In my Amboy Crater post, I mentioned Patrick and I are intermittently traveling the full stretch (or as much of it that is accessible) of Route 66 through California, with the eventual plan to do a lengthly blog post sharing the unique sights from the Arizona border to the sunny shores of Santa Monica. However, there are some places that are worthy of their own blog post, just like the Amboy Crater was. So, while we work towards creating a border-to-ocean post, I plan highlight some of the places that are too wonderful and too photogenic to just have a photo or two in that future-planned, longer blog post. Today I’m pleased to share with you Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch.
During Route 66’s glory days, it was home to many unique and bizarre tourist traps, vying for the motorist dollar, however, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is not a relic of those days, no, believe it or not, Bottle Tree Ranch actually a product of the 21st century. Beginning around 2000, Elmer Long started creating this unique tree-like sculptures using discarded bottles, and items such as rifles, typewriters, sewing machines, and more to top them off. The result is something that fits right in along Route 66, like it has always been there. So, while not one of the mid-century tourist destinations, Bottle Tree Ranch certainly has the spirit of the early tourist attractions that could have been found along the Mother Road.
On June 22, 2019, Long passed away from lung cancer, and his son, Elliot, has taken over the Ranch, keeping this delightful roadside attraction alive. While free to visit, there is a charming wishing well near the back for visitors to make a wish, and leave a donation to help Elliot maintain this unique piece of Americana.
I (sort of) visited Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch a few years ago, when my dad and I drove and photographed Route 66 from Needles to Victorville, however it was closed at that time. So I was very pleased to return. That post is very similar to what I have in mind for the lengthy Route 66 post, and will include some overlap, but also much has changed, with some structures that were there then, completely gone now. Stay tuned for future Route 66 highlights and the sure-to-be-lengthy border-to-coast post!
Walk among the glass forest of Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch at 24266 National Trails Highway, in Oro Grande, California.