Saddleback Butte State Park

Update (Jan. 31, 2021): With the Regional Stay at Home Order lifted, State Parks is reopening campground sites for existing reservation holders. The department will be using a phased approach to reopen other campground sites for new reservations, starting January 28. The public is advised that not all campground sites are open to the public due to the pandemic, wildfire impacts and other issues. Additionally, group campsites remain closed. Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public remain open.

As State Parks increases access to the State Park System, it is critical that Californians continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.

Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for Saddleback Butte State Park.

What is open now?
  • Day use, trails, camping and parking facilities.

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
At this park:
  • The visitor center.
Statewide:
  • Some park units and campground sites continue to be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, impacts from wildfires or other issues. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination to find out if it is open.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead
    • The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    • Learn what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
    • SNO-PARKS: Make sure your vehicle is snow ready. A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day. Illegal parking is prohibited. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day. 
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.

California State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

(661) 946-6092

Max. Trailer Lengths

Trailer: Up to 30 Feet
Camper/Motorhome: Up to 30 Feet

Park Hours

Day-use area is available 9 a.m. to sunset.

Campground is open 24 hours/day.

Dogs Allowed?

Yes
Dogs allowed only in the picnic area, campground, and park road. Dogs not allowed on trails.

Driving Directions to Saddleback Butte SP

The park is 17 miles east of Lancaster on Avenue J East.

Online reservations are not available for this park.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES
Family Campsites
Group Campsites
RV Dump Station
RV Access
TRAIL USE
Bike Trails
Hiking Trails
Horseback Riding
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Vista Point
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Family Programs
Geocaching
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Parking
Restrooms / Showers
Restrooms
Drinking Water Available

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.

Hiking

To reach the peak: take the Little Butte Trail for about 2.5 miles starting from below the day-use area, or the 2-mile Saddleback Butte Peak Trail from the trailhead parking area in the campground.  Both trails begin on a mild slope through loose sand among creosote bushes and Joshua trees to the base of the butte, where they merge.  It then becomes a challenging climb on 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, and then take the park's gravel road back to your starting point. 

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. This trail is accessible to people with disabilities, strollers, etc.

See the "Equestrian" section for additional trail information.  Day-use vehicle entrance fee applies. Please note, 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 on a 6-foot leash in the picnic area and campground, and may be walked on the 2/3-mile park road in between.  See Visiting Parks with your Dog for more information.


Day-Use Facilities

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 in September-May from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring displays and hands-on exhibits about the natural and cultural history of the area. 

Late-Night Use: The park is popular for stargazing activities and astronomical event viewing. After sunset, visitors must occupy a campsite and camping fees apply. The campsite may be used all night, but please observe park quiet hours and respect neighboring campers.

Campground Facilities

The campground is first-come, first-served with 37 sites containing a table, BBQ grill, and fire ring. Most sites have a ramada to provide shade and a wind block.  Potable water faucets and full restrooms with a flush toilet and sink are located throughout the campground.  No showers.  Eight people maximum per campsite.  

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 $6 (proceeds go to our non-profit support association). Firewood bundles are also available at the Saddleback Market, 4 miles south of the park.

RVs/Trailers: All parking slots can accomodate up to 30'. However, exact length varies by campsite and many can accommodate longer rigs.  Slots are angled for ease of backing in. Use of the RV dump station is $10 (credit card only).

Group Camp: The Joshua Group Camp accomodates 9-30 people and up to 12 vehicles. Fee is $100 per night, available by reservation only. Contact the Mojave Sector Office at (661) 946-6092 or by email to make a reservation. 

Equestrian Use

A 4.5 mile horse trail skirts along the base of the butte, from a staging area on the north side of the park to an equestrian rest area at the south-west corner of the park.  The staging area has easy pull-through access for large vehicles, a picnic table, and chemi-toilet. The rest area features picnic tables and a water trough. Riders may also enter via horse walk-over gates at both ends of the trail. 

Equestrian use fee is $3 per horse or $6 per trailer (regardless of number of horses on board). Horses are only allowed in the staging area and on the equestrian trail, which is lined by rocks and a fence. Horse camping is not yet available. Group events are welcome, scheduled in advance. The trailer staging area and payment station is located at 200th Street East and East Avenue J-8 (off East Avenue J). For vehicle entry, call (661) 724-1206 for the lock combination.

Natural History

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.

Location/Directions

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.

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