Southern California Observing Locations

Eastern Mojave Desert (Amboy and Sheep Hole Mountains Areas)


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Elevation: 1,015 ft.

Phone: (760) 326-7000 (Bureau of Land Management – Needles Field Office)

Directions: From Barstow, take I-40E for about 50 miles to Ludlow. Take Ludlow exit (Crucero Road), then head east on Historic U.S. 66 for 39.6 miles to Cadiz Road. Turn right at Cadiz Rd. (18.1 miles). Turn left to stay on Cadiz Rd. (2.7 miles). OR... take I-10 to CA-177 (27 miles) to CA-62 (Desert Center Rice Road, heading East 17 miles). Turn left at Cadiz Rd (28 miles). NOTE: Not sure about condition of Cadiz Rd. south of Cadiz. Please check with Bureau of Land Management.

GPS: 34°21'50.44"N 115°17'11.86"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours (248 miles)

Elevation: 1,200 ft.

Phone: (760) 326-7000 (Bureau of Land Management – Needles Field Office)

Directions: From Barstow, take I-40E for about 50 miles to Ludlow. Take Ludlow exit (Crucero Road), then head east on Historic U.S. 66 for approx 37.7 miles. Turn left on dirt road and head approx. 2 miles to south end of Trilobite Wilderness Area. NOTE: Dirt road may not be well marked. Driving in wilderness area is not permitted.

GPS: 34°35'43.48"N 115°33'30.28"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 50 minutes (227 miles)

Elevation: 670 ft.

Phone: (760) 326-7000 (Bureau of Land Management – Needles Field Office)

Directions: Parking area for Amboy Crater is located on Crater Road just off Historic U.S. 66 (National Trails Highway). From Barstow, take I-40E for about 50 miles to Ludlow. Take Ludlow exit (Crucero Road), then head east on Historic U.S. 66 for 26.4 miles to Crater Road. Turn right on Crater Road and head 0.5 miles to parking area. Camping is possible here. There's also a gas station/food mart nearby in the town of Amboy called: Roy's Motel and Café (760-733-1066). Roy's is located on U.S. 66 about 2 miles east of Amboy Crater. Roy's is scheduled to re-open motel in second half of 2010.

GPS: 34°33'25.11"N 115°46'51.98"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 40 minutes (209 miles)

Eastern Mojave Desert (Mojave National Preserve)


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Elevation: 4,300

Phone: (760) 252-6100 (National Park Service - Mojave Natural Preserve)

Directions: From I-40: Exit Essex Road and drive north 10 miles to the junction with Black Canyon Road. Mitchell Caverns is 6 miles northwest of this junction on Essex Road. Hole-in-the-Wall is 10 miles north on Black Canyon Road.

GPS: 35°02'34.42"N 115°23'44.22"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 4 hours 30 minutes (252 miles)

Elevation: 5,600

Phone: (760) 252-6100 (National Park Service - Mojave Natural Preserve)

Directions: From I-40: Exit Essex Road and drive north 10 miles to the junction with Black Canyon Road. Mitchell Caverns is 6 miles northwest of this junction on Essex Road. Hole-in-the-Wall is 10 miles north on Black Canyon Road. To get to Mid Hills, continue on Black Canyon Road 9 miles past Hole-in-the-Wall and turn left at sign for Mid Hills, Continue for 2 miles to the campground. Upper campground at Mid Hills has trees, but lower campground is clear due to fire damage.

GPS: 35° 7'51.14"N 115°26'6.40"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 4 hours 50 minutes (260 miles)

Elevation: 4,300 ft.

Phone: (760) 928-2586

Directions: From I-40: Exit Essex Road and drive north 10 miles to the junction with Black Canyon Road. Mitchell Caverns is 6 miles northwest of this junction on Essex Road. Hole-in-the-Wall is 10 miles north on Black Canyon Road.

