DanaMite

founder of Total Escape

Internet Pioneer

totalescape.com  – online since 1996

(before the dot com crash, before digital cameras, before GPS, before social media & way ahead of smartphones)

Sole creative force of Total Escape, Dana Williams left her 3D animation career to start living and working her dream job, online and off. Utilizing artistic talents, computer skills, a vast knowledge of the California landscape and a simple love of nature, to make it all come together for a killer web site called Total Escape. 22 years online means fresh content & updates every month; reworking web code every few years to keep up with various browsers, apps, maps, etc.

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“travel agent to the back woods”

greenhouseLiving close to the earth with organic gardening and rural living, DanaMite strives to offer California residents, new-comers and visitors unique, local destinations, concentrating on the outdoors – well away from overcrowded, busy, urban cities and tourist traps. Total Escape can show you how to discover the secret, hidden spots on your public lands that the gov web sites will not even dare to mention.

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the independent source for California travel

NO CORPORATE sponsorshipCalifornia Camping Photos
No venture capital
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Decades without a television set lends plenty of time for studying terrain, topographic maps, GPS coordinates and thousands of photographs to compile more than 8000 pages on just California travel. Far from the daily grind of everyday life, DanaMite continues in educating the public about local travel, camping, family farms, organic cafes, outdoor recreation, respecting the land, responsible use of our resources & how to get more enjoyment out of weekend travels.

outdoor girls

Things that started Total Escape:
  • launch of www (web 1.0)
  • my capable vehicle
  • 30+ years of computers
  • artistic eye & love of nature
  • the journey & adventure
  • sick of my corporate job
  • exploring unknown destinations
  • discovering small towns
  • wild lands & outdoor recreation
  • local travel, close to home

 

entrepreneur

YOUR SUPPORT keeps Total Escape going:

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Expert Camping Pro California
40+ years of documenting back roads of California, plus some Baja & Utah too!

Lake Henshaw

henshawabove

Lake Henshaw
North San Diego County

Lake Henshaw is next to Cleveland National Forest with Palomar Mountain State Park closeby. The northern border of Anza Borrego Desert State Park is not too far away either.

MAPS of this region –SAN DIEGO mountains map

Cleveland National Forest USDA
Cleveland Forest Topo Atlas USDA
Anza Borrego Desert Map
San DiegoBackcountry Map
Agua Tibia Wilderness Map

If you are imagining a forested alpine lake near Palomar Mountain, this is not it. Henshaw is a countryside area w/ meadow setting near ranches with open skies and open terrain. Can be windy at times! Can be hot in late summer.

Perfect remote spot for stargazing. Henshaw is the nearest body of water to Mount Palomar & is located on Hwy. 76, but the terrain is quite the contrast to the pine topped mountain nearby.

treebwTREES: Lake Henshaw has very few trees; mostly large open spaces & fields surrounding it. Cattle grazing & rolling hills w/ mountain backdrop. Stargazing and fishing cabins is more fitting of a description. This bare bones basic, little cabin resort offers a true get away from civilization for maximum relaxation close to SoCal cities.

Lake Henshaw specs:
elevation: 2740′
surface area: 1137 acres

Lake Henshaw Resort
760-782-3501
lakehenshawresort.com

Camping – 400 developed camp sites for tent and RV. swimming, picnicking, hiking, cabins, groceries

fishing:

  • trout
  • catfish
  • bluegill
  • bass
  • crappie

boating:

  • boat launch ramp
  • canoe
  • kayak
  • row boat
  • power boats
  • boat rentals available
  • inflatables
  • windsurfing

California Fishing Cabins SoCal

Campground San Bernardino

whitecliffs

Big Bear – San Bernardino National Forest Camping & Campgrounds

areas include:
Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin, San Gorgonio, Lake Arrowhead, Forest Falls, Green Valley Lake & Idyllwild

Listed below are all the San Bernardino National Forest campgrounds, public lands for outdoor recreation. SoCal campground reservations can be booked online with the linked campsites below.

