Located high in the Mojave Desert, Pioneertown USA looks and feels like an Old West ghost town.
But this unusual spot outside the town of Yucca Valley, California and Joshua Tree National Park dates back to only 1946--it was built to film movies and house the casts and crews!
Named for Roy Rogers' legendary Sons of the Pioneers, the town's adobe and wooden storefronts served as a backdrop in movies featuring Gene Autry and other Western stars. Many of them stayed in the rustic-looking but comfortable Pioneer Motel, which still offers lodging.
It's fun to mosey down dirt-road Mane Street, past the facades and hitching posts, and pop into Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a honky-tonk saloon known for cold drinks, hot music and great grub. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons from April through October, you can catch amusing and realistic street shows by local "gunslingers" outside the Pioneer Bowl, where Roy Rogers himself actually bowled the first strike.
Yucca Valley is on State Highway 62, about 33 miles north of Palm Springs. Pioneertown is about 5 miles northwest of Yucca Valley via Pioneertown Road. For general information, call Pappy and Harriet's (53688 Pioneertown Rd.) at 1-760/365-5956; they're closed Tuesday and Wednesday.