Old Spanish Trail

Historic Route

California, USA

Venture into a remote region of the Nopah Range Wilderness where the old Spanish trail of 1831 crossed this inhospitable desert. Follow in the footsteps of old-time traders and merchants as they travelled through this majestic region.


Hot Springs, Desert Vistas, Hiking

43 mi / 69 km

Not Required

Harry Reid Int (LAS)

Mixed (Grade A)

Spring, Autumn

A Historic Trade Route, Hot Springs and Delicious Dates

It all starts in Shoshone - a small town located in California's Inyo County, with one charming little history museum. There's plenty of interesting artifacts to check out here, plus a massive whole Mammoth skeleton that was dug up nearby.

Tecopa Hot Springs is just down the road from here - a desert oasis renowned for its natural hot springs. The mineral-rich waters offer a soothing and rejuvenating experience, perfect for relaxation. Be sure to take a dip in the hot springs and soak in the therapeutic benefits while surrounded by the picturesque desert landscape. The area also features rustic accommodations and campgrounds.

Next, venture towards China Ranch, an unexpected oasis nestled in the heart of the Mojave Desert. China Ranch is a family-owned date farm that has been operating for over a century. Stroll through the lush date palm groves, savor delectable date-based treats, and explore the surrounding hiking trails.

The ranch was originally settled by a Chinese herbalist who discovered the natural springs while searching for medicinal plants. The land's unique microclimate proved perfect for cultivating date palms, and the farm gradually evolved into the thriving oasis it is today.

As you continue your drive, you'll traverse the Nopah Range Wilderness, an untamed and rugged landscape. This protected wilderness area boasts breathtaking vistas, diverse plant life, and an abundance of wildlife. Take in the awe-inspiring views of the dramatic mountain ranges and immerse yourself in the vastness of this untouched desert.

Deep within the mountains here, there is a hidden cave that holds a captivating secret. In the 1960s, a group of archaeologists stumbled upon this secluded treasure, adorned with breathtaking rock art. The vibrant paintings, created by the ancient Chemehuevi people, depict scenes of hunting, daily life, and spiritual rituals. The intricate details and vivid colors of the artwork mesmerized experts, providing valuable insights into the lives and beliefs of the region's indigenous inhabitants.

Along the way back to Tecopa, you'll follow alongside the original 1831 Old Spanish Trail. This trail was a vital trade route linking Santa Fe, New Mexico, with California during the early 19th century. As you traverse this historic route, you can only imagine the challenges and adventures faced by early explorers and traders in their quest for new horizons.

Look out for the stop on your right where the Old Spanish Trail is clearly visible as wagon marks passing to the south of a low, dark, isolated hill out on the plain below. Privately-owned Resting Springs Ranch, 5 miles further along the paved road, was in those days a stopover providing water, grass for oxen and trees for repairing wagon wheel spokes.

It's not long before you're back where you started. The journey through the Nopah Ranges will take you through captivating landscapes, provide opportunities for relaxation, exploration, and a glimpse into the rich history of the region.

The Shoshone Inn is a historic inn in the heart of Shoshone, offering comfortable rooms and a restaurant. Tecopa Hot Springs Resort provides a range of accommodations, including cabins and RV sites, with access to natural hot springs.

Delight's Hot Springs Resort offers cabins, RV sites, and tent camping, with therapeutic hot springs and a pool. Shoshone RV Park provides spacious RV camping with full hookups. Tecopa Sunrise is a rustic retreat with cozy cabins and a peaceful atmosphere.

No permits are required however please do not drive off the existing roads. Got a tip for this route? Send us yours! Sealed and paved for most the way with 7.8 miles of graded dirt (Grade A). View current alerts and warnings from the Bureau of Land Management.



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