Space centers and ghost towns: discover the delights of San Bernardino County

space centre - CA

Vast is a word that perfectly describes California’s San Bernardino County. It’s not just the state’s largest county; it’s also the largest county of any state in the entire contiguous United States. Featuring national and regional parks and portions of deserts, it’s also a strikingly beautiful place to travel around in and discover – and it’s handy for checking out L.A., too, of course.

Even so, here are a trio of the county’s must visit attractions – all of which we highly recommend taking the time out of your stay at one of the Redland hotels to see and experience for yourself…

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Having boomed in the 1880s and then gone bust just 10 years later when the price of silver went into freefall, the town of Calico was a one-time significant Old West mining town, set in the Mojave Desert. At its most successful time, it boasted 3,500 residents, more than 500 silver mines and was responsible for producing more than $20 million in silver – that’s well in excess of half a billion dollars today. Yes, really.

Happily, for posterity’s sake, Walter Knott (famous throughout San Bernardino for lending his name to local amusement park Knott’s Berry Farm) bought the whole town in the 1950s, restoring it to how it mostly once was, an endeavour that required rebuilding many of its old structures. And, since then, this Californian town of legend has been open to public visits, daily, both as a county park and an Old West museum.

It’s now even a registered Historical Landmark – and a canny reminder to out-of-towners staying at the likes of AAA hotels Redlands CA of the 19th Century pioneers who followed their dreams to make something of their lives – and maybe make it truly rich, of course.

Goldstone Deep Space Communication Complex

Goldstone Deep Space Communication

Located north of the city of Barstow at the Fort Irwin National Training Center, this facility is one of three such interconnected places on the site that, together, make up NASA’s Deep Space Network – which overall provides radio communications for all of the US Space Administration’s interplanetary spacecraft, while also being deployed for both radio astronomy and radar observations of the solar system and the entire universe. Impressive, huh?

The Goldstone facility itself ensures that NASA’s Earth-based teams aren’t just able to speak to spacecraft, but can also pull together images and data collected about space. Surprisingly enough, visitor tours take place fairly frequently, ensuring it’s quite the local attraction. Just be sure you contact the complex before turning up on the doorstep from any hotels in California open, though –less surprisingly, tours have to be pre-arranged and booked in advance.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

No question, as national parks go, ‘J-Tree’ (as the locals call it) is a wonderfully weird; full, as it is, of boulders and buttresses, rugged mountains, gold mining ruins and desert plains dotted with wackily spindly yucca trees. But this can be explained by the ecological crossroads it represents, given it occurs at the point where the Mojave Desert meets the lower Colorado Desert.

And that’s why this national park is over-brimming with all its stunning desert flora, as well as leafy palm trees and extraordinary sunsets that melt into night-times filled with innumerable twinkles in the sky, ideal all for stargazing visitors. If you’re going to join us after a late night here, though, just be careful you don’t miss our Good Nite Inn check in time!