One of my favorite dry lakebeds in Southern California is El Mirage Dry Lakebed. El Mirage is only an hour and half to two hours from Los Angeles; which makes it the closest dry lakebed from LA. It also has one of the best roads of any of the lakebeds in Southern California; only the last quarter of a mile is dirt. Once you are on El Mirage the surface of the lakebed is very smooth, just watch for a few dips and any place you see grass. The speed limit is 400 miles per hour and the CHP is looking for people who exceed the speed limit in F-16 jets, so watch your speed; last year one of my drivers got a nasty ticket for going 410 in one of my motor homes. (Please enjoy my sense of humor)
What makes El Mirage such a photogenic location is each angle offers a different perspective, east and west there are low lying hills, to the south is the mighty San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, in the winter these mountains are snow capped. To the northwest is Edwards Air Force Base. Don’t be surprise if a drone is spying on your shoot, the air force test drones at nearby Edwards and sometimes they fly around El Mirage. During the week, few people visit; so there is little interference from the public, plus the rangers patrol the area to keep the rift raft away. Just make sure you obtain the proper film permits or else your production will be shut down. There are only two restrooms on the lakebed, which is located at the entrance, so if you are planning on shooting, you differently will need a motor home or a porta-potty. The area is flat and void of any vegetation except on the outer edges of the lakebed.
Temperatures vary during the year; winter temperatures can dip in the thirties at night and in the summer 100 plus is the norm. During the warmer months few venture into the area, therefore one will have little interference from the public. El Mirage is closed when the lakebed is hit with heavy rains, which usually happens a few times a year at most. The only other concern one might encounter is Santa Ana winds that can cause a brown out, I have only experienced that situation once, but getting good weather forecast is important.
The best place to lodge your crew is in the town of Victorville and Sheri Davis from the Inland Film Commission can assist you with the most cost effective options. Davis can also help one find caters, crew and equipment rentals. For more information and film permits call Sheri Davis or Dan Taylor at 951 779 6700. If you need a motor home call Mike Green RVs at 818 317 7099.