This past weekend I hosted a weekend camping getaway for myself and 4 other women. We had one goal in mind: to see the poppies in Antelope Valley!
In searching for a place to camp, I found Saddleback Butte State Park, just a short 45 minute drive from the Poppy Reserve and about an hour and a half out of Los Angeles. We were looking for a desert-type camping, in comparison to the Angeles Forest, and loved that it was surrounded by Joshua Trees. It’s a small (37 campsites) campground East of Lancaster. There’s a small town with a gas station a couple of strip malls about 7 minutes from the camping grounds, so it’s a great location for anyone wanting to get out of the big city, but still feel close to civilization in case of an emergency. It took us about an hour and a half to get there with moderate traffic immediately outside of LA.
The campgrounds offered some of the best/cleanest bathrooms (just a sink and toilet) I have seen yet. Most of the campsites also came with a fire ring, a wooden shelter over a picnic table, parking spot for 2 or 3 and a grill.
Saddleback Butte State Park camping is on a first-come-first-serve basis and each campsite can have a maximum of 8 people. Most likely due to the high winds and cold weather, only about 1/4 of the campsites were taken when we arrived late Friday night. A few other campers joined Saturday. At the entrance, campers can grab an envelope with a permit to fill out and turn in the cash for the campsite. The cost was $20/night plus $6/night for each additional vehicle. Our total cost came out to be $52 for the weekend (two night) stay. There is a grounds keeper that comes by and checks at this park. Note that there is no attendant taking the cash, so you should plan to have exact change.
The other campers while we were there pretty much stuck to themselves, and nobody seemed overly rowdy. There were a couple of RVs and a handful of trailers throughout the area. The atmosphere is wonderful! We found a camping spot right next to a large Joshua tree, away from the rest of the campers. I will note that given the proximity to the highway, you do hear a bit of the traffic. For the most part, I never noticed it though. The ground we put our tent on was primarily a sandy texture. There were a lot of prickly plants growing up from the ground, that when touched, stung/tingled like poison ivy, so steer clear of those!
There are a handful of surrounding museums, hiking trails, and hills. In the far distance you can see the San Gabriel mountains. We unfortunately didn’t get to do any hiking in this area as we did our day trip to the poppy fields, but I have read great reviews on the hiking. Just outside of the camping spot, you can take 170 st. E north to E Ave. J, where just north of that intersection up a small gravel road (maybe 500 feet) is a small church ruins that’s awesome to check out.
Be sure to check the weather ahead of time, especially earlier in the year! We experienced a small bit of rain, high winds, and low temperatures at night. The winds gusted up to 20 mph, but our well-staked tent made it through the weekend just fine.
We will definitely be coming back to this State Park again! It was such a beautiful landscape, well-kept campground, and a short distance from Los Angeles, making it perfect for a last minute getaway.
More information on Saddleback Butte State Park can be found here.