Big Bear Campgrounds near Big Bear Lake & Fawnskin area

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Applewhite Campground 6800′ 42 pines vault piped disabled access, RV 30′
Barton Flats Campground 6300′ 52 pines vault shwrs disabled access, RV 45′
Big Pine Flats Horse Camp 6800′ 17 pines vault piped Way back 3N14, year round
Cold Brook Campground 7000′ 36 pines vault piped RV max 25′
Crab Flats Campground 6200′ 29 pines vault piped 3N16, Green Valley Lk
Dogwood Campground 7000′ 90 pines vault piped disabled access, RV 22′
Green Valley Campground 7000′ 37 pines vault piped Green Valley Lake
Hanna Flat Campground 7000′ 88 pines vault RV max 25′
Heart Bar Campground 6900′ 94 pines vault seasonal Hwy 38, equestrian
Holcomb Valley Campgr 7400′ 19 pines vault no Rd 3N16, year round
Horse Springs Campgr 5800′ 17 pines vault no Rd 3N17, year round
North Shore Arrowhead 5100′ 27 vault piped disabled access
Pineknot Campground 6400′ 48 vault piped disabled access, RV 45′
San Gorgonio Campground 7000′ 54 pines vault shwrs Hwy 38, disabled, RV 43′
South Fork Campground 6400′ 24 pines vault piped Hwy 38, RV max 30′

site12

San Jacinto Campgrounds near Idyllwild area

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Black Mountain Group 6000′ 16 pines pit piped group site
Boulder Basin Campground 7300′ 34 pines pit piped No RVs
Dark Canyon Campground 5800′ 22 pines pit piped Creek, Rd 4S02
Fern Basin Campground 6000′ 22 pines vault piped Creek, Rd 4S02
Marion Mountain Campground 6400′ 24 pines vault piped Rd# 4S02
Pinyon Flat Campground 4000′ 18 pinyon vault piped bighorn sheep, year round
Santa Rosa Springs Camp 7000′ 3 pines pit no no RVs, Toro Peak
Thomas Mountain Camp 6800′ 6 mixed vault no no RVs, Rd 6S13; Lk Hemet
Tool Box Spring Campground 6500′ 6 mixed vault piped no RVs, above Lake Hemet
Toro Campground 7800′ 5 pines pit no Santa Rosa Wilderness

Southern California Camping see also –

Topo maps, wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

SoCal mountain communities include:

Big Bear Campsites

Big Meadows California

Big Meadow Kern
Big Meadow, Kern Plateau in Sequoia NF

Big Meadows, California

In the mountains numerous places called ‘big meadows’ exist in California. Large meadows, huge meadows, high elevations and low. We are truly blessed by such a natural beauty in our local region. Remember those who have protected the land for future generations.

  • camping
  • picnic
  • grazing
  • hike thru
  • bike around
  • horseback
  • wildflowers
meadowroad
Inyo National Forest – highcountry backroads

For Southern California meadows – Mount Pinos has a large meadow next to the walk-in campground, Chula Vista. San Diego’s Laguna Mountain has some meadows and Big Bear Lake offers sage meadows, on the Fawnskin side.

Wild Meadows range from 3000′ elevation in the foothills, to about 11,000′ elevation in the highcountry. Vacant of trees, these wide open areas are generally colder spots, with moisture and with fragile ecosystems.

Eastern Sierra’s Inyo has gorgeous meadows of lupine wildflower (see above). Cattle grazing and 4×4 roads all over, up to 12,000′. High country mountain peaks surround. That area is called Coyote Flat w/ Coyote Lake. 4WD needed! Winter, snowy and almost inaccessible.

SNOW – Since meadows are generally located in the mountain regions, deep winter snow can make these special places impossible to reach (for about half the year). Summer is the prime time to explore the higher elevations, so plan accordingly.wildflower

WILDFLOWERS – Remember that the higher the elevation, the later the wildflowers will bloom. High Sierra meadows often bloom well into July & August.

AUTUMN COLORS – Aspen groves are often located next to meadows. Fall colors can be quite decent around October, before the first snow fall of the season.

MENDO glade – In the Mendocino National Forest the meadows are called “glades” – and the area has been heavily impacted by wildfire. Snow Mountains Wilderness was totally burnt in the Ranch Fire 2018, the largest wildfire in California history.

NORCAL history – Some Mountain Maidu tribes are known as the “Big Meadow Indians” – they made the Big Meadows of the Upper Feather River their home. Damming the Feather River created Lake Almanor in 1914, which flooded the meadows and forced native people to relocate.

reds meadow
Horse pack station Red’s Meadow, behind Mammoth Mtn. Eastern Sierra

The Big Meadows below are listed from south to north.
Enjoy!

