If you are traveling down the interstate near Barstow, California..
And are looking for a reason to slow down and take it easy, then get off the road and head over to see Elmer Long in Oro Grande. Elmer is the owner and artist behind Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, a forest of bottle trees in the middle of the California desert. What exactly is a bottle tree, let alone a bottle tree ranch? Glorious, fun, and a wonder to be seen. The forest is comprised of a variety of over 200 glass bottles and metal sculptures. They vary in size, color, and shape and work together to create a beautiful visual display that has been visited by people from around the world.
The owner, Elmer, created his roadside attraction with a collection of bottles that he pulled together for over a decade. His yard is full of cactus and pipe welded together and adorned with beautiful blues, reds, green, and clear bottles slipped over the ends. He was inspired by a childhood experience he had with his father after finding a bottle at a desert campsite. His father began collecting all varieties of bottles and when he decided to give away his life-long collection, some were passed on to Elmer. A few of the bottles he has on display have been with him since he was a young man. Elmer knew that he had a connection to these bottles and was unsure of what to do with them, so he re-purposed them and created his first bottle tree. The rest, as they say, is history. As he expanded the attraction with more bottles and sculptures, motorists and tourists began to take note. Word began to spread about this unique exhibit, and people came to see his display.
The ranch is accessible to guests and easy to walk through. Elmer doesn’t mind if you take photographs and is happy to share stories. It is a magical place to visit and is well worth the detour off the beaten path to wander through this offbeat roadside attraction.
The ranch, located at 24266 National Trails Highway in Oro Grande, California, is open from sunrise to sunset and there is no admission to enter (though donations are accepted).