Tehachapi Pass

Coordinates: 35°06′08″N 118°16′58″W / 35.10222°N 118.28278°W / 35.10222; -118.28278
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Tehachapi Pass
The Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm, as seen from California State Route 58
Elevation3,771 ft (1,149 m)[1]
Traversed by SR 58
Union Pacific Railroad
Future California High-Speed Rail
LocationKern County, California
RangeTehachapi Mountains / Sierra Nevada
Coordinates35°06′08″N 118°16′58″W / 35.10222°N 118.28278°W / 35.10222; -118.28278
Tehachapi Pass is located in southern California
Tehachapi Pass
Location in California
Tehachapi Pass is located in California
Tehachapi Pass
Tehachapi Pass (California)

Tehachapi Pass (Kawaiisu: Tihachipia, meaning "hard climb")[2][3] is a mountain pass crossing the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, California. Traditionally, the pass marks the northeast end of the Tehachapis and the south end of the Sierra Nevada range.

The route is a principal connector between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. The Native American Kitanemuk people used the pass as a trade route before the American settlement of the region in the 19th century. The main line of the former Southern Pacific Railroad opened though the pass in 1876;[4] the tracks are now owned by the Union Pacific Railroad and shared with BNSF Railway as the Mojave Subdivision. U.S. Route 466 was built in the 1930s, and the road is now State Route 58. The Pass is also the route of the planned California High-Speed Rail line.

The Tehachapi Mountains are also crossed by Tejon Pass at the southwest end of the range.


The precise meaning of the name Tehachapi Pass is often a source of confusion. Technically (i.e., as noted on USGS topographic maps), the name refers to the narrowest part of the canyon on the eastern approach to the summit (as at San Gorgonio Pass), where the elevation is about 3,771 feet (1,149 m).[1] The actual high point is just east of the town of Tehachapi, at an elevation (on the railroad next to Tehachapi Boulevard) of 4,031 feet (1,229 m).[1] The highway sign refers to this location as Tehachapi Summit. However, the term Tehachapi Pass is routinely used to refer to both this location and the approaches on either side.


The Tehachapi Mountains and Tehachapi Pass in 1869.

The mountain pass acts as a venturi effect to air moving between ocean and desert, increasing wind speed.[5]

The area east and south of the pass is home to the Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm, and to the west is Alta Wind Energy Center, some of California's larger wind farms.

The railroad landmark known as the Tehachapi Loop is about 18 miles (29 km) west of the summit. The pass is also a proposed route for the California High-Speed Rail line between Palmdale and Bakersfield.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "USGS 7.5 minute topographic map". USGS. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  2. ^ "Visitor Guide: What does 'Tehachapi' mean?". Tehachapi News. 2017-05-18. Archived from the original on Oct 5, 2023.
  3. ^ Mathews, Joe (2016-02-11). "Meet the Toughest Mountains in California | Connecting California". Zócalo Public Square. Archived from the original on Oct 5, 2023.
  4. ^ "Tehachapi Pass Railroad Line". American Society of Civil Engineers. Archived from the original on Sep 21, 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Why Tehachapi Pass? / Pioneers of the Wind / Hike A Mile or Two - Thousand Historical Marker". www.hmdb.org. Archived from the original on 19 October 2020.
  6. ^ Vartabedian, Ralph (29 February 2020). "Bullet train plan for Tehachapi passage would cost $18.1 billion over 82 miles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 22 October 2020.