Yellow Post Campsites

yellowpost

Yellow Post Camping


Yellow Stake Camp Sites / Back Roads Camping NFS
near Cajon Pass, Big Bear & Idyllwild CA

YELLOW POST CAMPS are dispersed camping sites on the back roads in Southern California, where fire danger is greatest. Forest authorities have designated certain spots as ‘fire safe’ for remote, open camping options around Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin and the Idyllwild mountain area.

If you prefer to stay out of the developed campgrounds, you will be the minority. But you must know how to read a map well to reach these beauties.

Map Big Bear

SoCal camping doesn’t have to mean crowded campgrounds. Seek your seclusion on the dirt back roads, where there are no fees, minimal noises & a private site waiting just for you. These are usually on a first come, first serve basis. A high clearance vehicle (SUV, truck or 4×4) may be needed to reach some of the premium camp spots, but there are also sites accessible by passenger cars. And, of course, a fire permit is required.

HeartBar14

In the San Bernardino National Forest there are several back woods ‘fire safe’ camping spots, that are noted with a single yellow post & some may require reservations in busy summer months. You can find out more on reserving from the Big Bear Discovery Center, 909-382-2790

campfires bannedExtra caution should be used when winds are high, camp fires are often banned due to wildfire danger. Check with local rangers for up to date conditions and always get your campfire permit.

No restrooms, no water, no facilities. Just a dirt road, a fire ring & a single picnic table. Hopefully your table will not be shot up, by the local rednecks who ‘get off’ doing stupid stuff like this. Pick up any litter & leave the place better than your found it.

Yellow Post Camps

These backroad camps are perfect for the 4×4 group, stressed out social club, church group w/ rugged van, or the city SUVer who wants to get away from the crowds. The most sought after camp spots are nearest to the lake or a site accessible by RVs and horse trailers, but there are many more excellent camp sites to be discovered. USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised to reach these remote areas. There are rugged dirt roads that lead to some of these spots. A passenger car is sometimes not suitable for all dirt roads. Wet weather changes everything on dirt roads. Often routes close for winter w/ locked gates.

Big Bear Back Roads Camping

download PDF maps
on Big Bear Yellow Post Sites

Campsite7

Big Lots

Cajon Pass Camping near I-15

Idyllwild Dispersed Camping

thomas camp
Topo maps, Wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

2N93 – San Berdu NF

Big Bear Dirt Roads

2N93 – Wildhorse Meadows


Heart Bar to Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino National Forest

Big Bear Back Roads
Highway 38, East of Heart Bar @ 1N02
Southern California

alt big bear

This 8 mile long forested, dirt road begins right off Hwy 38, just east of Heart Bar Campground and is an easy turn to miss. The unimproved route heads north through the National Forest, up and over and around SugarLoaf Mountain (elev 9952′), then down to the Big Bear Lake region. Several primitive sites – yellow post camp sites – can be found way back in here, but you might NOT be able to have a campfire (depending on fire restrictions). Check w/ local rangers before you head out.

snow Forest roads are often closed (gated) during the winter, when snow and rain make a muddy mess of the terrain. Rock slides are also common in wetter months. Call the local rangers to inquire on road conditions or if this route is open.

Road 2N93

The whole Big Bear Mountain area is a SoCal favorite forest destination, for weekenders and travelers alike. Mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, camping and 4-wheeling. Plus the recreational lake is full of more water recreation w/ tourist shops and restaurants. Stay away from the crowds and take the back roads for adventure and recreation.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

On the south side –

Big Bear Highway 38
Heart Bar Campground
Heart Bar Equestrian Camp
San Gorgonio Wilderness

On the north side –

Green Spot Equestrian Campground
Green Canyon Group Campground

SugarLoaf Mountain has a National Recreation Trail, overlooking much of the Moonridge golf & ski area.

San Bernardino National Forest

Big Bear Rangers:

San Gorgonio District
Mentone CA
909-382-2881

Barton Flats District
Barton Flats CA
909-794-4861

Big Bear Discovery Center
909-382-2790

Big Bear Maps
San Bernardino National Forest Map

nearby towns:
Angeles Oaks
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Forest Falls
Mentone, CA

Big Bear OffRoad Areas

Views to Big Bear Lake

Parks and Recreation Magazine

California Parks and Wreck

step 1. kill your television
step 2. get outside everyday
step 3. sleep overnight, under the stars

For those who may be still trapped in TV-Land, welcome to Total Escape, a dedicated web site all about the “real world” of wilderness and non-fiction, California style.

parksrectv

Before I started my web business people would suggest to me that I need to write a book. So I naturally chose the world wide web. Now decades later, they are still asking the same question. “Why don’t you write a book on this stuff?”

