Parks and Public Lands -
Saddleback Butte State Park
Saddleback Butte, elevation 3,651 feet, about a thousand feet above the broad
bottom land of the
Antelope Valley, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. The state park surrounding Saddleback Butte
was created in 1960 to protect the butte and examples of native
Joshua Tree woodlands
and other plants
that were once common throughout the high desert area.
In the springtime (February through May)
may put put on a beautiful display of color. This is usually the best
time to visit. Autumn (October and November) is also pleasant as well, however temperatures may suddenly change.
Summer temperatures average 95° F and occasionally climb as high as 115° F, but evenings with warm breezes and clear
skies are typical. Average minimum temperature during the winter is 33 ° F with frost and sub-freezing temperatures common,
and occasional snow.
Three trails, two of which lead to the summit of the butte are in the park. A loop trail about 5.5 miles long
can be taken from the campground parking area 2 miles to the summit, 2.5 miles down to the day-use area and 1 mile back
down to the campground along a gravel road. At the summit a 360° of the Antelope Valley and Mojave Desert can be enjoyed.
Most of the trail is along gentle slopes through
creosote bush habitat
and then climbs steeply from the base of the
butte to the top.
A self-guided nature trail about .25 miles long starting at the visitor center takes one through examples of the natural
history of the area.
The visitor center, located at the entrance to the day-use area, featuring displays and
hands-on exhibits about the natural and cultural history and geology of the area.
Saddleback Butte State Park is home to once-abundant desert species that are slowly being extinguished by
hunting, agriculture, and increased population; such as
ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, many kinds of snakes and lizards, and the occasional
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
which may be seen by park visitors that have the
curiosity and patience enough to learn the unhurried ways of this desert animal. If seen, however,
the tortoise must be left alone as it is now listed as threatened on the Endangered Species List.
Bird life includes many migratory species, and a few permanent residents-
and some smaller birds such as
thrashers, blackbirds, horned larks,
sparrows, finches, and
The park is 17 miles east of
on East Avenue J and 170th Street East.