Santa Lucia Camping

Miranda Pines – Camping Los Padres Back Roads & 4×4 Camps
Hwy 41 & Hwy 166 Camping – Santa Lucia District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Baja Campground 1400′ 2 oaks pit no Branch Creek Rd
Barrel Spring Campground 1000′ 6 oaks vault no seasonal
Bates Canyon Camp 2900′ 6 pines vault no Cottonwood Cyn Rd
Brookshire Campground 1500′ 2 pit no
Buck Spring Campground 1500′ 1 pit no OHV area
Cerro Alto Campground 1000′ 22 trees vault piped on Hwy 41
Colson Canyon Campground 2000′ 5 pit no Colson Canyon Rd
Davy Brown Campground 2100 13 mixed vault creek Sunset Valley Rd
Figueroa Campground 3500′ 33 oaks pit yes San Rafeal Wilderness
Friis Campground 2200′ 3 pit no Rd# 29S02
Hi Mountain Campground 2400′ 11 vault no Pozo-Hi Mountain Rd
Horseshoe Campground 1600′ 3 vault no Colson Canyon Rd
La Panza Campground 2400′ 15 vault no Pozo Road
Lazy Campground 1400′ 2 vault no Rd# 30W29
Miranda Pines Campground 4000′ 3 vault no Sierra Madre Ridge
Navajo Campground 1900′ 2 pit no Rd #29S02
Nira Campground 1000′ 11 vault creek Manzana Creek
Wagon Flat Campground 1400′ 3 pit no Colson Canyon Rd

Most of these camps are free; No reservations needed!

see also – Rock Front Ranch

Los Padres National Forest

maps of the Los Padres region –

dscn5110

Davy Brown Campground has lush terrain and a small, seasonal creek

Saline Valley Hot Springs

Saline Valley Hot Springs
Saline Valley Warm Springs

NORTH Death Valley National Park, in a super remote desert valley located in the vast mountains in between Big Pine CA Route 168 & Death Valley (west) Highway 190.

Inyo National Forest: Inyo mountains are a towering range of high elevation desert peaks running in between Owens Valley and Saline Valley.

desert wilderness access: 4 dirt road routes lead into Saline Valley – 2 backcountry 4×4 trails from the upper reaches of the park and 2 main dirt roads. All routes require a high elevation pass, so snow is likely in winter months (Nov-May).

Wilderness routes road conditions can change often, seasonally with winter snows, mud and summer thunderstorms. The most popular access are the main routes (both long dirt roads, subject to snow and closure at any time) – the North Pass (Big Pine) and the South Pass (Panamint). Detailed directions on those further below. Both backcountry roads Steele Pass and Lippincott Road, originate from the northern, desolate areas of the National Park and both require 4 wheel drive, with a recommended locking differential.

No developed campground facilities. Clothing optional my ass — nudity is the norm here.

Since the challenging drive in to this remote desert valley is so grueling and time consuming, plan to spend a minimum of 4 nights. Anything less is way too rushed to totally enjoy the experience.  Best way to enjoy this place is a full week off of work, and as much firewood, food and ice as you can haul. Some folks spend weeks camping here. The NPS limits your camping stay to 30 days! If you plan on driving out to Lone Pine for camping supplies and returning the same day, you best leave at dawn – cuz the entire round trip ‘beer run’ will take 6 hours or more.

High clearance vehicle a must & 4 wheel drive is highly recommended in all this region. All wheel drive wagons and passenger cars have been known to bottom out, break down and pop tires out here in the harsh conditions, so a first challenge may be to obtain a dependable and capable off-road vehicle.

Topographic GPS & decent back road maps are highly advised. One way drive is easily 4 hours, from any paved highway. Pack like you’re gonna live out here, if need be. Warning: this is a very long off-road journey for any average camping trip. This isn’t a weekend kinda place. First timers beware – it’s a full day journey to travel here!

Air Strip? The fly in option is a dirt landing strip called ‘Chicken Strip’, but National Park Service has yet to closed it.

