When Elmer Long was a young boy he used to accompany his father on a search of the wastelands and abandoned settlements in the Mojave desert, looking for objects of historical interest and gathering up anything that may be put to further use, including a large collection of colored glass bottles.
Many years later, after inheriting his father’s collection, artist Elmer Long decided to create “bottle trees” by welding “branches” onto an iron rod, and it wasn’t long before he had a small forest! He’s built every single tree by hand and collected each of the bottles used.
Bottle Tree Ranch in Helendale, California, comprises of an eclectic mix of “bottle trees”, old road signs, retro toys, broken rifles and other assorted odds ’n’ ends all coming together to produce a very quirky experience. A visit to Bottle Tree Ranch is about more than just the beautiful art installations and the melodic sounds created by the wind blowing through the bottles, because if you’re really lucky you’ll get to meet Elmer himself – a charming man who is often found talking to visitors about his creation.
The site is open from dawn until dusk, and donations are welcomed but not essential for entry (although highly recommended). Feel free stretch your legs and take photos of the over 200 “trees” – t’s very hard to take a poor photograph in such an inspiring location!