I say “I did, it’s online. On the internet already. Go look.”
Puzzled, they would turn away.

Total Escape was created in the web 1.0 days (1996), so I could easily keep track of my many travels, the awesome destinations, my recommendations, my travel logs, zillons of photographs, camping trips, the back roads, signs, maps, GPS, all of it. I worked my day job doing 3D & then moonlighted starting this small web biz. My biggest draw to the internet format at first was being able to update outdoor info instantly. Secondly, it was the ability to work from anywhere w/ a phone line. (56k anyone?)

No toxic inks, no newspaper. No glossy mag. No waste. Just free digital energy about outdoor destinations, transferred across the cyber waves, just for you the avid Escaper.

park magazine

Then came the buy-out offers and seasonal magazine ideas from sources in San Diego. By late 2003, none had solidified. Several print magazines did however mention totalescape.com in a few articles, which resulted in some nice traffic spikes. Eternally grateful for the early on-lookers and participants!

Quite personally, I had already had my share of smelly inks, papers & paints in art college. Working in a computer career field, I was fully aware of the web in the early 1990’s. I was ready for the computer age & the internet. Eager in fact! Ready to make that leap from graphics & print concepts over to web windows was all I thought about for years.

I did not want to print anything; waste anything. I wanted my biz to be state of the art, futuristic – so here I am, 20 years later. WOW. Thousands of photos, hundreds of destinations, all local to California. All by itself, Total Escape is a Parks and Recreation Magazine online.

DanaMite
Total Escape – California, Off the Beaten Path
http://www.totalescape.com

California Outside Blog

California A to Z

California Photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danamite/sets/

propanecampfire
Stupid idea #544967 – the propane campfire; Shouldn’t we be looking up at the stars?

secluded camps

2017 UPDATE:
New Map Shop and later, redesigning the gear section for Autumn.

California 4×4 Trails

Canyons of Panamint Valley

California Back Roads: MILD to WILD

jeepers, gear-heads, wheelers, ‘froaders, dirt bikers, anything with a motor

Here at Total Escape we love driving on dirt back roads so much, DanaMite created a whole freaking web site about it! Whether you like to “wheel” your Jeep, truck, SUV, ATV, UTV, or an all-wheel- drive sportwagon – we have the California terrain covered. Detailing the dirt – from basic gravel roads and forest routes to High Sierra rock climbing routes; Trailheads, campsites, maps and much more. Mountains to deserts and everything in between.

California has plenty to explore – off road!

4x4 BLM USDA State Parks camping Back Roads

California Back Roads

California Off Road Areas

California Off Road Maps

CA Off-Road Maps PDF

California 4×4 Clubs

Driving on the Beach

Off Highway Vehicle Areas

State Vehicle Recreation Areas

SUV Trail in California

Winter Wheelin

4×4 Camping in California

4×4 Off Roading

4×4 Rentals in California

all posts under category “Back Roads”

all posts under category “Off Road”

Lost Coast Roads

secluded camps

waterfalldrive

Hiking Trails Los Angeles

Los Angeles Hikes, Angeles National Forest, Angeles Crest, Baldy, Wrightwood, Palmdale, Tujunga, Frazier, and Malibu Coast

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You relocated to California for your career and to enjoy the outdoors more, but you ended up in the Los Angeles Basin instead, breathing smog daily. You will need to escape – soon, for sanity sake. This is your new favorite web site on California outdoors. Bookmark it dude. And be proud to love nature!

PCT hikes – Pacific Crest Trail
the infamous hiking trail that runs the length of the entire West Coast

PCT MAPS: Pacific Crest Trail Maps

Mount Pinos Recreation Area

Los Angeles Hiking Maps

th_angeles_d

Angeles Front Country
Angeles High Country
Angeles National Forest
Channel Islands Map
Cucamonga Wilderness
Dick Smith Wilderness
Joshua Tree Park Map
Los Padres National Forest Map
Malibu Creek Map
Mojave Preserve Map
Mount Baldy Map
Mount Wilson Trail Map
Pacific Crest Trail Maps
Point Mugu Map
San Bernardino National Forest Map
San Berdoo Mountains Maps
San Diego Backcountry Map
San Gorgonio Wilderness Map
San Jacinto Wilderness Map
Sespe Wilderness Map
Topanga Trail Map
Verdugo Mountains Trail Map
Zuma / Trancas Canyons Map

11S12 – Sierra NF

engineering_x

Black Rock Road #11S12
– Sierra National Forest

North Fork of the Kings River, Blackrock Rd

connects Kings River @ Pine Flat to Blackrock Reservoir
Road closed seasonally for winter; call ahead.

