Category Archives: Viewpoints

National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

NFSlogo
Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USFS guard station – hidden deep inside USDA California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information.

Dirt road access is common to reach these remote locations. Some require stair climbing, or steep access hikes. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. Access roads suffer from closures due to rock slides or landslides. Check with the locals ranger station for current conditions.

A few of these rentals are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Harvey West Cabin
4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

Loon Lake Chalet
6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin
6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Sly Guard Cabin
Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

Van Vleck Bunkhouse
6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California
download PDF info sheet

Lassen National Forest USFS

McCarthy Point Lookout
overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness
ranger & info 530-258-2141

Plumas National Forest USFS

Crocker Guard Station
5700′ elev. near Meadow on back road
Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

 

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Coon Creek Cabin
Actually this one is a reservable group campground – next to a set of historic cabins. Big Bear Area Group Camp Site. Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
(no longer available overnight stays 2019)

Coon Cabin
Coon Cabin – Southern Cal

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station
off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; located in between Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon NP

Camp 4 ½ Cabin
1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River
near Pine Flat Lake, CA

Grouse Valley Cabins
3 cabins near lakes; Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide
4800′ elev.

Mountain Home Guard Station
Mountain Home State Forest, Sequoia Groves
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

the needles
View of The Needles, from Dome Rock on Western Divide Highway (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Oak Flat Lookout
Oak Flat Cabin Rental
4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide Highway near Ponderosa, CA

Wishon Cabin Rental
Tule River, Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round. 4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

Forest Glen Guard Station
near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

Frog Meadow Guard Station
7760′ elev. near Lake Isabella, CA

Girard Ridge Lookout
Historic Fire Lookout Tower
4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
overlooking Shasta Lake, CA
(currently closed for repairs 2019)

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
Mt. Hoffman Rental
7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Camp 4 ½ Cabin Rental
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte Cabin & Fire Lookout
elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
(road damage & access issues 2017)

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, North Gold Country CA

lakes basin views


Bald Rock California

bigbaldrocks
Bald Rock, North Sierra Nevada Mountains

Big Bald Rock

elevation: 3350′

Bald Rock Trailhead, Berry Creek, CA
Located above Lake Oroville and near the Middle Fork of the Feather River, this well known trailhead is a 1 mile (short, steep & sweet) climb on top of granite rocks – to a wonderful view over the North Sacramento Valley. Dirt parking lot w/ bathroom in a forested setting.  Can get muddy during winter. Seasonal creek runs along first part of the hiking trail. Locals like to party here at night. Families hike during daylight and sunset hour.  Trailhead sign is well marked on paved Bald Rock Road, about 6 miles from the Oro Quincy Highway.

see more info for this hike

digger pines

Bald Rock Country
Bald Rock Country

 

footed
Footed Rock @ Bald Rock, Berry Creek, CA

The granite dome hike (above) is often confused with a neighboring trail to the south, called Bald Rock Dome, located at the granite gorge of the Middle Feather River. A much longer hike w/ a canyon view, switchbacks, and longer dirt road access…..hiker

Dome Trail Hike

approx. elevation: 3200′

 Another dome hike in the same area as above, but on the other side of the pavement; gravel parking lot, and trailhead via dirt road; a right turn off Bald Rock Road (when going north). Near the residential forest of Berry Creek, CA

see more details

Plumas National Forest, above Lake Oroville, CA

The official map for Lake Oroville SRA has a granite dome marked as Little Bald Rock @ 3334′ elev. The USDA Plumas National Forest map has both Little Bald Rock and Bald Rock Dome (3509′) located on this side of Bald Rock Road.

As you can see below, in California’s Sierra Nevada, giant granite domes on mountain peaks or river canyons are often have the generic name of ‘bald rock’.

camptruck

also, in the vicinity –

campBald Rock Canyon is downstream from the big waterfall, Feather Falls, on the Middle Fork of the Feather River; This stretch of Wilderness waterway is called Faether Falls Scenic Area which includes, Milsap Bar Campground; Maybe be accessible, by 4×4 and steep foot trail – from the opposite side of the river. Off Lumpkin Road, which is off Forbestown Road (@ 162 above Lake Oroville)

Bald Rock Peak (elev 7166′) a mountain peak near Chilcoot Campground and Frenchman Lake, N of Hwy 70 in East Plumas National Forest

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Little Grass Valley Reservoir has two!

pinetreeOn the north side of the lake is Grass Valley Bald Mountain (5906′ elev) in between Black Rock Creek and the northern shore.

The La Porte Bald Mountain Peak (5906′ elev)
is located in dense forest, in Plumas National Forest;
In between LGVR and the town of La Porte, CA 4959′

Area accessible via a long and curvy La Porte Road, which closes in winter on the north end (East Quincy). This Plumas County area is popular w/ snowmobiling due to the amount of snow they receive.

snowmo

Bald Mountain Range, due north of Truckee and Stampede Reservoir.
Near the CA / NV border. Babbitt Peak @ 8790′ is the tallest peak within this range. Historical Henness Pass Road passes through this area.

driftwood

similarly named – BALD

Mount Baldy, Ranch Cucamonga Wilderness
San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles, CA

Popular, local snow ski destination for “the southland”; south of Pasadena, in the San Gabriel Mountains.

snowski

Bald Mountain Road, also known as Inyo Forest Road #01S05, near Indiana Summit and the Mono Craters. East of the Eastern Sierra & US 395; south of Mono Lake, California.

Bald Mountain Road, near Bummerville, California.
Gold Country Sierra Forests, East of Hwy 49 @ Jackson, CA

Bald Mountain Road, rural ranches & residential;
and Bald Mountain Nursery in Browns Valley, near Marysville, CA

 

Bald Hills Rd
Bald Hills Road, Redwoods NP

Bald Hills Road, Northern California
Well- traveled, graded dirt road connecting the Redwood National Park to the Klamath River @ Hwy 96. Primitive camping, but check on fire restrictions. Must have camp fire permit.  Active logging roads on National Forest land, so weekdays could be busy: watch for equipment and big trucks.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Bald Mountain @ Shermans Pass
Kern Plateau; 4×4 access to reach Fire Lookout Tower
Sherman’s Pass Road# 22S05, near Dome Land Wilderness
Sequoia National Forest

NFSlogo

Bald Mountain 4×4 Trail
Western Sierra NF, overlooking Shaver Lake, CA

bald mtn
Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mtn, above Shaver Lake, CA

4x4

California Fire Lookout

Dome Land from Bald Mtn, KERN
Bald Mountain (elev 9382′) Lookout in Sequoia National Forest

NFS Fire Lookout Towers

JULY 2019 – Many thanks goes to Pike County Lookout for initially spotting the #RockFire – in the Plumas National Forest, near Berry Creek, CA

Lookouts in the California National Forests

Ready to see far and wide – with wild terrain? Views for 100 miles out and the best scenery California has to offer. Be prepared to off road or hike to reach one of these destinations.

