Tag Archives: 4WD

Campgrounds in Mendocino

Mendocino Campgrounds

Camping in Northern California / Camp Mendo

foutspicnic

2018 & 2019
Hit especially hard by wildfires recently. Certain campgrounds and roads are closed to the public, due to the significant fire damage.

Mendocino National Forest has an abundance of small campgrounds and 4×4 camps, many of which, due to snow & elevation, can only be accessed in summer months. Many developed campgrounds are located on dirt roads, so know the road conditions before you get out there.

NOTE: all camps 2000′ elevation or lower are OPEN ALL YEAR LONG
Red text for OHV = off road use, dirt bikes, quads, 4x4s, trailers.

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Atchison Campground 4300′ 6 mixed yes creek road# 22N11
dispersed
Bear Creek Campground 2000′ 16 yes creek CLOSED
Cedar Camp Campground 4300′ 5 pines yes no No trailers, June-Oct
Davis Flat Campground 1700′ 28 vault no Fouts Springs OHV
Deer Valley Campground 3700′ 13 yes no Upper Lake
OHV
Dixie Glade Campground 3700′ 8 mixed yes no CLOSED
Eel River Campground 1500′ 16 oaks vault piped bike trails
Fouts Campground 1700′ 11 mixed vault piped Fouts Springs OHV
Georges Valley Campground 5000′ 3 no no Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Green Springs Campground 6000′ 4 pines yes spring Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Hammerhorn Lake Campground 3500′ 9 pines vault piped 1 handicap spot
Howard Lake Campground 3500′ 12 vault lake high clearance vehicle
Kingsley Glade Campground 4500′ 4 vault piped June-Oct
Letts Lake Campground 4500′ 44 no CLOSED
Little Doe Campground 3600′ 13 pines vault no June-Oct
Little Stony Campground 1500′ 8 pines vault no OHV trails
Lower Nye Campground 3300′ 6 mixed vault no May-Sept
Middle Creek Campground 2000′ 12 yes no Upper Lake
OHV
Mill Creek Campground 1700′ 5 yes no Fouts Springs OHV
Mill Valley Campground 4200′ 16 vault piped OHV trails
Navy Camp Campground 1800′ 20 vault piped PG&E Camp @
Lake Pillsbury
North Fork Campground 1700′ 10 oaks yes creek Snow Mountain
Oak Flat Campground 1700′ 12 pines yes no Lake Pillsbury
Old Mill Campground 3700′ 10 pines yes no narrow road
Plaskett Meadows Campground 6000′ 35 pines yes piped Plaskett Ridge
Penny Pines Campground 3600′ 5 pines yes piped Upper Lake OHV
Pogie Point Campground 1900′ 50 oaks yes piped Lake Pillsbury
Soldier Ridge Campground 6000′ 3 no no Yolla Bolly Wilderness
South Fork Campground 1700′ 4 vault creek Stony Creek, OHV
Sugar Spring Campground 5400′ 3 vault no Burnt Creek / Eel River
Sugarfoot Glade Campground 4200′ 4 mixed vault creek May-Nov
Sunset Campground 1800′ 54 mixed vault creek May-Nov
Surveyor Camp 3900′ 2 yes no OHV, Rd# 7
Sycamore Grove Camp 300′ 30 mixed yes no Red Bluff,
open all yr
Three Prong Campground 4800′ 6 pine vault piped June-Oct
Wells Cabin Campground 6300′ 15 pines vault piped July-Oct
Whitlock Campground 4300′ 4 mixed vault piped June-Oct

OFF-ROADERS NOTE: 3 OHV camps are located in higher elevations; the rest are 2000′ or lower and open year round. Always check with National Forest for road closures and conditions.

Mill Creek Camp @ Mendo
Mill Creek Camp @ Fouts Springs

Mendocino Ranger Stations can be found on link below

NFSMendocino National Forest

 

MENDO GROUP CAMPGROUNDS
(reservations required)

GRAY PINE GROUP CAMP @ Stonyford

MASTERSON GROUP CAMP @  Plaskett Lakegroup campground

multiuse_sign

cement_table

group camps Mendocino

Mendocino & North Coast Maps

Laguna Hanson Baja

hammock

Laguna Hanson

aka Laguna Juarez, Baja California Mexico

pinetree

(Laguna is Lagoon or Lake in Spanish)

elevation: 5,500′

Located inside the Sierra Juarez Mountains
Parque Nacional Constitucion de 1857, or
Constitucion de 1857 National Park, Baja California, Mexico

Pine forests in Baja California: Dirt roads access Laguna Hanson, so come prepared to drive many miles with dust & potholes — more than 20+ miles from the paved highway just to reach this prime high elevation destination. Since most of Baja is desert, dirt and coastline, this location is a rare treat for those wishing to travel (off the beaten path). The tallest mountain peak in Baja is nearby with the University Observatory.

observatorio
San Pedro Martir

campBaja Camping in the Mountains

Water levels drop well below normal & what we end up with is a shallow lake with huge boulders emerged. Kinda surreal looking. Tall pines & dense forest surrrounding lake. Wide open & flat areas perfect for biking, stargazing and group camping.

grazerland

4x4This Baja National Park campground is more like dispersed, or open camping around lake shore. Very popular place in the summer months & if you want seclusion camp away from the lake, deep in the forest. The best quiet spots are located in the north east vicinity.