This impressive Sierra Nevada route literally climbs a granite cliff high above the Kings River, near Pine Flat Lake in the Sierra NF. This granite gorge is due east of farm city Fresno at the edge of Kings Canyon National Park.

If you are a nervous, inexperienced driver and scared of heights – be forewarned: this is not the road for you. The views are amazing, but the terrain can be unforgiving, even deadly.

Paved, narrow, one lane, giant rock overhangs, no guard rails (except on the bridge) the route skirts the North Fork of the Kings, coming down from Wishon Reservoir.

Blackrock Road

Click image above to enlarge and see the tiny Kings River far below the road.

Blackrock Reservoir, located up the road – has a campground in a secluded canyon, with lake fishing and hiking, so it is well worth trouble to take this crazy road.

Utmost safety should be taken on this road due to the extreme terrain. When driving one lane roads always keep an eye out for possible turn-outs and oncoming traffic. Forest and lake personnel have living quarters at the base of this road @ BALCH CAMP, so keep driving when passing thru. Follow signs to Blackrock.

breaktime

Above Blackrock Reservoir, further up the canyon, the road becomes DIRT when the pavement stops; this continues to Sawmill Flat Campground and eventually on to Dinkey Creek Road. This whole upper (dirt road) portion is gated for winter and closed during the wetter months. Call ahead to the ranger station at Trimmer to find out if this road is open.

Sierra National Forest
Trimmer Ranger Station
559-855-8321

Sierra Kings River Camping

Sierra National Forest Map

California Off Road Areas

4x4 Sierra

The list below is of awesome California locations that do have off-road trails surrounding them. Some destinations listed are heavy use off-road – with OHV parks or camping nearby, while others are simply scenic dirt backroads or forest roads for easy driving. Topographic maps can be found for most areas, and should have all roads displayed, dirt and paved routes, as well as campgrounds, hiking trails and trailheads.

SoCal 4x4 Big Bear

This California “off road towns” list was originally part of the California Off Road Maps page, but it surely deserves it’s own unique post, since it is an ever expanding list. Ongoing.

Searching for Off Road Parks inside California?

Try these links –
State Vehicular Recreation Areas
California OHV Parks

OHV Yields To All

Borrego Valley

19S01 – Inyo NF

south sierra ridges

Walker Creek Road #19S01
– Inyo National Forest

Southern Slopes, Eastern Sierra Nevada

Just south of Olancha, off US Hwy 395 is a dirt road that takes you 5 miles up to an oak canyon lined with rocks. There are several primitive camp sites along the Walker Creek. A high clearance vehicle may be needed in some sections, but 4×4 is not required. Small RVs might attempt this, but if the first mile frightens you, turn around while you’re ahead.

Dirt Road near 395

This private, shaded, creek area is perfect for those traveling Highway 395, looking for a quick and free camp spot near Olancha, CA

nice shady spots
Shady picnic or camp spots above 4000′ elevation.

some granite
Hiking trails at the end of the road lead deep into the mountains. One on the right takes you to waterfalls. The trail on the left will take you to meet up with the Sage Flat Trail, which leads up to Olancha Pass, Summit Meadows & a small lake, in the South Sierra Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail runs the ridges here, just west of Monache Meadows, which is at 8000′ elevation, way above here – up on top. 

First Camp

US 395 highway – the dirt road turn off is very close to a gas station, and it maybe be signed, or not. The gas stop may be in business, or perhaps not. This is rural California, wide open desert and things come and go quickly.

On a good topo map, located Olancha Creek and Summit Creek to the south. Walker Creek is the canyon in between those two, just so know where you are going and can visualize. This one is an easy-to-miss dirt road turn off – especially if you are going over 50 mph.

Snake Lake California

Snake Lake Campground

Snake Lake Campground, Plumas NF

Don’t let the name frighten you, Snake Lake is a very scenic fishing lake – but you will NOT want to swim in it. Lily pads cover the water surface most of the year so it is considered “frog heaven” during the warmer months. NFS has been upgrading these camping facilities recently. Snake Lake Campground has new picnic tables, camp fire rings, bear boxes, vault toilet and expanded equestrian camps and corrals. No piped water, so bring your own. A bucket & shovel are always required for proper campfire maintenance.

morninglakeview

One of the best free campgrounds in the region, Plumas National Forest and close to Quincy, CA. Paved road access means an easy 3 miles off the main road (Bucks Lake Road, aka Oroville-Quincy Highway, Oro Quincy Hwy). 7 miles west of the town of Quincy, the green, metal, one-lane bridge is easy to spot, but the small sign for “Snake Lake 3” is easy to miss, if driving 50 mph or faster. Turn off is located in between Quincy and Meadow Valley.

