Perfect Tent Spot

Boulder Cove Camping

Choosing your Perfect Tent Spot

Before you can choose the ultimate place for your tent, you must decide where it is you wanna sleep OUTDOORS. What ultimate location? Your destination can play a huge factor in you getting a peaceful nights rest. And do you really need a campground? Or, are you ready to try to rough it, without the amenities? Best camping is off-the-beaten-path, and usually on the back roads. Trailhead camps, 4×4 camps, best view camps, creek camps; Dispersed camping, often called primitive camping. Focusing here on car camping, tent camping and backpacking routes.

Sierra Granite ViewsJust choosing a flat tent spot isn’t good enough anymore. You crave the best camping experience and seek real nature, with minimal crowds. No annoying neighbors, no parking hassles, no traffic or cars passing by. We at Total Escape are here to help you get to your wilderness goals and experience nature like never before. Right here, right now and it doesn’t hafta cost you a dime.

California Camping Destination:

Let’s start with a terrain overview. California has it all ­ – mountains, deserts, coastal, rolling oaks with rivers in the countryside, plus the infamous wine country and developed campgrounds within city limits. Desert camping in summer months should only be attempted by the experienced camper who loves 90+ temperatures. Mountain camping in winter can be freezing, so make sure you have the proper gear. Good maps are a must have and the readily available National Forest maps are your best avenue for getting and staying away from the masses. Visit our Destinations page to decide what kinda place you wanna ‘call home for the weekend’.

topo mapsIf you are the “I don’t care where I sleep kinda guy, as long as I can do/see this many things” all crammed into a 3-day holiday weekend, then you best do your research ahead of time. Get a good map, measure the mileage, plan picnic stops and sightseeing. Plan to set camp in a central location close to the main highway to call home-base, so you can be off exploring as much as possible.

Schedule in some “down time” or a full day for relaxing. Calculate driving distances and pad it w/ an extra hour. Maybe make a campground reservation if you are visiting a National Park or busy State Park. If you plan to wing it without reservation, always have plan B or plan C  options already picked out. With millions of residents and tourists on the west coast, chances are you won’t be the only person wanting to do Big Sur, Yosemite or Point Reyes that particular weekend.

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Helpful Hints
for a Good Nights Sleep @ the Camp Site

  • Bring a decent Sleeping Pad. Air Mattress with the inflator pumps will be the most luxury, without sleeping directly on the hard ground. Therm A Rest sleeping pads are another fine option, for those who like to travel light and still have air underneath them. Extra blankets, always.
  • Flat & Soft ground is the goal in choosing the best tent spot. Park your vehicles over the rocky slanted ground and keep the best flat areas for your camp site.
  • Do not pitch a tent in a meadow, no matter how inviting it looks. Wetlands and meadows are fragile ecosystems, an area that should be protected.
  • Look at the big trees above your sleeping spot and examine them. Do not place your tent near or underneath a dead tree or a dead limb. Trees do break and fall, especially if winds pick up. This could be a life or death choice, so remember to look up.
  • Bring abundant good tent stakes and USE them. Yellow plastic stakes are for soft cedar and sand. Thin aluminum stakes are for backpackers. Large steel nail stakes (some w/ plastic tips) are best stakes for all-around terrain.
  • Bring a mallet to pound stakes or use big rocks to hammer them. Gloves are also a good idea!
  • Never underestimate the use of a big tarp and some rope.
  • Guy lines help hold a tent in place when windy weather turns to big storm. If wind is in the forecast, then do this task before you head out on your day hike away from camp.
  • Make sure selected tent site is flat. Lay on the ground to check it out.
  • Place head of bedding up hill (if any slant can be noticed)
  • Tents should be at least 10 feet away from your campfire. At least 100 feet away from a creek or lakeshore.
  • Beach camping at the ocean edge; Know the high tide mark; place tent accordingly.
  • Slot canyons are awesome, sandy, narrow washes, many with cliffs and caves. In the desert badlands these can become raging rivers w/ flash floods. When rain is heavy in the mountains many miles away, you could get flooded in the low lands. If you hear any thunder – RUN to high ground. Better off picking another camp site, than to die by a wall of water!
  • Shade in the Desert sounds like an oxymoron, unless you find a place with high cliffs, or slot canyons. Tamarisk trees and palm canyon locations are usually an oasis of RV tourists & travelers. Hot Springs are also busy spots. Pinyon pines, juniper and over-sized manzanita can be found in higher elevation deserts above 1000′. The prime desert camping season is generally October thru March, as April can easily soar close to 90 degrees high.
camp

Campgrounds listed individually on
California town pages A to Z

campfires

morning sunshine

Late Nighters & Sunrise:
Determining East & the North Star

reading the stars

Sequoia NF - The Den

Campground vs. Dispersed Camping:

Follow Dirt Roads
Some people swear by the open spaces and back road camping options, as they have more seclusion, plenty privacy and best off all, no campground fees. You might need a GPS and a high clearance SUV to reach some of these camp spots, but you will be blessed with a unique secret spot to call your own.