Below is a list of historic look out towers & cabins used for spotting wildfires. Some are located on steep granite peaks, ridge lines or dirt roads. 4WD may be recommended to reach some of these. Road conditions can change w/ harsh mountain weather, so be prepared to rough it. Thunderstorms are common on these mountain ridges.

Several of these places are cabins, some are stone houses, but most fire lookouts are basic metal towers – with high climbing staircases, so you must be in decent physical strength to haul your ass up this high.

rangers cabin mountains hikers vacation

Cabins are also called guard stations, huts, bunkhouses. Most are located on mountain tops, but a few exist in desert regions. Some are refurbished & available for overnight rentals. Bare bones furnishings, so forget the frills. People come up here for the thrills. To be outside w/ epic views, way away from the urban grind & to feel on top-of-the-world.

Coon Creek Cabin

 

NFSlogoSee the full list of overnight accommodations on mountain peaks & ridges, some near meadowsNational Forest Cabin Rentals

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin
6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Cuyama Peak
Cuyama Lookout is a rough road up. Off Hwy 33, Los Padres NF

Los Padres National Forest

4x4Cuyama Peak Lookout Tower (pictured above) off Hwy 166 & via Santa Barbara Cyn, 4×4 recommended. Sorta near jct w/ Hwy 33

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Butler Peak Fire Lookout
elev. 8537′ (no overnight stays)
located in between Green Valley Lake and Fawnskin

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
(no longer available for overnight stays 2019)

Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout
(no overnight stays)
above Rimforest, off Bear Springs Road, N of Hwy 18

Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout
elev. 8846′ (no overnight stays)
highest lookout in the San Bernardino NF

hiker

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Bald Mountain Lookout (no overnight stays)
off of Sherman’s Pass Road #22S05, 4×4 may be needed.
Bald Mountain 9382′ elevation; in between the Kern Plateau & Kern Riverranger

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station
off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; located in between Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon NP

Mountain Home Guard Station
Mountain Home State Forest, Sequoia Groves
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round 4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

pinetree

Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Camp 4 ½ Cabin Rental
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte Cabin & Fire Lookout
elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
(road damage & access issues 2017)

4x4

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Pike County Lookout (no overnight stays)
near Challenge, CA & New Bullards Bar Reservoir

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, North Gold Country CA

lakes basin views

BEWARE:
California is the land of wildfires!

campfireAlways check for local fire conditions at nearest ranger station, obtain a free campfire permit when camping outside of developed campgrounds, and always practice fire safety when visiting our public lands. You can be held liable for wildfires. Outta control campfire, cigarettes, idling vehicles on tall, dry grass. Be very cautious with fires on the often dry, west coast.

see also –  National Forest Cabin Rentals

More Time, Offline

boulder fire ring

sunflower3There once was a time when we connected more with nature. Before we closed ourselves off, behind the doors and windows, behind the computer screens, before the internet became part of daily life.

Overweight and obesity is now epidemic in America (as if you didn’t notice). Fast food feasting and soda pop, GMO-gut disorders – and yet we’re still frustrated or disappointed with life; Addicted to television, processed food, copious amounts of sugar, daily coffee, butterflysmoking, prescription drugs, and what else. Wi-fi streaming, video games, always indoors, online, enjoying air conditioned cubes. Inactive physically, emotionally vacant, bored with life, but always on social media.

Stop and think. Look what has happened to us.
Is this the life you envisioned?

blue light special

Campfire Community

Cooking over a camp fire and real conversation are just a few examples of what we have lost in our modern world of technology, fantasy and face-time. campfireFresh air, wild flowers, alpine lakes, star filled skies and total silence – all still exist in certain areas, but you must know where to look. Birds and bees, wildlife is disappearing at extinction levels. Pollution, powerful corporations and politics.

Stop and look. See what has happened to earth.
Is this the world you envisioned?

Highland Wildflowers


Gone! Away, split, out of town. Off work, out of school, on vacation. Outdoors, always. Far, far away.
Unplugged, out of range, vacant lands, big trees, open skies, clear views. California is the land of dreams. Opportunity, fantasy, education, agriculture, terrific terrain and epic scenery. Campfires, waterfalls and mountain meadows are waiting for you.

Taking time off of work – or your typical daily routine – is often rewarding physically as well as mentally. Imagine a week away in a gorgeous location, with minimal to do. Really relax, zone out, chill. Gaze at the water, nap in a hammock, find wildflowers, deer bones, or bear fur on a tree. Cook over the campfire, stargaze every night.

Running to a general store for ice will be your biggest task of the week.hiker

Wilderness boundary, abundant dirt roads and freedom; cell phone calls dropped. Beyond the city limits. Well past the county line.

Wilderness Lakes

Roads do lead out of the matrix, if you desire to follow them. Concentrate on a new reality – and disconnect long enough to commune with nature. Find the free time to really relax and re-evaluate life. Explore other options, consider real life in the bigger picture. Hike, bike, walk, camp, birdwatch. Be outdoors, often!

Vbeardrive
Beat the Summer Heat and head to upper elevation Cool Forests
Curly Lupine
Curly Lupine @ Mill Creek, CA

Cheap Road Trips

Total Escape is your California planner. We’ve been doing this “region” for more than 30 years, always focusing on the back roads. Discover hidden secrets, meadows and unknown waterfalls. Find free campsites, canyons, rivers, creeks and new places to explore.

Find something OUTDOORS, this weekend –

canoe

All posts alphabetical
California A to Z

avoid crowds

back roads

lake list

out of the box

play hooky

recreate

camp fish  4x4

Most popular pages on Total Escape –

Granite Creek
Granite Creek Campground NFS

nicemeadows

Mount Pinos

Mt. Pinos

Sierra Views from Pinos
Originally uploaded by danamight

Mount Pinos Recreation Area

The Mt Pinos Recreation Area is located on the border of Southern and Central California, inside Los Padres National Forest. After passing Frazier Park, the winding, paved, mountain road starts atop Cuddy Valley and is approximately 12 miles from Interstate 5 @ Tejon Pass. The 8831′ peak is the tallest in Kern County and is a popular spot for both summer and winter recreation: cross country skiing, snow shoeing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking. The snow gates often close during heavy snow.

Mount Pinos Road starts atop Cuddy Valley Rd, at the “Y” – where it intersects with Mil Potrero Highway, which heads out to Pine Mountain Club, California.

One mile up the Mount Pinos route, you will find McGill trailhead on the right side (it is popular w/ mountain bikers) and then the first snow gate at Burbank Rd. Another 4 miles up hill, you come to the only set of dirt roads accessible on this range. A left turn will take you winding thru pine forest to the valley below. 4×4 is not required, but a National Forest map could be very handy. Unfortunately all the private properties at the bottom have locked gates & no thru access to Cuddy Valley is allowed. Although it is an awesome drive to just go exploring in the woods, there is no way out (once you get down the hill), so you must return the same way you came.

