#139p Tehachapi Loop CA

Fleeter Log #139p
Tehachapi Loop CA

Day 22 - Wednesday
May 6, 2009
483 miles

Bakersfield, CA to Hurricane, UT 
Interactive Spotwalla map

It's known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Railroad World. A place where any train longer than 4,000 feet will pass over itself as it transverses the Tehachapi Pass. They call it the Tehachapi Loop. I pull off CA58 near Keene, California in search of this famed loop. It should be easy to find. I'll just search in my GPS for where it looks like the train tracks make a loop near the town of Tehachapi.

Passing by the Keene Cafe, I almost wish it were time to eat. It looks like an interesting place to stop. But I keep moving, looking for a loop and a train.

I found the train first, tracking along as I rode Woodford-Tehachapi Road.

When I find The Loop, I see that it has been well documented as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
(click on any photo to enlarge)

...and a California Historical Landmark.

I climb the hill to get a good view of the next train as it starts to loop around itself.

Now that I've seen the famed Tehachapi Loop . . . with train looping, I find a good place to pull over to check where to go from here. Looks like I can stay on this road to find the backdoor to the town of Tehachapi.

While kicking around the pullout, I find more evidence that shooting seems to be a popular pastime.

This doe-eyed cutie comes up from the neighboring house down the way just to check me out and say hello.

Trains are a proud feature of the town.

I ride through downtown Tehachapi and get help on the pronunciation via a mural on the side of this depot turned restaurant. T-hacha-P

One of the largest wind farms in California: Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm
Back on CA58 and eastbound once more, I pass by Mojave and then, as I'm passing along the northern edge of Edwards Air Force Base, I start seeing signs that get my attention.
This makes me think of something . . . what is it?
Here's a clue. What do the clues "Twenty Mule Team" and "Borax" bring to mind?
Answer: 20 Mule Team Borax

Welcome to Boron, California -- the Borax Capital of the World!

It was hours ago that I passed that cafe in Keene. I've since left CA58 behind in Barstow, where I took to the freeway towards Las Vegas. Now I'm getting hungry and there's not much in the way of eating options along this stretch of I15. When I see the exit for Baker, I take it. First priority when riding into town after crossing a desert? Take care of your horse. I stop to fuel up the GS, then start looking for a place for me to get something to nibble on. The temperature has climbed 30 degrees since I left Bakersfield, to a warm 95 degrees here in Baker.

I see across the street a large blue and white sign. It looks familiar. I think I've seen this place on TV . . . Yes, it's the Mad Greek. Bingo! I head across the road to try the Mad Greek's gyros.

With both the GS and myself fueled up, we hit the road to roll on some miles. Time to get past Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona border.

I was hoping to get the Lake Mead NRA ink stamp, but time was not my friend. The visitor center closed at 4:30pm and I arrived at 4:50pm. I have some friends that also ride and chase stamps that NEVER would have let this oversight happen. They ALWAYS check the operating hours of the visitor centers they plan to visit. But not me! Nope, I just ride along thinking everyone is on "Claye Time" and it will all work out for me. But this time it didn't. It would have behooved me to have done just a little bit of research before hitting the saddle today. My oversight cost me my only chance at a Nevada ink stamp for my collection (at least on this trip). My mistake, my loss. I leave the locked doors of the visitor center and ride down to the river to see this big chunk of concrete that gets so much attention. I don't take time to stop for the exhibits, but make my way with the flow of traffic over the backbone of the dam and into Arizona.

I stop on the other side and visit with a few riders from a larger group of riders. They came from South America to rent motorcycles in Las Vegas for a tour of the US Southwest, and today is the first day of their adventure. All of them chose Harley Davidson motorcycles, with one exception: One rider was on a BMW R1200RT. The entire group was more than just a little bit excited about touring in the U.S. by motorcycle; however, it seemed that they should have spent a bit more time polishing up on their riding skills. Maybe it's the excitement, maybe it's riding with a group, or maybe these are larger cc/heavier bikes than what they are used to riding. Whatever the reason for their careless riding style, I'm glad I was safely parked out of the way when they left the pullout heading back across the dam.
After sticking my front wheel in Arizona, I turn back into Nevada, pass back through Las Vegas and make my way northeast to Utah. I was ready for the sun to set and bring some relief from the heat. I saw the readings hit triple digits on both the GS's on-board computer and the GPS's current weather report.
I'd tell you what time I reached Utah, but after riding the loop, following the 20 mule team, eating with the mad greek, feeling the triple digits of Vegas, and chasing my long shadows across the Moaba River Indian Reservation . . . I just don't remember when I finally crossed the state line into Utah.
I found a bed in Hurricane, Utah. From here I will explore some of Zion tomorrow.

Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs


  1. A wonderful log. I used to travel that route often but never stopped in Tehachapi or Baker for anything other than gas. Great photos. Thanks for the tour.

  2. Excellent report. So what were the touristy motorcyclists doing that gave them away as having less than polished skills?

  3. They 'bout damn near knocked each other down leaving the parking lot! I'm not sure how they all managed to find their way around each other before getting safely on the road pointing the same direction. Even on the road, I saw a lot of wobbly wobbly happening, but at least the were all pointing mostly the same direction and getting some space between them.