New Signs

Horse Camping

Equestrian camp sites, horse corrals, OHV trails, group picnic areas. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, off roading, horseback trails, kayaking or canoe.

Snake Lake Campground
• Elevation: 4200′
• Number of Sites: 17
• Vehicle Accessibility: small RV
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May – October
• Trailheads: OHV, Horse & Winter Rec

This lake camp serves as a central hub for travelers, motorcyclists, campers, hikers, fishermen, off roaders and equestrians alike. Mountain biking & OHV trails go off in numerous directions and horseback trails are readily accessible. Winter Recreation Area means snowmobile trails too.

Another smaller lake, Smith Lake, is a short drive or short hike (on dirt road) further into the woods, with the Butterfly Valley Botanical Area neighboring it.

Another SNAKE LAKE exist inside Plumas National Forest. The smaller Snake lake can be accessed by off-road trail Road#12E66, off the Gold Lake Highway; 4×4 is required to reach this one. West of Gold Lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The PCT is routed nearby one mile away.

middayblue

Dispersed Camping Sequoia

bone creek

Sequoia maps

Open Camping in Sequoia National Forest – Forest Road Camping

Seeking secluded campsites? This is one of the best areas to camp in pine forest w/ privacy, relatively close to Southern California. Plenty of primitive car camping on the dirt roads throughout this whole Sequoia & Kern River area.

nfs primitive back roads mountain biking hiking mountains

No facilities. No picnic tables, no toilet, no fees. Just a rock campfire ring & a clearing. Previously used sites have already been established usually near streams. Try to use these first, if at all possible. It takes a bit of exploring but you will find the perfect spot. Don’t even attempt to try to find these kinds of camp spots at night. They are often buried deep in the forest with no visible markers what-so-ever. But in trade, you will be lulled to sleep by your own private mini waterfall & no RV generators. Many of these back roads are closed & gated during winter months due to snow & rock slides.

No amenities are available in this neck of the woods, but plenty of seclusion & wilderness. Check official Wilderness rules for proper knowledge of the area restrictions. You must get a free camp fire permit from the ranger station in order to build a fire outside of a developed campground. A large shovel, plus bucket w/ water are a bare minimum for the privilege of camping like this. Certain dry seasons (summers into autumn) have very strict camp fire restrictions. Check with the ranger to see the latest on building campfires on the back roads. camping

A Sequoia Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. There are so many dirt roads for dispersed primitive camping on the back roads. Due to weather & erosion, some roads may require 4×4 or high clearance, so come prepared with a plan B.

Camping Checklist to make sure you’ll have what you need. The drive up from the Los Angeles area averages 3-4 hours and is well worth the trip. Once you’ve found that perfect spot, take detailed note of it, for the next time you visit the area. Then, you will be able to get there easily in the middle of the night, if need be.

Backroad Camping Sequoia: Follow the forest road numbers with your Sequoia map to discover amazing back road camping options. Your own private stream or meadow. Secluded campsites with your own mini waterfall.

overview

see also –
Sequoia Campground Camping

monache mdw

Sequoia National Forest OHV

Off-Roading Sequoia

Sequoia OHV Trails & Off-Road Areas

Rincon Camp
Rincon Camp & Rincon Trail @ Sherman’s Pass turnoff

Sequoia National Forest covers a large portion of the Southern Sierra, surrounding the Kern River canyon. This trail list is NOT for off-roading in the Sequoia groves!

The regions here are further south, below the Western Divide & Trail of 100 Giants.

If you are looking for more than a leisurely Sunday drive or a self guided back road tour, listed below are areas to “tear it up” on dirt w/ your motor bikes, machines & off road toys. Camping is common in certain spots.

CAMPS: Please be respectful of other campers and hikers; do not ride circles around camp sites, stir up dust or rev up engines at night. Choose a camp away from main roadways and access trails for a more enjoyable experience. Equestrian campers often use these same areas for meadow camping and horseback riding. A campfire permit is required.

sequoia OHV routes

ATV offroad trails, OHV routes & 4×4 Jeep Roads

Mojave OHV Sequoia 4x4

DIRT ROADS in KERN CYN & SEQUOIA

Just looking for some dirt roads to explore – at a more leisurely pace?
Check out DanaMite’s Sequoia Back Roads list, where you can find awesome unpaved roads throughout the Sequoia Forest & Kern Canyon region. Some of these secluded routes lead to great primitive camping sites, waterfalls, fishing holes, or amazing view points, but are not necessarily popular ATV routes.