No motorhomes allowed: the road is steep, long, all dirt and narrow in certain spots.

baja maps
Baja Maps from NatGeo
  • bouldering (rock climbing)
  • camping
  • dirt bike trails
  • hiking trails
  • horseback trails
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • sightseeing


No services at lake. Minimal camping facilities. Self sufficient campers a must. 

checkBRING EVERYTHING = ice chest w/ block ice, drinking water, flat tire repair kits, tow strap; extra blankets, medication, first aid kit. There is no store within 30+ miles of here, and the dirt road is very long (both ways) – so it is best to be prepared with all food and beverages.

LOCALS NOTE: An occasional rancher may approach your camp with his farm truck, selling fresh made cheese, beef jerky or other farm produce.

campfireNo pavement, no picnic tables.
Minimal pit toilets, few rangers patrolling and rock fire rings.

CAMPERS TIP: The toilets can be nasty!! Bring a shovel and wipes; walk into the forest for your bathroom break.

See our CAMP POTTY page for pooping in the wild

greatbkrds

 

dirtbikesOHV trails are nearby. OFF ROADING, dirt biking and 4×4 routes are essentially any dirt road that is within this forest; Drive slower, keep your ears peeled and watch out when they pass you, cuz they are most nimble and quicker.

No motorcycles signs are posted, but that doesn’t stop them riding all hours of the night. The mountains near Tecate and Mike’s Sky Ranch both cater to dirt bikers and tours, and are located nearby (sorta).

Park rangers & rules here are a lot more lax that in the “States”.

MAP NOTE: Google Maps has this place listed as Laguna Juarez

openspots4


Driving on the Beach

beach sunset

Driving on the Beach in California

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

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

silverstrand

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

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

AWD on the sand

Central Coast California:

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

Northern California:
Lost Coast

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

chico couple

after-the-fun maintenance tip:

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

Smith Lake California

Smith Lakes in California

Numerous places called SMITH LAKE exist in the Sierra Nevada.

wildflora

Lakes Basin Recreation Area has two different spots named SMITH LAKE. This region is in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, near Downieville, at the north end of the California Gold Country @ Highway 49.

smithlake

Smith Lake hiking trail can be accessed from the Gray Eagle Lodge area along Gold Lake Highway; or this hiking lake can also be accessed from a park on the north side. Plumas Eureka State Park, via the Jameson Creek trail.

mikeatsmiths

Lakes Basin also has a small set of two lakes called “Smith Lakes” – located on Smith Creek. Way back behind the larger, most famous Gold Lake.

4×4 Road #11E71 will lead you to this remote destination, with the proper vehicle, of course. Creek crossings and large rocks; A quality topographic map and a 4 wheel drive rig is needed for this adventure.

nicemeadows
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Lakes Basin California
North Sierra mountains, Sierra granite meets Cascade volcanic rock. Bordering of State Park & 2 National Forests

nearby towns:

driftwood

Snake Lake, California
Snake Lake, California

Snake Lake Campground, located west of Quincy, CA – has a small neighboring lake named Smith Lake. Chances are Smith is covered with lily pads, just like Snake Lake. Smaller Smith is accessible via dirt road only. Many people hike, horseback, mountain bike or dirt-bike back on these narrow dirt roads, so use caution when traveling. Butterfly Valley Botanical Garden is located way back here, if you can find it. A real forest service map is advised.

  • black bears
  • butterflies
  • frogs
  • snakes

driftwood

Smith River National Recreation Area is a remote watershed located in Northern California, on the Oregon border.

another Smith Lake in California? We’re still looking.


Frazier Park Camping

Mount Pinos Camping & Frazier Park Campgrounds

Hiking Pinos Signs
Frazier Park and neighboring towns, like freeway-close Lebec and Gorman, is where the Los Angeles hills meet the Kern County mountains. Mojave Desert meets to Coastal Range. EXIT I-5 @ Tejon Pass (elev 4144′)

Wildflower hills, seasonal creeks, forested peaks, high desert canyons. Bike trails, hike trails, off road routes. High elevation backpacking, hang gliding, mountain biking and camping in every direction.

MTB SOCAL
Mountain Bikers love the trails at Mount Pinos.

High desert washes, oak creeks, pinyon pine forests, mountain meadows and numerous peaks – Frazier Peak, Reyes Peak, Alamo Mountain, Mount Pinos, Mount Abel (Cerro Noroeste) and north facing San Emigdio ridge.

