Ridgecrest’s California Welcome Center grand opening Nov. 6

Ridgecrest’s California Welcome Center grand opening Nov. 6CALIFORNIA WELCOME CENTER - RIDGECREST – Ridgecrest opened the 21st California Welcome Center, joining statewide network on November 6, 2021 at 10AM

The Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau received designation from Visit California to become a California Welcome Center (CWC) in 2019, with plans delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ridgecrest’s CWC will serve as the gateway to Death Valley, welcoming guests from across the world to California’s deserts.

The grand opening for the 21st California Welcome Center coincided with the opening of the 8th Annual Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival.

The California Welcome Center will include several exhibits and experiences, including virtual reality and a Prehistoric Camels of California presentation and rides. Guests will be able to travel virtually to Death Valley National Park through the use of Oculus VR headsets, available at the center. The CWC will also present a virtual trip to the petroglyphs in the region using the virtual technology, in collaboration with the Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival to honor Native American Heritage Awareness Month this November. In person petroglyph tours at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake are closed this year, due to COVID-19. Camels will be present for the opening, representing the ancient indigenous camels that lived in ancient Death Valley around its many lakes. Camel rides will be free for kids and adults that meet the specified weight criteria from 11AM-3PM on Saturday.

A TV and Film Experience exhibit will be the first to open within the CWC - Ridgecrest, featuring projects filmed in Death Valley, Lone Pine, Red Rock Canyon, and other areas around the region. QR codes will link to location maps that include the sites for Lady Gaga and Rihanna music videos, Top Gun: Maverick, Iron Man, Star Trek, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Agents of SHIELD, and Westworld. Video presentations will focus on sci-fi locations that continue to draw productions to the unique topography of California’s deserts. Along with the TV and Film Experience, the CWC will feature the top 5 Amazing Archaeological Adventures of California, appealing to those with more historical interests.

The CWCs are independently operated, but subject to standards developed by the California Office of Tourism in partnership with Visit California. They act as a concierge service for travelers to California, providing destination, attraction, and accommodation brochures from member destinations statewide.

With Ridgecrest joining the Visit California family, access and exposure to millions of people visiting California will be exponentially higher for businesses in the Ridgecrest region. Each of the CWCs will include brochures, magazines, and advertising information for local attractions, dining, and hotels in and around Ridgecrest. The designation has traditionally led to a significant increase in the percentage of travel-generated employment for each region represented. This effect has led to documented positive impacts in secondary spending and employment, as each region increases their share of California’s instatetravel spending.

The California Welcome Center - Ridgecrest is located at 880 N. China Lake Boulevard in Ridgecrest, California.

Courtesy photo: The Camels are coming to Ridgecrest. The Petroglyph Festival offered free camel rides for kids and adults on Saturday.

Story First Published: 2021-11-05