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Long Valley Campground

Secluded Camp Sites

Long Valley Campground BLM

Southern Sierra Nevada
secluded camp, fishing & hiking trails
(free campground, open all year long)

South Fork of Kern River & DomeLand Wilderness

20+ miles from the nearest paved road; a remote camp on Long Valley Loop Road, off Canebrake Road. Both are dirt roads: high clearance vehicle recommended!

High Desert meets the Sierra Mountains

Back in the dry pinyon hills east of Kernville, beyond Sherman’s Pass; high above the Mojave desert and north of Canebrake & Highway 178. Long dirt roads, remote campground w/ fishing & hiking trails. Wilderness access.

hiking fishing trails horse trails back roads back roads sierra mountains

Chimney Peak Back Country Byway
Canebrake, California

These dirt back roads listed above skirt the edge of Dome Land Wilderness & Sequoia National Forest winding through BLM Land bordering the Mojave. The byway networks recreation areas between Kennedy Meadows and Canebrake, east of Lake Isabella. Eastern Kern County, California.

backpacking
camping
fishing
hiking
horseback trails
mountain biking
rock climbing
stargazing
wildflowers

Trailheads Domeland

People come way out here for the seclusion – the peace & the quiet. Mid-week you can have the whole place to yourself. Abundant hiking trails & fishing access. Into the Dome Land Wilderness you will find incredible scenery and diverse terrain – giant granite domes, waterfall canyons, and the South Fork of the Kern River (3 mi hike to river). PCTThe infamous Pacific Crest Trail passes close to Long Valley Campground, but Chimney Creek Campground is much closer to the PCT.

BLM Camping

Long Valley Campground

• Elevation: 5200′
• Number of Sites: 13
• Vehicle Accessibility: High Clearance Vehicle
• Facilities: picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilet
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: None
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: Open all year
• Operated by: BLM
• Trailheads: S. Fork Kern River & Domeland Wilderness

Bureau of Land Management
BLM Bakersfield Field Office
661-391-6000
Find a BLM page w/ map & info

Recent Domeland Wild Fires:
Manter Fire (2000)
McNally Fire (2002)

Long Valley Loop
Long Valley Loop Road (2001)

2016 NOTE: The part of the LOOP of Long Valley Loop Road that connects this campground to Kennedy Meadows (to the north) is CLOSED due to a huge washout. The Long Valley campground is accessible from the south side, from Hwy 178 @ Canebrake – and requires many miles of dirt road driving. High clearance vehicles are recommended; 4×4 needed in wet weather or snow.

towns nearby:

CANEBRAKE
KENNEDY MEADOWS
KERNVILLE
LAKE ISABELLA
MOJAVE

High Desert Sagebrush
High Desert Sagebrush & Dirt Roads
Wildfire Burn
Manter Wildfire Burn Area (2001)

Chimney Creek Campground

campmap

Chimney Creek Campground
BLM Kern / Mojave

High mountain desert camp is mislabeled on some maps as “Chimney Peak Campground” or “Chimney Rock Campground”. Pinyon pine forest on Chimney Creek, near hiking trailheads, wildflowers and Chimney Peak Wilderness. Southern Sierra ridge near Mojave Desert and California SR 178.

peakpinyons

Canebrake Road is a graded dirt road that makes up part of Chimney Peak Back Country Byway. This rural route is a major graded dirt road located north of Highway 178 – which connects Canebrake to Long Valley up near Kennedy Meadows. Pacific Crest Trail passes next to this campground in the Southern Sierra mountains. The campground turn off is way east of Lake Isabella Hwy 178 is (near Walker Pass & PCT) and follow dirt road north to Kennedy Meadows in the far eastern reaches of Sequoia National Forest

Chimney Peak BLM
• Elevation: 5,700′
• Number of Sites: 32
• Camping Reservations: No
• Sites Available: First come, First serve
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV limit 28′ max
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Water: Piped (April – Sept)
• Toilet: Vault
• Season: Open all year
• Fee: No
• Operated By: BLM
• Closest Town: Lake Isabella, CA

Bureau of Land Management
BLM Bakersfield Ranger Station
661-391-6000

Lamont Peak
Lamont Peak – elev 7510′

nearby destinations –
Camp Kern Backroads

Chimney Peak Wilderness
Lamont Peak
Long Valley Campground
Dome Land Wilderness
Owens Peak Wilderness
Jawbone Canyon
Sequoia National Forest
Sacatar Trail Wilderness
Kiavah Wilderness
Kennedy Meadows
Lake Isabella
Kern River
Monache Meadows


View Chimney Creek Campground in a larger map

Little Grass Valley Reservoir

LGVR

Little Grass Valley Recreation Area
Plumas National Forest

Little Grass Valley Reservoir

Tucked way up in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, at the top edge of the California Gold Country, is this popular recreational lake in the forest above the busy Sacramento Valley.

