Outdoor recreation, vibrant arts scene enhance Victor Valley's quality of life
Victor Valley is a place where you can get away from it all, and still have plenty to do. The High Desert is attractive to outdoor lovers for the wide range of recreational opportunities found throughout the region, from skiing the snowy mountains to off-roading on sandy dunes. Yet for those who enjoy a calmer lifestyle, the calendar is filled with festivals, fairs and other arts attractions.
“It’s almost impossible to find a weekend when there’s nothing going on,” says Phyllis Overall, a Victor Valley-area real estate agent who also serves as the founder and executive director of the Desert Rocks Film and Music Event. “There are a lot of activities that take place around here. It stays pretty busy in that respect. There’s always something happening.”
The one attraction that never stops is the playground provided by Mother Nature, which offers an enticing quality of life to newcomers. Despite being called the High Desert, there is an abundance of lakes and lakeside parks throughout the region. For example, the 840-acre Mojave Narrows Regional Park in Victorville has acres of waterways surrounded by strands of cottonwood, willows and broad meadows. This lush park is home to more than 1,500 species of wildlife and is a popular location for horseback riders.
Horseback riding also can be enjoyed on the Pacific Crest Trail and in the Lucerne Valley, along with hiking and biking. Snow skiers can hit the slopes in the Big Bear, Wrightwood and Snow Valley areas, while ziplining and rappelling can be found at Big Pines Recreation Area in Wrightwood.
Off the Beaten Path
One of the primary appeals of Victor Valley to outdoor enthusiasts is the vast swaths of public land in the area that are open to off-road vehicles. More than 12 million acres in California were set aside for public use as part of the Desert Conservation Area plan of 1980, and some of best off-roading locations are within Victor Valley.
A major destination for ATV riders is El Mirage Dry Lake, located in the Mojave Desert. All manner of motorized vehicles travel along and over these dunes and flats, including motorcycles, trucks, buggies, model airplanes, model rockets, ultra-light aircraft, gyrocopters and parasails. Elevation varies from 2,800 feet at the El Mirage Dry Lake to more than 3,800 feet in the Shadow Mountains.
“A lot of people come here to ride dune buggies, motorcycles and dirt bikes out in the desert,” Overall says. “You’ll see people out there sand gliding and driving all these different vehicles. It’s a very popular place.”
More off-roading adventures are available at Dumont Dunes (which is bordered by steep volcanic hills and the Amargosa River), Stoddard Valley (a 53,000-acre open riding area) and Johnson Valley (with steep, red-rock mountains and a 100-percent elevation increase from 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake to 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills).
Arts and Entertainment
A growing cultural scene is taking root throughout Victor Valley as well. The High Desert Center for the Arts in Victorville brings in Broadway shows and other performances throughout the year. The region also hosts a number of signature events, such as the San Bernardino County Fair in Victorville, the High Desert Pirate Renaissance Faire in Hesperia, the Cinco de Mayo Family Festival in Victorville, and the Hesperia Days festival, which began in 1948.
Hesperia also is the site of the growing Desert Rocks Film and Music Event. Films are shown at the Civic Plaza Theater – ranging from full-length features and documentaries to animated shorts and music videos – while concerts take place at Civic Plaza Park. In addition, talks and demonstrations are held by film-industry professionals.
“We are trying to introduce new things every year,” says Overall, who helped start Desert Rocks in 2012. “We want to bring as much arts and culture to the High Desert as we can, to go along with our amazing weather, our fresh, beautiful clean air and all our outdoor activities.”