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The town of Ridgecrest is located in the Indian Wells Valley of California, about two and a half hours northeast of Los Angeles and two hours east of Bakersfield. It has the unique distinction of being two hours from both the highest and lowest point in the Lower 48 states, Mount Whitney and Death Valley, respectively.
The outdoors is king in this beautiful area of California. An RV rental in Ridgecrest puts you within about an hour’s drive of the edge of the massive Sequoia National Park. Famous for its towering trees and set among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this park has something for everyone. When you rent an RV in Ridgecrest, come prepared for all manner of weather, from blistering heat to icy cold winds. Its location in the high desert makes it a town for extremes when it comes to climate.
While there are plenty of places to enjoy nature during your vacation, Rademacher Hills should probably be your first stop if you’re not looking for anything too strenuous. The rolling hills on the southern edge of town are a great place for a leisurely hike, bike ride or picnic.
The largest national park in America, Death Valley, is just over an hour away in your Ridgecrest motorhome rental. While its famous for being the lowest point in the U.S. and one of the hottest during the summer, it’s also one of the most unique landscapes you’ll ever encounter populated by sand dunes, mosaic tiles of mud and salt, and soaring mountains nearby.
For some intense hiking, Sequoia National Forest and the high peaks of the Sierra Nevadas could be just the ticket. Mount Whitney is undoubtedly the most famous peak, with thousands of hikers making the 22-mile trip to its summit, 6,100 feet above the trailhead. Another great adventure is the Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway; an 11.5-mile trail through the area’s magnificent high desert landscapes.
There’s also the Coso Rock Art District just outside of town, on the U.S. Navy’s China Lake base. There are over 20,000 Native American petroglyphs there, and while getting onto the base can be difficult, it’s worth it to see this treasure trove of indigenous history. Visiting the Maturango Museum is one of the best ways to see the petroglyphs as a guide can get you on the base and will explain the meaning of the rock etchings.
There aren’t too many parks to camp in with your Ridgecrest luxury RV rental, but as the town is not a major tourist destination, you also won’t be competing for sites. Bertrand’s High Desert Mobile Home and RV Park is one of the closest options, being about ten minutes west of the downtown area. The sites here are full hookup, but otherwise, the amenities are limited. El Solana Mobile Home and RV Park in Inyokern is just a few miles down the road and also has full hookups and laundry facilities.
The China Lake/Sierra Vista RV Park is one of the larger parks in the area and has some great amenities including laundry facilities, a pet area, and a clubhouse for relaxing in. Unfortunately, it’s only open to military personnel, Department of Defense contractors, and others with access to the China Lake base where it’s located. The Desert Empire Fairgrounds on the south side of town also has some RV parking, but know that it will be a no-frills experience.
A final option is the Walmart off South China Lake Boulevard, where you can stay for a night or two if you don’t want to pay the fees at some of the other parks. There won’t be any amenities save for being in close proximity to a grocery store though. Make sure you get permission from the store manager before setting up your Ridgecrest camper rental for the night.
Being a military-centered town, Ridgecrest has a bit less to offer in the way of conventional attractions. The most interesting sights are located on the base and are not accessible without reservations. However, there are a few hidden gems to enjoy in this decidedly un-touristic town.
There’s the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitor’s Center, which has loads of information about the area that can help you plan your trip. About forty-five minutes to the east are the Trona Pinnacles, an otherworldly landscape that’s quite popular with photographers. The strange rock formations erupt from the valley floor like sets of fingers. Not too much further down the road is the John and Dennis Searles Wagon Routes Monument, which commemorates the mule teams that hauled borax from the nearby mines to Mojave. There’s not much to look at but it serves as an invitation to learn more about the fascinating history of the high desert that you’ll be exploring with your RV rental near Ridgecrest.