Hwy 14 Places to go
South of Ridgecrest (Hwy 14 ends near Inyokern, north is Hwy 395)
Highway 14 goes from I-5 to the south through Palmdale and Lancaster and Mojave north to the intersection of Hwy 395 just north of Inyokern, CA, These locations are south on Hwy 14 from Ridgecrest – Take Hwy 178 west through Inyokern, turn left to Hwy 14.
in 3 miles, Hwy 178 heads west toward Kernville, Lake Isabella, the Kern River Canyon, etc.
Red Rock Canyon State Park:
*south on Hwy 14 about 20 miles, 35 miles from Ridgecrest. Elev. around 3000 ft.
Greatly enlarged by the California Desert Protection Act, Red Rock Canyon is a huge area of lovely colors to explore on foot or by auto. There are some 4x4 roads to explore, and OHV areas are on either side of the park. Stop by the Visitor Center at the former “Ricardo” site where there is the nice campground with 50 spaces, water, pit toilets. Visitor center open weekends. Evening campfire programs spring and fall weekends. The new Visitor Center has displays, books, maps and lots of information about the many trails in the park. Hike Haugen Canyon. Visit “the red cliffs,” the most famous area of the park – these cliffs show up in many commercials, movies, etc.
In your explorations, watch for rattlesnakes – sidewinders and Mojave rattlesnakes live here too!! (as well as many nonpoisonous snakes)
Campground with 50 sites, drinking water, toilets, tables; $25 per night; no gas – nearest is in Mojave or Ridgecrest. No Cell Phone service. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=631 and http://www.redrockrrcia.org/
BLM Jawbone Station Regional OHV Facility Visitor Center – open every day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. right at Jawbone Canyon turnoff. Lots of info, maps, friendly people to answer questions. Water, Toilet.
Jawbone Canyon store is in a trailer just south of the turnoff to Jawbone canyon, has expensive gas and rents ATV’s. Best to get gas and groceries is in Mojave or Ridgecrest but this works if you forgot something.)
Jawbone Canyon, Kelso Valley
Head west from the Jawbone Canyon BLM Station on a paved road for a ways. High OHV impact use area, but it’s a pretty canyon. Can camp here anywhere, with fire permit. Continue on the road north at the end of the canyon, up over hills and whatnot, past Butterbread Springs, and down into Kelso Valley with its lovely Joshua tree forests. Private lands mostly, but pretty places to explore. The road continues north to Kelso Creek and comes out near Weldon on Hwy 178. West from Kelso Valley, try the Geringer Grade up into the Paiute Mountains (summer, fall). Visit the pretty meadows up there. You can work your way over to Bodfish. See Kern Co. AAA map, or USFS Sequoia NF map. no facilities, no water; see above warning about gas and groceries! Jawbone is being taken over by wind turbines. Stay away from them, please. http://www.jawbone.org/foj
Desert Tortoise Natural Area:
*south on Hwy 14 to California City (see maps); east on main street to the park; at stop turn left, follow DTNA signs 1.4 mi north, then turn left (at signed intersection) onto dirt Randsburg Mojave road, go about 3 miles to sign, turn left (north), continue to parking lot.
This large area was set aside because it once had the largest population of the endangered desert tortoise in the entire area. Unfortunately a respiratory disease introduced from captive tortoises turned loose in the area has killed many of the tortoises here. Also predation by ravens on the smaller tortoises has been a problem in recent years due to the closing of the landfill dumps in the nearby towns. These dumps allowed an artificially high population of ravens to develop and now they are very hungry. But – you can still encounter these interesting animals and many, many others as you explore the area. In the spring there can be very good displays of wildflowers as the area has been fenced from sheep grazing for about 15 years. In good years there are patches of “desert candle,” a strange mustard, along the road to the preserve.
Inside the gate take the path to the ramada and read the excellent display plaques. Learn all about the life cycle of the tortoise, and about the other animals and plants in this area. Do keep track of the T post markers on the outlying trails- it’s easy to get turned around and lost, as you can’t see the cars when you are out there!! Watch for rattlesnakes – they live here too!!!!
The DTNA is located north of California City. Year-round facilities include two outhouses for visitor use, an interpretive kiosk and self-guided nature trails. The nature trails consist of a plant loop and an animal loop, each approximately 0.5 mile long, and a shorter main loop. The three trails have numbered interpretive trail posts with corresponding trail guides. There is also a discovery loop which is approximately 1.75 miles long.