Up on the mountain at 5000 feet above sea level, via La Porte Road (Plumas #120), a Sierra Nevada THRU-ROAD – one which closes for winter snow. The lake destination may be open, but the campgrounds are closed up seasonally. (NOV-APRIL)

Sierra Nevada Lakes

Little Grass Valley Reservoir
Lake Statistics:

Elevation 5,100′
Surface Area 1,433 acres
Shoreline 16 miles
Capacity 93,101 acre-feet

With over 300+ camp sites available in 10 different campgrounds, Little Grass Valley has room for everyone. Reservations are recommended in summer months, although some camps are on a first-come basis.

lake destinations bike trails hiking lake Fishing dark skies picnic wildlife mountains boating equestrian lake trails


3 boat ramps
2 swim beaches
Lakeshore trail
RV Camping
Walk-in tent campsites

RV campsites campground

Camper Trailers up to 40 feet can be accommodated in some of the camping units. 2 RV dump stations are available, near Tooms Boat Launch & Red Feather. Campgrounds have piped water, but no RV hookups.

Fishing, water-skiing, kayaking, sailing, boating.

Swim beaches provide excellent swimming and picnicking opportunities. The Lakeshore Trail (13 miles) winds around the entire lake, for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS
  • Horse Camp
  • Little Beaver Campground
  • Red Feather Campground
  • Sly Creek Campground
  • Strawberry Campground
  • Wyandotte Campground
  • LaPorte Union
    LaPorte, California – up the mountain

    Sierra Nevada Lakes

    TRAVEL NOTE: The nearest town isn’t much of a “town” at all – so driving to get “anywhere w/ tourist services” from here is quite a chore. Gasoline is minimal, if any. Plan to bring everything you will need for your vacation stay, cuz driving to Quincy, or down the hill to O-ville will take more than an hour (one way). Go prepared.

    Print a Lake Map [PDF download]

    PLUMAS NF PAGE

    Sunsetting on Lake

    Reservoir usually open from Memorial Day to October, annually.

    Challenge Visitor Center
    18050 Mulock Road
    Challenge CA 95925
    530-675-1146

    Northwest Park Management
    530 283-5559

    Plumas National Forest
    Feather River Ranger District
    530 534-6500

    nearby towns:
    Challenge, CA
    La Porte, CA
    Oroville, CA
    Quincy, CA

    LGVR

    San Diego Camping

    Anza Backroads

    Cleveland National Forest Camping – San Diego Campgrounds – Desert Camping Anza Borrego – SD County Campgrounds – BLM Campgrounds – San Diego Beach Camping – San Diego Mountains

    campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
    Bobcat Meadow 3800′ 16 oaks vault no no RVs
    Burnt Rancheria 5000′ 100+ pines vault piped Sunrise Hwy
    Cibbets Flats 4200′ 23 oaks vault piped Interstate 8
    Corral Canyon 3500′ 20 oaks vault piped OHV near I-8
    Dripping Springs 1800′ 26 oaks vault piped Hwy 79, E Temecula
    El Cariso North 2600′ 24 oaks vault piped small RV
    Fry Creek Campground 4900′ 20 oaks vault piped Palomar Mountain
    Indian Flats Campground 3600′ 17 oaks vault piped off Hwy 79
    Laguna Mountain 5500′ 75 pines vault piped Sunrise Hwy
    Palomar SP Campground 7000′ 13 pines vault piped Palomar Mountain

    Anza Camping

    Anza Borrego Desert Camping & Campgrounds

    Desert Mountain Biking Open Camping Stargazing Hiking

    San Diego County Campgrounds

    Sweetwater Reservoir, Otay Lakes, Agua Caliente, Vallecito
    Camping Reservations 877-565-3600 or 858-565-3600

    Camping

    Bureau of Land Management

    San Diego BLM Camping

    Lark Canyon, Cottonwood @ McCain Valley near Interstate 8

    Coastal Cliffs San Diego

    San Diego Beach Camping

    Coastal Towns with Camping near San Diego –

    Chula Vista
    Coronado
    San Diego
    Mission Beach & Bay
    Del Mar
    Cardiff
    Carlsbad
    Oceanside

    Indian Flats Campground

    Indian Flats Campground is located on a dirt road off Hwy 79, near Warner Springs CA. Boulder ridges & manzanita surround this oak filled secluded canyon. Small seasonal creek & waterfall is a short walk from campsite.

