Camping for Thanksgiving

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Leftovers?

California Camping on Thanksgiving

If you’ve had it with the traditions, the big meal prep, or just sick of the family. Maybe you are a solo traveler, or a new transplant to California and need to explore more. Take a holiday away – for once this time.

Camping for turkey day? What a concept.

VWBus Death Valley
California is the perfect place for camping, all year long!

Stick to the lower elevations, look for canyons, and seek seclusion


California mountains often have snow during November. Avoid camping in snow @ 4000-5000′ elevation and above; Freezing temps above 3000-4000′ elevation.

Deserts, coastal regions and foothills are top choices for late Autumn car camping. Always check the weather ahead of departure, and have a plan B as an alternative. NorCal will be much wetter than the rest of the state.

MEALS: Prepare dinner meals ahead of trip departure. Bake turkey days before your trip and create meals based around that. Make mash potatoes at home and don’t forget to bring the butter. Pack pre-baked turkey for sandwiches, plus other quick snacks & meals for on-the-go travel.

seafood

Non Traditional: Seafood Feast

Desert Camping is premium at this time of year. Luckily the eastern half of Southern Cal is desert. The lower the elevation, the better the temps will be overnight. Be prepared for wind when the ‘storm fronts’ approach, the winds do get a cranking! Dirt roads can become flowing washes during a good rainstorm, so know the weather forecast.

Coastal campgrounds may need advanced reservations. Be prepared for wet weather, especially up north. The redwoods groves are gorgeous anytime of year.

Gold County Reservoirs are prime areas for relaxing in nature, while everyone else is out shopping. Oak hills, rivers and canyons. RV campers love these large lakes; boating, fishing, mountain biking trails, kayak rentals, hiking near historic Gold Rush towns.

River Canyons of California are always beautiful destinations in the autumn months. Many campgrounds can be found at lower elevation, river access areas. California’s abundant Hot Springs are also top picks for holiday weekends.

Joshua Tree Campout

Joshua Tree National Park may be busy during this weekend. Instead try nearby Mecca: Box Canyon and Mecca Hills Wilderness, BLM desert lands near Interstate 10.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is always a nice, easy and relatively close get-away for any holiday. Open camping on the backroads (for free) makes it one of the most attractive camping options in all of SoCal. Many dirt roads are accessible for passenger cars, if extreme caution is used. Don’t plan on driving more than a few miles on dirt.

Masses of off roaders love to camp out, especially on Thanksgiving weekend. Wheel all day, eat, drink, bon fires every night and rumor has it ‘they roast their big bird outdoors – deep in a dirt pit’. Really? El Centro, Glamis, Imperial Dunes, Ocotillo Wells, Truckhaven Hills, Johnson Valley. All popular off roading areas in Southern California, so consider yourself warned.

Imperial Dunes

Mojave Desert, near US Hwy 395
Jawbone Canyon expect to see RVs, toy-boxes and families outside enjoying the weekend. OHV style. Often the group tries to create a round corral with their huge convoy of vehicles, to keep thru traffic to a minimum around “their camp”. Just stay well away from those gear-heads. In general, it is a very busy area around Mojave up to Hwy 178 during the holidays. Try high desert Horse Canyon instead.

Tent Camping

ghost towns
meteor showers
hot springs

Death Valley National Park is one of the best destinations for Thanksgiving, cuz Panamint Springs serves their free turkey dinner.

Did someone say FREE?

Leon at Mahogany

Autumn Camping California

Autumn Lakeside

RV camping Tent Camp Fishing Hiking

Amazing autumn colors can be found through OCTOBER and NOVEMBER in California, but you’ll need to leave the city in order to find the very best colors and scenic beauty. Fall season happens quickly (weeks) in the high country and slower (months) in the lowlands. Plenty canyons and parks in the urban centers have hiking trails thru some nice trees, but nothing compares to the backroads, creeks and rivers of the big mountains.

Elevations, the higher the better, is where you find the real displays of color. Aspen groves can be found along mountain slopes, creek canyons from 5000′-10,000′ in elevation. Cottonwood trees are found in the drier regions, in ranching areas and in desert canyons – up to about 6000′ elevation. Aspen trees start to turn yellow as soon as the chill of nights drop; if the temperature shift is subtle, the aspen leaves become more orange as the days go into the fall season. If an early snow or freeze happens, just one night, the glorious foliage becomes dead brown crispies dangling in the wind.

Campfires
CAMPFIRE RESTRICTIONS can still be in place from the dry summer, but any decent amount of rain can change the status, so make sure to check with the rangers for up-to-date fire info.

Tent Camp

BOOK CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

Southern California

has minimal fall colors.

Big Bear Lake, CA
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Ojai Camping – Wheeler Gorge
Sespe Hot Springs (hike-in access only)

Camping

Southern and Central Sierra

have a few aspen groves and several cottonwood canyons.

Kern River Canyon

Ponderosa, CA
Quaking Aspen Campground Tent Camp
Quaking Aspen CabinTent Camp
Giant Sequoia National Monument

Wishon Reservoir
Lily Pad Campground

Kirkwood, CA
Blue Lakes Road
Carson Pass CA Highway 88

Camping

Northern Sierra

primarily has the big river canyons, most of which have fall colors. Yuba River, Feather Rivers.

