Providence Mountains State Recreation Area

Phone Number

(760) 928-2586

Park Hours

Open: September - June, 8 am to 5 pm, Friday-Sunday and Holiday Mondays.

Closed: July & August, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Dogs Allowed?

Dogs allowed only in the historic grounds, parking lot, and picnic area of the park. Dogs not allowed inside Mitchell Caverns, the visitor center, or on trails. Dogs can not be left unattended in vehicles or other areas of the park.

Driving Directions to Providence Mountains SRA

The recreation area is located in the eastern Mojave Desert, 56 miles from Needles on Interstate 40, 116 miles east of Barstow, and 16 miles northwest of I-40 near Essex Road. Located at an elevation of 4,300 feet, the park is surrounded by one of the newest National Parks, Mojave National Preserve.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

Hiking Trails
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Vista Point
Nature & Wildlife Viewing


Tour reservations for Mitchell Caverns will be taken online via only starting on April 25, 2023 for May 2023 tours.

Use California State Parks - Tours ( and use "Providence Mountains SRA" in Place category, and use only a day when the park is open for Choose Date category. 

This will initially only be for the month of May 2023 as we iron out kinks - then we will expand into 6 month rolling window.

As alternative to the website above, call Reserve California at 1-800-444-7275.

Reservations for Mitchell Caverns tours now online!













Campground Opens January 2023!

Providence Mountains is excited to announce that the campground will be opening January 6th, 2023.  Providence Mountains SRA has five developed campsites that will be available Friday and Saturday nights starting January 6, 2023.  Camping will be by reservation only.  Visit to make campsite reservations now.  

Campground Rules:

Check in time is 2pm, check out time is 12pm

Maximum 2 vehicles and 8 people per campsite

Quiet time is 10pm-6am, generators off 8pm-8am

The front gate will close at 8pm.  If you expect to arrive after 8pm, call the park office for the gate combination.

There is no trash service at the park.  Pack it in and pack it out.

Water is scarce at the park.  Bring your own water for drinking, washing, and cooking.

Cost:  Campsite - $20/night, extra vehicle $10/night

Park Information and Reservations

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy one of the most iconic and time capsule parks in California. This unique and remote travel destination offers a frontier experience of timeless landscapes and breathtaking views. The park is also home to the beautiful Mitchell Caverns, a diverse habitat full of limestone cave formations and unique wildlife - everything from bats to tiny pseudoscorpions and more.

We invite you to visit this iconic state recreation area. There are a number of day-use activities available for the public including tours of Mitchell Caverns and park trails. Also, Providence Mountains State Recreation Area is located within the Mojave National Preserve. Visitors can visit Providence Mountains early in the morning and explore the other wonderful sites within the Mojave National Preserve including camping under the stars. 

Mitchell Caverns Tour Reservations

Reservations are recommended for tours of Mitchell Caverns

  • Tour reservations for Mitchell Caverns, will be taken online via only starting on April 25, 2023.
  • Tour Details: The tour involves a 1.5 mile strenuous roundtrip hike to/from Mitchell Caverns and a 2 hour guided tour of the cave.
  • Costs:
    • Individuals: $20 per adult   I  $10 per child (16 and below)   I   $19 per senior 
    • Payment options: Credit card online, card or cash in-park.
  • Available Tours:
    • October-May: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Fridays through Sundays (and Holiday Mondays).
    • June & September: 10 a.m. Fridays through Sundays (and Holiday Mondays).
    • Park is closed July & August, as well as Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
  • Arrival Instructions:
    • Make sure to arrive early. Give yourself plenty of time to journey to the park as road conditions are primitive and subject to delays.
    • Reservation holders should arrive and check in for their tours at 30 minutes before they are scheduled to depart.  

Cavern Image

About the Caverns

  • Jack and Ida Mitchell ran a resort from 1934 through 1954. Activities included tours of the Mitchell Caverns.
  • In 1972, the caverns and the reserve became part of Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.
  • The caverns include two main caves named El Pakiva (The Devil’s House) and Tecopa (after a Shoshonean chieftain).
  • Rimstone dams formed around edges of ancient pools of water.
  • Curious formations of helictites are seen throughout the caves, which take random gravity-defying shapes wander in various directions.
  • Spectacular and intricate limestone formations found include stalagmites, stalactites, helictites, lily pads, draperies, curtains and cave coral.
  • The trail to the caverns is available to those not taking tours.
  • The most popular months to visit are October through November and February through April.
  • Temperatures inside the caverns vary slightly from chamber to chamber but generally range in the 60s.
  • The location and the natural state of the caverns do not allow for trails to be ADA accessible. Also, the cavern formations create areas as low as 62 inches and as narrow as 14 inches. For those that cannot make the hike, a video tour of the caverns is available for visitors to watch at the visitor center.
  • If you are planning to enter the caverns, please be make sure that shoes, clothing or gear have not been in contact with the White Nose Syndrome (WNS) that affects bats. It is important not to bring clothing or gear that was previously used in a WNS-affected site. WNS is a fungal disease killing bats in North America. For more information about the WNS, visit the National Park Service website.


Three trails are available to the public at Providence - the Cave Trail, Mary Beal Nature Trail and Niña Mora Trail.

    amber but generally range in the 60s.%3 Caverns and was cut into the side of the mountain and provides incredible views of the surrounding area.
  • Mary Beal Nature Trail located near the park's visitor center, is a self-guided half-mile moderate walk through a diverse array of desert plants. 
  • Niña Mora Trail is named for the child of a Mexican silver miner who worked here in the early 1900s. The half-mile moderate trail passes near the child’s grave marker.

 Viewing of Wildlife and Vegetation

Wildflower Image

Providence Mountains is home to a variety of wildlife and vegetation. They are integral parts of the ecosystem and natural community. As such, they are protected by federal, state and park laws.

Help us keep this outdoor setting natural by:

  • Staying on designated trails.
    • Vegetation that you may encounter includes pinon pines, junipers, wildflowers (during the spring), Mojave and banana yucca, cholla, and barrel cactus. Be aware most of these plants protect themselves with thorns or spines.
  • Viewing animals from a respectful distance. Never feed or touch wildlife. Do not approach or attempt to move sick or injured animals. Please report encounters with aggressive, sick or injured animals to a park ranger.
    • Wildlife living at Providence includes bighorn sheep, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, squirrels and rabbits.
  • This area is home to rattlesnakes. While not aggressive, they are venomous. If you encounter a rattlesnake, leave it be and maintain a safe distance.

Native People History

The Chemehuevi people, a branch of the Southern Paiute, have lived in the Mojave Desert for thousands of years. Among the local resources used for foods were pinon pine nuts, agave hearts, yucca, and even chuckwallas.

For more information on the Chemehuevi people, visit their websites below:

  • Chemehuevi Indian Tribe
  • Colorado River Indian Tribes
  • Twenty-nine Palms Band of Mission Indians

 Providence History/Fun Facts

  • Long Eared Bat ImageThe Chemehuevi people, a branch of the Southern Paiute, lived in Providence Mountains for at least 500 years. They migrated into the area about 1,000 years ago.
  • The Providence Mountains were named by travelers who believed the abundant water sources had been “sent from Providence.”
  • Jack and Ida Mitchell ran a resort from 1934 through 1954. Activities included tours of the Mitchell Caverns.
  • The historic home of Jack and Ida Mitchell is now the visitor center at Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.
  • In 1972, the caverns and the reserve became part of Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.
  • Excavation in the Mitchell Caverns found the upper arm bone of a giant Shasta Ground Sloth that has been dated as being over 30,000 years old! 
  • In the caverns, the small amounts of groundwater overtime became saturated with dissolved calcium from the limestone parent rock and created the thin layers of calcite crystals.
  • Starting in the 1860s, prospectors arrived in the area, seeking their share of silver, lead, gold and copper.

Safety Tips

If you are planning a trip to Providence Mountains, you will need to take some extra preparation and special precautions to make sure you will be able to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Keep the following factors in mind:

  • Make sure to have plenty of water, more than you think you would need.
  • Bring food. There is none available at the park or within 25 miles.
  • Bring sunscreen and use it.
  • Cell phone coverage is spotty or nonexistent. Bring a map and know your route before leaving home.
  • Dress appropriately. Bring layers of clothing. The desert can be very warm or very cold, and weather patterns can often shift within the same day.
  • Wear appropriate shoes for hiking such as close-toed shoes.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank. Nearest town with amenities is 56 miles away.
  • Know symptoms and treatment of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Watch out for snakes, scorpions, spiders and other animals. Also be aware that most desert plants have thorns or spines for defense.
  • Pack a first aid kit and become familiar with it.

DO NOT RELY ON ONLINE NAVIGATIONAL AIDS - particularly GoogleMaps. These programs are producing dramatic errors and giving bad directions. BRING A MAP AND KNOW YOUR ROUTE.

The park is located in the eastern Mojave Desert north of Interstate 40, on Essex Road, exit 100. This is exit is 56 miles west of Needles, 100 miles east of Barstow. Follow Essex Road 16 miles northwest from the exit. Located at an elevation of 4,300 feet, the park is surrounded by the Mojave National Preserve.

Caution- be prepared to travel in the desert!  The nearest fuel station to the park is 24 miles away in Fenner.  Carry water in your vehicle in case of an unexpected situation.  Food is not available at the park, so plan ahead for meals.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended clothing
The best weather occurs in the Spring and Fall, but, because of the 4,300 foot elevation at the visitor center, temperatures usually remain moderate throughout the year.

Mitchell Caverns 3D Virtual Tour

 Although physical tours of Mitchell Caverns are limited and only available by reservation, you can still experience this extraordinary place with this virtual tour.

Protecting Our Bats

Graphic on the White Noise Syndrome Decontamination Procedures

Mitchell Caverns - White Nose Syndrone

Decontamination Procedures

If you are wearing clothing or footwear that have been in any caves, mines, or lave tubes in the last 10 years:

  • If possible please change your clothing or shoes.
  • If not ask the park staff for Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) wipes to decontaminate your clothing, shoes, and gear. 

Thank you for helping to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome. For more information , visit


Providence Mountains State Recreation Area
The Providence Mountains State Recreation Area contains the oldest rocks in the state park system and some of the most spectacular limestone caves in all of California. The caves are important to visitors for their spectacular beauty, but they also provide abundant information about the geologic and climatic history of the region.

Providence Mountains SRA
(Photograph by California State Parks)

The full Geo Gems report  |  Geological Gems of State Parks