Installation Overview -- Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California


Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is an airborne weapons testing and training range operated by the United States Navy and its contractors. It is located in the northeast of California's Mojave Desert in northwestern San Bernardino County, southwestern Inyo County, and northeastern Kern County, adjacent to Ridgecrest, California.

Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake is the Navy’s largest single landholding, representing 34 percent of the Navy’s total land worldwide. The restricted airspace is composed of 19,600 square miles of controlled airspace, totaling 12 percent of California’s total airspace and provides an unprecedented venue for integrated testing and training of today’s war fighter. More than 95 percent of its 1.1-million acres has remained undisturbed during the course of NAWS mission.

China Lake is located approximately three to four hours from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Mammoth and Death Valley. Within four hours you will find ski resorts, beaches and shopping.. It is a great location for those that love the outdoors. Temperatures vary throughout the year. From May to August the day time temperature can be more than 110 degrees with evening temperatures in the 70s. The rest of the year, daytime temperatures are around 60-70 and evening temperatures in the 20s and 30s.

Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWS) mission is to support the Navy's research, testing and evaluation missions to provide cutting-edge weapons systems to the warfighter.

Official website for Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake

Location/Driving Directions

China Lake is situated next to the town of Ridgecrest, a thriving town with a population of nearly 35,000. China Lake/Ridgecrest is located near three major highways, US Hwy 395 and California State Highways, 14 and 178. No matter whether you fly or drive to get to China Lake, try to arrive during the daylight hours, as the town is very isolated. Transportation from airports can sometimes be arranged by your new command. Please check with them for availability.

The Inyokern Airport, located a mere ten miles from the base front gate, serves China Lake and Ridgecrest. The Inyokern Airport handles daily flights with United Express. Three runways can accommodate private aircraft up to a DC 9. Two national car rental agencies are available to meet your transportation needs.

From Los Angeles International Airport take Interstate 405 North from the airport, over the Hollywood Hills and across the San Fernando Valley. Then take Interstate 5 North a short distance to State Route 14. Remain on Highway 14, through Palmdale, Lancaster, Mojave and Red Rock Canyon until the Inyokern turnoff. Take Highway 178 east through Inyokern to China Lake and Ridgecrest. (160 total miles).

From Hollywood/Burbank Airport take Interstate 5 North from the airport until intersecting State Route 14. Take Highway 14 through Palmdale. Take the same directions as above. (140 total miles) .

From Ontario Airport take Interstate 10 East from the airport, then Interstate 215/15 North exit towards Barstow/Las Vegas and over Cajon Pass. Take Highway 395 North exit towards Bishop/Adelanto and travel to the Ridgecrest turnoff. (120 total miles) .

Main Phone Numbers

Headquarters Building. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

Base operator (760) 939-9011 DSN (437)

Fleet and Family Support Center (760) 939-4545

Force Protection (760) 939-2709

Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotlines (Navy) (800) 522-3451

Housing Office (760) 446-1320

Information Technology (760) 939-4810

Inspector General (760) 939-0711

Legal Services (760) 939-5630

Military Administration (NAWS) (760) 939-1553/2098

Morale, Welfare and Recreation (760) 939-3440

Naval Criminial Investigative Service (NCIS) (760) 939-6646

NAVFACSW, Public Works Dept (760) 939-3412

Navy Gateway Inns & Suites (760) 939-3146

NAWS CO (760) 939-2211

Physical Security (760)939-4277

Public Affairs Office (760) 939-1683

Resource Management (760) 939-3371/1066

Rocketeer II (760) 446-4284

Safety and Occupational Health (760) 939-2315

Youth Services (760) 939-3171

Population/Major Units Assigned

Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

NWS China Lake is headquarters of the Naval Air Systems Command Weapons Division. Other tenant commands include: Branch Health Clinic, COMPACFLT Ordnance Program Detachment, Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Printing Service Office, Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, an EOD Detachment, Federal Industrial Supply Center, the Marine Aviation Detachment, Federal Investigation Services, Naval Criminal Investigative Services, NAVFAC Southwest Detachment, Navy Exchange, and Region Legal Services Offices.

The Navy remains the Indian Wells Valley's largest employer with 3,141 full-time civilians, 861 military employees, 1,385 on-board contractors, and 923 off-site contractors. On any normal workday, 10,000 people pass through the gates.

Temporary Lodging

Contact the Consolidated Billeting Office at China Lake for government quarters.

The Visitors Quarters known as NAVY GATEWAY INNS & SUITES (NGI&S) has 101 rooms in 10 buildings, this includes Bldg 1395, and it has 8 multi bed rooms and 16 single rooms. They have 4 houses (Essex) (E7-O10) 4 houses (Halsey) (E1-E-6). Buildings 2242 (Sierra), 2243 (Panamint) and 2244 (Summit) each have 15 suites that include full kitchens and most have garages. Included in Panamint are 4 DVQ Suites (O6-O9 or E9) and Bldg 496 (Pinnacles) and Bldg 499 (Portals) each have 12 (2 room suites) with sink, microwave & small refrigerator.

The front desk is open 24 hours. Check-in time is at 3;00 p.m. Check-out is at 11:00 a.m. Our reservations are for guests on orders, military and civilian, retired military and Space Available. Guests are provided with the basic amenities, plus.

There are no pets allowed in transient quarters.