NORTH PASS to Saline Valley Road:

from Big Pine, take Hwy 168 N from Hwy 395, turn right onto Death Valley Road (some maps may have this one listed as Waucoba Springs Road or just Waucoba Road). Proceed on the main route to the hard to read entrance sign marking the Saline Valley Road, past a few old structures and down to the main valley. Winter snow can be deep, so carry chains. 4×4 is best to access this remote valley, AWD high clearance might make it and normal passenger cars, 2WD SUVs should be warned about weather and access to the real world. Many times all mountain passes are snowed in – people do get trapped at Saline and cannot get out for weeks. So take that into account when requesting days off of work for this epic journey.

SOUTH PASS to Saline Valley Road:

from Olancha, take Highway 190 E, turn N off Hwy. 190 to Saline Valley Rd. Rugged 50+ mi. of hard core dirt roads. 4×4 and high clearance a must. Winter months expect snow, springtime rock slides and summers torrential downpours cause overflowing creeks w/ impassable washouts. Grapevine Canyon can be a challenging drive, but with patience and skill you can be down on the main valley floor in about an hour and a half (if you’re lucky). Did I mention the dozen or more miles of heavy washboard road conditions, at the base of the alluvial fan of mountain rock? Newbies and first timers should attempt the North Pass.

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Near the marsh, when you finally reach the sand dunes area, you know the turn off is close-by, so slow down and stop to read the landscape. Know that the hot springs are located above the sand dunes to the east slope of the red volcanic mountains. When you see the metal bat sign and the mass of palm trees in the lower grove, you know you’ve arrived.

You’ve only truly arrived, when your whole body is immersed in hot water looking up at the stars and you learn to relax again. Breathe the deepest you have all year.

CAUTION: Stopping for those vehicles distressed on the side of the road is also a common practice. Many people break down on this route, Jeeps slide off cliffs. Harsh landscapes, plus weather are unforgiving and people die, so realize that this camping trip is no walk in the park.

Saline Valley Road Conditions & discussions can be found on
Saline Valley Talk, the Saline Valley Message Board
forum.salinepreservation.org

Saline Preservation Association
salinepreservation.org

Trip Review from Student Reader
studentreader.com/saline-valley

natural hot springs

nearby desert destinations –


View Death Valley National Park in a larger map

Toad Spring Campground

Toadsprings

Los Padres National Forest; Toad Spring Campground

Atop Quatal Canyon on Forest Rd #9N09
– less than a mile off of Cerro Noroeste Road; just west of Apache Saddle. Cerro Noroeste Road name has changed to Harris Ranch Road (2015), so make sure to check on several maps before venturing out, just so you know.

5700′ elevation w/ 5 camp sites.
picnic tables, fire rings & no toilet. OHV trails nearby

Red dirt Quatal Canyon, next to the Chumash Wilderness & the Apache Saddle, a small campground is an oasis for the wildlife. A year round drippy, soggy natural springs feeds the meadow & trickles down the dirt road. Great birdwatching, hiking, native wildflowers & hunting.

OHV use is quite common; Quatal Cyn trails,  a long desert wash to explore. Short side canyons to the right, off of main road (9N09). Many routes may require a high clearance vehicle, but not 4×4, unless it’s raining or wet or snowy. You’ll need a Los Padres Forest map to get the most enjoyment out of this confusing landscape.  The multi-colored, eroded badlands makes great day hikes. Chumash Cliffs & Mount Abel 8286′.

Ballinger Canyon OHV Park is about 20 miles away, via Quatal Cyn & then 5 miles N on Hwy 33


View Larger Map

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST MAPS – USDA
LOS PADRES EAST MAP – NatGeo
LOS PADRES WEST MAP – NatGeo

towns nearby:

PINE MOUNTAIN CA

VENTUCOPA CA

Dome Trail 3

Dome Trail

Dome Trail Hike
near Bald Rock in Berry Creek

Plumas National Forest Trail #6E21
Access Road #21N51Y
Middle Fork – Feather River
Sierra Nevada mountains @ Berry Creek, CA

On paved Bald Rock Road a rusted metal sign reads “Dome Trail 3” which is where the fun begins, on the dirt.

3 mile drive to trailhead from pavement
4.6 miles RT hike
w/ a 2000 feet elevation drop to the river

Plumas Forest Rd #21N51Y is located in the forested community of Berry Creek – opposite from Upper Zink Road. Road 21N51Y becomes Bean Creek Rd #21N36: The forested route passes a few private properties and gates, the dirt road leads 3 miles down to an old wildfire (2008) burn area and eventually dead-ends at the Dome trailhead. The hiking trail descends down while overlooking the Bald Rock Canyon with the Middle Fork of the Feather River.