Downieville, CA
Yuba River Campgrounds

Hope Valley, CA
Hope Valley Campground Tent Camp

Lake Tahoe

Bucks Lake, CA
Haskins Valley @ Grizzly Campground
Oro-Quincy Highway – Plumas NF

Camping

Autumn Bliss Hike

Eastern Sierra

is the ‘place to be’ for Autumn Colors in California. The dramatic desert meets the tallest granite peaks. Every canyon is a different scene, some have small lakes lined with aspen groves, some have a creek with aspens.

Aspendell, CA
North Lake Campground
Lake Sabrina Road
Bishop Pass (high country hikes)

sabrina creeking

Bishop, CA
Bishop Creek, Hwy 168
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest – both Silver Canyon and
Cottonwood Creek have aspen trees. (both are 4×4 roads)

Bridgeport, CA
Green Creek Road w/ signage for
Dunderburg Meadow
Twin Lakes
Hoover Wilderness (high country hikes)

Independence, CA
Onion Valley CampgroundTent Camp
Kearsarge Pass (high country hikes)

June Lake, CA
June Lake Loop / Hwy 158
Parker Lake (dirt road to primitive camps)
June Lake CampgroundTent Camp
Oh Ridge CampgroundTent Camp
Reversed Creek CampgroundTent Camp

Lee Vining, CA
Lee Vining Canyon / Hwy 120
One of the biggest aspen grove canyons in the state.
NFS campgrounds
NFS Campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon: Big Bend, Aspen Grove, Boulder, Moraine, and Cattleguard Campground.
NFS Camps @ Yosemite’s EAST GATE (9000′ elev): Ellery Lake, Junction, Saddlebag Lake, and Sawmill Campground.

Lundy Lake
Virginia Lakes
Trumbull CampgroundTent Camp

Lone Pine, CA
Alabama Hills has a few cottonwoods in the canyon.
Whitney Portal has only a few aspens.

Mammoth Lakes, CA
Red’s Meadow Campground
Laurel Lakes Road (dirt road, rough)
Convict Lake

Tom’s Place, CA
McGee Creek Campground Tent Camp

Rockcreek Road
Impressive Rock Creek Road in Rock Creek Canyon, one of the very best “Autumn Drives” in the Eastern Sierra.

Rock Creek Lake Campground @ 9600′ elev Tent Camp

Iris Meadow Campground @ 8600′ elev

iris meadow

Iris Meadow on Rock Creek Rd

Camping

Northern California

(this part under construction)

Sundial Bridge,
River RV Parks
Redding, CA

Weaverville, CA

Mount Shasta, CA
(downtown of Mt. Shasta)

McBride Springs Campground
(slopes of Mount Shasta)

Lake Siskiyou
Beach Camp Resort & RV Park

4239 W. A. Barr Rd
Mount Shasta CA
530 926-2610

McCloud, CA
McCloud Falls

MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park
Dusty Campground

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen National Forest
Lassen Camping
Lassen Lakes

Susanville, CA
Bizz Johnson Trail
Roxie Peconom Campground

Modoc National Forest (coming soon)

Siskiyou Autumn Colors (coming soon)

Calico Holiday Fest

Christmas Calico Wagon

Holiday Festival at Calico Ghost Town

If you find yourself traveling through the giant Mojave desert around the holiday season, keep Calico Ghost Town in mind. Whether you are headed to Vegas or Utah, you can take a “stretch break” from the freeway driving, to see the historic cemetery, sip hot cocoa or browse the gift shops – just a few exits after Barstow on Interstate 15.

The actual Holiday Festival is a one day celebration in late November that kicks off the winter season. Tree-lighting ceremony, native dancers, food, live music and Santa. FREE collectable, stuffed bear w/ a minimum purchase at participating local shops.

Annual event: November
909-387-2757

Calico, CA

sbcounty.gov/parks/Parks/CalicoGhostTown/

holiday bear

bottle house calico

Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

CEBE

Cowboy Festival, Monterey, California

Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival

Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

Where the traditions and lifestyles of the vaqueros blend with traditions and lifestyles of cowboys who worked there way west from Texas, Arizona and Nevada. Live music, concerts, great food, wine and beer.

Annual event: November
Monterey, CA
831-649-5080

montereycowboy.org

Vaqueros, Vidaurri ranch, Laredo, 1910

-cowgirl scenery

Downtown Monterey

Cornish Christmas

Untitled

Grass Valley’s Cornish Christmas

Gold Country California

Recapture the spirit of Christmas past amid the charming surroundings of historic downtown Grass Valley California during the annual Cornish Christmas Celebration.

Began in 1967 as a way to preserve Grass Valley’s Cornish heritage and holiday traditions, Cornish Christmas remains one of our most popular events. Mill and West Main Streets are closed to motorized traffic and filled with the sights and sounds of an old fashioned Christmas; carolers, jugglers, musicians, the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, Tommyknocker Cloggers and of course, Santa Claus. Handmade arts and craft from artists throughout California are displayed on our historic downtown Grass Valley streets. Delicious food and drink can be purchased from a number of Grass Valley restaurants and specialty food vendors. Retail stores are open for your holiday purchases as well.

Annual event; November
Grass Valley, CA

downtowngrassvalley.com/
downtown-grass-valley-events/
grass-valley-cornish-christmas/

 

2 Cornish Christmas December 14, 2012 the weather is holding quite nicely and it's actually not cold

20101125 Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire