Welcome to Ridgecrest (ROCKS) from the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
So let’s get this straight because we’re confused: The City of Ridgecrest collects a hotel tax or transient occupancy tax (TOT) from Springhill Suites and the other hotels, keeps a cut, then oversees and funds the operations of the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (RACVB). The RACVB caters to movie crews from Hollywood, goes to glittering trade shows and organizes a Petroglyph Festival once a year.
RACVB also manages an ad campaign with billboards, one of which is known as “the sign out on Highway 395”.
It’s the first thing you’ll see as you enter the Indian Wells Valley, a big hideous Ridgecrest sign blocking your view of the Eastern Sierra and Owen’s Peak. It means that you’re home from a hard day of shopping down south, turn right!
It hasn’t been a good run for the RACVB and our sign. Sure, it was a lot of work and cost a lot of money, but you have to figure out something attractive to put on the sign before you build it. It’s called marketing and image building.
The Petroglyph festival was a great idea, but a rocks festival in Ridgecrest is a tough sell and it doesn’t raise any tax revenue for the City other than a hand-full of hotel room nights.
So what do you with the sign?
We doubt that Caltrans or the Bureau of Land Management would’ve permitted the sign for Marriott, Starbucks or McDonalds if they wanted to install their own billboards but who knows? And why would they if the City of Ridgecrest is paying to do it for them?
Now it all makes sense.
We know a lot of time, effort and money went into securing that spot on the highway. The City will do anything for a few sales tax dollars and some visitors but this is ridiculous. Ridgecrest is Anything but Ordinary.
Take our advice, if you want the best burger or pastrami sandwich on the high Mojave Desert, don’t turn right at the big sign trying to tempt you with a cup of coffee and the golden arches, just go north on highway 395 about 10 miles from the RACVB sign, take the off-ramp to Inyokern and call ahead if you’re in a hurry. You’ll save an hour and you’re in for a treat, and Owen’s peak is right in front of you. Classic Burger in Inyokern is the best, and it’s locally owned!
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