About China lake and Ridgecrest

About China Lake

China Lake - Kern County

WhitneyNestled in the quiet Indian Wells Valley at the south eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, China Lake is the premier land range and weapons development laboratory for the Department of the Navy (DoN). Roughly two and a half hours north of Los Angeles, China Lake is within easy driving distance of Southern California's most beautiful country. The Weapons Division at China Lake is hosted by the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS).

The Indian Wells Valley is south of two prominent geologic extremes in the continental United States, Mount Whitney, the highest point (14,497 ft. above sea level) and Badwater, the lowest point (282 ft. below Sea level). The country around China Lake is rich in outdoor recreation activities, including; white water river rafting, sailing, skiing, hiking, rock climbing, fishing and hunting.

Joshua tree at sunset The City of Ridgecrest is just minutes from the China Lake gates. As the third largest city in Kern County, Ridgecrest offers all of the amenities of comfortable living. A wide variety of affordable housing, a unified school district, a community college and all of your shopping needs are among the things that are available in Ridgecrest without the hassles of the big city.

China Lake is steeped in Naval History. In the summer of 1943 Dr. Charles C. Lauritsen of the California Institute of Technology, and Navy Commander Jack Renard, flew a small plane over the vast Mojave Desert in search of the perfect remote location to establish a "shooting range" for testing Navy missiles. They eventually spotted a small two-way landing strip in Inyokern. The site was extremely remote, but not too far removed from Cal Tech's Pasadena base. Shortly afterwards, the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) was born.


NAWCWD community map
Eastern Sirerra recreation map