppes the owner of the shop. Gary was a very friendly and well worn cowboy in his own right.
He invited me to return on a Saturday to watch the Pioneertown Posse Western Show. The show runs from April through October every Saturday at 2:30. I thanked him for the invite and headed back down the road toward Yucca Valley.
I took a quick ride through Yucca Valley which was a typical roadside town stretched out along CA 62. I grabbed a couple bananas at the Stater Brother market then stopped at Ma Rouge Coffee House.
Ma Rouge Coffee House is right on the corner of 29 Palms Hwy (CA 62) and Pioneertown Rd.
Joe & Bubbles two very friendly and happy baristas were working the counter. I ordered a cup of “whatever was the strongest” Joe smiled and told that that would be his “Love Potion #9″.
I was really tempted by the awesome looking homemade quiches they had in the display case but I like to stick to fruit when I ride. Anything heavier makes me sleepy but they sure looked good.
The coffee was hot and tasty. I sucked it down along with the two bananas I had picked up then mounted up for the ride home.
I got back to Dana Point around 4PM having logged 290 miles. The ride to Pioneertown had been the perfect day ride for me, a seven hour excursion, a few hundred miles and back home in time for dinner.
Joshua Tree & 29 Palms were just another 30 or so miles down the road. I’ll explore them the next time I ride out this way.
Pioneertown Slideshow: Click the arrow to start the slideshow. Click a thumbnail to view an individual image or click the Flickr logo to be taken to the site.