Inyokern (formerly, Siding 16 and Magnolia) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Kern County, California, United States. Inyokern is located 8 miles (13 km) west of Ridgecrest, at an elevation of 2434 feet (742 m). Located in the Indian Wells Valley. The population was 984 at the 2000 census. It was a railroad town established along the Southern Pacific railroad Lone Pine Branch (now removed). It is served by Inyokern Airport.
Inyokern is located at It lies in Indian Wells Valley, with the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada rising to the west..
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 11.1 square miles (28.7 km²), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 984 people, 418 households, and 270 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 88.9 people per square mile (34.3/km²). There were 519 housing units at an average density of 46.9/sq mi (18.1/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 87.70% White, 0.41% Black or African American, 4.88% Native American, 2.24% Asian, 1.02% from other races, and 3.76% from two or more races. 6.50% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 418 households out of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.9% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 30.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 104.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.7 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $35,046, and the median income for a family was $41,500. Males had a median income of $50,938 versus $33,889 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $21,707. About 10.5% of families and 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.6% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.
The meteorology in Inyokern, California is predominantly influenced by its high desert location. The climate is characterized by hot days and cool nights with extremely arid conditions prevailing throughout the summer months. The mean annual temperature for the Inyokern area is 70F degrees. There are wide annual temperature fluctuations that occur from a high of 118F degrees to a low of 8F degrees.
January is the coolest month with an average maximum temperature of 47°F and an average minimum temperature of 22°F. The all-time minimum temperature of -12°F was recorded on December 23, 1972, and January 7, 1973. Inyokern is a desert, with an average of less than 5 in "equivalent rainfall" per year, which includes less than 2 in of snow.
July is the hottest month with an average maximum temperature of 108°F and an average minimum temperature of 80°F. The all-time maximum temperature of 118°F was recorded on July 31, 1985,
Inyokern was founded in the mid 19th century as a small agrarian community located in the northernmost corner of the Mojave Desert. It expanded during construction of the Owens Valley aqueduct. The first post office opened in 1910. The Inyokern Elementary School was founded in 1913, and though the sign might make one think that the original building is still in use, the original building was demolished in the early 1970s. With the onset of World War II the Department of the Navy located its new warfare center in Inyokern. This accounts for the length of the runways and the size of the county airport in the town. The military base was subsequently moved to the east 12 miles (19 km) and the city of Ridgecrest was born as a commercial support center for that base.
Today Inyokern serves as a sparsely populated bedroom community for those workers on the military base and in the town of Ridgecrest desiring a more rural lifestyle or those who cannot afford housing in Ridgecrest.
The town infrastructure consists of two churches, a post office, market and gas station, hardware store, welding and blacksmith shop, a county park with living grass and trees, two restaurants, a motel, an autobody shop and several antique shops. In the 1990s the building which formerly housed the library was demolished and replaced by a Senior Citizen's Center. Inyokern also has a California Highway Patrol substation and a Caltrans road maintenance center. The town water and sewer system is managed by the Community Services Center. The population of the town peaked in approximately 1988 following a period of expansion on the nearby Naval base, but has dwindled since that time, and many properties were abandoned during the military downsizing of the 1990s. Until the 1990s, the main commercial block of the town along highway 178 was a somewhat picturesque street of older buildings constructed of fitted local rocks and bricks, including a vintage post office, and cafe, 3 bars, and a small Chinese restaurant. This street was sometimes used in filming Hollywood westerns. This block was bulldozed to clear land for a planned truck stop and travel plaza.