Big Meadow Sequoia, Kern Plateau, off Sherman’s Pass Rd

Big Meadows Road #14S11, Giant Sequoia NM
(in between Kings Canyon NP & Sequoia NP)

Big Meadow Campground, Sequoia, Road #14S11

Big Meadows Campground, Stanislaus NF, near Arnold, CA

Big Meadows Campground, El Dorado National Forest

Big Meadow Campground, Rock Creek Canyon, Eastern Sierra

Big Meadow Campground, Hell Hole Reservoir

Cherry Mdws

Other awesome meadow areas include –

Monache Meadows, near Kennedy Meadows @ PCT
Horse Meadow Campground NFS, Kern Plateau
Dome Land Wilderness – Manter Meadows
Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
Powell Meadow Rd#21S36, Sequoia National Forest
Jerky Meadows – Lloyds Meadow Road #22S82
(primitive camping & trailhead Golden Trout Wilderness)
Jackass Meadow, Sierra National Forest
Horseshoe Meadows Road, Lone Pine, CA
Dinkey Creek Road, Sierra National Forest
Lake Henshaw, N San Diego County
Laguna Meadows, Cleveland NF, San Diego Mountains
Indian Valley – Greenville & Taylorsville, North Sierra
Wildlife viewing @ Eagle Lake – N of Susanville, CA
Grover Hot Springs, Sierra Nevada
Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Road
Butte Meadows – N of Chico, CA
Blue Lakes Road – Sierra Nevada, South of Tahoe

LagunaMdws
Laguna Mdws, Cleveland NF
inyohighroad
click to expand

California Elevations

conradkid
High Sierra hiking @ 12,000 feet above sea level

elevation

high altitude towns    well above sea level

The majority of California cities are located near sea level, with low lying farmlands and populated coastlines common throughout world geography. California has super diversity w/ the population, as well as the elevation and the terrain. Vast rugged deserts bordering Nevada, from high deserts (8000′ @ Bodie ghost town) to low deserts (below sea level for Mecca) near the Salton Sea. Towering granite peaks with minimal vegetation, to fern canyons and redwood groves at the coast, California has quite the unique landscape.

The beautiful golden state is also home to the highest and lowest point within the lower 48 states; and those points are only about 100 miles apart – Death Valley  (-282′ elev) and  Mount Whitney  (14,494′ elev).

I-80 Donner PassMTN TOWN: upper elevation mountain towns w/ forests and flowing water, are primarily located in the Sierra Nevada range which runs the backbone of California in a north-south direction,  separating the Pacific Ocean from the Great Basin. High altitudes are abundant in California, especially in the Eastern Sierra – but most are only accessible by foot.

Mountain communities in Southern California includes places like Mount Laguna, Palomar, Big Bear, Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Mount Pinos.

The coastal mountain range and the Sierra Nevada  encompasses most of Central California. The rest of the space is dedicated to large cities, farmlands and farming towns – which are most lower elevation. Orchards and vineyards can be found in the foothills (200′-2000′ elevation)

Northern California has more mountains and rivers, generally higher elevations and plenty more space to explore. Secluded forests, rivers, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs can be found above 2000′ elevation, north of Sacramento. The bigger mountains in the far north part of the state are part of the Cacade Range, which is volcanic in nature. (Mt. Lassen & Mt. Shasta). More water, more trees and more land – NorCal is very different than the lower half of the golden state.

hwy33overlook
North of Ojai, CA – Highway 33 winds up to Los Padres NF

California Elevation Breakdown

  • Alpine lakes, streams, forests, mountain peaks, granite scenery is abundant above 6000′ elev.
  • Pine forests, junipers, sage chaparral, manzanita, joshua trees can be found between 3000-6000′
  • Hot Springs, creek canyons and cottonwoods are usually discovered above 2000′ elev.
  • Oak hills, ghost pines, creek beds, river canyons  and most agriculture range from 1000-3000′
  • Under 1000′ elevation is the majority of the populated cities and towns within California; coastline, urban areas, foothills, farmland and a few reservoirs
Mecca Hills
Mecca Hills, below sea level

GoogleMaps – groundbreaking tool for trip planning and checking out trailheads, camps and dirt roads from overhead

USGS Viewer – topographic overlays for altitude estimates, and various imagery

California Elevations Map

shaverMS

snowflakeSnow is always a factor in mid to high altitude towns with road conditions being unpredictable with each mountain range and each micro-climate. Winter months range from late October to May, so be warned. Above 3000′ elevation usually gets some snow. Serious snow above 5000′. Some High Sierra Passesdon’t open until JULY (Yosemite Hwy 120 & Sonora Hwy 108). Carry tire chains or have 4×4 to travel safely on snowy roads. Guard rails are seldom around every curve.

list of California towns
by elevation

 

Rainbow Lodge California

bishopbelow
Above Owens Valley (US 395) at sunset, as seen from the Sierra side (8000′ elev)