Mt. Pinos District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Aliso Park, Cuyama 3200′ 11 oak pit no Aliso Cyn Rd. (#10N04)
Ballinger OHV Camp 3000′ 20 pinyon vault no Rd# 9N10, Cuyama Valley
Camp-O Alto 8286′ 12 jefferey pit no ridge, Cerro Noroeste
Caballo Campground 5850′ 5 oaks pit no Rd# 9N27, Cerro Noroeste
Cherry Creek 4×4 5200′ 2 oak no spring 4WD trail, Cuddy Valley
Chuchapate Campground 6000′ 30 pines vault piped Rd# 8N04, closed winter
Chula Vista Walk-In Camp 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in camps & RV lot
Cottonwood Campground 4600′ 2 ctnwd no creek 4WD only trail, fish
Dome Springs Camp 4800′ 4 oak pit no Rd# 8N40, Lockwood
Dutchman Camp 6800′ 8 pines no no Rd# 7N01, 4WD trails
Half Moon Campground 4700′ 10 pines pit no Rd #7N03, May-Oct
Kings Campground 4250′ 7 pinyon vault no OHV & Piru Creek
Marian Campground 6600′ 5 pine pit no closed in winter
McGill Campground 7500′ 50+ pine vault seasonal mountain biking
Mount Pinos Campground 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed winter
Nettle Springs Camp 4400′ 9 pinyon vault no Rd# 8N06, Apache Cyn
Ozena Campground 3660′ 12 cottnwd vault no Lockwood Rd
Pine Springs Camp 5800′ 12 pinyon pit no Road #7N03
Pleito Campsite 5000′ 2 mixed no no dirt rd access, dispersed
Rancho Nuevo 3550′ 2 mixed no no river crossing
Reyes Creek 4000′ 30 oaks vault yes creek camping
Reyes Peak Pine Mt 5200′ 6 pines none no ridge camping
Salt Creek 4×4 3000′ 2 mixed no no 4WD only
Sunset Campground 4300′ 2 cottonwd no no Lockwood / Piru Creek
Thorn Meadows 5000′ 5 pine pit no Rd# 7N03C, horse corral
Tinta Campground 3600′ 3 pinyon pit no river crossing
Toad Springs Camp 5700′ 5 pinyon pit no Rd# 9N09, Quatal Cyn
Twin Pines Camp 6600′ 5 pine vault no Dry weather only
Valle Vista Camp 4800′ 7 mixed pit no condors, new toilet

See Mount Pinos Recreation Campgrounds only

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Map of Los Padres NF –nettle spring camp

Los Padres mountain towns –

DSCN0043

Toad Springs Campground atop Quatal Canyon. Small camps located in Los Padres NF have no fees, and often no toilets – so bring the shovel.

Many dirt roads are gated seasonally for wet weather or snow. Call rangers to find out which routes are open before you plan your weekend. Or have a plan B and C camp site ready if route is closed. Flashfloods, thunderstorms, and erosion means you may all-of-a-sudden need to use your 4WD. This is the mountains after all. UNpredictable weather is common.

frazier park camping

Primitive Camping in Quatal Wash, next to the OHV Route and the Chumash Wilderness

PeaktoPeak
Peak-to-Peak Hike: the toughest climb you’ll do, this decade.


4×4 Off Roading

 

Off Roading Moab Utah

Originally uploaded by danamight

 

4×4 offroad

When people hear the phrase “off road” a hundred things can come to mind. Granola types envision rednecks, guns & beer cans tearing up the wilderness; while teen boys may like dirt bikes or motocross races; your co-worker digs the rock crawling rigs (on TV); your lesbian pals like to do desert & ghost town exploring in their Jeep & a million families like to camp out with RV & toys in tow. The quads, the sand rails, the rock crawling machines, the custom built buggies. Trophy trucks, rally racing Subies, 4WD camper vans, dirt bikes, the standard stock SUV, some w/ 4-wheel drive and who can forget the ever-freaking-popular jeaps. Sunday drivers sightseeing or hard core dare devil racers can be found in the realm of off-road: Off pavement.

They are ALL off roaders! And they are all unique, custom & no two created equal. There is certainty of it & the passionate fans will tell you. The off roading interest has gained popularity as more & more recreation vehicles become available to the main stream market. And TV shows promote these awesome rigs, the sport of dirt racing, rock crawling & the fantastic terrain. (And if you still watch television, that will soon change!)

Baby boomers seek retirement vacations: compact 4WD camper vans, or smaller RVs capable of trailering an off-road machine; Fathers look for ways to entertain family out of doors, or escape on solo trips (for sanity sake). The off-road sport and interest has literally exploded over the past 20 years w/ media, hobby, competitions & after market products – along with the rising gas & tire prices.

4x4 Ford Camper at a Big Bear Campout
4×4 Ford Camper at a Big Bear Campout

California dirt road heaven

Wheeling

California Back Roads
WHERE TO START?

Plan better trips, learn to really read a topographic map, depart for your trip over-prepared and find new, amazing destinations all over California. Use Total Escape often and get a bumper sticker for your rig!

Many folks drive dirt roads just to get to a trailhead and go hiking, mountain biking or rock climbing. Many backpackers trailheads are indeed located miles off pavement on forest dirt roads.

Some outdoor enthusiasts crave seclusion: peace and quite, away from city life, city folks, all noise… well away from the crowds. Preferring to camp outside of developed campgrounds, which means free camping (mostly on dirt roads). Campfire permits are always required. Many excellent, hidden camp sites can be found on rugged, unpaved back roads – some requiring 4 wheel drive, others not.

Gear Heads: those who value ‘vehicle time’ over ‘real nature’ will literally SIT inside their rigs (almost all day) – enjoying scenery from a safe distance. Picnic spot, viewpoint, yes, but rarely ever seeking out a hike, or a waterfall. Should a break-down occur, these dedicated guys will have their heads under the hoods or crawling underneath, for hours if needbe. Always be prepared with food in the cooler.

Tent Campers
And believe it or not, some off-roaders will not even tent camp! They do not sleep on the ground. They prefer a local lodge in the nearest small town or they could own a luxury RV (towing a trailer w/ the overbuilt Jeep). Talk about gas guzlers.

Now, where are those green buggies?

Forest Roads
Backcountry routes may be signed – high clearance needed, or not. Black diamond, double diamond trail. Yikes 4×4 required, what! Did we miss a sign or take a wrong turn?

SIGNS are not always reliable on the back roads.
Small Signs: get shot at, run over, blown over and washed away with erosion
… so best have a hard copy map (at all times).