The Bureau of Land Management established the Desert Tortoise Natural Area in 1976 as a Wildlife Habitat Management Area and then in 1980 the area was designated as a Research Natural Area. http://www.tortoise-tracks.org/dtna.html and http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/deserttortoisenaturalarea.html
Pit toilets, no water. Best time – spring!! The tortoises estivate in the hot summer and hibernate in the winter. Spring – BLM Info trailer and docent on site.
Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave, CA
Tours available on weekdays at 2 p.m., and on most Saturdays. $5 per person. Home of Burt Rutan’s amazing inventions, including Spaceship One. Also home of a very large collection of mothballed aircraft. http://www.mojaveairport.com/index.html
Exotic Feline Breeding Compound, Rosamond, CA: “The Cat House”
4 miles west of Hwy 14; take Rosamond Blvd west, to Tropico Rd. Follow signs. Admission $7, and they sure do accept donations and memberships. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Wednesdays. Members are invited to special twilight tours and other things. (661) 256-3332 See most of the cats on their http://www.cathouse-fcc.org/ web page.
This Feline Conservation Center is a serious breeding effort for many kinds of felines from all over the world. Cats are traded back and forth from world zoos, and the breeding efforts are quite successful as evidenced by the many kittens you will see. You can walk close to most of the cages – including Bengal tigers, snow leopards, Margays, leopards, jaguars, fishing cats, black panthers, etc. Check out their web pages for photos and lists of the resident cats.
Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve State Park
West of Lancaster; take Ave. D west to 170th Street West, turn south and follow signs, or take Lancaster Road or Ave I west past 110th Street West and follow signs.
Visitor Center, a unique building built into the hillside, is open from March 15 to May 1, the peak poppy blooming season. Park hours sunrise to sunset. Visitor Center hours Weekends 9-5, Weekdays 9-4. 8 miles of trails wind through the reserve, and all sorts of desert plants and animals may be seen during an easy stroll across the rolling terrain. No dogs on the trails, please. The area includes Antelope Buttes, 3057 ft. Nature Walks with a Ranger are conducted at various times- the schedule is in the Visitor Center. Day use fee for the Park. Call 661 942-0662. Parking fee $10 http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627
Sometimes the best poppy displays are found outside the park on the hills to the north nearer to Ave. D, Hwy 138. Unfortunately, one of the best places for poppies is now a huge PV Solar field. darn! When will they bloom? Depends on the timing of the rains and whether the grasses get a head start and choke out the poppies! Sometimes they don’t come up at all, like spring 2013. Sigh. Rain, and timing of rain.
Ripley Desert Woodland Park:
7 miles west of the Poppy Preserve on Lancaster Road at 210th Street West.
This great hunk of land was donated to the State by Arthur Ripley to preserve just about the last good stand of Joshua Trees left in the Antelope Valley. You may walk through this remarkable Joshua/Juniper woodland. There is a picnic table and a nature trail and interpretive signs. pit toilet but no water. Dogs allowed on leash. Free admission. Sunrise to Sunset.
Saddleback Butte State Park:
East of Hwy 14, take Ave. J to 170th Street East. 3000 acres. Primitive campground off 170th Street has 50 sites, some with shade ramadas; water and flush toilets and dump station. A Picnic site at Ave. J and 170th Street East is a great place for starting day hikes. There is a 2 mile trail to the top of Saddleback Butte, 3651 feet which affords great views in all directions. Other trails available as well. Equestrian use encouraged. Campfire programs at the campground on Saturday nights Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct.
Saddleback Butte State Park is home to many once-abundant desert species that are slowly being extinguished by hunting, agriculture, and increased population; such as coyotes and kit foxes, 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. One special highlight of the park is the Desert Tortoise.
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. Great star gazing. Day use fee. Campsites may be reserved.
Antelope Valley Indian Museum:
20 miles east of Hwy 14, take Ave. K to 150th Street East, go south 2 miles to Ave. M, go east on Ave M to the Museum. Open weekends only from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,. Be sure to call to make sure it’s open. 661-946-3055
It’s a large unique house built into the rock butte with interesting surrounding gardens. Built in 1928 by Howard Edwards and bought in 1939 by Grace Oliver, both of whom loved and collected extensive Indian artifacts. The collections represent most of the Southwestern American Indian tribes – Kachinas, items from the Channel Islands and California Coastal region tribes, and Great Basin areas. There is a self-guided nature trail which winds through the gardens and buttes. Special American Indian artist programs on 2nd weekend of every month that the Museum is open. Day use fee $3, cash or check.