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Mormon Rocks: The California Road Trip Spot You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

by Eugenia Lazaris

Jan 23, 2024

© Eugenia Lazaris

Destinations / North America

Families love taking road trips, and for good reason. You get to see amazing parts of the country for a lot less than it would cost to buy plane tickets for the whole family. Even more, the extra time traveling is well spent bonding over shared experiences and road trip games. But road trips also give family travelers the luxury of stopping anywhere and everywhere, which means roadside attractions are a big part of the fun.

 

Mormon Rocks

© Eugenia Lazaris

The California highways have plenty of these attractions, so, no matter which route you are on, you will find plenty to see and do. You can check out the world’s tallest thermometer in Baker or watch elephant seals sunning themselves outside of San Simeon, just for starters. But one site that often gets overlooked is found along the 15 freeway, just south of the Cajon Pass, a stretch of highway connecting Southern California’s Inland Empire with the high desert and places beyond.

 

The area is home to Mormon Rocks, a unique outcropping sitting just a few minutes off the main highway along the smaller Highway 138. The Bedrock-esque rock formations, named for the Mormon settlers who used them for shelter when they arrived in the area in 1881 to settle the nearby city of San Bernardino, are visible from the freeway but are best explored up close.

 

Mormon Rocks

© Eugenia Lazaris

The mostly bald rocks, in stark contrast to the low-lying native plants dotting the surrounding mountains, are made of sandstone and home to numerous small animals and birds that nest in holes found throughout the rocks. Visitors can stop at Mormon Rocks Ranger Station, open to hiking daily until 4 p.m., to hike the 1-mile loop for a bird’s-eye view of the rocks and Cajon Pass as it cuts through the mountains into the valley below. The hike is easy and a great opportunity to learn about the local history, not to mention the landscape, as you stretch your legs before continuing along your journey.

 

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