California dirt road heaven

In Trinity, locals have been known to remove forest road signs to confuse tourists and prevent traffic in certain directions. I can’t imagine why. Cough, cough, Hyampom!

PVT – private property

This brings us to private ROADS & LAND. Just because a dirt road is located in a forest or rural region doesn’t mean it is open to the public. Generally private lands are well marked w/ ‘No Trespassing’ notices, some fenced and gated. In Baja and in ranching areas in general, public access may be allowed to pass through. Inquire at a local ranger stations for the area you wish to explore.

Do Not Litter

Litter removal 101 should be the norm; Don’t Trash California! Teach your children well. Respect the land and always Tread Lightly! Find more about ECO – CAMPING

TreadLightly

Quatal Canyon Red Dirt Road

smoketreewashes

jeepinpanamint

Dumont Dunes OHV Desert Death Valley
Dumont Dunes OHV / Desert Death Valley Xmas Trip

Culp Valley

vegculpvalley

Anza Borrego Camping

Culp Valley Campground

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Southern California, high desert; in between Temecula & Borrego Springs, CA

Culp Valley Primitive Camp Area, Anza Borrego

San Diego Deserts, San Ysidro Mountains
Montezuma Grade
Montezuma Highway, Hwy S-22

High desert elevations, large boulders, highway w/ primitive campground. No trees, but much vegetation; flat parking, large tent spots, picnic tables, vault toilet. High desert mountain pass, with boulders, canyons and many dirt roads to explore.

• Elevation: 3,350′
• Number of Sites: 10
• Vehicle Accessibility: all
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 10 Days
• Season: October – May
• Trailheads: Grapevine Canyon, Pena Springs, Anza Borrego & PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)

culp valley

hike highcountry borrego

Culp Valley Trail, Grapevine Canyon, Montezuma Valley, Pena Springs, San Ysidro Mountains.

  • bouldering
  • camping
  • climbing
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • picnic
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers
  • culptoilet

    2018 Wildfire Walk – Culp Valley
    https://www.parks.ca.gov/Events/Details/9825

    Summit Post for Culp Valley
    https://www.summitpost.org/culp-valley/931432

    culpvalleyOHV
    OHV trails SoCal Deserts

    California Off Road Maps

    Jeeping

    Dirt roads, backroads, desert trails, OHV routes, single tracks, dunes, fire roads, gravel roads, 4×4 roads

    When you wanna explore a new area, California has plenty of public land to offer. Off Road Maps can get you away from the crowds & the main staging areas. Maps can show you prime areas to ride & camp that you may not have ever imagined. Secluded, wide open, or freeway close. Terrain – the endless deserts, the mountain foothills, the higher hills , way above the city. The choice is yours.

    Whether you seek secluded stream side camp sites, with some fishing or a dusty, long, desert trail that spans the entire Mojave desert, you can find these secret spots with good old fashioned topographic maps. Hard copies! The real deal. No cell signal? No problem.

    4x4 routes

    4×4 Panamint Valley has numerous canyons & ridges to conquer

    our random list
    California off-roading maps:

    Jeep Roads Atlas
    Benchmark California Atlas


    The most trusted full-state book-atlas that Total Escape recommends. When you must have a (hard copy) map for local road trips – Benchmark Atlas is the best one by far.

    NFS, USDA
    NFSlogo
    Forest Atlas:
    National Forest Topo Atlas
    Spiral bound book of all topographic quads, of select National Forests in California.

    delorme
    DeLorme California Gazetteer

    National Forest Service State Parks California BLM backroads camping jeeping

    • SAN BERNARDINO OHV MAP (outta print)
    • HUNGRY VALLEY OHV MAP (outta print)
    • ANGELES FOREST OHV MAP (outta print)
    • MOUNT PINOS OHV TRAILS (outta print)
    • ROCK CREEK OHV Eldorado

    NorCal Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (book)

    SoCal Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (book)

    OHV maps California

    California Off Road Areas


    Awesome California locations w/ off-road trails nearby. DanaMite has compiled a list of first-hand knowledge information, links, photos, campsites, maps, all revolving around rural California. Check out the ever growing list and get ready to explore the back roads, like never before.

    PDF Off Road Maps


    OHV area, motor vehicle use, 4×4 camps, dirt trails, forest routes; Download maps for various off-roading areas in California.

    Quatal Canyon

    What the heck is it ???

    4WD = 4 wheel drive
    4×4 = (same as above)

    2WD = 2 wheel drive
    4×2 = (same as above)

    AWD = All wheel drive
    SUV = Sport Utility Vehicle

    MTB = Mountain Bike
    MX = Motocross (dirt bike motorcycle)
    SNOMO = Snow Mobile (sled machine)

    GAS-POWERED RECREATION: The past two decades have emerged with vehicle redesigns from well known brands, creating a number of new “utility vehicles” for the sport of off-roading (otherwise known as, burning gasoline while recreating in the outdoors). Here is a breakdown on the acronyms, but they all basically refer to much of the same “off road type vehicles”.