    Free Camping
    Anza Borrego Desert by far has the best free camping options available near San Diego.

    Maps Mountains / Desert Topo / San Diego Area Maps

    Sardine Lake California

    Sardine Lake California Camping

    Lakes Basin California, Northern Sierra

    Lakes Basin Recreation Area

    The granite spires of the Sierra Buttes (8591′) tower above both Upper & Lower Sardine, making for a glorious backdrop to these two lakes. This is a popular fishing lake with no swimming allowed. The water is so clear that at noon you can see to the bottom!

    There are numerous, super-scenic, small lakes in this region and one trip here is not nearly enough. Total Escape rates this collection of small lakes up there w/ the ‘best hiking lakes’ in California. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through this awesome lakes area, which is located north of Truckee, east of Downieville.

    backpacking
    boating
    camping
    canoeing
    fine dining
    fishing
    hiking
    granite peaks
    kayaking
    mountain biking
    off-roading
    stargazing
    waterfalls
    wildflowers

    snowmelt lake snowmelt lake snowmelt lake
    high elevation means snow

    Plumas Co Road #24 is the Gold Lake Road, also referred to as the Gold Lake Highway – which skirts the lakes, the buttes and connects Historic Gold Country Hwy 49 to Graeagle Golfing @ Hwy 89. SNOW CLOSES THIS ROAD, but the area remains open for winter recreation.

    SARDINE LAKE ROAD, a paved turn off the main road. NFS Campground is located one mile from the shore at Lower Sardine. Sardine Lake Resort rents cabins and the restaurant serves dinners w/ lake view!

    fishing lake Gold Country Lake hiking trailheads National Forest Service Developed Campground

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    Sardine Lake Campground

    • Elevation: 5800′
    • Number of Sites: 29
    • Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
    • Campsites Reservation: Yes
    • Camp Fee: Yes
    • Facilities: piped water, vault toilet
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: June – October
    • Trailheads: Sierra Buttes & PCT

    sardine campground sign

    National Forest Service Rangers Quarters

    Sardine Peak Lookout
    SARDINE PEAK FIRE TOWER LOOKOUT (NFS)
    RESERVE a historic fire lookout tower, built in 1935. A three story enclosed tower with external stairs. (elevation 8138′)

    panoramic

    Upper Sardine Lake California

    Upper Sardine Lake: Takes only a short hike to get to. This is a pure glacial bowl; the rock plunges straight into the water, no beach at all. Great fishing; ice-cold swimming.

    local contacts for this lake:

    Sardine Lake Resort
    530-862-1196

    Row boat rentals on Sardine Lake
    530-862-1196

    Canoes rentals on nearby Packer Lake
    530-862-1221

    Plumas County Visitors Bureau:
    800-326-2247

    Plumas National Forest Rangers:
    530-862-1368

    Sierra County Visitors Bureau:
    800-200-4949

    nearby towns:
    Downieville, CA
    Graeagle, CA
    Sierra City, CA

    nearby lakes:
    Gold Lake
    Sand Pond
    Packer Lake

    maps of the region:
    Lakes Basin Map USDA
    NatGeo Sierra Buttes Map
    Plumas National Forest Map
    Tahoe National Forest Map

    Driving on the Beach

    beach sunset

    Driving on the Beach in California

    Gone are the days of ‘beach blanket bingo’ where film crews glamorized California – the beautiful people, the nice vehicles, the sport of surfing and the glorious beaches. There are very few places left on the California coast that you can actually drive a vehicle on the sand, right next to the ocean. The military bases, oil corporations and the utility companies have the front row seats to the Pacific genocide, and the rest of the population is restricted with extreme limited access.

    Baja California has minimal regulations on coastal access with a car. No pavement, no signs, no cell phone signal, and no help for miles – something to consider if you get stuck south of the border in Mexico. Baja has numerous places to explore below Ensenada, but asking locals is always a favored approach. Pay attention to private property signs and always close the cattle gate (if you found it closed).

    Southern California, no beaches allow vehicle traffic. San Diego offers a sliver of sand @ Silver Strand SB, which is a developed campground for motorhomes and car campers, located right on the beach south of Coronado, CA. Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, San Diego allows driving on sand and a favorite among active dogs, but not camping is allowed. In Los Angeles you can park a motorhome at a sandy, paved campground for a hefty overnight fee. Dockweiler Beach, right near the Chevron plant and LA sewage treatment facility. Sounds delightful, not.

    Ventura & Santa Barbara Coastal Regions have many awesome State Beaches, but none allow vehicles on the sand.

