California 178

Scenic California 178 leads east through the Kern River Canyon, which is a narrow canyon crafted by the waters of the Kern River. Falling rocks are a concern along certain sections of the highway. Photo taken by Erik Fox (10/15/06).

California 178 begins at the Junction of California 58 and California 99 in Bakersfield. After passing California 204 & California 99 Business (Golden State Highway), California 178 briefly becomes a freeway before heading northeast toward the Sierra Nevada foothills along the banks of the Kern River.

Through the Kern River Canyon and over Walker Pass, California 178 is the only all-weather trans-Sierra route between California 58 and California 88. Passing by Isabella Reservoir, California 178 crosses Walker Pass (el. 5,245 feet) before meeting California 14 and U.S. 395 in the vicinity of Ridgecrest and China Lake.

Currently, the western segment of California 178 ends near the community of Trona northeast of Ridgecrest. There is a route gap between the western and eastern segments due to Death Valley National Park. The detour around the route gap is made via local roads and California 190 through the park. The endpoint for the western section of California 178 is at the turnoff to the Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark. The highway continues as a county-maintained highway, initially by San Bernardino County and then by Inyo County. The county route turns north, and it ultimately meets California 190 just east of Panamint Springs within Death Valley National Park, as shown in the Death Valley map. There are standing proposals to connect California 178 near Trona with the eastern section of California 178, but that seems increasingly unlikely given the fact that much of this unconstructed route lies within Death Valley National Park.

The eastern segment of California 178 emerges as a narrow, two-lane highway at what seems to be an arbitrary point, but it is actually the original Death Valley National Monument (predecessor to the expanded Death Valley National Park) boundary south of Badwater Basin (lowest spot in the continental United States) near Jubilee Pass. California 178 continues through Death Valley National Park, finally meeting California 127 a few miles north of Shoshone. California 178 merges onto California 127 for the distance into Shoshone, then turns northeast to cross into Nevada en route to Pahrump via Nevada 372.

