Saddleback Butte SP
Narrated by Russ Christoff


About twenty miles east of Lancaster, is a desert state park that is dedicated to preserving a representative example of the native Joshua tree.

I decided to visit this outstanding park during the spring, when I’d heard that weather and temperatures are apt to be mild.

Saddleback Butte State Park encompasses close to 3,000 acres on the western edge of the great Mohave Desert.

Its broad expanse is home to some of the most picturesque desert flora in California.

Visitors can often roam the desert floor of this park for hours without seeing another human being.

If you desire peaceful desert hiking, this is the park for you.

A two mile trail to the top of Saddleback Butte provides a view of the valley below.

The butte itself, like many neighboring buttes, is a remnant inner core of a long ago larger mountain.

The sands one finds now on the desert floor are the erosional debris left over from once towering mountains.

The craggy shapes we see here today, are the results of what wide ranges of temperatures can do overtime to substances, even as tough as granite.

The wonderful specimens of Joshua trees are this park’s signature, and are found throughout the area.

A short sandy nature trail begins at the ranger’s station near the day use picnic area.

A brochure issued at this point, will tell you about the interesting plants you’ll find at various stations.

If you plan to explore, be sure to take water with you.

Where you’re going, there are no water fountains.

As you wander Saddleback Buttes desert garden, you’ll see varieties of desert flora.

Wildflowers may bloom depending on seasonal rain.

You will also notice an absence of wildlife.

During the daytime, most desert animals are either burrowing under ground or are tucked into homes they’ve conveniently made in the Joshua trees.

The experience of desert camping is unforgettable, as these high school students from northern California soon found out.

While group camping must be reserved in advance, family sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The camping at Saddleback Buttes seems primitive, but most of its 50 sites offer shade ramadas that protect campers from heat and unpredictable wind.

Flush toilets, water and a dump station are available.

If at all possible, extend your visit here into the early evening hours and keep your camera handy.

The sunsets are worth the wait.