Desert State Parks

State Parks in the Desert

California State Parks in the Desert include plant and wildlife reserves, recreation areas, ghost towns and off-highway vehicle parks. Below you'll find a list of popular CA State Parks and ones we personally recommend from Red Rock Canyon north of Mojave to Anza-Borrego east of San Diego. Camping in California is a popular activity with most campgrounds offering conveniences like flush toilets, running water and firewood.

An entry fee is required at almost all California State Parks. It may be beneficial to purchase a yearly California State Park Pass if planning to make multiple visits to CA State Parks. Several discounts are available including passes for Day Use, Veterans, Handicapped, Surfing, Seniors and more.

California Desert

Red Rock Canyon State Park is located 25 miles northeast of Mojave on Highway 14. Red Rock Canyon features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The site has been the backdrop of several movies. Some Indian petroglyphs can be found.

Red Rock Canyon State Park
Cantil, California 93519
(661) 942-0662

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is located west of Palmdale & Lancaster off Highway 14. Every Spring beginning in April, this region of the desert yields a bountiful bloom of poppies, cream cups, fiddleneck, forget-me-nots, lupine, goldfield, coreopsis and more. These are California's most consistent poppy-bearing fields. Features include a Visitor Center, marked trails and day use areas.

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
Lancaster, California 93536
(661) 724-1180 or (661) 942-0662

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

Providence Mountains State Park is located between Barstow and Needles off interstate 40. This area's main attraction is the Mitchell Caverns. Entrance is by guided tour only and we recommend you call for reservations.

Providence Mountains State Park
Baker, California 92309
(760) 928-2586

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

Salton Sea State Park is located east of San Diego and south of Palm Springs along highways 78 and 86. This is a huge, inland lake that formed as the result of a dam breakage in 1905. During the 1950's, a failed attempt was made to turn it into a major tourist destination for boaters and waterskiers. At one point the Salton Sea had its own Yacht Club and drew more tourists than Yosemite. The Imperial Valley took advantage of the accidental reservoir and used it for irrigation but soon runoff and over usage polluted the water and increased its salinity. Activities include camping, hiking, boating, water skiing, windsurfing, fishing and wildlife viewing. Off-roading is popular in nearby Ocotillo Wells.

Salton Sea State Park
100-225 State Park Road
North Shore, California 92254
(760) 393-3052 or (760) 393-3059

Map  |   Hotel  |   Camping  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located east of San Diego on Highway 78. This area is a playground for off-roaders with the Octotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area and Borrego Badlands within its boundaries. Every Spring brings an explosion of wildflowers that blanket the desert floor. Other activities include hiking and wildlife viewing of bighorn sheep, roadrunners and other desert species. Activities include camping, hiking, horseback riding, off-roading, wildflower viewing and spelunking. Every year, spelunkers visit the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves in the south end of the park for interesting cave exploration. Native American pictographs and petroglyphs can be found throughout the park.

Anza-Borrego State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, California 92004
(760) 767-5311

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas

State Parks by Region

California by Region

San Francisco Los Angeles Orange County San Diego Inland Empire Desert Central Coast Sierra Nevada North Coast Shasta Cascade Gold Country Central Valley