5 Acres Mojave’s idyllic desert landscape and epic views have lured in a creative community who are looking to bring their artistic visions outside. Only an hour from Los Angeles, weekend (and weeknight!) getaways to the desert have never been easier. Francois Pied is a firm believer that what makes the property special is the opportunity for others to make it their own. He invites campers to host their own small events, enjoy a drink at the tiki bar, play games with friends, and even build something new.
From glampsites to indigenous lands, wineries to working farms, Francois is part of an emerging community of landowners and camp hosts who have generously opened their land to the next generation of campers. Dive in to learn more about 5 Acres Mojave, upcoming events at his property, and a peek at his camp in our interview below.
Hipcamp: Why did you join Hipcamp, and allow campers to stay on your land?
Francois Pied: The name 5 Acres is super simple, it’s five acres of land and that’s it. It explains how much space you can have to do the stuff that you love. I used to live in places where I would have a backyard, but living in LA I don’t have a backyard anymore. I think there’s people that just like this idea of finding their old memories of playing and building when they were kids and playing in this big space that’s like a backyard.
I was inspired by the Hipcamp community as a source for bringing new creative minds out to the Mojave. I wanted to offer more people the chance to experience everything this land has to offer in an undiscovered location. One intention of 5 Acres Mojave is to get people involved in the creation of the space. For example, the idea to build the 5 Acres sign came from someone who visited the land. I’m excited to get more people out here, get inspired by their visions, and see what else we can make. 5 Acres is also the perfect backdrop for someone looking to host an event in a unique location.
HC: What kind of activities can campers participate in at 5 Acres Mojave?
FP: Have you ever played golf in the desert? A golf pitch was just one of the things people have contributed. We also built a tiki bar which is perfect for drinks in front of the desert sunset, whether it’s for something like a wine tasting or a party with your friends. We once did a movie screening night with a projector, and had a friend bring a DJ set, so anything is possible with a little planning ahead. If you want to be more active there are options for moderate hiking and trails for your ATV or dirt bike. Of course there are also camping classics like stargazing and gathering around the fire pit for s’mores.
HC: I read in your listing that you purchased this land through crowdfunding. How did you find this piece of land?
FP: It took months of researching to find a piece of land that would offer the feeling of isolation without too far of a drive. I was inspired to search in this area after discovering its ties to some famous movies like Kill Bill and saw the potential for it to bring other projects to life. I heard that a local school was selling a piece of land in the area. It was just a pin in the map, but after driving up in my SUV and seeing the views I knew it was the right place.
Top photo by Emily Thomas
HC: Why crowdfunding?
FP: I love building things, but even more so when I’m doing it with friends. Living in LA, I saw the desert as another take on a backyard, with plenty of space to build and have fun. There was an obvious opportunity to bring these things together, and crowdfunding was a way to get people invested and involved from the start.
HC: What inspired you to build a creative venue in the desert?
FP: I’m originally from France, and my vision of California had a lot more space in mind than the reality of LA. I would take a lot of weekend road trips to nearby desert towns, and was inspired on one of these to build a mini skate ramp in the middle of nowhere. The idea really just grew from there. There is something about the desert background to annunciate whatever you build in it. Whatever you build in the desert stands out, so in my eyes it’s the perfect venue for art and creativity.
HC: What kind of events do you eventually want to host here? How can campers stay in the know about upcoming events?
FP: We did a opening party in October. We hosted 50 people and had three DJs playing music. We’ve screened western movies during campouts. We partnered with a graphic designer in LA and printed out her work on huge posters attached to tall wooden structures. She does super Californian, simple graphics with beautiful colors that complement the desert background.
I really want to see a whiskey tasting event happen next. I’m looking to partner with someone to make that happen. A small group of 20 people can come and taste whiskey and have a barbecue. Next month there is another person who helped crowdfund this that is organizing a small scale art show. Right now the best way to reach out about events is on the “5 Acres Mojave” Facebook page.
Top and bottom right photo by Emily Thomas
HC: Living in the city, how difficult or easy has it been traveling out here to build the structures and get the property ready for campers?
FP: The drive out here is easy, but building the sign and the bar in this heat was definitely challenging at times. Now that we have the shade built and the bar set up, it’s easier to take breaks from building. Each time I come out I try to make improvements to the existing facilities or build something new.
HC: Can you talk more about the famous movie locations and parks that are near 5 Acres Mojave?
FP: Four Aces is out here, which was the set for a bunch of movies and music videos, like Beyonce and Lady Gaga’s song Telephone. There’s a bunch of commercials shot here, too. It’s an old motel and diner and it’s just in pristine, and very old condition but it feels so authentic and original. There’s also the church from Kill Bill on a butte out here. It’s the closest desert you can find from LA, so any movie that needs a desert setting will come here.
HC: What is the best time of year to visit 5 Acres Mojave?
FP: Early May to late October. We had our opening party in late October and we were just wearing t shirts at night which was awesome. After that it can get pretty chilly in the evenings, and down to the low 50’s in the winter. But even now in March, it’s getting nice and only a little windy.
HC: As a new host what are you most excited about having recently joined Hipcamp?
FP: I can’t wait for people to check out the place and hear what they think. I want to get new ideas, to hear what people did and brought to make the space even better. When it comes to the desert there’s infinite possibilities.
Top photo by Emily Thomas
HC: Do you have anything planned for 5 Acres Mojave in 2017? Are there any changes you hope to make happen this year?
FP: Ideally, I’d like to build a cabin (or a few) that is a simple room with a big glass window so you can still enjoy the view. There’s a bunch of architects that are interested in helping with the project, so it will be fun to see what they come up with. There are also two art shows on the books, and summer is a great time to do a big event.
HC: Any questions you’d want to ask fellow hosts or campers?
FP: What are you inspired to do in this space? What would make 5 Acres even more fun? Are we missing anything crucial? Are you okay with dry toilets? Some people can be weird about dry toilets, I get it [laughing].
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Lisse Lundin is a photographer based in San Francisco. You can follow along with her adventures via Instragram.