There are 11 Transient Family Quarters. Reservations are strongly recommended. For E-1 TO E-3 there are 8 two-man units with shared bath, microwave, mini refrigerator, phone, and cable. For E-4 to E-6 there are 16 units with private bathroom, microwave, mini refrigerator, phone, and cable. For E-7 and above there are 64 units with 2 room suites, private bath, microwave, mini refrigerator, television, phone,and cable. Some have full kitchens while others have kitchenettes.

Maximum length of stay limited to 30 days.


Bachelor Officer Quarters. Photo Courtesy U.S. Navy

Navy-owned housing at China Lake may be available to active duty military families. China Lake has some of the best government housing in the Navy. It is recommended that you complete, as soon as possible, an application for on-base housing (DD Form 1746). Include with this form a copy of your orders; with the detaching endorsement from your command and your current page two. You will be placed in advanced status until you report in at China Lake. Forward your package to the Family Housing Office at China Lake. Contact the Family Housing Office immediately upon your arrival to be placed on the waiting list and/or for assistance in locating affordable and suitable housing in the community. Your control date will be the date of detachment from your last duty station. Make sure that your date of detachment is stamped on your orders. Assignment to government quarters at China Lake is not mandatory. Single or married military members may request to reside off Station.

All 192 homes on station are single family. All units are unfurnished with fenced backyards, garage, wall-to-wall carpeting, vertical and mini blinds, dishwasher, garbage disposal, stove, refrigerator, and washer and dryer hook-ups. The units have heating and central evaporative cooling. All units have three or four bedrooms and 1 3/4 or two bathrooms. Very often there is a waiting list of a few weeks to a few months for family housing .

Single enlisted members and married personnel not accompanied by their families are assigned to the BEQ. There are 222 modular rooms in the three-building complex. Each room has a private bath, desk, spacious locker and bed. In addition, there is a common lounge for each four-room module. Call (760) 939-3146 for more information.

Bachelor officers and senior enlisted (chief petty officers and above) not accompanied by dependents are assigned to 1-bedroom suite units. These consist of a living room, kitchen, bath, and bedroom. Call (760) 939-3146 for more information.

In order to help China Lake employees acquire housing in the community, the Family Housing Office has established the Rental Partnership Program. This program maintains information about the local housing market and directs military members to available housing in Ridgecrest and the surrounding Indian Wells Valley area.


The Sierra Sands United School District provides educational needs for all valley residents. Originally many schools in the district were located on the base but newer schools have been built off center, leaving only two schools still within the China Lake gates.

Public and private grade schools are available in the community. Special education, before and after school programs, supplemental/free/reduced lunch programs, busing, summer programs and learning camps, gifted/exceptional education programs, all of these are available within the area. For more detailed information about special programs please visit the Sierra Sands Unified School District website, which provides phone numbers of specific departments within the SSUSD. Ridgecrest, CA currently has 6 Elementary Schools.

China Lake has an Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Campus located within the Fleet & Family Support Center 0610 Blandy Ave, Building 02308.

China Lake also has a Navy College Office open 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday, in which they provide Information on education and can also be a proctor for exams. The Navy College Office also has two non-NMCI computers for members to log on.

The community also has two Adult Education facilities .

Child Care

Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

The on-station Child Development Center (CDC) has the distinction of being the first Nationally Accredited Center in the Department of Defense.

The Child Development Center provides full-time and part-time care for military and DOD family members from six weeks of age up through kindergarten.

The Child Development Homes Program has approximately 10 homes in the The Child Development Homes Program with 60 spaces available (includes provider's children). The goals of the Child Development Homes Program are as follows:

1. The Child Development Homes Program has been established Navy-wide to increase the availability of quality, affordable childcare for military families.

2. To establish standards of child care for the protection and well being of children while away from their homes.

3. To encourage and assist Child Development Homes Providers to operate a quality, nurturing program for children.

4. To provide an opportunity for spouses of military and DOD personnel to operate a business in their homes within Navy guidelines.

5. To allow parents to perform their duties of work without undue concern about the care their children are receiving.

Each provider sets their own fees and hours within broad guidelines. For more information, contact our Family Child Care Director at (760) 939-6683.

SCHOOL AGE CARE (Before and After School/Summer Camp) offers a complete before and after school care program, as well as drop-in and hourly care. Transportation is provided to each school for an extra charge. The children get two snacks a day and participate in projects such as art, games, reading, and field trips. Fees are determined by total family income and vary depending upon required services.

KINDEROOZ (Kindergarten Program) offers complete before and after school care for children who are attending Kindergarten. Fees are determined by total family income. Transportation is provided to each school for an extra charge. The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department's Youth Center offers before and after school care for school aged children. For more information, call them at (760) 939-2909.

Medical Care

Robert E. Bush Navy Hospital. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

China Lake's Branch Health Clinic has a convenient location on the installtion which is easily accessible to the Active Duty, Retired and their dependents. Call 760-939-8000 option 1, to make appointments. The closest Emergency room is located in town at the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital located at 1801 N. China Lake Blvd; 760-446-3551.

The Branch Health and Dental Clinic at China Lake is located on Blandy Avenue and provides routine outpatient medical care to all eligible beneficiaries. Patients with medical problems that are unable to be treated according to the clinic's capability are referred to local civilian providers or military treatment facilities at other bases. Although the China Lake/Ridgecrest area is small and isolated, the area offers some of the best medical staff, treatment, and facilities in California.