5 Awesome Scenic Drives Around Bakersfield, CA
When you’ve got a hankering to get behind the wheel, Bakersfield is a great place to be. Just pick a direction and you’ll soon find yourself in a national forest, cruising through rugged ranchlands, or winding alongside a mountain waterway.
Here are five scenic drives not to miss in the greater Bakersfield area. Travel advisory: some roads may have seasonal closures. Check before you go.
1. Lake Isabella and Brush Creek
The Drive: loop trip, 162 miles, around 4 hours 5 minutes
When water levels permit (usually only late summer), strong swimmers can take a dip in one of the swimming holes along the rugged Brush Creek Trail. Watch out for poison oak, take care on the rough granite trail and swim at your own risk, of course.
On the return, take Mountain Highway 99 which becomes the twisting, scenic M-50 and parallels South Creek, then Deer Creek.
Click for the route to Lake Isabella and Brush Creek.
2. Kern River County Park and Rancheria Road
The Drive: 66 miles round trip, about 2 hours 18 minutes
This route includes several things to do along the way, depending on your interests. Hart Memorial Park offers two lakes, wildlife viewing, picnic areas with grills, hiking trails and playgrounds. Or visit the California Living Museum to see exhibits of native California animals, plants, fossils and artifacts.
Then drive on to Lake Ming, a popular spot for fishing, sailing, swimming and waterskiing. It’s a good place to enjoy a picnic and get an eyeful of SoCal’s iconic golden hills and the Greenhorn Mountains. (Check the link above for special boating events and closures before you go.)
Extend your trip with a drive along Forest Rte 25S03/Rancheria Road, a paved road that passes over the Kern River and travels through orchards, rangeland and the starkly beautiful Greenhorn Mountains. (Rancheria Road turns to gravel after some miles. Check beforehand on possible road closures at 760.379.5646.)
Click for driving directions to Rancheria Road.
3. Vista del Lago Visitors Center at Pyramid Lake
The Drive: 216 miles round trip, about 4 hours 50 minutes
This route takes you through the Los Padres National Forest to an interpretive center overlooking Pyramid Lake, the deepest lake in the California Water Project system. See a complete, 3D model of California’s massive State Water Project and a display illustrating the massive tools used to build it.
If you return via I-5, don’t miss Fort Tejon State Historic Park.
4. Colonel Allensworth State Park & Kern National Wildlife Refuge
The Drive: 135 miles loop trip, about 3 hours
Take the Central Valley Highway through some of the nation’s most productive agricultural lands on this scenic tour to historic Colonel Allensworth State Park, honoring a former slave who became an officer in the Union Navy then moved west to settle in this area.
On the way back, visit the Kern National Wildlife Refuge and follow the six-mile auto tour route on a gravel road to view a great nature show of wading birds, raptors and other wildlife. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, closed Wednesdays and Saturdays during hunting season from October to January.
Click for directions to Colonel Allensworth State Park.
5. Jacinto Reyes National Scenic Byway
The Drive: 228 miles round trip, about 5 hours 5 minutes
Tunnels through bedrock, swimming holes, waterfalls and views of the mighty Pacific — this scenic route offers up some of the most diverse landscapes you’ll find in southern California. You’ll travel through the Santa Ynez Range and pass by Wheeler Gorge and Piedra Blanca, white stones sculpted by nature. Then enjoy lunch in lovely Ojai.
The road may be closed in winter, so check the Forest Service site before you go.
Click for a route map of the Jacinto Reyes Scenic Byway.
Note: these scenic routes have been collected from sources deemed reliable. However, remember to check road conditions in advance, make sure your vehicle is suitable for the roads recommended, and use common sense safety precautions along the way.
Youth Ag Leader Grows Career With FFA Role
As a third generation Future Farmers of America (FFA) member, Lauren Millang brought a family legacy to her role as vice president of the FFA’s California chapter. “I can recall my grandpa telling me about the different contests he competed in during high school and hearing about my parent’s fair animals,” she said. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that is rooted in tradition.”
Lauren spent a year traveling throughout California facilitating FFA workshops, hosting conferences and learning about the agriculture industry. Over the four years that Lauren was involved with FFA, she found the experience invaluable in developing her agricultural knowledge and her leadership skills.
“I was blessed with opportunities to attend leadership conferences, compete on numerous teams, hold officer positions and even raise animals for our county fair,” she said. “I know these valuable moments spent in FFA have prepared me for a future career in agriculture and have provided me with the tools and experiences I need to become a successful advocate for the industry.”
Some of Lauren’s most memorable FFA experiences include the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., as well as competing at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Show in Oklahoma and the FFA Nationals in Kentucky.
Lauren says the FFA offers a place for just about everyone who’s interested in agriculture. “From computer sciences, to raising livestock, crop sciences or speaking contests, students can truly find their niche and excel,” she said. “FFA is a unique organization that truly gives students a hands-on experience.”
With her move into the VP role, Lauren graduated from a corduroy members jacket that said “Woodland-Pioneer” across the back to a one that says, “Association.” “With this new jacket comes new opportunities, friendships, places and growth,” she said. “Only one word comes to mind when I think of the journey ahead: gratitude.”
Following her year as California FFA state vice president, Lauren is attending Oklahoma State University to pursue a double major in agricultural communications and business. “I am proud to be involved in an organization that creates the future leaders of the agriculture industry,” she said. “And I am proud to be a future agriculturalist.”
At Les Schwab, we’re honored to support Lauren's hard work, dedication and leadership both in California’s agriculture industry and its local communities.
Kern County Fair Junior Livestock Auction is a Local Favorite
There were a lot of good reasons to attend the Kern County Fair, including great food and fun rides. This year, we got to see the Beach Boys and John Michael Montgomery in concert.
One of the best reasons to attend is to check out the hard work that local FFA and 4-H youth have put into raising their livestock.
This year’s Junior Livestock Auction was another chance for Bakersfield Les Schwab managers to meet those kids and purchase some award-winning animals. We were honored to have bought some of the biggest winners, including the Reserve Champion Turkey Hen, Reserve Grand Champion Turkey, as well as the Rabbit Grand Champion, and Poultry Reserve Champion. As part of a longstanding Les Schwab tradition, we donate these animals back to the kids who raised them.
While the numbers are still being tallied for 2018, over the past four years, the junior auction has brought in a total of over $11 million. Les Schwab is proud to be a part of that local tradition to support hard-working students, the FFA, the Kern County Fair Junior Livestock Auction, and other groups dedicated to the notion of hard work, dedication, and fairness.