California 178 Highway Guides

California 178 scenes
In Bakersfield, northbound Oak Street approaches its intersection with California 178/24th Street near the western terminus. Turn left to follow 24th Street west to the end of California 178 at the junction with California 58 and 99. Turn right to follow California 178 east to downtown Bakersfield. Photo taken 03/15/09.
Northbound Oak Street meets California 178/24th Street in Bakersfield. Photo taken 03/15/09.
After intersection with California 178/24th Street, northbound Buck Owens Boulevard approaches Sillect Avenue in Bakersfield. Turn left on Sillect Avenue to the on-ramp for California 99 north or turn right to see the Bakersfield Arch that spans Sillect Avenue near the Buck Owens Crystal Palace Theater and Museum. Photo taken 03/15/09.
Northbound Buck Owens Boulevard meets Sillect Avenue in Bakersfield. Turn left on Sillect Avenue to the on-ramp for California 99 north or turn right to see the Bakersfield Arch that spans Sillect Avenue near the Buck Owens Crystal Palace Theater and Museum. Photo taken 03/15/09.
One block north of the western terminus of California 178 is the Bakersfield Arch, which spans over Sillect Avenue just east of Buck Owens Boulevard. The arch is located adjacent to the Buck Owens Crystal Palace Theater and Museum on the southeast corner of Buck Ownens Boulevard and Sillect Avenue. The original Bakersfield Arch was located on old U.S. 99/Union Avenue and was destroyed in 1999. Buck Owens bought the remnants and allegedly used some of the letters from the old arch to create the new arch next to his theater. Photo taken 03/15/09.
These views looks down from Kern Canyon Road to the California 178 expressway bridge near the Borel Hydroelectric Power Generating Facility in Sequoia National Forest. Photos taken 10/07/06.
The Borel Hydroelectric Power Generating Facility is operated by Southern California Edison along the Kern River. It has transmission facilities to ensure electricity to moved to the appropriate markets. This facility is located off Old California 178 (Kern Canyon Road) southwest of Lake Isabella. Borel Road can be seen below the aqueduct (carrying water downstream in a controlled manner to maximize hydroelectric potential as well as convey water west to the fertile Central Valley). Photos taken 10/07/06.
On Old California 178 (Kern Canyon Road) is a 1951 bridge and a campground area known as Hobo. The nearby Miracle hot springs are popular for soaking. Photos taken 10/07/06.
Nearby Miracle Hot Springs are situated on the Kern River. People commonly soak in the springs, which are nice and warm when compared to the river's coldness. Photos taken 10/07/06.
The Caltrans maintenance station located at the intersection of Caliente Bodfish Road and Kern Canyon Road is still identified as the Division of Highways Bodfish Maintenance Station, owing to the former name of Caltrans. The old white sign is posted on the building, while the standard blue sign shows the facility as one belonging to Caltrans. Photos taken 10/07/06.
A 1969 mileage sign and a C Block are posted on eastbound Kern Canyon Road (Old California 178) at Caliente-Bodfish Road in the unincorporated community of Bodfish. Turn left to Bodfish or right to Havilah and Caliente as well as California 58. Photos taken 10/07/06.
Old California 178/Lake Isabella Boulevard east
This California 178 trailblazer is posted on eastbound Lake Isabella Boulevard prior to the intersection with Norris Road. Turn left here to the Norris Road interchange. Photo taken 10/07/06.
Passing through the Lake Isabella business district, eastbound Lake Isabella Boulevard approaches Kernville Road, which travels northwest to connect to California 155 north to Kernville and California 178 west to Bakersfield. Continue straight ahead to follow the business route to join California 178 east to Walker Pass. Photo taken 10/07/06.
Continuing east, old California 178/Lake Isabella Boulevard crosses an old bridge with concrete railing. This bridge crosses the Borel Canal, which carries water from Lake Isabella to the Borel hydroelectric power station southwest of Bodfish. The Borel Canal bridge was built in 1948. Photos taken 10/07/06.
The newer California 178 freeway and older Lake Isabella Boulevard run side by side briefly before the two merge together. Photo taken 10/07/06.
Lake Isabella Boulevard turns sharply north reconnect with California 178 at its eastern end. Photo taken 10/07/06.
Eastbound Lake Isabella Boulevard ends at California 178, which downgrades to an expressway at this point. Photo taken 10/07/06.
California 178 Scenes: Trona-Wildrose Road East
Even though the state route ended at the Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark cutoff, Trona-Wildrose Road continues northeast to enter the town of Trona. Trona, used for the production of glass and baking soda, is mined from the dry bed of Searles Lake. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Northbound Trona-Wildrose Road view of the Panamint Valley. This marks the end of Trona-Wildrose Road and the beginning of Panamint Valley Road. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Panamint Valley Road east
Northbound Panamint Valley Road approaching Death Valley National Park. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Northbound Panamint Valley Road entering Death Valley National Park. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Northbound Panamint Valley Road at Wildrose Road split. Wildrose Road leads northeast into Death Valley National Park via Wildrose, while Panamint Valley Road continues north to meet California 190 near Panamint Springs. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Death Valley National Park: Badwater Road
The major attraction along Badwater Road is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the continental United States at an elevation of -282 feet. The actual lowest point is not signed, but this sign at the parking area shows that the surrounding area is at -280 feet. To get to the lowest point, from the north, take Badwater Road south from California 190 at the Death Valley Gateway. From the west, follow California 178 west into the park; after the state route ends, follow the paved road until reaching Badwater Basin. Photo taken 01/19/02.
View of the parking area at Badwater Basin as seen from the trail leading to the lowest point. Note the tiny white marking on the rocks on the cliff. That white mark shows where Sea Level would be, 280 feet above the vantage point of the floor of Death Valley. Photo taken 01/19/02.
The ground at Badwater Basin (el. -282 feet) is extremely salty, and it creates a unique crust that almost looks crystalline. This is due to the evaporation of water that makes it this far into the Death Valley basin, leaving behind the salts leached from the desert earth. The ground also gives the impression of a wintery landscape, but even in January, the weather is balmy and pleasant. It was much colder at higher elevations, including Dante's View. Photo taken 01/19/02.
This pool of water is located near the lowest point in the continental United States. The Amargosa River drains into this low point, leaving behind pools like this one. Photo taken 01/19/02.
The evening sun highlights the cliffs towering over northbound Badwater Road at a point between Badwater Basin and Ashford Junction. Photo taken 01/19/02.
Northbound Badwater Road reaches Mormon Point, elevation sea level. Photo taken 01/19/02.

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Page Updated October 23, 2009.

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