Old 12-29-2010, 09:19 PM   #1
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Default Railfanning Tehachapi and Cajon Passes

I am thinking of going to Tehachapi and Cajon Pass this spring to do a week of railfanning. This is foreign territory for me since I live in the Pittsburgh,PA area.

I was wondering if there is anyone who lives there or has been there if they can supply me with any info (trail maps and roads,etc.) that would assist me in getting to all the good spots to shoot the action.

I bascically want to learn from your experiences so that I can maximize my enjoyment and photo opportunities. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:25 PM   #2
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www.socalrailfans.com has some great Cajon maps (you got to really search through the site to find them, though).

Both that site, and www.westcoastrailforums.com, have lots of memembers who frequent those locations very often. Spending a couple hours searching old threads there and you will find an amazing wealth of information on photo angles and access.
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:13 PM   #3
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The center of this map shows a small dirt road off of Woodford-Tehachapi Rd. That is the area where many overview photos of the loop are taken. Lots of little trails in that immediate area to get views in both directions. Most of that entire stretch of Woodford-Tehachapi Rd. has nice views. If you browse around on that map you'll see many of the other famous spots. Caliente, Bealville to the NE, Monolith and Warren to the East. The MP377 signal bridge is right next to CA-58 between Warren and Mojave. I like checking out the yard in Mojave as well, although it isn't always easy to get good angles looking into it. The Oak Creek Rd. bridge actually has little holes built in to the fence to make it easier to shoot through it.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...23067&t=h&z=16
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Old 02-24-2011, 09:49 PM   #4
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:50 AM   #5
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I've done both. I did a trip to the Loop and several trips to Cajon. I've spent days studying maps of the loop and I just don't see as many options as the Cajon offers.

The loop and the whole trip seem to be situated around a lot of private property with some over zealous law enforcement from what I've heard. (It's UP after all.)

I've been to the Cajon Pass 4 times, and I've only hit about 1/3rd of the spots.

Sign up for Railfanguides on yahoo, and Socal Railfan has a great Google earth map. Use Suncalc.net and a map to explore the pass. Most of the dirt roads are public, especially any road listed with a name or number. You may need to grab a Forest Pass from the Ranger at Silverlake or the Mobile Gas station halfway up the pass.

Become a Citizen for Rail Security here: http://www.citizensforrailsecurity.com/

Print out the card, and keep it with you in case you come across BNSF or UP Police. The UP Police I've heard are the trouble makers. There are also forest service police, but if you follow the forest rules you should be ok. Understand BNSF and UP have huge issues with vandalism of trains on the pass.

The beauty of the Cajon is that it is located in San Bernardino National Forest, and the forest is public land. There are tons of spots for shots, any time of the day, any time of the year.

Why stop at the Cajon though, the BNSF Needles subdivision crosses the Mojave desert and provides a number of excellent shots, and some stunning natural beauty. US-66, while beat up, parallels the railroad across the desert. If you stay out after dark, the sky is unbelievable.

Safety Notes for Cajon and Needles subs.

Prior planning is important. Gas, water, and food can only be found in a few places. Cell phones don't work everywhere and daytime highs in the summer can be 120. Now in the Spring, I understand it's quite beautiful.

Rattlesnakes are something to keep an eye out for in the desert and in the Cajon pass. Be smart, don't walk along the edge of roads or paths, and bring your camera bag. The bag, even empty, if thrown at the snake at the split second you sprint away, can buy you the seconds needed to outrun the snake. I've been many times, I've heard rattlers but I've never seen one.

The other risk if your going to do Needles, is that you could be miles and miles away from the CHP or any law enforcement. Beware of other cars.

That said I've never had a problem, knock on wood, but I follow those safety tips since California is so strict on it's gun laws.
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Old 03-08-2011, 04:01 AM   #6
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Oh, and if your looking for a great hotel, the Econolodge in Hesperia (Maraposa Road), absolutely first class establishment. It's 40 dollars cheaper than the Comfort Suites, and you get just as nice a value.
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:57 PM   #7
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I can second the BNSF Needles and Seligman sub's in Arizona, spectacular locations and lots of traffic. The only time I have visited was in January, so hot temperature was not an issue.
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:31 PM   #8
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I've been both seasons. In summer it's so freaking hot chap stick left in a car will liquefy.

January brings cooler temps and snow at the higher elevations, but the trade off is you can get...CLOUDY DAYS

Also, they like to close roads when it snows
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg P View Post
Also, they like to close roads when it snows
I've heard that you can get around that with 5 simple words:
"Don't worry, I'm from Canada."
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:08 PM   #10
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I've heard that you can get around that with 5 simple words:
"Don't worry, I'm from Canada."
If you can get close enough to the CHP to talk to them. I got caught at the bottom of the Cajon pass and I tell you, the CHP used every tool they had to keep people away.