Back on the main route, shortly after the dirt roads is McGill Campground on the right side & another snow gate. In another mile and a half you will reach Mt Pinos Campground on the left side; the entrance is easy to miss. From here you are less than 2 miles from the end of the main road.

Mountain Bike, Hike, Backpack, Camp, XC Ski, Snow Sled

Darkest Skies for Stargazing in Southern California

The huge paved parking lot is the dead end (2 miles from the peak of Pinos) – very popular with astronomers, mountain bikers, plus the families and snow sledders in winter (if the gates are open). A National Ski Patrol’s Nordic Base, the only building you will see up this way. At 8300′ elevation, the large parking area is perfect overnight spot for amateur astronomers, so be considerate when visiting night. New moon (no moon) weekends APR-OCT are optimal viewing months. In busy summer months you can often find motorhome campers all set up with expensive equipment tracking the heavens all night long. Please be respectful of their hobby & eyes; Turn off headlights when you approach the parking area at night.

hiker

There is also a hike-in, freebie camp ground called Chula Vista; an easy quarter mile walk from the parking lot to 12 camp sites & a pit toilet. Mountain bikes dig this area too. A large meadow here blooms with wild irises in summer, only sometimes.



Trail 21W03 Mt Pinos

Originally uploaded by danamight

ROAD CONDITIONS to Mount Pinos, call the rangers 661-245-3731

Pinos – Peak to Peak Hike

The trailhead for Pinos Summit starts at this parking lot. It is a 2 mile moderate, but steep hike on an old fire road. The neighboring peak to the west is called Mount Abel @ 8286′ elevation (aka Cerro Noroeste). The infamous peak to peak hike along the ridge line from Mt Pinos to Mt Abel is 6.5 miles one way – and very popular in summer months. This hike requires 4-6 hours & a car shuttle should be arranged in advance. The Chumash Wilderness sits between Mount Pinos and the tiny community of Pine Mountain, which can be seen below on many places along the hike.

camp

There are 3 developed campgrounds in the Mount Pinos Recreation Area:

McGill Campground accepts reservations online. Campgrounds are often closed during winter months, due to snow. (Oct-April)

DARK NIGHT SKIES: Amateur Astronomers unite!

thebigboys
Pinos star gazers out in force
summitsign
Hiking Trails to Mount Pinos, California

 

drummersout
Drummers Solstice Campout

flagspinos

LOS PADRES MAPS:

Los Padres National Forest Map

Los Padres Forest Topo Atlas

NatGeo Los Padres East Map 

Sespe Wilderness Trail Map

Dick Smith Wilderness Map

NEAREST TOWNS:

Chumash Wilderness
Mt Abel trailhead looking East to the Mount Pinos range. Pine Mountain Club, and the Sierra Nevada mountains can both be seen from this vantage point

see the neighboring mountain peak, Mount Abel

Camp O Alto @ Cerro Noroeste

Oroville Dam Emergency

Repairs @ Oroville Dam

spillwaycrews

Last night the town of Oroville, California was evacuated due to an emergency at the dam. Downriver – Gridley, Marysville & Yuba City were also evacuated. And the evacuation has not yet been lifted. So today, I went for a hike over at Foreman Creek, which joins the Lake Oroville Reservoir – directly east of the dam.

The waters edge is super high, coming up the paved access road and drowning the green grassy canyon and trees. A gaggle of geese greeted me and then swam away. I looked for the helicopters that were supposed to be working on the tallest dam in the nation. Nothing!

foreman creek

Although I did hear the crews working on the opposite side of the lake, I could not see them. I did not bring my binoculars, nor my tripod. Bummer.

I sat down on the road with my Nikon Coolpix camera and began to use the digital zoom feature, which sometimes works. I had to use my knee to balance the camera so my shots would not be blurry.

The geese decided to come back into view. With the zoom feature of my camera, I was able to make out the work vehicles that were parked on the Oroville Dam. These are the best shots of the day. Click to expand images.

On my way back to the car I started to hear helicopters, more than one – so I do know that the crews are working hard on a plan to fix the dam. All through the night 24/7, plugging the holes on the damaged spillway with rock, boulders, debris, cement, metal, whatever they can. Timing is crucial now, cuz more rain is due in later this week!

Several local creeks and 4 forks of the Feather River empty into Lake Oroville. Count ’em FOUR!

We’ve had 20 something inches of rain recently in the North Sierra Nevada mountains, so this winter is helping drought conditions in NorCal, but also putting major pressure on California’s reservoirs. Recent warm storms melted snowpack at higher elevations (Lassen), which is why the dam is currently maxed out.

gaggleofgeese
Geese swim by, with work crews on the dam in the background.

Polymers?

KwikBond

Construction materials, including plastics, have come a long way since 1968. Trucks seen rolling thru town this week include: double trailer semi rigs “rock trucks”, cement trucks, and flatbeds w/ kwik bond polymers, by the ton, coming from outta state.

Oddly, DWR – Department of Water Resources, does not mention the POLYMERS, or shall we say “plastics”, in the recent news updates.

“Rock, aggregate and cement slurry are being used to repair and backfill the affected areas.” (02/17/2017)

#OrovilleDamSpillway

DWR Spillway Updates 2019
http://www.water.ca.gov/oroville-spillway/

canoe

Lake Madrone
Lake Madrone, just up the Oro-Quincy Highway

Best View Camp Sites

view campsite

Great Overlooks for Camping

Best View Camp Site in California 

Overlook Camps, View Spot Camp Sites

This camp list is comprised of primitive camp sites and developed campgrounds with good views overlooking a large area (valley, town, canyon, desert, river, ocean). Many ideal spots may require dirt road driving, and a few might need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to reach.

Prewitt Ridge, Big Sur Coast

We were suggesting this very spot way back in 1999, well before anyone else was ‘blogging’ about it. This area is by far the best, free coastal camping on the Central Coastline of Big Sur. Dirt roads traverse 10 miles out to vacant ridges overlooking the Pacific, with steep hills down to the highway. Camp above the fog layer and above the crowds. Explore the beaches during the day, and camp above the traffic & crowds at night.

Dry brush is abundant on the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Camp fire restrictions should be of utmost concern in this area, since wildfires burn here often. Camp fire permits are required for camping on the back roads, and much of the time camp fires are banned in this region. Call ahead to the rangers to find out the current conditions.

Swinger

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Big Sur Coastline

Two prime walk-in camp sites, on a shady point, high above a beach cove w/ scenic waterfall.

Called “environmental camps” these highly desirable spots need advanced reservations w/ fees many months in advance. Tables, fire rings and a vault toilet. Bare bones basics, but the ideal location is worth it. A forested cliff on the edge of the ocean, high above a secluded cove. This location a can get windy if a storm moves in (generally October – March).

