Ridgecrest is your home base for exploring the natural history of California’s deserts. North of the Los Angeles County line in Lancaster, Ridgecrest offers lodging, information, and supplies for your trip into California’s more secluded regions. Ridgecrest is a perfect basecamp to explore California’s desert treasures like Death Valley National Park, with plenty to explore outside of the park as well. The California Welcome Center – Ridgecrest is the newest of the state’s welcome center network and is filled with a variety of technologically-advanced exhibits which include virtual reality, a TV and Film Experience and cultural showcases that explore the amazing prehistoric history of the region.
The California Welcome Center - Ridgecrest has an amazing virtual reality presentation of Death Valley, where visitors can experience the splendor and magnificence of Death Valley. The virtual reality tour is a terrific alternative for those visitors who may have mobility or health issues to allow them to safely view a curated exploration of the park.
During the fall and spring, tours of the Coso Rock Art National Historic Landmark are a popular excursion for tourists. The Coso Mountains are home to thousands of examples of Native American rock art, the largest and best-preserved collection in the country. The petroglyphs range in age, with some dating back more than 12,000 years, and are preserved and protected within the China Lake Naval Base. Access is limited, and the petroglyphs are only visible through a guided tour. Visitors can experience the culturally significant petroglyphs on a virtual reality presentation at the visitor’s center and at Petroglyph Park, just a few blocks from the center.
The cooler months are the perfect time to visit Death Valley National Park and experience other natural attractions in the region. Favorite hikes in the area include Fossil Falls, Trona Pinnacles, and Red Rock Canyon. The Kern River Valley and Lake Isabella offer a chance to cool down in the summer. Water sports, fishing, and whitewater rafting are just some of the activities you can enjoy in the Kern River Valley. If you’re looking for adventure on dry land, Jawbone Canyon is the perfect destination for off-road vehicle enthusiasts and hikers.
Within the city of Ridgecrest, you can spend time exploring history indoors at the Maturango Museum and the U.S. Naval Museum of Armament & Technology. Short drives to Saltdale, Ballarat, and living ghost town, Randsburg, offer a chance to see California’s history up close and personal. The California Welcome Center in Ridgecrest is a collaborative effort between the Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the US National Park Service, Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management, and the Ridgecrest Regional Film Commission to provide a one-stop destination for travel expertise, advice on preparations for desert travel, and local souvenirs for purchase.
Visiting Ridgecrest is easily accessible off scenic U.S. Route 395, with access to Death Valley National Park through California State Route 178. Located 3.5 hours west of Las Vegas, 2.5 hours north of Los Angeles, and 3 hours south of Mammoth, Ridgecrest is the perfect midpoint to experience anything you’re looking for on your California adventure.
Please contact the Welcome Center for specific hours of operation.