Short Canyon, Owens Peak Wilderness, California | Camping

Short Canyon Trail, Owens Peak Wilderness

Short Canyon Trail in Owens Peak Wilderness 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.

This camping area is right off Highway 395 northwest of Ridgecrest, California in the beautiful Eastern Sierra. The site is an old abandoned road (possibly old Hwy 395), about 3 lanes wide and mostly bare with just a bush here and there.

Camp with a wonderful view of the southern 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 Sierra. Short Canyon is west up the road. Grapevine Canyon is to the north, but a locked gate for private property limits how far you can travel. There’s also Indian Wells Canyon to the south.

This is a fine campsite for a few days, but more than a week and the traffic would become tiresome, since it is close to Highway 395. At this elevation, summers would be too hot…it’s best for winter, spring, and fall.

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Where in The World?

This camping area is along a stretch of old abandoned road that may have been a previous route for Highway 395. It’s about 10 miles northwest of Ridgecrest, California as the crow flies, and just west of Hwy 395. It’s about the only large flat area to park and camp on the west side of Hwy 395. Short Canyon Road is just over 1/2 mile to the south.

Another option for camping (if you have a small RV) is at the end of Short Canyon Road. 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.

Camping Elevation: 2,527 feet

GPS Coordinates: N 35 42.670 W 117 52.217

Directions to Camping Area: From Ridgecrest, California drive 6 miles west on Highway 178. Turn right (north) on Highway 395 and drive 6 miles to Leliter Road. Turn left (west) onto Leliter Road and you’ll see the abandoned road on the right shortly thereafter.

Short Canyon Camping Area Map

Short Canyon RV Camping Journal

May 1, 2013

Recreation: Driving or mountain biking up these canyon roads and into the mountains offers spectacular views. Taking Grapevine Canyon Road up to the closed gate will reward you with nice views of the lush green canyon bottom and lofty Owens Peak above.

Hiking trails that lead into Owens Peak Wilderness can be found too. To get to Short Canyon Trail, drive up Short Canyon Road all the way to the end, where you’ll find the parking area and trailhead.

Weather: It’s been a bit hot while camping at the end of April, 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.

Peacefulness: This campsite is too close to Hwy 395 to have much peace and quiet.

RV Solar: No shade and 99% sunshine keeps your solar panels and batteries happy.

Cell Signal: Super, the tower is less than 1/2 mile away and easily visible. I have super fast Verizon mobile broadband internet and excellent phone reception.

RV 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 a truly enjoyable campsite.

For more information, see the BLM webpage: Owens Peak Wilderness (Short Canyon)

Short Canyon Video Slideshow

Short Canyon Trail, Owens Peak Wilderness

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