A Bizarre Las Vegas Road Trip Stop: What is on Zzyzx Road, Really?

What is on Zzyzx Road, California
Photo by Lin Mei on Flickr

I have taken many road trips from California to Las Vegas, always noting the sign for Zzyzx Road in Mohave Dessert as I sped by. The street is off of Highway 15 and seems to lead to nowhere. Was the sign put up so California can brag that it has the last alphabetical street in the world, or was there something there? On a road trip to Las Vegas with the kids to celebrate their great-great grandmother’s 100th birthday, we decided the time had come for us to find out what is really on Zzyzx Road! Zzyzx is the correct spelling, often confused with Zzyzzx Road or Xxyyzz Road. This is the erroneous addition of some very fun letters, as if the name itself isn’t enough.

What is really on Zzyzx Road
Soda Lake on Zzyzx Road, California

Directly off the exit, you can find the edge of the beautiful Soda lake. The lake is an alkali salt and clay-rimmed lake that is usually dry in the winter, which is when we visited. Consequently, when it is dry, the salt sheet may be as thick as 20 cm thick. If you spend some time exploring, you can find remnants of the railroads that went through this neighborhood, as well as evidence of salt mining.

Road trip stops from California to Las Vegas
In spite of the desolateness of the Mojave Desert in California on Zzyzx Road, I found these beautiful cairns.
Palm trees on Zzyzx Road
Zzyzx Road palm trees

At the end of the 4.5-mile dirt road is where the real story begins. The military used the area in the 1800s as Camp Soda Springs. It was later named Zzyzx by Curtis Howe Springer. There he started the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa, bottling the spring’s water for thirsty travelers and bringing in a zoo to attract visitors. The spa ran for about thirty years in the middle 1900s. Now it is a Desert Studies Center used by the California State University. Although the Mohave Desert is the smallest in the world, according to the Desert Studies Center’s website, it is the most diverse. This location provides the opportunity to study many aspects of biology, archaeology, ecology, and Native Americans.

What is at the end of Zzyzx Road?
California Fan Palms reflected in Lake Tuendae in the compound that we found at the end of Zzyzx Road.

Who knew that so much history and beauty could be found on such a random street? Have you been to Zzyzx Road? I would love to hear your stories in the comments.

The immense vastness of the Sandy Lake Salt Flat.

If you are planning a US road trip, be sure to check out my Ultimate Guide to Planning a US Road Trip. If you are continuing your road trip past Vegas to the Grand Canyon, read about my Northern Arizona Road Trip.

Zzyzx Road is a interesting road trip stop that you must make when you are travelling from California to Las Vegas. If you have passed the sign, you may have wondered what is on it. Read on to find out. #LasVegasRoadTrip #California #USroadtrip
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21 thoughts on “A Bizarre Las Vegas Road Trip Stop: What is on Zzyzx Road, Really?”

    • Death Valley is beautiful and so hot. We visited there when my oldest was five. He said, “We need to get back into the car now.”

    • Rob, I hate the heat, but deserts are really beautiful and otherworldly. On a related note, Area 51 and Alien Beef Jerky are in this same area.

  1. Love road trips through the USA. There is always something to explore. Loved this post! So interesting how much history there is if we only look.

  2. We have driven this highway from LA to Vegas tons and tons of times. We would always comment on it but we never took it. I thoroughly enjoyed this and now we don’t have to wonder anymore. 🙂

  3. I just finished reading “The Narrows”, a novel by Michael Connelly. Zzyzx Road was used as a serial killer’s body dump site. I’m glad you found it more refreshing!

  4. Traveled this road to Vegas many times on my road trips and even have iconic photos with the sign.
    Always wondered what was on that exit. Very interesting read and I will try to convince my wife to take this detour if we ever get back from Australia.

  5. Walter,
    Did you get a chance to read the novel, The Narrows”, by Michael Connelly? Zzyzx Road was used as a serial killer’s body dump site. Another interesting read.


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