Short Canyon, Ridgecrest, California
The Sierra Nevada Mountains from Short Canyon Trail
Short Canyon Trail is exceptionally beautiful after a wet winter when spring wildflowers paint the canyon. Continuing on the trail up the north fork presents dramatic mountain views of jagged granite peaks below 8,453 foot Owens Peak. I didn’t hike the trail to its end, but read that it’s long enough to turn the outing into a short overnight backpacking trip.
The camping area is right off Hwy 395 northwest of Ridgecrest. The site is an old abandoned road, about 3 lanes wide and mostly bare with just a bush here and there. It’s about the only large flat area to park and camp on the west side of Hwy 395. The bad thing is it’s so close to the highway, you feel you haven’t left the highway.
The campsite has a very nice view of the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, including the Five Fingers, which have been sliced, but thankfully not severed by the LA Aqueduct. The views get even better once you head up one of the several canyons along this stretch of the Eastern Sierras. Short Canyon is just west up the road, Grapevine Canyon is to the north but a locked gate for private property limits how far you can go. There’s also Indian Wells Canyon to the south.
This has been a fine camping spot for a few days, but more than a week and the traffic would become tiresome. At this elevation summers would be too hot so it’s best for winter, spring, and fall.
Campsite GPS Coordinates: N 35 42.670 W 117 52.217
Elevation: 2527 feet
Campsite Directions: From Ridgecrest drive 6 miles west on Hwy 178. Turn right (north) on Hwy 395 and drive 6 miles to Leliter Road. Turn left (west) and you'll see the abandoned road on the right shortly thereafter.
More Campsites: If you drive up Short Canyon Road all the way to the end you’ll find the trailhead for Short Canyon Trail, which has a parking lot large enough for very small motorhomes, travel trailers, and truck campers.
Short Canyon Campsite Map
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Short Canyon RV Camping Journal
May 1st, 2013
Recreation: Driving or mountain biking up these canyon roads and into the mountains offers spectacular views. Hiking trails that lead into Owens Peak Wilderness can be found too. Taking Grapevine Canyon Road up to the closed gate will reward you with nice views of the lush and green canyon bottom and lofty Owens Peak above.
Peacefulness: This campsite is way too close to Hwy 395.
Weather: It’s been a bit hot with highs around 90-95. Lows around 60. It’s pretty much all sun here. Mornings are usually calm, then breezy in the afternoon. It was windy yesterday, last night, and today with gusts near 40 mph.
Wildlife: Jackrabbits, ravens, eagles, ground squirrels, lightning fast lizards large and small, gambel's quail, mourning doves, and many varieties of birds in Short Canyon and Grapevine Canyon.
Insects: A few flies, fascinating large moths, and some grasshoppers. No insect problems.
Cell Signal: Super, the tower is less than ½ mile away and easily visible. I have super fast Verizon mobile broadband internet and excellent phone reception.
RV Solar: No shade and 99% sunshine keeps your solar panels happy.
Campsite Rating: 5 out of 10. It’s a good boondocking site for a few days of exploring the area, but it’s too close to Hwy 395 to be an enjoyable campsite.
For more information, see the BLM web page.