Los Padres National Forest

Kirk Creek Campground
on Highway 1 @ Nacimiento Road
Big Sur CA

Willow Creek Road # 23S01
primitive camping on dirt road, above Hwy 1 @ Gorda, CA

sunset watch

Reyes Peak Camping
North of Ojai, CA
Pine Mountain Summit, CA Hwy 33

Off Cerro Noroeste Road, W of Pine Mountain, CA

Above Santa Maria, Highway 166
West of New Cuyama, CA

  • Miranda Pines Campground @ 4100′ elev
    Located well off hwy. on Road #32S13

Mendocino National Forest

There are several primitive campsites off of M10 with views of chaparral and canyons. Just above Stonyford, CA, on the way up to Fouts Springs. Unfortunately Mendocino National Forest is may be closed for 2019 due Ranch Fire (wildfire 2018) w/ Snow Mountain Wilderness completely 100% burnt.

Planning more scouting of this region summer 2019. Stay tuned.

Angeles National Forest

  • Mount Pacifico Campground
    Angeles Forest Highway
  • Lightning Point Group Campground
    near Jackson Lake @ Hwy 2
Fire Safe Spot
Random ridge spot in Big Sur
john bull camp spot
john bull 4×4 camp

San Bernardino National Forest

Toro Peak Campground Rd# 7S02

toro_campsite

  • San Berdu has more than a few trail camps for 4×4 enthusiasts. Weekends can be busy all year long. Snow usually closes some routes. Pine forest in southern California means very tight campfire restrictions. All yellow post camp sites include table and a fire ring. Campfire permits are required.
  • East ridge line, rocky, dusty, 4WD-only route, the John Bull Trail (near Holcomb Valley) has ONE real awesome view camp spot with great spans over the Mojave desert w/ smog and city lights @ night.
  • Mesa Campground @ Silverwood Lake SRA

I-8 East of San Diego, CA

  • Larkin Campground
    McCain Valley BLM OHV
  • Mar Tar Awa above Viejas Casino
  • Sweetwater Summit Co Park San Diego

I-5 North of San Diego, CA

  • San Elijo Campground, San Elijo State Beach
    Coastal cliffs, overlooking beach and ocean
    Solana Beach, CA

S-22  East San Diego County

Montezuma Grade, overlooking Borrego Springs & Anza Borrego Desert

  • Culp Valleyboulders, primitive camps on dirt roads; better views off-road. Vault toilet. Few tables, no signs. Small campground at the highway is easy to find. Boulders and bouldering. Mountain biking and hiking. Wildflowers in spring.

providence

Interstate 15 & I-40 Mojave Desert

view spot mojave

US Hwy 395 Eastern Sierra

inside Death Valley National Park

  • Mahogany Flat Campground steep dirt road access. Trailhead for tallest peak in the park, Telescope Peak (11,049′ elev)
  • Tucki Mine, 4×4 route. Unmarked dirt road inside Emigrant Canyon, off Wildrose Road.

inside Inyo National Forest

ohridgeview
oh ridge view
    • Coyote Flat @ Pinyon Boulders – 4×4 required, one primitive camp w/ great views overlooking the Owens Valley & peaks to the east. Coyote Flat has views toward the Sierra
    • Oh! Ridge Campground Off the main highway 158, June Lake Loop
      (148 sites @ 7600′ elev.) near June Lake, CA
    • Onion Valley Campground – High Sierra @ 9200′ elevation. Trailhead to Kearsarge Pass. W of Independence, CA

4x4 Camps

Western Sierra Nevada Mountains
Sierra National Forest

cabin rental

NFSsee also – NFS Fire Lookouts & Rental Cabins
many of which have excellent views of the wilderness areas; a hike or climb may be necessary

Colorado River Camping

Multiple riverside RV havens, county parks, and campgrounds near Parker, AZ

Riverside RV parks in Blythe, CA

Riverside RV parks in Lake Havasu, CA

coloradoriverRV
colorado river camping

 


Cottonwood Campground

High Sierra access:

Cottonwood Lakes / Horse Camps

Cottonwood Pass – 11,200′

Cottonwood Lakes Campground, Golden Trout Campground & Horseshoe Meadows Campground… all next to Mount Whitney. This is a prime side option for Whitney & Southern High Sierra packing. Perfect for equestrian travelers, backpackers & day hikers.

Sitting at Tuttle Creek Campground at dusk, just outside of Lone Pine , in the Eastern Sierra – you may have wondered what the hell those lights were. Way off in the distance – to the south. Way up high.

There must be another road that also heads up into the Sierra’s. Yep! Go find this special valley. It is well worth the drive, even for just a day trip. A long and winding drive up from Hwy. 395, in Lone Pine CA – take Whitney Portal Rd up to Tuttle Creek Campground, see the road called Horseshoe Meadows Road on the left. Take it, all the way up, you will be glad you did. Allow hours for the drive, views, hike, & the picnic. It’s bear country so be concerned about your food. Use bear lockers, even for day trips.

mdws1

Cottonwood Campground is located in the Inyo National Forest , this area is just south of Mt. Whitney, is by far much quieter than the masses at the Portal. Although camping is limited to a ‘one nights stay’, the terrain is spectacular with ample parking for backpackers, sightseers & horse trailers alike. The paved switchback road is steep & long, to say the least. RV are not recommended on this Eastern Sierra Horse Shoe Meadows Road.

This area is definitely geared towards Sierra backpackers & equestrian trips. The parking lots are pretty roomy, plus there is a one night stay limit on the campgrounds: Golden Trout, Cottonwood Lakes, Horseshoe Meadow. New Army Pass & the Golden Trout Wilderness are both accessed from these high Sierra trail heads. Meadows up here are large & lined with pines. They can range from lush wildflowers to golden dry. Granite, horses & high elevations!

newarmypass
Trailheads to the High Country Sierra

walk-in camp sites:

These campgrounds up here are large and spacious with walk in access only. A common parking area is shared, along with the community fire rings & steel bear boxes. Wide open areas with tons of room for star gazing. The camp areas are not considered secluded. Very open skies & perfect for stargazing.

These camp sites are designed for overnighters preparing for their backpacking ventures into the nearby Sierra wilderness. This high altitude mountainous area closes for winter snows (anytime between October-May) & the campgrounds/trail heads will not be accessible. If road is open in early Spring, I imagine the cross country skiing & snow shoeing would be incredible in those huge meadows. Sierra wildflowers are abundant on certain years.

From Hwy 395 & Lone Pine CA, take Whitney Portal Rd. up to Horseshoe Meadow Rd & turn left. Follow this long & steep road due south hugging the mountain’s edge. This steep winding entrance will take you to some spectacular views over the dry desert Owens Lake & Lone Pine. Then turns sharply west headed straight into the pine filled Southern Sierras. This region is so high in elevation that you can actually see ‘tree line’. At 10,000′ alpine glory, this is prime backpackers country. Exposed granite mountain peaks loom above the tall ponderosa pines.