    ATV = All Terrain Vehicle (quad)
    MOHUV = Multipurpose Off-Highway Utility Vehicle
    ROPS = Roll Over Protection System
    ROV = Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle
    RUV = Recreational Utility Vehicle
    SxS = Side by Side Vehicle (2 seated)
    SSV = (same as above)
    UTV = Utility Task Vehicle

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-terrain_vehicle
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side_by_Side_(UTV)

    Common abbreviations for off-road on public lands:

    OHV – Off Highway Vehicle
    SVRA – State Vehicular Recreation Areas
    BLM – Bureau of Land Management
    NFS – National Forest (USDA)
    MVUM – motor vehicle use map (NFS)

    PVT – private land / keep out
    MTR – motorized

    RD – road
    CO – county
    RTE – route
    SR – state route
    FR – forest route / road
    EXT – exit
    CK – creek
    EL – elevation
    MT – mountain
    STA – station (ranger/fire station)
    PO – post office

    Big Bear Backroads

    Ojai Map Elkins Flat

    Around 2012 the National Forest Service printed up a bunch of nice off-road maps for various popular regions of California. Oddly, they told me not to sell them and I never heard anything about them again after that. Not even sure if these above are available to the public, but if you dig around you might find ’em. Call the rangers, they might know.

    off road maps

    If interested, you could call the ranger station and ask about any local off-road maps, and availability. Mostly they have freebie one page print-outs, black & white — to keep the crowds where they want them. Other times they might have real color, printed maps for sale at the station. Maps that can get you deeper into the terrain, with wild edges of reality nearby. 4×4 maps, OHV map, MVUM

    BLM Maps (Bureau of Land Management)

    Government agency that manages large amounts of California land. Public lands that do not fall into the National Forest or National Park or State Park realm. BLM oversees some mountain areas, river canyons and primarily, desert regions within California. Visit a local BLM office to see the selection of area maps.

    Turtle Mountain Rd
    Turtle Mountain Road

    Decent & FREE: dirt road maps can be found at BLM ranger station, south of NEEDLES, on US Hwy 95. Explore Turtle Mountain and find free camping IN ROUTE; Eastern California Desert.

    Anza Borrego 4×4 Trails

    anzawashes

    Being the largest State Park inside California, Anza Borrego has certain advantages. Lots of land to explore, abundant dirt roads, free camping and a very diverse terrain. Located in SoCal, this desert has lots to offer the outdoor enthusiasts, all year round.

    Anza Borrego Desert

    with hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore

    SUV / 2WD / AWD / 4WD / 4×4 / OHV

    The Anza Borrego desert, in east San Diego County, is quite large and very easily accessible from Southern California. The park spans mid-elevation, mountain foothills (3000′ elevation) down to dry lake beds near sea level. Large, vast and varied terrain – and full of vegetation in certain spots. Borrego Desert Wildflower blooms attract thousands of visitors between March-May each Spring.

    Borrego Valley

    Wildflower Camping

     

    While the majority of the dirt roads inside the ANZA DESERT are passable with a regular passenger car (on most days), some specific areas and routes are indeed considered “too hairy” and may require a 4 wheel drive. Rains change landscape fast in this region, so know before you go.

    FLASH FOOD WARNING: Wet weather (anywhere nearby) can make a mild, soft, sandy wash into a wild, flowing river. On occasion desert washes are ‘washed out’ during big rain, often becoming mini rivers that can swallow your vehicle; Road and weather conditions can change suddenly in the California deserts. Wind can also play a huge factor in a selecting a decent camp site. Know the weather report in advance and always be on the watch for big clouds on mountains to the west.

    Deep sand washes, steep sandy hillsides, boulder passes, rock yards to boulder hopping, soggy bottoms to straddling ruts, the deserts of SoCal are indeed fun and challenging. Enjoy your public lands responsibly and pick up some litter, stay on the trail and do not target shoot inside park boundaries.

    To find these off-roading areas: OHV routes, camp areas and gear heads galore. Or try avoid them. Keep reading.

    the well known spots

     OHV routes

    Anza Borrego Desert State Park itself is NOT AN OFF ROAD PARK. If you want the free-for-all, open, OFF-ROAD areas, with sand dunes and terrain to explore, then the list above should help. Some places can be secluded and private for camping, and only one Jeep may pass by (for the whole weekend).

    On the other end of the spectrum, most OHV camping areas are closer to paved routes and busy w/ motorized activity. On weekends, traffic, events and crowds are the norm.  ATV, dirt bikes, buggies, quads, jeeps, families, RVs. Often, a big noisy scene.

    Seeking to travel to distant places to avoid crowds? then this site can help point to the best destinations. Follow links, browse images, get a decent topo map – and discover private desert camping for free.

    Canyon Sin Nombre
    Bad land canyons, easy SUV exploring – off of San Diego Co Road S-2

    other awesome anza trails & canyons

    most w/ 2WD access; high clearance vehicle is preferred (and as usual, 4WD may be needed in storm conditions). Not all 4×4 routes will be signed. Signs get washed away in desert areas, so don’t count on them. Have a good hard-copy, topo map handy – just in case.

    culpvalleyOHV
    Out exploring the Culp Valley Area, one fine Sunday afternoon.

    Anza Borrego Desert Maps

    Tom Harrison Anza MAPSDBKCO Recreation Map

    The Tom Harrison Map of Anza Borrego Desert is actually called the San Diego Backcountry Recreation Map and is by far the best seller of the region.

    hike anza

    Wilderness Anza Borrego Map

    Wilderness Press makes an excellent topographic map for the Borrego Desert, with all the details on terrain and info for camping, hiking & off roading.

    MORE AREA MAPS

    The infamous west coast backpacking route, the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail runs above the desert (a few thousand feet), on the ridges of Mount Laguna.

