Zzyzx, California

Coordinates: 35°08′34″N 116°06′17″W / 35.14278°N 116.10472°W / 35.14278; -116.10472
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Zzyzx, California
Zzyzx, showing Lake Tuendae (left) and the Desert Studies Center
Zzyzx, showing Lake Tuendae (left) and the Desert Studies Center
Zzyzx is located in California
Location of Zzyzx in California
Zzyzx is located in the United States
Zzyzx (the United States)
Coordinates: 35°08′34″N 116°06′17″W / 35.14278°N 116.10472°W / 35.14278; -116.10472
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino
Elevation290 m (951 ft)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area codes442/760
GNIS feature ID1662336[1]

Zzyzx (/ˈzzɪks/ ZY-ziks), formerly Soda Springs, is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, California, United States, within the boundaries of the Mojave National Preserve, managed by the National Park Service (NPS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Interior, as public land. It is the former site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa[2] and now the site of the Desert Studies Center. The site is also the location of Lake Tuendae, originally part of the spa, and now a refuge habitat of the endangered Mohave tui chub.

Interstate 15 exit sign for Zzyzx Road

Zzyzx Road is a 4.5-mile-long (7.2 km), part paved and part dirt, rural collector road in the Mojave Desert. It runs from Interstate 15 generally south to the Zzyzx settlement.

The nearest populated area is the small town of Baker, 7 miles (11 km) north on Interstate 15. Las Vegas is the nearest major city, approximately 100 miles (160 km) northeast.


Old spas at Zzyzx

Curtis Howe Springer made up the name Zzyzx and gave it to the area in 1944, claiming it to be the last word in the English language.[3][4] He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa in 1944 at the spot, which was federal land, after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) surrounding the springs. He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the hot desert. Springer also imported animals from around the country to attract more families to visit his ranch. He used Zzyzx until 1974, when the land was reclaimed by the government.[5]

Desert Studies Center, 2010

In 1976, the Bureau of Land Management and the California State University agreed to cooperatively manage the land in and around Zzyzx and establish the CSU Desert Studies Center. In 1994, the United States Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act, establishing the Mojave National Preserve on the former BLM land, and further formalized the partnership between the National Park Service and the California State University Desert Studies Center.


The name appeared as "Zzyzx Springs" in Dmitri Borgmann's 1967 book Beyond Language. In 1977, Borgman noted his source as being "an old, undated map of San Bernardino County published by the Automobile Club of Southern California" and repeated his description of the settlement as being "a hydrologic feature and privately owned spa in San Bernardino County, California, about 8.5 miles south of Baker, on the western edge of Soda Dry Lake, off the abandoned right-of-way of the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad."[6] After Borgmann's book, the 1973 Hammond Ambassador World Atlas began to show the place, labeling it as "Zzyzx" without the "Springs"; the 1976 Rand-McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide followed suit.[6]

Zzyzx as a settlement, and Zzyzx Spring as a water feature, were approved as a place name by the United States Board on Geographic Names on June 14, 1984.[7] As is the case with the road, Zzyzx, California, is the USBGN's lexicographically greatest (alphabetically last, at least in Latin alphabetical order) place name.[8]

Zzyzx has frequently been noted on lists of unusual place names.[9] Zzyzx was declared the "most difficult to pronounce" place name in California by Reader's Digest.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

The plot of Michael Connelly's 2004 Harry Bosch novel The Narrows revolves around a crime committed in Zzyzx.[11] The novel was recreated in Season 2, Episode 2 of Bosch Legacy.

The community was featured by Huell Howser in California's Golden Parks Episode 160.[12]

The 2006 films Zzyzx and Zyzzyx Road both involve characters taking advantage of the unpopulated desert area.

The American rock band Stone Sour references the community's 4.5-mile-long road in their 2007 song of the same name on their album Come What(ever) May.

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary and Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison, the final two novels in the Fablehaven fantasy book series for children by Brandon Mull, feature a demon prison named Zzyzx.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Zzyzx, California
  2. ^ Bishop, Greg; Oesterle, Joe; Marinucci, Mike & Moran, Mark (2006). "A Utopia Spelled Z, Z, Y, Z, X". Weird California. Sterling Publishing Company. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-4027-3384-0.
  3. ^ PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish 1618426583 Pete Mason - 2009 PA: What's up with ZZYZX Rd. on the way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? ZZYZX: In 1944 Curtis Howe Springer decided to just claim some land in the desert to create a health spa. He called it Zzyzx so he could have the last word in the ..."
  4. ^ Rhymes or Porcupines 1476257698 Zzyzx Rd Sign, 1997. Two syllables make up this most unusual word. One of the strangest ... you've ever heard. The first part is Zi, the second is Zicks Together they form the name ... Zzyzx! Zzyzx Road leads to Tork's ... "
  5. ^ "Week of April 8, 1974". Mr Pop History. Archived from the original on October 21, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ a b Borgmann, Dmitri A. (February 1977). "At the Outer Limits". Word Ways. 10 (2). Morristown, NJ: A. Ross Eckler: 120. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  7. ^ Eckler, A. Ross (February 1996). "Zzyzx". Word Ways. 29 (1). Morristown, NJ: A. Ross Eckler: 22–24. ISSN 0043-7980. Retrieved December 12, 2015. Text also in"Zzyzx". Archived from the original on February 21, 2001. Retrieved December 12, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ Search for "Zzz" and "Zzy" at http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/ . Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  9. ^ "Welcome to Zzyzx, California -- Population: 1". KQED. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  10. ^ Cahn, Lauren. "The Most Difficult-to-Pronounce Town in Every Single State". Reader's Digest. Archived from the original on June 26, 2019. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  11. ^ "The Narrows' rich, complex". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  12. ^ "Zzyzx-California's Golden Parks (160) – Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University".

External links[edit]