12 Sep Blue Sky Center, New Cuyama California
If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you’ve likely gathered I have a mild obsession with California. I visit every chance I get, and each trip I try to spend time in a different part of the state so I can slowly check things off my bucket list. One spot that really stood out to me this time was the Blue Sky Center, located in the high desert between the Sierra Madre and Caliente mountain ranges in the teeny tiny town of New Cuyama.
Blue Sky Center is many things – an accommodation, private event space, community hub, but overall a “place based nonprofit organization” that aims to breathe new life into the communities of the Cuyama Valley. Through partnerships with businesses and other local organizations, Blue Sky’s mission is to revitalize New Cuyama and its surrounding areas through creative place-making, entrepreneurship and tourism.
The grassroots model of Blue Sky Center was evident when we arrived. With no formal check-in process, the campsites rely on an honour system; show up, park your vehicle and set up camp within the designated area, pay ahead of time (we booked through HipCamp). A cantina near the cabana area provided a space to prep meals and eat, with clear instructions on how to dispose of waste outlined via signage. A variety of cookware was supplied, a “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” mentality made evident through the stack of freshly cleaned glassware on the counter with no staff in sight.
In AirBNB fashion, a welcome book in the cantina gave direction on where to adventure, eat and grocery shop in the area, as well as a detailed section about the center. Other common areas include a fire pit, harvest tables and a larger gathering space outside the main building.
Although we had rented a camper van to sleep/travel in, the Shelton Huts were unlocked and we proceeded to partake in some self-guided exploring. Each tiny home was designed with only the necessities. A place to rest your head after a long day, with bedding and cozy Mexican-style wool blankets. A window that opened to let in the evening breeze. Some huts had a front “patio” with chairs, a perfect place to watch the sun rise or set, coffee or wine in hand. Shower facilities were located in the main check-in building, which also housed staff offices and meeting rooms.
After speaking with one of the co-founders, I later learned that the rest of the once abandoned buildings were home to local businesses, like a screen printing company and vintage car restorer. This is one of the core pillars of the organization’s mission; pioneering an economic development movement in the area in addition to supporting independent ventures in other ways. The center also hosts community driven events, workshops and gatherings that focus on sustainability, rural development, farm to table eating, art and more.[/vc_column_text]
With little cell service and minimal traffic nearby, Blue Sky Center is the ultimate retreat if you’re in need of a place to zone out, connect with nature, or yourself. With nearly zero light pollution, star gazing can easily be on the nightly agenda – if you can snag one of the two hammocks on site, you’ve got the best seat in the house. The stunning desert backdrop creates the perfect environment to foster creativity and spark imagination, making the spot ideal for artists or anyone looking to work without distraction.
Because of the location, nightly prices are extremely reasonable in comparison to similar accommodations in more populated areas of California. Shelton Huts are priced at $100 USD per night, and campsites are $25 USD, making the trip to New Cuyama extremely affordable. If you’re looking for total zen on a shoestring budget, this place is it.