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(Last Updated On: July 31, 2021)

This place felt like I had landed in a different country or honestly a different planet. Camping at Trona Pinnacles was a top highlight of my desert road trip and I’m so excited to tell you all about it. Free camping, 140 foot spires, and a ridiculous amount of stars, camping at Trona Pinnacles should definitely be on your list.

Note: A day trip to Trona Pinnacles is very doable and would be enjoyable also!

Camping at Trona Pinnacles should definitely be on your list! Free camping, 140 foot spires, and a ridiculous amount of stars.

Land Acknowledgement: Kawaiisu and Newe Lands. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting, as well as consider donating!

About Trona Pinnacles in California

Considered part of the Mojave Desert, Trona Pinnacles are in a California Desert Conservation area managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).


  • Free Dispersed Camping
  • Summer months can be up to 110 degrees F
  • Accessible for most 2WD vehicles to the parking lot
  • AWD or 4WD and average SUV clearance recommended to get to some camping areas.
  • NO Potable water available

Where is Trona Pinnacles in California?

Camping at Trona Pinnacles in California. Desert Spires in Free Camping in California

Camping at the Trona Pinnacles is located 20 miles from Ridgecrest, California.

35.68143, -117.39033

I used Google Maps to navigate there and had no problem finding Trona Pinnacles. A vehicle with moderate clearance is highly recommended if you are camping. We went in a Subaru Outback and a Nissan Juke and had no problems. AWD is very helpful in some sections if you choose to go the adventurous route.

  • Located 3 hours from Los Angeles
  • Around 7 hour drive from San Francisco
  • A 4 hour drive from Las Vegas

Camping at Trona Pinnacles in California

When to go?

The best times to visit Trona Pinnacles are Fall, Winter and Early Spring. Summer temperatures can get up to 110 degrees F, and with no access to water there, that’s not a great situation to put yourself in.

When preparing to go in the Fall, Winter and Spring, check the weather leading up to your trip. The road could become inaccessible due to snow or rains creating mud that your car would not be able to drive through.

I also recommend getting there during the daytime to set up camp. There are lots of hills and very low technical driving situations (depending on how far you go) that will be a lot easier during the day.

Winding dirt roads of Trona Pinnacles in California. Best Free Camping in California

Things to Know:

There is no potable water!! Bring more water than you think you’ll need. There is one vault toilet at the parking lot area, but if you camp further out, it will not be a viable option for you. Bring what you need (trowel, blue bags) to properly dispose of any waste. A great guide on pooping in nature HERE.

There are NO trash services. Plan to pack out what you bring in. Do not put any trash in the pit toilet as this will throw off the entire functionality of the toilet. I like to keep a roll of trash bags in my car.

Camping is FREE! There is no registration or reservation system needed to secure a campsite. It is first come first serve dispersed camping. On that note, stay on existing roads and trails when finding a camping spot. Vegetation is fragile here and “forging a new road” is incredibly selfish and will lead to hundreds/thousands of people taking that same route in the future.

There is no Cell Phone Signal here! At least with AT&T and T-mobile we did not have cell service and it was wonderful. But plan accordingly with screenshots and saving driving directions to your next destination!

A Day Trip To Trona Pinnacles

Free Car Camping at Trona Pinnacles in California. Morning coffee at BLM land

If you don’t have time to stay overnight, I would absolutely still recommend checking this place out. It’s an under 30 minute detour (one way) to see it and the tufa (calcium carbonate) spires are so unique.

A day trip will be no problem for a 2WD vehicle assuming the roads are free from snow and rain.

Once you arrive at the parking area, you’ll see all of the pinnacles and roads winding around them in a maze. Walk the roads for .5 miles or so to see some of the different perspectives around this ancient place.

Geology and Other Fun Facts

two women hiking in Trona Pinnacles in California

Trona Pinnacles was estimated to have formed over 10,000-100,000 years ago. An ancient lake bed dried up and left behind more than 500 spires of calcium carbonate known as Tufas. These spires range in sizes and height, with the tallest ones being around 140 feet high. Pretty neat.

Multiple movies have been filmed here too!! Once you see this place for yourself you’ll understand why they all seem to be space themed movies; a few being:

  • Star Trek
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Lost in Space

Trona Pinnacles

I was lucky enough to stay one night, but would have been very happy to stay another night. Trona Pinnacles is reasonably close to some other destinations that I have and will be blogging about.

Nearby Destinations!

Save for Later! Comment if you’re planning a road trip to this area soon!

Camping at Trona Pinnacles in California should definitely be on your list! Free camping, 140 foot spires, and a ridiculous amount of stars in the Mojave desert.

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  1. Dakota Thomas on March 15, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Hey! I was telling some co workers of mine about the Trona pinnacles, and was like “you know what, I bet my one of my friends has a blog about it, she went there. So sure enough I looked it up and found it. I love that you went there, somewhere I spend a lot of time on weekends going and exploring. I loved it, the pictures definitely brought back some memories. Thanks Mel! -Dakota

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