    Cleveland National Forest borders the west side of Anza Borrego Desert, on the rugged steep slopes of the big mountains (7000′ elev). More Maps links are provided:

    Diablo Drop
    The Diablo Drop

    Muck to Stagecoach
    Wetlands in the desert? Not that rare, water does flow downhill. Some established well-traveled roads may have added gravel to the soggy marsh areas, but many water crossings are bare, and vulnerable to erosion. Try to avoid driving in and around water. DRIVE SLOW through water where route crossing is obvious. Wildlife need these water sources to survive, so don’t muck it up.

    Palm canyons and large boulders are numerous in this desert, water sources scarce. Camping near palms can be limited to walking distance. Several palm oasis camps along San Diego County Road S-2, some RV accessible. Even the county-run Hot Springs Park has some palms. Of course, Palm Canyon is the State Park Campground. Visitors Center headquarters in downtown Borrego Springs has the most popular hikes, hotels, restaurants, with abundant campground camping. Very walk-able town. Super hot during summer, triple digits!

    back roads: weekends

    Weekends are always busier than week days, in general, all over Cali. Keep that in mind when seeking seclusion. Camping in Anza Borrego desert is always best at least 2 miles off the pavement, well away from the traffic on the highway and for those masses seeking the easy camping.

    Campfires require a metal bucket in Anza!
    Campfires always require a metal bucket in Anza!

    camping back roads

    OPEN-CAMPING: camping outside of developed campgrounds, also referred to as ‘primitive camping’ is quite common in Anza Borrego desert. Many Borrego Camping Areas are accessible with regular cars, close to main roads and usually have no bath rooms, or facilities. The further you drive from the pavement, the more likely you are to encounter obstacles like boulders, deep ruts, soft sand and uneven terrain.

    Campgrounds Find Campgrounds & freebie spots in Borrego, CA

     

    A top the Slot

    nearby towns:

    other off-road areas in the vicinity

    wilderness areas in the vicinity

    • Anza Borrego Desert State Wilderness
    • Jacumba Mountains Wilderness

    Mecca Box Canyon


    Dirt Street

    7S02 up hill

    An avenue made of dirt, earthen highways, dirt trails, forest roads, fire roads, jeep road, graded roads. Dirt driving trails that lead into the middle of nowhere. No stop signs, no billboards, no stores, no one else around… for miles. Enjoy less crowds and more open space.

    dirt streetsIf you are fed up with city life, sitting in traffic & need to vacate your mind among the barren hills of California (if only for a weekend), then Total Escape is your place. You seek solitude, peace, maybe a mini tailgate party & BBQ on a dry lake bed, with the heavenly stars above. Imagine the warm camp fire light reflecting off the high canyon walls, your music echoing, moonlight hikes for a few miles.

    California has some awesome spots to drive on dirt, get way back in nature. Right up to the edge of the Wilderness boundary. That’s what this one silly “dirt street” page is all about… helping you get out there, the easiest & best way possible. We even got you the right maps!

    Back Roads in California

    The End of Dirt Roads

    California OHV Maps

    Most of this is just dirt road driving, graded, some hills, easy stuff. But on occasion you might come across a 4×4 required sign – or perhaps a triple black diamond trail. Having several good maps on hand will help you enjoy these roads, instead of stressing & wondering if there is a lock gate at the other end – 18 miles in.

    Some dirt streets lead to campgrounds, some to waterfalls, some to viewpoints, some have loop options & others are just dead end; sometimes at old mines. Get ready to explore with your truck or SUV. 2WD or low clearance vehicles (such as passenger cars) should be ready to turn back if the road get too nasty. Any decent precipitation can make any unpaved road much worse & may require 4 wheel drive, so have a plan B mud terrainor C as a backup idea.

    Best off road areas & parks in California:

    Death Valley Roads

    Tooling around Goler Wash & Barker Ranch on the very edge of Death Valley

    Bureau of Land Management

    free desert washes

    California BLM

    desert figure blythe
    Giant figures INTAGLIOS, on desert floor, near Blythe, CA

    Camping while traveling. The east-west corridors across the California deserts are well traveled routes. If you plan to camp, get to know areas managed by the California Bureau of Land Management.

    All BLM Offices in California BLM CA

    • 4×4
    • Back Roads
    • Car Camping
    • Canyons
    • Deserts
    • Dirt Bike Trails
    • Dunes
    • Hiking
    • Historic Sites
    • Hot Springs
    • Intagios
    • Mountain Bike
    • Off Road
    • Palm Canyons
    • Petroglyhs
    • River Camps
    • RV Camping
    • Slot Canyons
    • Tent Camping
    • Wildflowers

    ocotilloBLM

    BLM lands in California are often known as the ‘free camping’ option. freeway close campingNo charge camp sites, convenient, in-route locations, many areas along major highways or interstates. Campfire permits are always required for any open fires, BBQs and campfires.

    BLM Field Offices in California located in neighboring towns can provide maps, information and campfire permits. 

    giantcholla

    DESERT WILDFLOWERS can be found annually, February – April in most of these areas. Springtime blooms draw the crowds, but few visitors actually camp out overnight.

    When searching out premium camp sites – drive slower than 50 mph & look for the brown recreation signs. Since people like to drive fast in the desert, make sure to put your hazard lights or blinkers on, so traffic knows you are slow poking. Typically dirt roads are only marked with small, thin reflectors, maybe numbers or letters, if you’re lucky.

    Traffic noise will be minimal if you camp away from the main drag at least ONE mile or more. Motorhomes may not have the luxury to travel that distance; they often prefer to stay in large, level, flat pull outs, right near the pavement.

