A military town that serves the U.S. Naval Weapons Center to its north, Ridgecrest has scores of stores, restaurants, and hotels. With about 29,000 residents, it's the last city of any significant size you'll encounter as you head northeast toward Death Valley National Park. It’s a good base for visiting regional attractions such as the Trona Pinnacles and Petroglyph Canyons.

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Fodor’s Southern California: with Los Angeles, San Diego, the Central Coast & the Best Road Trips

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