Monday, December 16, 2013

El Mirage Dry Lakebed Revisited-A great place to to do your next film, photo shoot or commercial

Dear Reader,

The sun is slowing rising above the mountains to the east.  It is a cool crisp morning at El Mirage.  I wait for the crew at the entrance to the park.  If you are speeding along El Mirage Road, it is easy to pass.  Though there is a big sign that says “El Mirage”, people do get lost especially early in the morning.  When you have a large forty-foot motor home parked on the main road, it is easy to spot the dry lake.  There was a time about ten years ago that the road was not paved, it was a rough dirt road.  Unless you had a 4 X 4 vehicle, it was slow going.  Today the road is paved except for the last quarter of a mile.  The speed limit is twenty-five miles with speed bumps.

Once you get on the lake you can go as fast as your car or truck can go, just watch out for the ruts on the lakebed.  Any part of the road that is dark or grassy is best to avoid at any rate of speed. My best speed in my truck was 108 and that was scary.  In my motor home I try to keep the speed around 30, if I hit a rut, the results would not be pleasant for me, or my RV.

El Mirage is the closest of all the lakebeds to Los Angeles.  It is also the easiest of all the lakes to get to, thanks to the paved road.  The only issue is that the lake is on public land, therefore the public “can” intrude on your set.  Personally I have never seen that happen.  However if you have a major celebrity or a car that you need to keep undercover this location might not be your best option.  During the week, unless there is a major event going on, there are few people on the lake.  Weekends at El Mirage can be tricky, most of the time few people are there, unless there is an event going.  If there is an event that day more than likely the BLM will not issue a film permit.

El Mirage is opened year round unless the lake is closed because of rain, snow, heavy winds or as I indicated an event.  It can get very cold in winter; on some rare occasions snow is possible, though personally I have never seen the lake covered in snow. If it did snow both Interstate 15 and Highway 14 would be closed because of snow, therefore this would be a mute point because your crew would not be able to get to El Mirage.  In summer the temperature can hit over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and on days when the Santa Ana’s winds are blowing one could fly a five year old on a kit.  Only once did heavy winds become a major issue.

I have written about El Mirage Dry Lake in earlier blogs.  I decided I wanted to revisit this location topic again.  Since I purchased my 4 X 4 truck last year, my truck has allowed me to explore more of the lakebed. The road is dirt, but as long as you drive slow, one can navigate any size vehicle on this road. What I discovered is there are several campsites nestled in the foothills just east of the lake.  There is plenty of parking at some of these camps, what makes it interesting is the topography, it is not flat, one is surrounded by a small valley.  There are hills and Joshua trees and desert shrubs.  This is perfect if your look requires this type of background, if you need the lakebed, the lakebed is just a short drive from the many camps.  When you scout this road, continue on Mountain View Road past the visitor center and head north.  You will see several dry campsites on both sides of the road.  The road will eventually end and it becomes extremely rough, keep that in mind if you are driving a small car, I would suggest a SUV or a 4 x 4 truck to navigate this road beyond the last camp site.  Consult with a ranger or personal at the visitor center.  Or call me Mike Green (818-317-7099) if you have any questions.

In terms of lodging and food there is the town of Adelanto, about twenty minutes south/east.  I cannot recommend lodging in Adelanto, it is not a safe town; it has a high crime rate.  For food there is Bravo Burgers (760-246-4813); Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill (760-530-9161); Subway (760-530-0803); Thai-Siam Restaurant (760-246-8122) and other such establishments.  For lodging I would recommend the Hawthorn Suites in Victorville (760-949-4700. Hawthorn is my favorite hotel because there is plenty of parking for large vehicles, there is a complementary breakfast and the staff is great.  The Ambassador Hotel (760-245-6565) is the closest hotel to El Mirage and has plenty of parking for large vehicles, and is nice, though I have not been inside the hotel in a few years, therefore you might want to scout this hotel out in advance.  The Hilton Garden Inn (760-241-7200) is the newest of the three hotels, I have not been inside this hotel yet; again you might visit this hotel in advance.

If you have a lot of expensive vehicles and equipment, you should hire a local security company like Steve Nader (760-508-1440); he has a team of highly qualified security personal to watch over your important equipment day or night. I would suggest hiring a security team because thieves know film crews have expensive stuff that is worth a lot of money.  I am not indicating that Victorville is an unsafe place, I feel for peace of mind anywhere a production lands for the night, having someone have eyes on the vehicles is a safe bet.

El Mirage Entrance
 Map provided by BLM.
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Entrance from El Mirage Road

If you need more information, film permits, local crew, call Sheri Davis at 951-377-7849 or Dan Taylor at 951-232-1271 at the Inland Empire Film Commission.  If you need motor homes, portable restrooms or location scout call me Mike Green at 818 317-7099.