    If daring to venture more than 2 miles from the pavement, be prepared for rough conditions. 4WD drive may be needed in certain spots, or in the wettest of weather. Wind is always a factor in desert regions, so keep that in mind. Deep sandy washes, tow strap anyone? No facilities, no services, no toilet. Spotty cell phone coverage. Basically – the boonies!

    BOONDOCKING
    is the latest phrase for “open, free camping”

    Palo Verde Washes

     

    SEEKING QUIET CANYONS? stay away from the off-roaders. They usually congregate in dunes and specified OHV areas. Trails and dirt roads are for multi-purpose use, so a variety of recreation can be had. Many people use these public lands, so leave them clean and better than you found it. Boulder coves, palm gardens, primitive hot springs. There are plenty of hidden camp spots within the vast desert region of SoCal.

    Several BLM lands are near Wilderness Areas. Camping is allowed close by, mountain biking & hiking are usually abundant. Off roading prohibited within Wilderness boundaries.

    hikes tent camping 4x4

    URLs within the official BLM site keep changing, which is why we are rebuilding our BLM pages. So you can find what you need, easily.

    ca.blm.gov
    blm.gov/ca

    www.blm.gov/ca
    https://www.blm.gov/california

    road BLM

    California 4×4 Club

    4WD clubs / 4×4 off road / 4×4 vehicles / 4×4 club



    Let’s Roll

    Originally uploaded by danamightCalifornia has no shortage of 4 wheel drive vehicles, but how many of them actually use them for what they were intended? If you’ve had your 4WD for a while and are itching to get to know the local trails, then grab yourself a few good OHV maps & head for the hills.
    If you are a total novice and think you might want to get familiar with routes, what your vehicle can and cannot do, and learn the ropes from the pros, then you might want to discover the friendly folks in your local 4×4 club. Below we list as many legitimate groups we can find, with or without web sites. If your club is not listed, then please contact us & we might add it.
    anzawashes
    Anza Borrego Desert Washes

    Off roaders (with running rigs) can enjoy pre-planned back road trips with various 4×4 Groups in California:

    The very best place to start searching for 4WD routes inside California — is right here on Total Escape. After you’ve narrowed it down to a general location, then buying a decent topo map is a necessity. We have extensive sections devoted to California back roads, SUV interests, OHV Parks, off road tour guides, and of course, offroad trail maps.

    Giant Sequoias
    Hidden Sequoia Groves, Western Divide

     

    4WD clubs
    4×4 Camps @ Los Padres National Forest

    Anza Borrego Wildflowers


    Desert Wildflowers / Anza Borrego SP

    Anza Borrego Flowers / Borrego Springs CA

    Wild Flowers of Box Canyon, Mecca
    East San Diego County, Borrego Springs CA

    San Diego Backcountry
    600,000 acres of SoCal desert

    BLOOM: February thru MaySan Diego desert maps
    Anza Park elevations range from low to high. Lowest near eastern border of park (next to the Salton Sea) to the upper reaches of the western slopes @ 4000′ of the Laguna mountains. Lower elevations sprout up first; Micro flowers, Easter-egg-color splendor in the dry washes. Higher elevations bloom later (along w/ areas on San Diego County Rd S-2, the Great Overland Stage Route)

    Drive from Temecula to Warner Springs, and then proceed east – out to the Salton Sea via Back Road Highway #S22 (Montezuma Grade). A great route to take thru the Borrego State Park – for the full gamut in vegetation & altitude. Grapevine Canyon is an alternate off road route down a scenic canyon. Culp Valley has a small campground, plus lots of boulders and decent views to the Borrego Valley. Off the highway, on dirt, one-lane side roads lead to many primitive spots. Perfect for private picnics, stargazing or overnight camping.

    anza wildflowers include – Arizona Lupine, Barrel cacti, Brittlebush, California Primrose, Cheesebush, Creosote, Desert Chicory, Desert Apricot, Desert Hibiscus, Desert Lavender, Desert Pincushion, Fiesta Flower, Fishhook Cactus, Gold-Poppy, Ghost Flowers, Ground Cherry, Fagonia, Prickly Pear, Monkey Flower, Ocotillo, Rigid Fiddleneck, Rock Daisy, Sahara Mustard, Sand Verbena, Short-Wing Deerweed, Spanish Needles, Spectacle Pod, Trailing Windmills, Turpentine Broom, Whispering Bells, Wishbone Bush

    Anza Borrego Camping: Palm Canyon and RV Resortscamp

     

    BORREGO MAPS

    Wilderness Anza Borrego Map
    Wilderness Press Anza Borrego Map

     

    Hot Springs of the Southwest
    Hot Springs of the Southwest

    Anza Borrego Flora

    __________________________________________________

    Annual California Wildflower Reports

     

    anza flower links:

    Anza-Borrego National History Association
    Anza Borrego Desert
    Anza Borrego Desert State Park
    Borrego Campfire Restrictions
    Desert USA Reports

    blurflwr

    nearby towns:

    Borrego Valley Flora

    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′)


    Off-Road Maps PDF

    Off Pavement California

    PDF Off-Road Maps for California

    Printable, downloadable
    “Portable Document Forms” collected from various sources.

