Southern California pit stop: Pioneertown

Pioneertown, California is located in the Morongo Basin of southern California’s Inland Empire. If traveling from Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs toward San Bernardino or Los Angeles, Pioneertown will (almost) be on your way. And it’s worth the slight detour.


Located in the mountains overlooking the valley floor, Pioneertown began as an elaborate Hollywood set for Western movies. Complete with a main street lined with saloons, general stores, and liveries, Pioneertown can still be explored by anyone who makes the trip up the winding road.

At the heart of the Pioneertown experience is Pappy and Harriet’s, a sprawling saloon, Tex Mex restaurant, and music venue with ample indoor and outdoor seating. Popular with bikers and music lovers, Pappy and Harriet’s is definitely an adults only pit stop at night. However, during the day, bring the kids for lunch to still get a feel for the campy ambiance, then explore around the ‘town’ before continuing on your way.

There’s nothing much out here other than Pioneertown and the restaurant, although a few souvenir-type shops are sometimes open. Walking around and checking out the town is free. Take photos in the Western jail, sit on the saddle in the center of Main Street, and just enjoy this odd but fun pit stop for what it is…Americana at its best, with some history thrown in.



Pioneertown Road at Route 62 in the town of Yucca Valley. The winding, 4-mile drive northwest to Pioneertown has been designated a California Scenic Drive.

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