INYO National Forest: Cottonwood Lakes Campground

campground elevation spots vegetation toilet water fee
Cottonwood Campground 10,000′ 100+ ponderosa vault none yes
parking
Common Parking Lot

LONE PINE CA; Lone Pine Camping
Inyo National Forest
Mt. Whitney Ranger District
760-876-6200

Camping Cottonwood
Camping Cottonwood @ JTNP

ADDITIONAL COTTON:
There’s more than one Cottonwood Campground in California.

JTNP – A more popular spot is the Cottonwood Campground, on the south end of Joshua Tree National Park, near the Interstate 10 park entrance. Click here for camp information.

ABPF – Cottonwood Canyon –  4×4 accessible route which leads to aspen grove and old cabin, on the eastern side of the White Mountains and near the Ancient Bristlecone Pines. Cottonwood Basin is a result of Cottonwood Creek, which flows east toward the state of Nevada.

 

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.

Support this site

help keep
total escape
online




the independent source for California travel

NO CORPORATE sponsorshipCalifornia Camping Photos
No venture capital
No government subsidies
No annoying pop-up ads
No scripts chugging bandwidth

No membership needed

 

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!

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

Our Food

local farming

According to a new report by the National Center For Health Statistics, nearly 40 percent of all U.S. adults are now officially obese. An all-time record high. More than 70 percent of us are now officially overweight.

GIVE THANKS, we live in the “illusion of prosperity”

Now, it’s time to get serious and educated on the matters at hand.

The majority of the population does not even understand what is being done to them. Major food corporations know that eating heavily processed foods is addictive and an edible path to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other deadly diseases, but they keep pushing those foods on us anyway. Junk food is making them rich and making us sick!

  • energy drinks
  • soda pop
  • candy
  • fast food

The average American diet is extremely self-destructive, and it is well time for a change. Which is why we at Total Escape decided to focus on the topic of FOOD for this autumn month of Thanksgiving.

On the towns pages we link to local farmers markets, health food stores, community co-ops, family farms, organic farms, farm stays and vineyards.

our food

OMG, GMO – soy, corn, sugar
* May contain ingredients partially produced with genetic engineering.

High fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, natural flavors….
you may not realize how much GMO is in your food.

Why Care about Food

If you are concerned with your physical health & well-being, you already know that nutritious, real food is the best for your daily diet. You are what you eat!

Almost half of California voters voted to label genetically engineered foods, way back in 2012. So if you didn’t understand about healthy food choices 5 years ago, you might be willing to look at the food issue more closely these days.

mission corn chips

Although the labeling law did not pass, many companies begin putting GMO-free or NON-GMO labels on the front of the food packages anyway. Health food manufacturers, major national brands, and especially food produced inside California – can be found with the non-gmo verified label.

FOOD as medicine, in light of recent news:
Americans are the fattest culture ever; Declining bee population, continued environmental pollution, and the link to our epic diseases. Gut disorders, allergies, autism, cancer, diabetes, the list goes on and on.

Most Prevalent Pesticides

Glyphosate is a potent and dangerous chemical found in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, the most commonly used herbicide in history.  Glyphosate has contaminated the planet, and is now found in mother’s milk, our bloodstreams, and in our food and water supply. The World Health Organization announced in 2015 that glyphosate ‘probably’ causes cancer.

Levels of the herbicide Roundup in human urine have increased dramatically among California residents in the past two decades, a new study reports. Roundup is used to protect genetically modified corn and soy crops from weeds; Also sprayed on wheat and oats, during harvest; And blindly used by public and private land owners to control weeds on their property, which ends up in run-off water, as poison to lakes and rivers.

This chemical corporate push in agriculture is a decades-long experiment with our very own ecosystem: Our health and the health of our planet.

____________________________________________

Watch Food Documentary Films to find out more on this topic.

Organic is Non GMO & More

Granges are now Guild Halls?

Follow the Food Babe blog online

Favorite West Coast Pioneers:

Amy’s Kitchen
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
Bob’s Red Mill
Cal-Organic
Cliff Bar
Dr. Bronner’s Soap
Full Belly Farm
Lundberg Family Farms
Masumoto Family Farm
Organic Valley Coop

califricebag

Grange Hall, now California Guilds

old building

Why are California Granges now called Guild Halls?

Simply, it’s FOOD politics.

Corporate food power versus local food production: organic, GMOs, bees, pesticide drift and a host of other issues. In 2011, all hell broke loose with the historic Grange Halls – newly elected officials, and the national goals versus the local community interests.

The following year California was voting to label GMO foods, a proposition which educated millions of eaters and chemical corporations spent gazillions opposing the bill, but it was only narrowly defeated. The National Grange was standing on the opposite side from the California State Grange on this important food issue. This may be when the chasm began to widen.

caguild.org
transition to the California State Guild

nongmo

Hippies, yuppies, left coast thinkers. Fruits, flakes and nuts! Tree huggers, eco-terrorist. Damn liberals. Food and California.

Remember that half of California voters knew about genetically engineered ingredients 5 years ago. Many of them made diet decisions based on new information readily available. Maybe they sometimes exercise outdoors, and dig this web site. Others choose to ignore the food topic. Denial.

Although the labeling law did not pass, many companies begin putting NON-GMO labels on the front of the food packages anyway. Health food manufacturers, now major brands, especially food produced inside California.

SLOW FOOD

The local food movements in cities and in rural communities started growing, prior to the year 2000; Grange membership began increasing (for the first time since the 1950s) as young farmers and organic farmers took a new interests in “creating community” and finding a cleaner, greener way to the future of food.

Now we have farmers markets and CSA’s (community supported agriculture programs) all over the nation, on a weekly basis. Awareness has only been accelerating on the food topic – with organic food sales rising steadily over the past decade.

Raised Garden Bed
Grow Your Own Food

more articles & resources –

The State of the Grange

West Coast Grange Wars: A Reborn Farmers’ Movement Takes on Corporate Agriculture

The California State Grange backed 2012’s Proposition 37, which mandated labeling of genetically modified foods….

The National Grange suspended the California State Grange’s charter in September 2012, and revoked it in May 2013

We are anti-pesticide, anti-fracking but we are for food sovereignty. The National Grange is dynamically opposed to all of those. They are pro-GMO, pro-pesticides, pro-big farming as opposed to small and local farms. Politically there is a dynamic difference.

Guild Asks Governor To Ban Glyphosate

Food Movies: Food Documentaries, GMO Movie, Farm Documentary Films

Go Solo

Traveling Alone
Camping Solo

Sierra Hiking Path

it’s the way to go… slow & solo

enjoying quality time alone is not weird, wrong, or unnatural, no matter how many strange looks you get from friends & envious co-workers

Solo Outdoor Trips

Stop waiting for someone to do things with. Quit thinking that your best friend or partner will one day magically suggest an outdoorsy road trip, or day hike, or mountain bike ride. YOU are the one who craves the wildness of the earth, the unexplored, the secluded. The time is now for you to start living the life you want, outdoors, in California – today!

