Big City Ranchers Come to High Desert Terrain

A former San Diego entrepreneur turns his Rimrock Ranch in Pioneertown into a part-time event venue

Maria Zang Attractions, Watch & Listen - Real Estate


VIDEO: Jim Austin introduces you to his Rimrock Ranch home that serves as a place to work and play.



To spend a day with Rimrock Ranch owner Jim Austin (pictured at left wit his standup bass) means you will be:

• delightfully entertained with foot-stomping music;

• loaded up with an assortment of stories;

• and showered with a string of priceless quotes.

Not to mention, a spectacular 180-degree view of the rugged high desert terrain from Austin’s ranch tower.

All this, plus a private glimpse into the inner workings of an extremely interesting, and most creative artist and musician.

The former beachwear designer and entrepreneur from San Diego was looking to establish new roots, and set up shop in a place that provided a wide open canvas.

He wanted a place that:

• captured a sense of escape;

• offered a repurposed urban industrial design-style;

• blended well with the natural high desert environment,

• and lent itself to indoor and outdoor gatherings.

It looks like Austin found just that, and them some, with his historic Rimrock Ranch in Pioneertown. In fact, according to Austin, he’s found his own version of Mayberry, but in the high desert.

Growing up in the rural setting of Jamul, an inland community southeast of San Diego, Austin was inspired by its open spaces and the level of freedom. He considers himself fortunate to have rediscovered a similar rural setting  in the high desert, more specifically in the Rimrock community located approximately five miles north of Pioneertown.


This entryway to Rimrock Ranch has greeted many welcomed guests to private events and wedding ceremonies, to overnight and weekend stays.


It’s no wonder, as he puts it, “I choose cowboys over hippies,” when it came time to choosing his next artistic pursuit and home. Austin discovered the ranch 12 years ago by chance when he and his bandmates from the Golden Hill Ramblers were hired to play at a nearby party. After years of searching for the right place and like-minded people, Austin knew instantly that he had found, “His people, his place, and his groove.”

He took a leap of faith, and purchased the historic 1947 ranch that formerly housed movie stars from Pioneertown’s old western movie set. With help from his old surfing buddy, Lloyd Russell, (at the time a budding young architect), Austin communicated his vision of a shaded structure that would provide passive heating and cooling for the home. He wanted a space that was part house, part rental, and part performance venue.


This throughly modern steel-framed structure, designed by architect Lloyd Russell, is a perfect infusion of urban industrial design with rugged high desert terrain.


A home composed of two units that could be combined into one large home, with a roll-up garage door that opened up to a stage, where he and his band could play and entertain guests.

Originally, Austin wanted to have afternoon house concerts at the ranch. However, after his good friend, Tim Eastman (an American artist), held his wedding at the ranch, the house concert venue took a back seat to the ranch’s increasing popularity for tying the knot. Four months out of the year, in addition to its regular weekend and vacation rental schedule, the ranch hosts weddings and events.


Flanked by two Joshua Trees and the open high desert landscape, this love circle has been the setting for wedding ceremonies at the ranch.


Mastering the art of living is at the forefront of what transpires at the ranch, from repurposing old materials to produce new creations, to playing music, to taking in the natural beauty, to sharing stories by a campfire – it’s all organically produced and carefully maintained.

To reserve an event or inquire about rental accommodations at the ranch visit or call, 760-369-3012.


This vintage Ford truck rests at the entryway of the ranch. One of many collectible vintage finds you will discover at the ranch.


This repurposed shack provides the perfect retreat from daily ranch activity. Just sit back, crack open a cold brew, and take in the natural beauty.


Yes, the Labor of Love Shack has it own solar powered hot tub. Made from a feed trough with water circulating through a solar panel during the day and at night a wood fire. The fire pit below provides heat.


Old Railway Ties from an old skate ramp Jim Austin once owned in Encinitas line the back of the Labor of Love Shack.


Guests can stay in these original 1940’s western cabins — remnants from the days the ranch would house movie actors from Pioneertown’s western movie set.


Antique glass jars line the walls of the Labor of Love Shack, allowing in natural light and providing creative wall decor.


Something found, something salvaged, and something almost new are the creative building blocks for everything found on the ranch. Like these old doors lined together to provide added privacy to the hot tub area.


A vintage 1952 jukebox.