Rated as a moderately difficult hike: Steep hillsides, plenty switchbacks, downed trees across trail, boulder hopping, cliff edges, extreme heights and rock slides. Delighted by dozens of wildflowers, the old metal staircase still in use, steel pipe railings and the minimal fencing and of course, the big river deep inside an impressive rock canyon. Sierra Nevada spectacular!

Trailhead Parking

Indian Creek spills down into Curtain Falls up the canyon, sometimes within view. Secluded Milsap Bar Campground is also up the river from here. The stretch of the whitewater river is popular with rafters and kayaks. Rock climbers gravitate to the big walls above. Bring a picnic lunch and water filter for this amazing all day hike.

Granite Domes & Bald Rocks

There are numerous granite domes and bald rocks within the Plumas National Forest, most located near the big river canyons. This particular granite dome is situated overlooking the Middle Fork of the Feather River, and it is called Bald Rock Dome w/ 3509′ elevation.

MIddleForkFeather

Not to be confused with another shorter hike nearby on Bald Rock Road at a well marked trailhead for Bald Rock, which over looks the forest and valley to the west side. The official peak is named “Big Bald Rock” as listed on most maps.


Turtle Mountain Road

Turtle Mountain Rd

Turtle Mountain Road
BLM Road # NS477

off U.S. Highway 95
in between Needles & Blythe, California

BLM: Bureau of Land Management – Desert Camping

Several miles south of the town of Needles numerous desert washes cross the highway with dirt roads leading off into both directions. Turtle Mountain is just one dirt road to explore in this region, but there are many more unmarked, secluded roads. This region is perfect for “campers in-route” traveling who need a quick overnight camp spot (off the freeway).

Turtle Mountain Road is a one lane dirt road that runs next to a wash, in between Turtle Mountain Wilderness and Stepladder Mountain Wilderness. Leading approx 12 miles from US Highway 95 to the northern edge of the desert wilderness. The Turtle Mountain route continues westward to meet Water Road with Old Woman Mountain Wilderness nearby. Sunflower Springs Road continues north to Essex @ Interstate 40

BLM signage along US Hwy 95 is minimal. Look for vertical brown markers w/ reflectors, numbers or names. Driving slower than typical traffic, coast at 50 mph and keep your eyes peeled to the west side. Turtle Mountain Rd is marked at the pavement, but the marker is very small.

Eastern California Desert Wildflowers

Exploring the eastern side of Southern California, one can find the Colorado River and Arizona border region an excellent destination for winter camping. Springtime offers wildflower blooms, open camping and decent weather with sunny 70 degree days. Wildflowers and BLM beauty awaits those who venture off the paved routes.

Pink Cactus Bloom

Palo Verde trees line the washes and much vegetation can be seen throughout this remote region. Cacti include the cholla, ocotillo, barrel, beavertail, just to name a few. Wildflower blooms here are just as good as Anza Borrego Desert SP.

MARCH & APRIL are both prime months for the desert bloom

BLM Desert Camping

Drive more than a mile from the highway if you plan to camp in peace and quiet, as the overnight truck traffic goes all hours.

RV accessible camp spots are few and far in between. They can be found in large, level pullouts close to the main road, but you will be hearing traffic zoom by. Some dirt roads are in better shape than others; Seasonal storms in the low desert can wash out even paved roads. 4×4 may be needed in some areas.

Open camping in this desert is free and there is plenty of room to spread out. Imagine not seeing anyone pass by your camp or drive down your road for days. Camping in a sandy wash may seem appealing, but you best know the weather forecast and if rain is at all predicted nearby, be prepared to break camp (in the middle of the night) before a flash flood hits.

The Needles BLM Rangers Office is located on US Hwy 95, on the south edge of town and they can provide maps and more information. BLM California Deserts

Needles BLM Office
1303 S. US Hwy 95
Needles, CA 92363
760-326-7000

Lake Havasu BLM Office
2610 Sweetwater Avenue
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406
928-505-1200