If you’ve just about had it with the pressures of everyday stresses, the wifi city life and the busy pace of civilized society is starting to get to you. Get a clue fast – before you loose your marbles. It’s time for much needed rest and relaxation. Nature is the best place to relax and reconnect with yourself and mother nature.

A change in scenery. A fresh perspective. A real break from the norm. No shopping, no errands, no phones, no television, no computers, nobody around. No one, except you.

and they might call you anti-social…

Travel Solo

alone, by yourself

away, distant, solely, detached, free, independent, unique, individually

The Call of the Wild


Unplug yourself from the hectic rat race and go exploring. Give yourself time to fully unwind: time to think, time to enjoy the outdoors and really find that special place of peace that comes only from earth. Yes, all by yourself.

VISION QUEST

Call it an annual primal ritual, or a first time experiment, traveling solo can be a blessing in disguise. Learning to be alone outdoors, become more aware of the physical world and enjoying yourself is an important key to a balanced life. Whether you seek a quick refresher course for the weekend or a full blown month long road trip, seeking a new comfortable destination and the art of basic relaxing is the main focus for this trip.

Camping Alone

slow going

When you travel alone, it’s easy to take your own sweet time. Going slow is something we don’t usually do in our busy city lives. Time is so precious, so you may as well stretch that vacation out as long as possible. Savor the moments.

Take as long as you like for – photography, picnicking, hiking, stretching, yoga, cooking and stargazing. Firewood collection becomes the biggest chore of the day, and it could take hours. Walking from camp, every direction will lead to a new adventure. Driving back roads at 20 mph is luxurious. No one to be your back seat driver. Sleep in every day if you want. No pressures, no schedules, no big worries. Sunlight, food, heat, weather, cooking and cleaning. Sit back and learn to really relax. Enjoy a secluded camp site for a full week, and get to know the wildlife on a first name basis.

Boy Camping

Follow the back roads to seclusion, or reserve several days at a unique campground. Imagine night after night of peaceful rest, with the sounds of nature surrounding you & the stars of the heavens dancing across the darkest skies.

Explore new terrain every day & move to a new camp every night. Or make it a “stay put” week-long meditation, in one spot. Whatever fits your needs. Either way, you’ll enjoy the solitude & the healing powers of nature. Answering to no one but yourself, you may feel guilty or kinda selfish the first few days, but this will fade as you learn to embrace the solo journey.

And it doesn’t hafta be all about roughin it either. While backpacking into the almighty wilds of the true wilderness has its good points – along with life threatening dangers possible every day, a simple quick weekend trip to a nearby small inn, fishing lodge,  or a bed & breakfast could work for the pampered types. Choose something different and unique, yet know your own limitations (on comfort & on a physical level). Make sure your destination choice is surrounded by some nature and preferably wilderness. You won’t miss the television one bit!

  • FARM STAYS & GUEST RANCHES
  • BED & BREAKFAST INNS
  • NFS FIRE LOOKOUTS & CABINS
  • TENT CABINS & YURTS
  • CA LAKES & RESERVOIRS
  • WILDERNESS AREAS
  • SMALL TOWNS IN CALIFORNIA
  • Spend One Full Day a Week Outside in Nature

    Good California Maps are a must have! Don’t rely on digital cell service or count on online maps being readily available. The hard-copy versions are always the best back up plan. Old paper maps are the very best, cuz they can often show more hidden waterfalls, trails and old mines than the newer maps.

    National Forest maps are best for getting and staying away from the tourist crowds. Visit Destinations to decide what kinda place you wanna explore this season.

    California has it all – A to Z

    which is why the golden state population always seems to be increasing, right? Helping you get away from your normal routine and the masses is what we do best here at Total Escape. Discover the thousands of pages, photos and links on this site to create your very own unique retreat.

    The mountains, deserts, coastal, rolling oak countryside & even urban escape inside city villages, are perfect starting points for planning your little escape. Desert Retreats California

    Desert camping in autumn, winter and springtime months is perfect timing for any kinda soul searching, catching up on a good book, or just gazing out at the vast vistas. Meteor showers fall within the latter part of the year, so stargazing and camping is excellent with the new moon. Temps start to drop come September, so be warned. Mountain cabins drop to their off season rates after summer, but be prepared for chilly temps and get proper outdoor gear.

    camping destinations
    lakes in calif
    California State Parks
    hiking trails
    BLM camping
    back roads
    usda nfs
    mountains of California
    California National Parks
    stargazer
    desert in cali

    Desert Sunsets in Winter

    SAFETY TIPS: Give your schedule to someone. Any bit of info is helpful. A map or written itinerary given to a neighbor or close friend will help ensure your safety and timely return. Bring your cell phone, plenty maps, bear mace and emergency supplies for additional security.

    Borrego Park

    Anza Park / Borrego Park

    purplmtns_i

    East San Diego County, Borrego Springs CA

    San Diego Backcountry
    600,000 acres of SoCal desert
    San Diego desert maps

    BLOOM: mid-March thru May
    Anza Park elevations range from low to high. Lowest near eastern border (next to the Salton Sea) to the upper reaches of the western slopes @ 4000′. Wide, deep, sandy, long desert washes, native petroglphs, wind caves, slot canyons and split mountain. This uncrowded state park has the most acreages than all of the parks.

    OPEN CAMPING

    Camp in a developed campground, a small back country site or camp primitive on nearly any dirt road. Car camping to 4×4, this park has lots to offer folks wishing to really escape. No ground fires allowed, so bring your metal campfire bucket and large trash bag to carry out your ashes. The last thing you want is to scar these pristine white desert washes.

    DESERT WILDFLOWERS

    Steep rocky canyons on the Laguna mountain foothills can be challenging terrain, so bring good, sturdy hiking boots. Wildflowers can be abundant on certain years. Lower elevations sprout up first; Higher elevations along County Rd S-2 & S-22 bloom later in Spring. By June 1st most of the color is gone in and around Borrego Springs, so this is a real Winter and Spring vacation kinda spot. California desert wildflowers include primrose, barrel cactus, prickly pear, monkey flower, ocotillo & many more.

    ANZA BORREGO WILDFLOWERS

    seaoflavendar

    see also BORREGO SPRINGS

    find you way easily with the Anza Borrego Desert Map

    anza park

    This is the largest State Park in California and “open car camping” is allowed on the back roads. (also referred to as primitive camping, free camping or 4×4 camping) One of the few places in Southern California that you can camp outside of a developed Campground and still have a campfire. You gotta bring a large metal bucket to have your campfire in – as ashes scar white sandy washes and ground fires are not allowed.

