Bottle Tree Ranch

by Kaylah Stroup


After Death Valley National Park we made our way over to Bartstow where we got a hotel room for the night. Death Valley was our last big stop of the trip. We didn’t have any destinations planned but we had places already booked to stay for our last two nights of the trip so we had time to just wander around. We woke up the next morning and started heading toward Bottle Tree Ranch which I had found on Roadside America while cuddled up in bed watching the Food Network in the hotel. That’s only worth noting because the Food Network and hotels go hand and hand for me. I can’t stand to watch it at home but because it’s what Jeff always turns on in hotel rooms I’ve come to love it and somehow it makes hotels feel more like home to me. 

So! Bottle Tree Ranch. What to say about this place? First of all, WOW, it’s incredible. It is literally a forest made from large metal pipes with bottles on them. Elmer Long has been interested in collecting bottles since he was a kid. He and his father would go on trips where they would bring home old bottles found at dump sites. When his father died he inherited his collection of bottles and that’s when the ranch began. In 2002, at age 55, he quit his job to dedicate his time to the ranch. There are over two hundred trees and thousands of bottles!

It is definitely a sight to behold. While the property isn’t all that large, it’s absolutely overwhelming standing in the middle of it all. I had no idea how to shoot it. The whole time I was just thinking “I hope some of these pictures look okay…“. I’m pretty pumped about my shots but definitely feel that there is nothing that compares to seeing the trees in person.

I know when I blogged about Jerry’s Junk I briefly touched on how much I love collectors, and their collections. I just really really love passionate people. I’m the biggest weenie in the book but I’m seriously sitting here all teary eyed about this place. It’s so awesome to see people doing something they love, even if that thing is seen as a bit crazy by the general public.

Bottle Tree Ranch is nothing short of amazing. When we visited Elmer was outside. He was so friendly and so kind. I’m so happy people like him exist! If you’re anywhere near Oro Grande, CA or are just out cruising Route 66, Bottle Tree Ranch is a must.
You can find more posts from our road trip under the “travel” tag. 

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