There was even a random train parked in the middle of the crossing at Glen Helen Parkway to keep people from going up that way.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:53 AM   #11
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The trip was a great success. We had 4 great days in Tehachapi. Met some RP.net contributors and got to see the PRS excursion go through both days. Stayed at the Best Western Mountain Inn in Tehachapi. Great place to stay. A great place to eat is the Bakery in town near the Depot. Had no problems with acessing most sites. Met Les who lives on Marcel road and got his permission to shoot from his property. Lots of trains and beautiful scenery.

Spent 3 days in Cajon after stopping by Barstow. Stayed at the Best Western in the pass. Great place also. Got a forest road pass at the gas station by the hotel. Got to meet Don Toles on Hill 582 and some other regulars Hill goers. What a neat place. Don is a great caretaker of the hill. Got to be careful with your photo angles since Cajon could be renamed Common Power Pass! Endless parade of BNSF GE units. UP less frequent but with some EMD power at least. Had a 4 X 4 Jeep Wrangler as a rental and glad we did. It meant no fear of going anywhere. My trip pictures, the good ones, on on RP.net. Just search photographer Carl Massart.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:10 PM   #12
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Wow, where were you able to rent a jeep wrangler? Every time I get a rental car, I always try to get a 4x4, but it's not always possible. I get ridiculous discounts through Avis through my company, but depending on the location a lot of time they dont have 4x4. I did get a 4x4 Toyota forerunner in Vegas and a 4x4 Nissan XTerra in DC once, but most of the time it's 4x2 models. Last time I was in DC I got a 4x2 Jeep Commander, what a piece of crap, I wrecked it though, and the only replacement they had was a car (Nissan Altima).
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:18 AM   #13
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Stayed at the Best Western in the pass. Great place also.
How is that place?


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Originally Posted by MassArt Images View Post
Got a forest road pass at the gas station by the hotel.
What is that?

Is it a map?


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Got to meet Don Toles on Hill 582 and some other regulars Hill goers. What a neat place. Don is a great caretaker of the hill.
Yes he is.
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Old 06-03-2011, 08:46 PM   #14
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How is that place?
Real foamtards don't do hotels.



Quote:
What is that?

Is it a map?
You need one. Remember what the security guard told you?
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Old 06-04-2011, 01:14 AM   #15
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Real foamtards don't do hotels.
Ya they do...

Where are you going to ensconce your Mom in front of the TV while you go out and take snapshots of the tea kettle or that really, really neat special?

Real foamtards bring their Mom, right?



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You need one. Remember what the security guard told you?
Well I have a very good map that I bought at the Lytle Creek ranger station which is why I am asking.

Also the Adventure Passes as far as I know are not available at the service station so I was wondering what that was all about.

It would be too bad if the pass was some type of rip off.
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Old 06-14-2011, 05:13 AM   #16
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If it's Cajon Pass, he may mean Adventure pass. I was able to buy one at the Mobile station near the Best Western when I was there this winter.

I really recommend the Econolodge in Hesperia as well. Absolutely a first class establishment. I always give them my business.

Glad you had fun. Cajon is a true beauty of nature.

I second the question where did you get a 4x4 and where they dicks about you taking it off road?
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Old 07-09-2011, 04:04 PM   #17
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The on-the-newstands-now issue of August 2011 issue of Trains has a superb map of Cajon.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:22 PM   #18
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Default Best Western hotel at the I-15 Rt. 138 Exit

This place is the best place to stay. $51 bucks a night and once we told them we'd be back at lunch time, they had the hot tub ready for us soak in while the dreaded high sun hours passed by! Right in the heart of the pass. A Railfan's perfect hotel. Can't say enough good things about the place and the staff. We visited them in April 2012 also and had a great time!
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:21 PM   #19
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This place is the best place to stay. $51 bucks a night and once we told them we'd be back at lunch time, they had the hot tub ready for us soak in while the dreaded high sun hours passed by! Right in the heart of the pass. A Railfan's perfect hotel. Can't say enough good things about the place and the staff. We visited them in April 2012 also and had a great time!
I always wondered how that place stayed in business, now I know.

You didn't buy an Adventure Pass did you?
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:08 PM   #20
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I wonder if you could talk them into day room offerings.

Nothing sucks more than that last day of travel and a night time flight. Where do you wait out the high sun?
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Old 05-05-2012, 01:48 AM   #21
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I always wondered how that place stayed in business, now I know.

You didn't buy an Adventure Pass did you?
Bought a pass but never scratched the days so it was good for all four days.
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:06 AM   #22
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Bought a pass but never scratched the days so it was good for all four days.
I am about 99% sure you didn't go anywhere that a pass was required.

That is why I asked.
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:31 AM   #23
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I wonder if you could talk them into day room offerings.

Nothing sucks more than that last day of travel and a night time flight. Where do you wait out the high sun?
Hmm, "day room offerings". What kind of day use do you want to have a room for, Greg?
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Old 05-05-2012, 03:20 AM   #24
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Duh, plugging in his laptop for ATCS.
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:32 AM   #25
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So his mom can watch TV in the AC while he goes out track side.

Doesn't everyone bring their mom on those epic railfan adventures?
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