    AWD on the sand

    Central Coast California:

    • Oceano SVRA – off road sand dunes and open camping on the beach. Day use or overnight camp fee required; near Pismo Beach, CA
    • Red, White and Blue Beach – nude beach w/ campground (now closed); north of Santa Cruz, CA

    Northern California:
    Lost Coast

    • Usal Beach Campground – redwood creeks and forests meets coast and cliffs. Camp fee for overnight use. Long dirt road access. No RVs!
    • Black Sands Beach (OHV 4×4 trail, now closed to all vehicles) near Shelter Cove, CA

    chico couple

    after-the-fun maintenance tip:

    Salt water and sand is very corrosive to metal – which will rust your truck or car badly. Now that you’ve had fun on the beach, we remind you to clean the underneath of your vehicle ASAP. Spraying powerful hose in your wheel wells and all underneath the vehicle. You might need to lay on the ground and get wet to do this job properly. Some car wash places might be able to do this service for you, but it will cost ya.

    Campgrounds Beach

    California Campgrounds –
    Camping at the Beach

    Costal Cliffs

    Autumn and Spring are often the best months to enjoy the (somewhat) uncrowded coastline of California. Kids are in school, summer vacation rush is over, and there is plenty of sunshine before those winter storms come rolling in.

    reservations are highly recommended

    Anything & any place along the coast is “much desired”, worthy of charging for. From seaside restaurants to convenient, paid parking lots – face it – California can be expensive.

    Beach camping is no different. Coast camping in California is abundant, but state run campgrounds will run you a pretty penny. Camping fees are well above $20 per night. If you want flush toilets in the bathroom and a level, paved spot for a big RV, it will cost even more. Make sure to reserve a campsite as far ahead as possible. Ask about off-season months to visit.

    Privately run campgrounds are often more expensive, but they might be a nicer facility and be in a better location. If you want free camping, then head to the northern part of the state – and take a dirt road to reach your seclusion. Both the Big Sur and Lost Coast both have excellent dispersed camping on backroads, at no charge, and a campfire permit is required for such camping.

    Campgrounds situated on a sandy beach or right on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean. Private cove camp sites, tent cabin rentals, yurt resorts, RV campgrounds; Several coastal canyons (from sycamores to redwoods) usually have creeks and abundant camping options.

    Pismo Clear Winter Day

    Campgrounds Beach: a popular search phrase for camping near the coast in California. The best months to camp along the coast depends on what part of California you wish to visit – at what time of the year. With 700 miles of ocean front there is a lot to choose from – RV parks w/ small marina, 4×4 camps, hike-in only sites, and plenty of California State Parks & Beaches.

    Much of the coastal camping is NOT “on-the-sand” beach camping. Most of the coastline in California is rugged, some forested and usually full of ‘wildfire prone’ chaparral. Cliffside campgrounds, redwood canyons with creeks, green grassy lawns w/ shade trees and paved camp sites, US 101 busy, freeway campgrounds; all are close enough to the shore to be considered COASTAL camping.

    Even in winter, the coast can be quite mild in Southern Cal, so the campgrounds are open all year long. NorCal Coast gets the brunt of WET & COLD winter weather, so those camps are open seasonally, during warmer, drier months (APRIL-OCT).

    JUNE GLOOM is a cloud layer that covers the coastline in the early part of summer. Weather is warm to cool with clouds, or the weather can be bright and sunny – if the marine layer ‘burns off’ by mid-day. Consider these local weather patterns, May Gray & June Gloom, when planning a vacation to the beaches of California.

    listed from south to north

    Southern California Beach Camping

    Coronado Island
    San Diego Beach Camping
    Encinitas
    Carlsbad
    Orange County Beach Camping
    San Clemente
    Dana Point
    Laguna Beach

    Los Angeles Beach Camping

    Bolsa Chica State Beach
    Doheny State Beach
    Malibu Creek State Park
    Ventura Coast Camping

    Coast Campgrounds

    Central Coast Beach Camping

    Santa Barbara Beach Camping
    Pismo Beach Camping
    Morro Bay Camping
    Big Sur Campground

    Monterey Bay Camping

    Monterey Bay Camping
    Half Moon Bay
    Santa Cruz Camping
    Santa Cruz Redwoods

    Angel Island

    San Francisco Camping

    Angel Island State Park
    Point Reyes Camping
    Marin Redwoods Camping
    Sonoma Coast – Camping Jenner

    Northern California Coast Camping

    Mendocino Coast
    Kings Range
    Lost Coast: Shelter Cove
    NorCal Redwoods Camping
    Crescent City Camping

    Stairwell to Beach