    Anza Borrego Ocotillo Wells Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/ocotillowells.pdf

    Burney Falls Back Roads
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/burneyfalls.pdf

    Death Valley Overview Road Map
    http://totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/DEATHVALLEYmap.pdf

    Eagle Lake Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/eaglelake.pdf

    Hat Creek Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/hatcreek.pdf

    Kern Plateau OHV Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/kernplateauOHV.pdf

    Lake Almanor Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/almanor.pdf

    Lake Mohave NRA Map (South)
    http://totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/LakeMohaveNRA_S.pdf

    Lassen Forest Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/lassenpark.pdf

    Pozo Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/pozo_map.pdf

    Rock Front Ranch OHV Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/rockfrontOHVmap.pdf

    Shasta Chappie Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/Chappie_Map_Side.pdf

    Westwood Susanville Off Road Map
    http://www.totalescape.com/tripez/PDFs/westwood.pdf

    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

    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

    Dirt Roads Map

    California back roads are plentiful, beautiful and exquisitely wonderful – if you know where to look.

    Off Road typically means “off the pavement”

    graded dirt road

    PLUMAS_i

    While many argue the phrase “off-road” means only hard core 4×4 routes, rock crawling or rally racing, here at Total Escape, any road that is not paved is a dirt road and “off road” to us, and always well worth exploring. Graded dirt roads, gravel roads, access roads, washboard routes, forest roads, fire roads, secondary roads, desert washes, one laners, single tracks, OHV trails – can all be dirt roads.

    Whether or not your vehicle can handle them is your decision, but believe me, you do NOT need a modified Jeep to start your adventuring. Most dirt roads can easily be accessed with a normal passenger car – if you pay close attention to terrain, deep mud ruts and the rocks in the road.

    stuck

    Vehicle clearance is usually the first thing that will have you hesitating. If you own a truck or SUV – this is enough to be considered a “high clearance vehicle” and good to go on 90% of dirt roads in Cali. Many dirt roads will become 4×4 required or recommended when mud or snow are present, and no signs to warn you, so always check the weather forecast in advance. And most importantly, BRING A REAL MAP.

    Paper Maps vs. Online Maps

    Driving on Interstates and state highways is one thing, exploring and discovering new routes and real sightseeing is another animal all together. Go prepared to be delayed: to stop and sit, to listen to the wind, to picnic outside, to watch the weather change, photograph the clouds forming above your head, enjoy the process. Remember the journey: Half the fun is getting there!

    ELDORADO_iIf you’ve ever tried to travel across the state with a GoogleMap, YahooMap or MapQuest one page printout, you will soon realize the limitations. Stuck in a small town called Julian, at night, on Christmas Eve, arguing with your partner, trying to find your way over to Interstate 10. Not a good plan! A statewide atlas will save you from many unexpected route changes, as well as prove to be an invaluable tool while traveling. Free as a bird, ready to explore the open road and well prepared is the key to less stress in route.

    Exploring California

    Know your vehicle limitations, and if in doubt, pull over, get out and look. Examine the ruts, the mud depth, the height of the rocks. Sometimes a good camp site is dependent on how far up that dirt road you can drive. RV campers like to stick to the wider, graded dirt roads and plenty can be found on typical topo maps. Tom Harrison, National Geographic & National Forest maps all have dirt roads as well as trails, trailheads, campgrounds listed.

    Nearly every map sold on Total Escape has dirt roads noted:

    • US National Forest Maps have all the main routes, the dirt roads and some main hiking trails. Trailheads, ranger stations and campgrounds are well marked.
    • CA Wilderness Map collection have the topographical features you will need to hike the region, peaks, streams, and all dirt roads leading up to the trail heads. Nearby campgrounds will be shown. Equestrian (horse back riding) is okay, but no mountain biking is allowed inside these Wilderness Areas.
    • OHV Routes & Maps will display the “off highway vehicle” routes, which include single tracks for dirt bikes/motorcycles, wider routes for quads and all roads rated for 4×4 only use. Several selected maps will also show hiking biking and equestrian routes.
    • Recreation Maps can feature various types of activities all on one map, from off-roading to snowmobiling, river rafting to waterfalls. These maps cover a smaller area or popular region to enjoy.

    dirtroad primtive

    dirt roads lead to:

    canyons
    caves
    creeks
    dirt bike trails
    fire lookouts
    fishing holes
    forests
    groves
    hiking trails
    horseback trails
    hot springs
    meadows
    mountain biking trails
    mountain peaks
    off-road trails
    petroglyphs
    picnic sites
    ranches
    rafting spots
    rivers
    scenic viewpoints
    secluded campsites
    small campgrounds
    swimming holes
    trailheads
    waterfalls
    wildflowers

    log cabin mine road

    ‘FROADERS: see also –

    California Off Road Areas

    California 4×4 Trails

    California Off Road Maps

    Off-Road Maps PDF

    California 4×4 Trails

    Canyons of Panamint Valley

    California Back Roads: MILD to WILD

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

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

    California has plenty to explore – off road!

    4x4 BLM USDA State Parks camping Back Roads

    California Back Roads

    California Off Road Areas

    California Off Road Maps

    CA Off-Road Maps PDF

    California 4×4 Clubs

    Driving on the Beach

    Off Highway Vehicle Areas

    State Vehicle Recreation Areas

    SUV Trail in California

    Winter Wheelin

    4×4 Camping in California

    4×4 Off Roading

    4×4 Rentals in California

    all posts under category “Back Roads”

    all posts under category “Off Road”

    Lost Coast Roads

    secluded camps

    waterfalldrive

    California Off Road Areas

    4x4 Sierra

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

    SoCal 4x4 Big Bear

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

    Searching for Off Road Parks inside California?

    Try these links –
    State Vehicular Recreation Areas
    California OHV Parks

    OHV Yields To All

    Borrego Valley