Skip to Main Content

Signs and found objects mix with discarded glass bottles.
Signs and found objects mix with discarded glass bottles.

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch

Field review by the editors.

Oro Grande, California

Elmer Long was an inventive scrap material artist. He filled his front yard with a dense forest of bottle trees. Over 200 trees made from upright metal pipes bristle with discarded glass bottles on every welded branch. Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch is well known due to its location along U.S. Route 66, west of Barstow.

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch.

Born in 1946, Long moved with his family to the California desert in 1970, where he married, and then raised two sons. Elmer's father had always collected old bottles; Elmer inherited that hoard, and continued to add to it. Trained as a welder, Elmer worked in a cement factory, so he had skills coveted by any scrap artisan. He erected his first bottle tree in 2000. That same day, Elmer noticed Route 66 travelers pulling off along the road to snap photos of his outsider art.

Elmer went full-time on bottle forest creation in 2002, and the array increased in density and scale. He lived in the house behind it, and continued expanding and modifying the Ranch almost until the day he died on June 22, 2019. Visitors have always been free to wander the site, and there's a wooden wishing well in the back for donations.

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch lies conveniently along Route 66.
Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch lies conveniently along Route 66.

A bomb casing among the bottle trees.
A bomb casing among the bottle trees.

The bottle tree pipes are tightly arranged, with enough room for tourists to walk between most and admire his handiwork. Some sculptures are decorated with bottles by color, vintage or brand. Most appear to be beer or liquor bottles. A few feature glass and ceramic power pole insulators.

Elmer also incorporated consumer objects -- old metal toys, old radios, wheel rims, manual typewriters, rusting tools and appliances. Some things seem more by design than others. The old jeep with the eaten-away seats... art or utility?

This is an excellent roadside attraction, free and open (as are most folk art environments), and welcoming appreciative eyeballs. The parking area is just the wide unpaved shoulder on both sides of this long bypassed stretch of relatively lightly traveled highway. We parked past the frontage fence to allow unobstructed photos. During our bottle tree ranch experience another dozen travelers arrived, all from outside the U.S. Some had seen it on YouTube.

Bottles flower on welded branches.
Bottles flower on welded branches.

It's an obvious shutterbug and selfie haven. Elmer sprinkled around old road signs, a peeling A&W restaurant menu board, and various petroliana artifacts. A vintage practice bomb casing is impaled on a pipe -- perhaps a statement on war, or a statement on the availability of ordnance in the flight test-happy high desert.

On a windy day, the bottles emit sounds -- pleasing or eerie, depending on your taste in randomly whistled bottle music. Though we didn't encounter hazards during our visit, keep in mind that bottles occasionally break, and there are many abraded and rusting shin-level gewgaws.

So tread carefully, snap your pictures, and leave a donation!

Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch

24266 National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA
Several miles south of Helendale on the National Trails Hwy. On the north side, at the crest of a little hill. You can see the density of the yard from at least a quarter-mile away.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Rock FacesRock Faces, Victorville, CA - 8 mi.
Miraculous Giant Healing Buddhist StatueMiraculous Giant Healing Buddhist Statue, Adelanto, CA - 7 mi.
Emma Jean's Holland Burger CafeEmma Jean's Holland Burger Cafe, Victorville, CA - 9 mi.
In the region:
Pioneertown: Fake Wild West Town, Pioneertown, CA - 61 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in California

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in California.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

California Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

American Treasure Tour, Oaks, Pennsylvania (Jul 8-14, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings