Nipton, California: Hidden Desert Gem Near Primm

Nipton is a small unincorporated community located about 15 miles southeast of Primm in San Bernardino County. It’s the California community closest to Primm. Nipton is accessible from Interstate 15 at exit 286 on the California side and then you take Highway (Hwy) 64, also known as Nipton Road, to the east for 10 miles.

Nipton is a nice, quiet small desert community with several historic sites and amenities. Visitors are greeted with a ‘Welcome to Magical Nipton’ sign when entering.

The community is welcomed stop if you’re traveling in the area. The railroad line goes just west of Nipton. To the south, is the Mojave National Preserve. To the west is the Ivanpah Dry Lake.

Nipton’s History

Nipton was established as a mining camp in the early 20th century. With its rail line, it supplied numerous mines with supplies, was a cattle-loading station for several ranges, and was a social center for the sparsely populated area.

Nipton was more bustling in the early-mid 20th century and played host to movie stars and railroad magnates. Steam engines would chug by the Mojave Desert community taking good or people north to Las Vegas or to Southern California. The community had a small hotel, bar and restaurant.

A Curios Place to Visit

Nipton is an interesting, relaxing stop on the highway. It has a general store, the Whistle Stop Cafe & Saloon, an RV park, cabins and teepees, a historic schoolhouse, art exhibits, a fireworks stand, and historic residences.

There are about 25 year-round residents in Nipton who work in nearby industries including the Ivanpah solar power plant, railroad, mining, and services. With the RV park and the available accommodations, the community doesn’t feel too lonely.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Nipton is at an elevation of 3,031 feet. This is about four hundred feet higher than Primm. The community is a twenty-minute drive from Primm or one hour from Las Vegas. The Nevada border is just 3 miles east of Nipton.

Nipton Today

Nipton Today

With health conditions effecting travel, Nipton has seen slowdowns in recent years. The Nipton Trading Post, which previously sold merchandise, food and beverages, and lotto tickets closed.

This means the nearest town from Nipton you can buy California lottery tickets is of course the Lotto Store in Primm, which actually has a Nipton address.

Or heading south, Cima, California at the Shell Gas Station, 10 miles south of Mountain Pass on I-15.

There is no gas station in Nipton. The nearest station is either back in Primm or 25 minutes to the east in Searchlight, Nevada.

In Nipton, besides Nipton Road, there are a few roads in town including Nipton Desert Road and Castle Butts Road. The Nipton Moore Road is also just west of the community.

You can access Mojave National Preserve from Nipton Road. It’s located seven miles west of Nipton off Nipton Road. Simply turn south onto Ivanpah Road and the Preserve entrance is located there.

Joshua Tree Forest

Joshua Tree Forest

If you head east from Nipton on Hwy 64, you will rise in elevation to about 4,700 feet. In this vicinity is a Joshua Tree forest. Hwy 64 in this area is also known as the Joshua Tree Highway.

From the high point on the ridge, the road descends until the Joshua Trees end at about 3,600 feet and then arrive in Searchlight.

Searchlight is a much larger town than Nipton with a population of over 300. It has gas stations, restaurants, and several small casinos and connects with Highway 95. As you continue along Highway 64 toward Searchlight, you’ll notice signs for Primm Hotels & Casinos, offering a convenient stop for travelers looking to unwind and try their luck amidst the desert landscape

Nipton for Sale

As of May 2021, the entire Nipton community was for sale. The community is about 80 acres in size and the list price was $2,750,000. And It was sold in 2022.

While that may seem steep for a near-ghost town, Nipton hopes for a brighter future and it may again rise.


What Are the Main Attractions in Nipton, California?

Whistle Stop Cafe & Saloon

Nipton’s main attractions include the historic Whistle Stop Cafe & Saloon, an RV park with cabins and teepees, a historic schoolhouse, art exhibits, and a fireworks stand. The community is also known for its proximity to the Mojave National Preserve and a nearby Joshua Tree forest.

Can I Buy Gas in Nipton?

No, there is no gas station in Nipton. The nearest gas stations are located in Primm, Nevada, or in Searchlight, Nevada, which are both about a 25-minute drive away.

Is There Lodging Available in Nipton?

Yes, Nipton offers lodging options including an RV park, cabins, and teepees, providing a unique and rustic desert experience for visitors.

How Far Is Nipton from Las Vegas?

Nipton is approximately one hour’s drive from Las Vegas, making it a feasible day trip for those visiting the city.

What Is the Elevation of Nipton, and How Does It Compare to Primm?

Nipton is at an elevation of 3,031 feet, which is about four hundred feet higher than Primm.

Final Words

Nipton, California

Nipton, California, stands as a testament to the ever-changing landscapes and histories of small desert communities. From its early days as a bustling mining camp to its current status as a tranquil, almost ethereal stop in the vast Mojave, Nipton offers a unique blend of history, serenity, and natural beauty.

Whether you’re passing through on a road trip, exploring the nearby Joshua Tree forest, or seeking a quiet retreat in the desert, Nipton welcomes you with its quaint charm and a promise of peaceful simplicity. This small community, with its rich past and hopeful future, is more than just a dot on the map—it’s a hidden gem in the desert, inviting travelers to pause, reflect, and appreciate the quieter side of life.