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Saddleback Butte State Park

Saddleback Butte State Park - Website

Experience the Beauty of the Desert

Saddleback Butte, elevation 3,651 feet, is a granite mountaintop that towers some thousand feet above the broad alluvial bottom land of the Antelope Valley about fifteen miles east of Lancaster, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert. The state park surrounding Saddleback Butte was created in 1960 to protect the butte (one of many similar land features in the Antelope Valley) and examples of native Joshua Tree woodlands and other plants and animals that were once common throughout this high desert area.

The best time to visit is in the springtime (February through May) when wildflowers are apt to put on a beautiful display of color.  Autumn (October and November) is pleasant as well, although temperatures may vary widely and change rather suddenly.  Summer temperatures average  95º F and occasionally range as high as 115º F, but evenings are peaceful with warm breezes and clear skies.  Average minimum temperature during the winter is 33º F (frost and sub-freezing temperatures are common, with occasional snow).

Natural History

Saddleback Butte State Park is home to many once-abundant desert species that are slowly being extinguished by hunting, agriculture, and increased population; such as coyotes and kit foxes, jack rabbits, cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, many kinds of snakes and lizards, and the occasional badger or skunk.  Be cautious of the sidewinder and Mojave Green rattlesnakes (the deadliest of the rattlers), which come out in the warm weather.  One special highlight of the park is the Desert Tortoise, which is often seen by those park visitors that have curiosity and patience enough to learn the quiet, unhurried ways of this age-old desert animal.  If seen, however, the tortoise must be left alone as it is now listed as threatened on the Endangered Species List.

Bird life includes many migratory species, and a few permanent residents- golden eagles, hawks, ravens, and owls, and some smaller birds such as rock and cactus wrens, thrashers, blackbirds, horned larks, ladderbacked woodpeckers, sparrows, finches, and loggerhead shrikes.

Saddleback Butte State Park
Video by Modern Hiker YouTube

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