In Pioneertown, California, you’ll feel like you’re on an old western movie set, a little community filled with Hollywood power.
What led to Pioneertown’s creation?
In the 1940s, a group of investors built a cowboy film set in the Old West, hoping it would eventually become a living town. Among these investors were Hollywood celebrities Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Their goal was to build buildings in the style of the 1880s while offering visitors a wide range of activities. Eventually, the town was dotted with restaurants, bars, and stables designed in Western style.
However, upon entering these buildings, one could find many ice-cream parlors, shopping malls, motels, and bowling alleys. Pioneertown was also the setting for many films and television shows during the 1940s and 1950s.
While Hollywood productions may no longer frequent this rustic community, its appeal endures. For instance, people still have spoof gunfights in the middle of Mane Street.
Visitors to Pioneertown will enjoy feeling like they are on a movie set. If you want to know what more you can do here, check out these activities:
Visit Pioneertown Mountains Reserve to explore the Badlands
Explore Pioneertown Mountains Reserve to better understand what attracted Pioneertown’s founders. Toward Pioneertown Valley, the reserve covers a 25,500-acre area with ridges rising to 7,800 feet at its peaks.
Many geological wonders await you beyond Pioneertown. From top to bottom, you will view the Sawtooth Mountains, traverse volcanic mesas, and pass through San Bernardino National Preserve lands. You can hike up the ridges to see the pines or walk your dog on a leash. Also, you can try spotting birds and wildlife by taking your family on a picnic. However, hunting, lighting fires, or bringing alcohol is banned.
Visit the Desert Willow Ranch to experience the Old West
Visit the Desert Willow Ranch in Pioneertown if you want a taste of cowboy life. The five-acre ranch is among the town’s most popular attractions today and was once owned by Russell Hayden, one of Pioneertown’s founders. However, in 1969, it was purchased by John and Gay Smith and transformed into what it is today.
Inside the ranch, you can enjoy grilled steaks and relax by a campfire beneath a bright starry sky. You can also visit the local bar or watch a gunfight show. The trails are also suitable for riding horses and walking.
Visit Jessie Keylon’s art studio and meet the artist
Your visit to Pioneertown will be incomplete without taking a look at the works of local artist Jessie Keylon. She has a small office and shop on Mane Street, which sells art supplies, art, and prints. You can also buy Jessie’s paintings at the store to bring a vibrant souvenir home. Don’t hesitate to visit her office if you want to support artists and the arts.
Visit MazAmar Art Pottery for unique crafts
Visit MazAmar Art Pottery in Pioneertown for some unique craft items. The studio’s proprietor is an experienced clay artist, so pots bought here are guaranteed to be of high quality.
Thomas Alban began working with clay in Pioneertown in 2000 after moving from Savannah, Georgia. Today, MazAmar offers mugs, plates, wine cups, vases, and other functional artworks such as Joshua Tree mugs and labyrinth plates. Each of these works is handcrafted by a talented group of artists and artisans.
Visit Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace and enjoy a feast
Pioneertown’s first restaurant was opened in 1982 by Harriet and Claude “Pappy” Allen. This iconic restaurant was originally used for Western films in the 1950s.
The restaurant served delicious comfort food, such as Santa Maria BBQ, and also played live music by Pappy and Harriet to keep the guests entertained. This legacy is still followed today by the restaurant’s new owners.
When you feel your stomach growling, make your way to this iconic restaurant and fill it up with delicious food. It’s still standing in the same spot, serving its signature ribs, hamburgers, and Santa Maria barbecue.
Pioneertown Corrals: camping at its best
Taking a night out in the great outdoors is a must on your Pioneertown vacation. Set up camp in Pioneertown’s desert to experience life in the old west. The camp offers a variety of activities.
You can grill barbecues, sit by a campfire, gaze at the stars, and ride the horse trails cowboy style. If you’re here over the weekends, you can watch Wild West performances in Pioneertown during the day. These are available throughout the fall until early spring. You can also rent the grounds for weddings and parties.
The Mane Street Stampede will take you back to the Wild West
Pioneertown’s Mane Street Stampede is a great place to experience the Wild West. These volunteer performers recreate scenes that remind you of Wild West legends such as Annie Oakley, Wyatt Earp, and Calamity Jane. Besides performing comic skits, they also provide commentary on frontier life.
They perform the Mane Street Stampede once a week on Saturdays, from April to September. Additionally, they give out donations to local children’s charities.
Visit the Red Dog Saloon for a few drinks
There’s nothing better than a trip to an Old West saloon to experience the cowboy lifestyle. Located in a historic building, the Red Dog Saloon has finally opened after six years of planning.
Adding to Pioneertown’s Old West recreation was the Red Dog Salon, build in 1946. It has even appeared in several western-themed films. The saloon was a gathering place for various movie stars during their filming breaks. In addition to tasty beef tacos and cheese, the saloon serves a variety of spirits, cocktails, and cocktails.
Gunfighters for Hire brings you the action of gunslingers
Along with Wild West reenactments, Gunfighters for Hire in Pioneertown’s Mane Street provide a chance to relive your childhood Western movies.
The gunfighters are locals who recreate scenes from the Old West. The actors perform both shootouts and comedy skits. Several have also served as police officers, so they know how to handle firearms safely. Additionally, they are adept at reenacting gunfights while keeping everyone safe, both performers and audience members.
There is no doubt that Pioneertown is one of the most unique destinations in the US to plan a trip to. It should be on the bucket list of every curious traveler, not just those who love the Old West. If you are an old west buff, a weekend at Pioneertown will transport you to the days of your childhood. Similarly, you can explore nearby places with a rich history and an old-fashioned style. So pack your bags and get ready to explore Pioneertown.