    Lake Mohave

    viewpoint mohave

    Lake Mohave NRA

    Lake Mohave National Recreation Area

    Mojave Reservoir @ Colorado River: AZ / NV / CA
    @ the V, bottom of Nevada state = Arizona – Nevada – California, all merge together

    National Park Service

    The Colorado River travels through the southwest desert, splitting the Grand Canyon and further south, separating California from Arizona at the southern tip of Nevada. Agriculture lines the big river down to Baja, Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

    Up near Las Vegas and down to Searchlight, NV

    Above Hoover Dam is Lake Mead, sediment from Utah National Parks. Red dirt and silt shorelines. South of Hoover dam is a super deep rock gorge w/ hike-in hot springs. Beyond that, this beauty called Lake Mohave – with the super clear water, secluded coves and abundant fishingfish

    Lake Mohave: elevation 647′

    Desert peaks in this region are around 2000-3000′ elevation. Mohave Lake is actually a wide section of the Colorado River, spanning the region from massive Black Canyon south to busy Laughlin w/ river casinos. This lake is long and skinny in spots with lots of shoreline cliffs, canyons and coves. Minimal vegetation, so please bring your own firewood and don’t chop down the few trees trying to survive. Summer temps exceed 100 degrees, so plan your visit for the winter time.

    boatrampLake Mohave Ranger Stations
    Cottonwood Cove
    Katherine Landing

    boating, camping, fishing, hiking, hot springs, kayaking, off-road, picnics, viewpoints

    camping areas below listed from north to south

    Willow Beach RV Park & Campground
    Arizona side, off Hwy 93
    928-767-4747

    car camp mohave

    El DORADO CANYON

    El Dorado Canyon Road, main paved route can be accessed near California’s state border. North of Searchlight, Nevada – off main highway 95, on side route 165 to Nelson, NV

    Secluded dirt roads up and down canyons near El Dorado Canyon Rd. Minimal vegetation, maximum open scenery and dark skies. Kayak rentals @ El Dorado Canyon.

    desert badlands erosion

    deep washes
    Ireteba Peaks Wilderness

    4×4 camping routes: 15 day camping limit

    Find your own route with many to choose from, drive the soft sandy washes (with a few boulders to dodge) and camp for free, right at the waters edge. Adventurers: Only for the self-contained campers. Some routes marked 4WD only, so pay attention to signs. AWD (all wheel drive) vehicles should fare well on the sandy roads; but standard passenger cars and vans will need to keep their speed up in the soft sand areas.

    No garbage collection. Pack it in, pack it out.
    No facilities, no fees. No buildings. No campfire rings, no picnic tables, very few vault toilets. Bring your shovel!

    Driving off the roads is strictly prohibited. Primitive camp sites can be found both at numerous coves and also inland inside the canyons. The ridges get windy in the deserts, but are favorable for night sky views and self contained camper vans.

    Always know the weather forecast, cuz flash floods are possible and these dirt roads will be impassible during big rain. This is the main drainage to the big river!

    Dogs Allowed

    DRIVING TIPS

    Most desert washes here are signed routes 4×4, but mini vans, AWD sport-wagons, trucks, SUVs, small RVs can all be found camping near Lake Mohave. That is – if you know how to ‘drive off road’, which is not fast, but not too slow either.

    Avoid getting stuck in the deep sand: keep speed up, do not turn sharply and do not brake hard. Carry tow strap in case you need an emergency pull. Be nice to strangers and you may find help.

    Campfires are allowed, but you need to bring firewood. Dogs are allowed. Party animals tend to trash these desert coves, so be warned that there is a fair amount of litter. Bring a black trash bag and take some out! This trash problem could get the area closed off to vehicles so keep that in mind.

    The canyons here have giant power lines that cross @ Aztec Wash; they can easily be avoided.

    montana wash

    primitive camping 4x4 camping boat camping

    4×4 recommended @ MOHAVE:

    Eagle Wash Road #46 – popular spot
    Montana Wash #45 – camping ok
    Placer Wash #47 – no camping

    The rangers don’t wanna be pulling your ass out of the sand, which is why they post the 4×4 signs. Don’t expect to find help without walking a few miles first, or waiting several hours.

     

    desert wilderness

    Several wilderness areas are located along the west side of this lake & river. Often dirt roads will parallel a portion of the wilderness boundary, providing excellent access to secluded coves and beaches. Emergency CALL boxes are placed in remote parts of these shores.

    • Ireteba Peaks Wilderness (northwest, next to El Dorado Canyon)
    • Nellis Wash Wilderness (western side)
    • Spirit Mountain Wilderness (southwest)
    • Bridge Canyon Wilderness (southwest, near Laughlin)

    mohave2011

    RV camp campground marina

    COTTONWOOD COVE
    developed campground, boat launch, marina, lodging, hiking, picnic areas

    Cottonwood Cove Resort
    near Searchlight, NV
    702-297-1464

    primitive camping boat camping RV camp campground marina

    LAUGHLIN, NV
    Nevada, California and Arizona states join down in this part of the world. Katherine Landing, full service marina, slip rentals, lodging, city services and casinos.

    Lake Mohave Resort
    928-754-3245

    katherine landing camping
    Katherine Landing offers back roads camping, via rough dirt roads.
    Laughlin Marina
    Laughlin Marina @ Katherine

    Lake Mohave NRA
    NPS Headquartersnevada_atlas
    601 Nevada Way
    Boulder City, NV 89005
    Visitor Center open daily
    702-293-8990

    maps of the region:

    covecamps

    Mojave Desert – This river-created lake is located on the Colorado River, in between Las Vegas, Nevada and Needles, California. The river water here is crystal clear, very swimmable and the fishing is decent.  No paved boat rampsclearest water

    nearby towns: (with elevation)

    Avi Casino
    Bullhead City, AZ (540′)
    Laughlin, NV (535′)
    Kingman, AZ (3340′)
    Needles, CA
    Nelson, NV (2954′)
    Nipton, CA (3042′)
    Oatman, AZ
    Searchlight, NV (3470′)


    Horse Canyon

    Horse Canyon Mojave

    Horse Canyon California

    Southern Sierra / Mojave Road SC 65

    Mojave Desert meets the Sierra Nevada Mountains
    North Highway 14

    North of Mojave, CA
    North of Red Rock State Park
    North of Jawbone Canyon

    South of south of US Hwy 395, south of jct Hwy 178

    backroads BLM camping desert roads hiking PCT mountain bike jeep roads primitive camp

    elevation: 3000′-7000′

    Horse Canyon is a dirt road up a high desert canyon, with joshua trees and wash outs. 7000′ elevation pinyon pine ridges above w/ PCT.

    Most would say the see a whole-lotta-nothingness out here in these deserts…. when they zoom by at 70 mph on the blacktop highway.

    at Total Escape, we beg to differ.

    Solo Driver SUV

    Intersection on Hwy 14 @ SC 65, dirt route will travel west into the mountains. Initial desert road follows Little Dixie Wash, but veers north up to Horse Canyon and the higher forested ridges.

    Horse Cyn is a scenic, desert, dirt road that becomes a rugged 4×4 trail the higher it climbs in the canyon. The route traverses a ridge line and dead ends at the old cabin; No through route, no loop. The PCT continues on to the Walker Pass @ the 178.