GPS: 34°56'37.36"N 115°30'47.60"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 4 hours 30 minutes (248 miles)

Death Valley


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Elevation: 1,800 ft.

Phone: (760) 786-3200 (National Park Service Death Valley)

Directions: From Mojave, take CA-14 N to US-395 N to CA-190 E. Turn right onto CA-190 E and go 89.2 miles to Scotty's Castle Road (North Highway). Turn left onto Scotty's Castle Road. Continue on Scotty's Castle Road for 32.8 miles. Turn left onto Mesquite Rd.. Continue on Mesquite Rd. for 1.7 miles to campground.

GPS: 36°57'46.25"N 117°22'4.01"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours 40 minutes (303 miles)

Elevation: -196 ft.

Phone: (760) 786-3200 (National Park Service Death Valley)

Directions: From Barstow, head east on I-15 N for 62.6 miles. Take the CA-127/Kelbaker Rd. exit toward Death Valley. Turn left at CA-127 N/Kelbaker Rd. and continue to follow CA-127 N for 83.6 miles. Turn left at CA-190 W and continue for 30.8 miles. Campground and Airport are on left (west side of highway).

GPS: 36°27'48.35"N 116°52'11.85"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours (285 miles)

October – April

Elevation: Sea Level

Phone: (760) 786-3200 (National Park Service Death Valley)

Directions: From Mojave, take CA-14 N to US395 N to CA-190 E. Turn right onto CA-190 E and go 75.7 miles to campground.

GPS: 36°36'16.44"N 117° 8'36.52"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 4 hours 30 minutes (261 miles)

Inyo National Forest (Northwest of Bishop)


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Late May – Mid-October

Elevation: 8,300 to 9,400 ft. (wooded setting)

Phone: 1-877-444-6777 OR 760-873-2500 ( Inyo National Forest - White Mountain Station)

Directions: From Bishop, travel west on US 395 for about 30 miles to Forest Service Highway 12. Take the Tom's Place exit and follow Forest Service Highway 12 (Rock Creek Road) (go about 2.5 miles for Iris and Big Meadow and about 4.5 miles for Pine Grove and Upper Pine Grove).

GPS: 37°30'56.41"N 118°42'45.01"W (Iris and Big Meadow)

GPS: 37°28'15.11"N 118°43'30.70"W (Pine Grove and Upper Pine Grove)

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours 30 minutes (295 miles)

May - November

Elevation: 4,975 ft.

Phone: 760-872-5000 (Bureau of Land Management - Bishop Field Office)

Directions: From Bishop, travel west on US Hwy 395 north for about 7 miles to Sawmill Road. Turn left (south) onto Sawmill Road and then take an immediate right (west) onto Round Valley Road for 3 miles. Follow sign to campground.

GPS: 37°22'42.11"N 118°34'44.41"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours 15 minutes (279 miles)

Inyo National Forest (White Mountains and Deep Springs Valley Areas)


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Elevation: 6,300 ft.

Directions: From Big Pine, take State Highway 168 north for approx. 32 miles (5 miles before it ends at Highway 266).

GPS: 37°25'50.43"N 117°56'18.82"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours 20 minutes (284 miles)

May - September

Elevation: 8,600 ft.

Phone: 1-877-444-6777 OR 760-873-2500 (Inyo National Forest - White Mountain Station)

Directions: From Big Pine, take State Highway 168 north for approx. 10 miles to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Scenic Byway (White Mountain Road). Continue north on the byway for about 4 miles to Grandview.

GPS: 37°20'1.17"N 118°11'26.07"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 5 hours (270 miles)

Sequoia National Forest (Nine Mile Canyon Road exit off US 395)


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Elevation: 7,800 ft.

Phone: 760-376-3781 (U.S. National Forest Kernville Office)

Open: June 1st through November 30th

Directions: From Pearsonville, CA, take US 395 north 2.6 miles to Kennedy Meadows sign. Turn left at sign onto Nine-Mile Cyn Rd and go 24.6 miles to "Y" intersection. Bear left onto Sherman Poso Rd and go 10.3 miles to campground sign. Turn right at sign into campground.

GPS: 36° 4'3.56"N 118°14'7.89"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 4 hours 10 minutes (189 miles)

Elevation: 7,400 ft.

Phone: 760-376-3781 (U.S. National Forest Kernville Office)

Open: June 1st through November 30th

Directions: From Pearsonville, CA, take US 395 north 2.6 miles to Kennedy Meadows sign. Turn left at sign onto Nine-Mile Cyn Rd and go 24.6 miles to "Y" intersection. Bear left onto Sherman Poso Rd and go 8.6 miles to campground sign. Turn left at sign into campground.

GPS: 36° 3'30.85"N 118°13'5.64"W

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Weather Forecast (Pearsonville, CA)

Distance from Santa Monica: 4 hours (187 miles)

Elevation: 6,100 ft.

Phone: 760-376-3781 (U.S. National Forest Kernville Office)

Open: all year

Directions: From Pearsonville, CA, take US 395 north 2.6 miles to Kennedy Meadows sign. Turn left at sign onto Nine-Mile Cyn Rd and go 24.6 miles to "Y" intersection. Bear right onto Kennedy Meadows Rd and go 2.7 miles to campground.

GPS: 36° 3'11.90"N 118° 7'46.22"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 35 minutes (181 miles)

Chimney Peak Wilderness (Nine Mile Canyon Road exit off US 395)


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Elevation: 5,200 ft. (semi-wooded)

Phone: 661-391-6000 (OR: 800-862-2543) (Bureau of Land Management - Bakersfield Field Office)

Directions: Drive in from the north via US 395. Nine Mile Canyon Road is paved. Access is from the Long Valley Loop Road (which is part of the Chimney Peak Back Country Byway).

GPS: 35°50'38.89"N 118° 9'19.78"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 30 minutes (181 miles)

Elevation: 5,700 ft. (wooded setting)

Phone: 661-391-6000 (OR: 800-862-2543) (Bureau of Land Management - Bakersfield Field Office)

Directions: Drive in from the north via US 395. Nine Mile Canyon Road is paved. Look for signs to the Chimney Peak Fire Station.

GPS: 35°51'2.28"N 118° 1'35.85"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 10 minutes (167 miles)

Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness


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Elevation: 1,690 ft.

Phone: (760) 833-7100 (Bureau of Land Management - Palm Springs South Coast Field Office)

Directions: Two-wheel drive passenger vehicles can reach the campground. From Interstate 10, take the Corn Springs Exit and turn south. At the end of the road take a left. You will see the sign of Corn Springs Campground. The campground is located 10 miles from Interstate 10. Near Desert Center CA (92239)

GPS: 33°37'37.23"N 115°19'55.77"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 30 minutes (208 miles)

Joshua Tree National Park (Pinto Basin)


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  • Cholla Cactus Garden

Elevation: 2,180 ft.

Phone: (760) 367-5500

GPS:  33°55'30.98"N  115°55'43.55"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 30 minutes

  • Porcupine Wash

Elevation: 2,390 ft.

Phone: (760) 367-5500

GPS:  33°50'45.61"N  115°46'39.40"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 20 minutes

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


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  • Little Blair Valley

Elevation: 2,800 ft.

Phone: (760) 767-5311

GPS:  33° 1'2.55"N  116°22'56.80"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 30 minutes

Afton Canyon Campground


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Elevation: 1,400 ft.

Phone: (760) 252-6000 (Bureau of Land Management - Barstow Field Office)

Directions: 37 miles northeast of Barstow along Interstate 15. 3½ miles from the Afton Rd. Exit to the campground.

GPS: 35° 2'9.93"N 116°22'42.05"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 2 hours 50 minutes (171 miles)

Walker Pass Trailhead/Campground


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Elevation: 5,000 ft.

