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By Mel White-Mel Makaw
contributing writer 

A day of CALM

Day Trippin' with Mel


July 9, 2022

Mel White/Mel Makaw

In the climate-controlled reptile cave are many snakes and lizards in individual, localized settings.

In spite of the heat the day I was there, I was, as usual, enthralled with seeing the various animals, which ranged from reptiles and desert tortoises to raptors, a variety of birds and all sorts of mammals (the coastal room was closed for the day). The good news is, besides the animals there are hundreds of native trees and bushes, identified with placards for education purposes, that make for plenty of shade. Walking on the mildly hilly paved paths is easy and all-accessible, and there are numerous benches around to take a little sit-down. Drinking fountains are available; you can also purchase cold drinks, or just remember to bring your own!

Also in spite of the heat of the day, the place was full of other people, but thanks to the size of CALM and the way it's laid out, it never felt crowded. Many family groups were there, plus some sort of youth training camp and counselors, plus a school bus full of youngsters and their adult chaperones.

In addition to the native flora and fauna, CALM offers a nice gift shop, clean bathrooms and a large covered picnic area. Some days a small scale train runs, taking visitors on a ride around the grounds. Also on the grounds are a wedding venue and a children's play area; group rates are available with reservations – it's a great place to plan a special birthday party or reunion or office team-building day.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But for those who don't want to be there in the heat of the day, CALM offers twilight hours this summer: Saturdays through August 27 the place is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Note: in addition to you being more comfortable in the evening hours, the animals are apt to be a little more comfortable and active then too!

By the way, if you love this sort of place, volunteers are always needed in several areas on the campus, including working with the animals (training is provided). You can also adopt an animal, which makes a great gift for the animal lover in your life.

Admission to CALM is $10 for adults ($7 for seniors); $6 for children 3-12 (under 3 is free); and free for active U.S. military and veterans. If you have a museum membership, like I do, admission to CALM and many other local venues is free.

Mel White/Mel Makaw

Staff weighs the animals monthly; here they are weighing a desert tortoise to make sure he is healthy and getting enough food.

If you go, take the 58 towards Bakersfield, then take the Comanche exit and turn north (right). At the stoplight at the 178, Comanche becomes Alfred Harrell Highway – CALM is at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway (between Lake Ming and Hart Park).

The heat when I was there didn't really diminish my enjoyment of strolling around CALM and sitting to rest periodically by the running stream, but I will admit I was glad to get back up hill to Tehachapi and a little cooler temp that day. But that's kinda true of most day-trips (or longer ones), isn't it? – It's always fun to go somewhere different but then it's always nice to get back home too!

© 2022 Mel White/Mel Makaw. Mel White, local writer, photographer and avid day-tripper, welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions at


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