It’s one of the state’s most exclusive parks, and it’s located about 10 miles east of Tehachapi.
Tomo-Khani State Historic Park was a village of the Kawaiisu people for more than 2,000 years. Accessible only by guided tour on the weekends in the spring and fall months, Tomo-Khani maintains the pristine nature of the site, which includes an ancient village and pictographs at several points along the hike.
Tomo-Khani translates to “winter home,” and the area’s relatively moderate weather served as a place of refuge for the peaceful Kawaiisu people during the coldest time of the year.
Noted for their intricate and colorful woven basket designs, the Kawaiisu were hunter-gatherers who roamed the mountains and valleys around the village in search of food. During the winter, women would prepare food and work on the baskets, while men would craft arrows and knives from nearby materials.
The Kawaiisu would build domed willow structures for their homes, which were encircled in stones for reinforcement. Those stones are still present thousands of years later, the remnants of the site’s original inhabitants.
Founded in 1993 after efforts by local preservationists to save the site for future generations, Tomo-Khani sits on top of a ridge in the Tehachapi Mountains and overlooks Sand Canyon to the east and Tehachapi Valley to the west.
The archeological and environmental sensitivity of the area means only those who are taken by a guide may visit the park. Trained state park volunteers lead the hikes, which is a three-mile round trip.
The hike is described as moderately strenuous and is not recommended for children under six years old, or those with health or walking limitations. Hikers meet in the morning at Tehachapi Museum before taking the approximately 12-mile drive into the park. The entire experience typically takes around four to five hours.
Tours, which are capped at 15 people, fill quickly. Park officials recommend advance registration. Call the Tehachapi District office at 661-946-6092 for more information. Hikers are asked to bring water, good walking shoes and sun protection and should dress in layers. Food for a snack break is also recommended.
Tours cost $5 for adults and $3 for children.