Phone: (661) 391-6000 (Bureau of Land Management – Bakersfield Field Office) OR: (760) 373-1146 (Jawbone Station)

Directions: located just west of Walker Pass on State Highway 178. (Walker Pass is about 8.7 miles west of Freeman Junction on CA 14)

GPS: 35°39'50.65"N 118° 2'15.18"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 2 hours 50 minutes (147 miles)

Red Rock Canyon State Park


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Elevation: 2,600 ft.

Phone: (661) 942-0662 OR: (760) 373-1146 (Jawbone Station)

Directions: 25 miles NE of Mojave on Highway 14, near Cantil (93519). Go west 1/4 mile on Abbott Drive. Signage indicating turnoff is clearly visible on CA 14.

GPS: 35°22'23.46"N 117°59'26.49"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 2 hours 10 minutes (121 miles)

Carrizo Plain National Monument


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Elevation: 5,460 ft.

Phone: (661) 391-6000 (Bureau of Land Management – Bakersfield Field Office)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 225 for Maricopa/CA-166 toward Taft (first exit after I-5 splits with CA-99). Take CA-166 W for 61.8 miles (the highway will turn south for a short stretch after you reach the town of Maricopa). Turn right and continue 2.5 miles. Make a slight right and continue for 2.1 miles. Turn right and continue for 0.7 miles. Turn left and continue for 0.7 miles. Make a slight right and continue for 1.6 miles. Turn left and continue 3.2 miles. Campground will be located on your right.

GPS: 35° 7'40.09"N 119°50'29.31"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 3 hours 40 minutes (161 miles)

Los Padres National Forest / Mt. Pinos Area


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(parking lot is popular viewing spot with amateur astronomers)

Elevation: 8,300 ft.

Phone: (661) 245-3731 (Mt. Pinos District - Chuchupate Ranger Station)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 205 for Frazier Mountain Park Road. Go 7.0 miles and continue for 5.1 miles on Cuddy Valley Rd. to a "Y" intersection. Continue straight onto Cuddy Valley Rd. for 5.1 miles to a "Y" intersection. Bear left, continuing on Cuddy Valley Rd., and go 8.6 miles to parking lot. Park vehicle and walk about 0.2 miles to campground.

GPS: 34°48'48.51"N 119° 7'35.05"W

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More About Chula Vista Parking Lot

Distance from Santa Monica: 2 hours (90 miles)

Elevation: 5,300 ft.

Phone: (661) 245-3731 (Mt. Pinos District - Chuchupate Ranger Station)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 205 for Frazier Mountain Park Road. Turn left at Frazier Mountain Park Road. Go 7 miles to Lockwood Valley Road. Turn left at Lockwood Valley Road. Go 0.9 miles to Forest Route 8N04 (Frazier Mountain Road). Go 0.2 miles to Ranger Station.

GPS: 34°48'27.99"N  119°00'42.37"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 1 hour 25 minutes (78 miles)

Malibu, CA


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Address: 2577 S. Encinal Canyon Rd., Malibu CA 90265

Elevation: 1,300 ft.

Phone: (310) 457-7247

Directions: Take PCH north from Lincoln Blvd. 24.7 miles to Encinal Canyon Rd.. Turn right on Encinal Canyon Rd.. Go 3.4 miles to park entrance.

GPS: 34° 3'40.37"N 118°52'36.88"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 49 minutes (29 miles)

Address: 1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

Elevation: 590 ft.

Phone: (818) 880-0367

Directions: Take PCH north from Lincoln Blvd. 13.4 miles to Malibu Canyon Rd.. Turn right on Malibu Canyon Rd.. Go 4.6 miles to Las Virgenes Rd.. Go 1.7 miles to park entrance.

GPS: 34° 6'3.34"N 118°42'39.93"W

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Distance from Santa Monica: 40 minutes (20 miles)

Subpages (3): Amboy Crater Cadiz Chubbuck
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