    The lower Horse Canyon is area quite accessible by standard truck or SUV. High clearance is recommended out on these kinda roads. Vegetation is quite sparse at first, but improves with the miles traveled. Wildflowers can be awesome, usually April-June. Picnic spots everywhere; primitive camping sites can be found out here, off the main dirt road. Please reuse existing camp sites when possible.

    wheelin pals

    Passenger cars may attempt this, but should watch for unexpected deep dips and rocks, washed out in the road. (No tow service in the middle of nowhere). Road conditions do change with the seasons out in the boonies. Cell phone reception could be spotty back in the deepest of canyons.

    PCT
    PCT trail access: Pacific Crest Trail follows this ridge road for miles. They call this range the SCODIE Mountains; Old cabin at the end of the road.

    cabin mcivers

    Sage Canyon and Cow Heaven Canyon are both to the north, along with Freeman Canyon (CA SR 178). Bird Spring and Dove Spring Canyons are both to the south, along with the most popular regions of Red Rock State Park and the Jawbone OHV area.

    nearby towns:

    INYOKERN, CA
    LAKE ISABELLA, CA
    MOJAVE, CA
    RANDSBURG, CA
    RIDGECREST, CA

    joshuacanyons

    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 College Towns

    Uni in Cali

    San Diego Skies & Bay

    came to California for college and never left
    Some folks would argue that education through life experiences can be just as rewarding as following the traditional path of private schools or state education. The internet is fast replacing the need for formal education, as many entrepreneurs never graduate from college and still go on to become huge successes.

    Going to university or college in California is a common path for many students, which is why there are mostly transplants living on the west coast. Many start at community colleges and transfer to a 4 year college.

    California is the largest state in the union, as well as the most prosperous. California has the one of the largest economy in the world!

    Below is a list of California cities and towns with a big student population. Some of these places have more than one college or university in town. IN and around town you will find abundant apartment living, cafes, coffee shops, mexican food, laundromats, bike paths, parks and public bus service.

    Chico Bench Art

    The New York Fed’s second quarter numbers are out for 2016 and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for student loan debt. Officially, the nation owes $1.26 trillion in student loan debt. Realistically, we are probably over the $1.3 trillion mark when taking into account the fact that the Fall semester has just started…

    Deep Springs CollegeBishop, CA

    Heartwood InstituteGarberville, CA

    University of Earth
    Quincy, CA

    23S01 – Los Padres NF

    Big Sur Dirt Roads

    Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

    Willow Creek Road
    Los Burros Road

    South Big Sur Coast Dirt Roads & super scenic US HWY 1 – North of San Simeon and Hearst Castle, north of Ragged Point and just past Gorda, CA a dirt shoulder, widens, a break in the bushes on the right side of the highway, a small wooden sign for the Yurt Resort called Treebones and the turn off to the back-country of Los Padres National Forest Road #23S01

    Willow Creek is a steep coastal canyon w/ Willow Creek Trail #5E08 in the creek below and the dirt road 1000′ above. Willow Creek Day Use Area, the Willow Creek bridge and Willow Creek beach w/ restrooms, picnic tables, and paved parking lot near the highway.

    DIRT ROAD, high clearance is recommended, but not required. 4×4 may be needed in wet weather. Motorhomes, trucks w/ trailers and RV campers are not gonna like this rugged, narrow, steep, dirt road and are advised to stick to the pavement. Camper vans and SUVs are be better suited for this terrain.

    • Both Thomas Bros. Maps & Benchmark Map’s California Atlas has this route listed as Los Burros Road
    • Google Maps has this route named Will Creek Road
    • Yahoo Maps has this route as Willow Creek – Los Burros Road
    • Mapquest has this one listed as Los Burros Rd – Fort Hunter Liggett (which is a military base,  on the opposite side of the mountain range near US Hwy 101)


    View Larger Map

     

    Free Camping in Big Sur

    Willow Creek Rd

    Several primitive camp sites can be found along this rugged dirt road, which climbs steeply and switchbacks thru redwoods, madrones, cedars, grass lands and oak hills. Sites within the first 3 miles  of this road offer the serene sounds of the ocean – waves, seals, sea lions as well as traffic on the busy highway. There are a few private properties back here in the boonies too, so read signs and don’t go exploring this region in the dark.

    About 8 miles back on Willow Creek Rd is Alder Creek Campground – a small developed camp w/ only 2 camp sites and no piped water and no fees.

    Prewitt Ridge  also has numerous ideal top-of-the-world, free camp sites, which do require a lot more dirt road driving and a very good backcountry map.

    • Sycamore Flat Road intersects @ 3 miles up
    • Alder Peak Camp is San Martin Top @ 12 miles up
    • South Coast Ridge Road is at the very top @ 14 miles
    • Lions Den Camp is 19 miles of dirt road driving
    • Three Peaks Camp is 21 miles way back there
    Los Padres Monterey District Big Sur Map NatGeo

    Sierra Buttes California

    sierra buttes

    The Sierra Buttes

    elevation: 8591′

    Northern Gold Country California at the headwaters to the Yuba River

    Lakes Basin Recreation Area, Tahoe National Forest
    near Plumas Eureka State Park

    Gold Lake, Sardine Lake, Upper Sardine, Smith Lake, Packer Lake, Grass Lake, Sand Pond, Goose Lake, Snag Lake, Long Lake, Jamison Lake, Round Lake, Deer Lake, Tamarack Lakes, Young America Lake, Frazier Falls

    California is the land of granite peaks. Rocky, exposed mountains that stick up out of the landscape for all to see. SoCal has a few of them, but most granite peaks are found in the Sierra Nevada – the youngest mountain range on the continent. The Eastern Sierra ridge lines are the well photographed and Tahoe has plenty of big granite surrounding it. The farther you go north, the less granite you will see. – not because it isn’t there, mostly cuz it is just buried with tall dense forest.

    The Sierra Buttes are the impressive granite peaks located in between the Yuba River and Sardine Lake. SE of Mount Lassen and NW of Lake Tahoe, at the tippy top of the historic gold country. Gold Lake Road #24 connects Gold Country Highway 49 to North of Tahoe Highway 89. Road #24 is often closed for winter snow, so most visitors enjoy this region in the summer months.

    Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout Hike

    The infamous PCT or Pacific Crest Trail passes the peak and goes north through this basin of alpine lakes, so backpackers are often seen. Tent camping is very popular, as well as RV camping w/ numerous developed campgrounds and open camping as well.  Some of the hard to reach primitive camp sites (next to lakes) can be accessed via 4×4 vehicle. Downieville is well known for the mountain biking trails, so this whole region is covered with amazing trails. Snowmobilers and cross country skiers love the area during a good winter snow and they can access this area from the north off Hwy 89.


    View Larger Map

    Sardine Lake

    hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, fishing, kayaking, cross country, & snowmobiling

    Sierra Buttes Map Tahoe National Forest