Not that deserts is what California is most famed about but having the likes of Mohave Desert and California Desert in your sideline does account to something doesn’t it? The state of California houses a significant portion of the Mohave Desert to its southeastern side and to some extent in central California too. And though the exact boundary is debatable, but Colorado Desert touches it on the southern side as well.
Here at the intertwining point of the two deserts lies a little lesser known High Desert. This clearly smaller in size desert area has been unofficially titled as the High Desert though it doesn’t have an official name and geographically constitutes the area between San Gabriel and Tehachapi Mountain ranges.
The name is essentially a mean to differentiate between it and its counterpart; the Low Desert which is situated on 100ft above sea level as compared to High Desert’s 3100ft. Nevertheless the main destinations covered under the High Desert are notable. There is the Antelope Valley that comes at the western tip of Mohave Desert and is popular for its floral plantations especially the Californian Poppy. Moving on you see the Victor Valley, home to the Calico Ghost Town which is recognized as a California Historical Landmark by the government for its historical mining prominence of silver.
Moving on, the most imperative yet culturally exciting destination of the High Desert would be the Dead Man’s Point. Yes, the name itself stirs up inquisitiveness. The Dead Man’s Point lies specifically in the Apple Valley of California State precisely at the junction of Bear Valley Road and Route 18. The sinister looking place is mainly a rock formation that prominently stands out from the low lying desert-like surroundings.
Defaced with graffiti on numerous places, the formation is towering granite rocks that stand pointed towards the sky. For the movie junkies, especially those that prefer science fiction with giant spiders, this will be a recognizable setting. For the Dead Man’s Point was where the monstrous beasts of the 1955 horror flick “Tarantula” first come out. Jack Arnold’s giant spider based movie debuts its grotesque 100ft tall tarantula as they arise from behind this rock formation in a well made optical illusion.
Though the Dead Man’s Point’s fame in Hollywood came from Tarantula, it’s real life fame comes from a totally different yet sad story. Ever wondered why they call it the dead man’s point? Back in the days it used to the junction for a vital trade route; an prominent place that was tough to ignore. As the lore goes, an Indian tribe had chosen this place for massacring Catholic Missionaries that had come to them for preaching. Even more intriguing is the story that later on some tribesmen of the Indian ethnicity were brutally killed at the same point –possibly as a revenge of the past atrocity.
Though a little desolate and sinister in the story telling, the place is worth all the excitement, and I would not give up a chance to visit a place that has so many stories attached to it. Specially not if I am close by!