California can get hot. Really hot. 134 degrees hot. So it only makes sense that such a notable number comes with a reasonably spectacular thermometer to measure it. Maybe one that measures 134 feet tall. And maybe you could put it in Baker, California, a place where everyone is desperate for an excuse to stop driving for a while and gawk at some kind of tourist attraction.
I really don’t need to give you directions to the World’s Tallest Thermometer. It’s the tallest thing in Baker, California, and you’ll spot it several miles away. It’s on Baker Boulevard, the I-15 business route and the main road through town. Just look for it. You’ll find it.
It seemed like a shame to visit the World’s Tallest Thermometer on a day when any old thermometer would do. It was only 73 degrees when I stopped by, on my way from Death Valley to Mojave and Joshua Tree.
The World’s Tallest Thermometer lights up in ten-degree increments, with the top number showing the current temperature. There was plenty of room to go between 73 degrees and 134 – the highest temperature ever recorded, up the road in Death Valley. As for Baker itself, the town has only seen temperatures of 124 degrees.
After you’ve looked at the thermometer from all three sides, and appreciated an iron skillet that promises to cook an egg on warmer days, head into the gift shop. It’s well-stocked with all the tacky merchandise you’d expect from such an operation. And while supplies last, you can buy an original light bulb from the giant sign. The old, expensive bulbs were removed and replaced, after the thermometer went dark for a while (between 2012 and 2014). The previous owner said he was paying a power bill of $8,000 a month, so he shut it down – and then the family of the thermometer’s creator purchased it, and restored it.
While purchasing a souvenir thermometer from the gift shop, I asked the clerk about attractions in Mojave National Preserve, which begins just south of Baker. She recommended that I check out the Lava Tube, which is where I headed next.
The Bottom Line
If you can’t resist a good tourist trap, check out the World’s Tallest Thermometer. You probably need a break from driving on I-15 or California 127 anyhow.
Here’s a look at the time-lapse video of the drive from Death Valley Junction to Baker, California: