Day-use area is available sunrise to sunset.
Saddleback Butte State Park
Experience the Beauty of the Desert
Saddleback Butte, elevation 3,651 feet, is a granite mountaintop that towers some thousand feet above the broad alluvial bottom land of the Antelope Valley about fifteen miles east of Lancaster, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. The state park surrounding Saddleback Butte was created in 1960 to protect the butte (one of many similar land features in the Antelope Valley) and examples of native Joshua Tree woodlands and other plants and animals that were once common throughout this high desert area.
The best time to visit is in the springtime (February through May) when wildflowers are apt to put on a beautiful display of color. Autumn (October and November) is pleasant as well, although temperatures may vary widely and change rather suddenly. Summer temperatures average 95º F and occasionally range as high as 115º F, but evenings are peaceful with warm breezes and clear skies. Average minimum temperature during the winter is 33º F (frost and sub-freezing temperatures are common, with occasional snow).
For wildflower bloom and current event updates, follow us at www.Facebook.com/SaddlebackButte.
The Little Butte Trail is about 2.5 miles to the peak and can be picked up from below the day-use area, or take the 2-mile Saddleback Butte Peak Trail from the trailhead parking area in the campground. The trails begin on a mild slope through moderately loose sand among creosote bushes and Joshua trees to the base of the butte where they merge. It then becomes a challenging climb up sand and rock, but the finale is worth every step. At the top, enjoy a breathtaking 360º view over the Antelope Valley and east across the Mojave desert. For a nice moderate 3-mile loop, go up one trail to where they merge, come back down on the other, then return on the park's gravel road to the trailhead where you started. See the "Equestrian" section for additional trail information. Day-use vehicle entrance fee applies.
Dogs are not allowed on trails in California State Parks (with the exception of service dogs), to minimize impact on the wildlife that the park was created for. Dogs are allowed in the picnic area and campground, and may be walked on the 2/3 mile park road in between, on a 6-foot leash. See Visiting Parks with your Dog for more information.
The short self-guided Dic Dowen Nature Trail is located at the Visitor Center in the day-use area, with information on the natural history of the park and area.
The day-use picnic area, located near the East Avenue J and 170th Street East park entrance, has 12 picnic sites with a table and barbecue grill under a shade ramada.
The park office and visitor center is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring displays and hands-on exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area.
The family campground is first-come, first-served and offers 37 sites with tables, BBQ grills, fire rings, and shade ramadas. Potable water spigots and full restrooms with a flush toilet and sink are located throughout the campground (no showers). Eight people maximum per campsite. There is a 30-foot max for campers/RVs. Use of the RV dump station is free for paid campers, or a $6 fee for non-campers.
Campfires are permitted within designated fire rings. DO NOT collect firewood from the park- it is illegal, and dead vegetation provides critical habitat for the desert wildlife. Firewood may be purchased from the camp host for $5 (proceeds go to our non-profit support association). Firewood bundles are also available at the Saddleback Market, 4 miles south of the park.
The Joshua Group Camp holds a maximum of 30 people and 12 vehicles; contact the Tehachapi District Office at (661) 724-1206 or by email to make a reservation. Group camp site is $100 per night; cash or check only.
A 4.5 mile horse trail skirts the lower north and west base of the butte. The trail is outlined by rock and a fence; horses must be kept within the designated trail and staging area. The staging area for horse trail use is located at 200th Street East and Avenue J-8, and has easy pull-through access for large vehicles, a picnic table, and toilet. For vehicle entry, call (661) 724-1206 for the lock combination. Horses may also enter via a walk-over gate into the staging area.
The trail leads to an equestrian rest area at the south-west corner of the park, with picnic tables, a water trough, and another horse walk-over gate to exit the park. Horse camping is not available. Group events are welcome, scheduled in advance. Equestrian use fee is $3 per horse.
Saddleback Butte State Park is home to many once-abundant desert species that are slowly declining due to hunting, agriculture, and increased population; such as coyotes and kit foxes, desert tortoises, jack rabbits, cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, many kinds of snakes and lizards, and the occasional badger or skunk. Be cautious of the sidewinder and Mojave Green rattlesnakes (the deadliest of the rattlers), which come out in the warm weather. Wildlife may be seen by those park visitors that have curiosity and patience to learn the quiet, unhurried ways of the desert habitat. If seen, however, please do not disturb them as this park is designated to preserve their home.
Bird life includes many migratory species, and a few permanent residents- golden eagles, hawks, ravens, and owls, and some smaller birds such as rock and cactus wrens, thrashers, blackbirds, horned larks, ladderbacked woodpeckers, sparrows, finches, and loggerhead shrikes.
The park is 17 miles east of Lancaster on 170th Street East, between East Avenue J and East Avenue K.
From Highway 14, take the Avenue K exit and go east to 170th street East. Turn left, and the campground entrance is shortly on the right; the day-use area is 1 mile further down at Avenue J.
From Highway 15, take Highway 138 west, and turn right on 165th Street East. It curves around and becomes 170th, continue on 170th to East Avenue K and J.
Available Activities and Facilities at Saddleback Butte State Park
RV Dump Station
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Restrooms / Showers
Drinking Water Available