Campgrounds come in all styles these days: From small primitive camps on a creek to the luxurious RV resorts with laundry room and showers. And then there is everything in between. This web site Total Escape specializes in FREE camping on the back roads and the smallest of campgrounds.

Reservations are usually accepted at the most popular camp locations, many are wide open on weekdays and the majority of campsites overall are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Spicer Reservoir

spicer terrain


Spicer Meadow Reservoir

Spicer Meadows, Spicer Reservoir, Rd #7N01
Spicer Lake, Stanislaus National Forest

lake elevation 6418′
227 surface acres

public boat ramp
hiking trail around lake
more lakes nearby

Ebbetts Pass Sierra Hwy 4

Ancient volcanic peaks mix with Sierra Nevada granite rock, pine forests and fresh, clear, clean mountain water! California, of course.

Stanislaus Forest Road #7N01 leads down from Highway 4 to this popular series of alpine lakes and reservoirs. Camping, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, floating and fishing are also popular water activities.

Rules of the Reservoir:
10 mph speed limit on Western Arm.
No motorized boating in Eastern Arm.
Camp only in developed Campgrounds.

NFS
2 NFS Campgrounds at west end of lake:

  • Spicer Campground (60 sites)
  • Spicer Group Camp (75 people max)
  • Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible.

    Additionally, Stanislaus River Campground w/ only 8 sites, is located just off the main access road #7N01, right near the river.

    spicer lake shore

    Spicer #7N01

    Numerous smaller lakes in the region make this a hot spot for summer vacations. Union and Utica Reservoirs (both with dirt road access) are good for kayaking and canoes, while power or sail boats prefer the larger Spicer Lake. Summit Lake and Elephant Rock Lake are perfect for quite picnics and day hikes. Trails (many unmarked) connect the lakes to each other. Area gets buried with snow in winter, so these roads are generally only open half the year.

    More reservoirs and lakes nearby:
    Highland Lakes
    Mosquito Lakes
    Lake Alpine, CA
    (all along Hwy 4)

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Nearby mountain towns:
    ARNOLD, CA
    BEAR VALLEY, CA
    Lake Alpine, CA

    Kirkwood Lake

    Kirkwood Lake Campground

    kirkwood granite

    Central Sierra Nevada mountains
    Kirkwood Lake is west of Kirkwood Ski Resort;
    west of Silver Lake @ Carson Pass Hwy 88

    Kirkwood, CA
    El Dorado National Forest

    Inside the granite maze of rock known as Caples Creek, you may find this small lake, just off the highway. Paved access camp ideal for quiet weekends – fish, hike, stargaze and relax. Snow is deep in these parts of the Sierra, so the campground closes annually for winter.


    No motor boats
    No RV or motorhomes
    No horse trailers

    Small Camping Lake

    Kirkwood Campground

    • Elevation: 7,600′
    • Number of Sites: 12
    • Vehicle Accessibility: No RVs
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Campsite Fee: Yes
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: June – October
    • hiking trailheads, fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoe, rock climbing

    Bears are active in this region, so use the metal bear boxes provided to store all food items.

    Canoe Lakes

    Extra precautions should be taken with human waste around fragile eco systems, like lakes and meadows. Use the new bathroom, instead of the bushes (or granite crack).

    new toilets

    new toilets

    pipe drinking water

    piped drinking water, a camp luxury

    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

    Silver Lake @ Carson

    silkysilver

    Silver Lake @ Carson Pass

    (Alpine Co)

    7250′ elev.
    on Highway 88 near Carson Pass, California
    El Dorado National Forest
    near Kirkwood Ski Resort & the Bear River

    Large, granite, alpine lake in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains. Abundant trout fishing, swimming, camping, boating, hiking, floating, kayaking, picnic sites, and high altitude backpacking trailheads. Shoreline fishing is just as good as by boat. Fishing boats can be rented at Kit Carson Lodge.

    granitesilver

    The high altitude location makes this a winter wonderland half the year w/ snow ski resorts nearby! It is an awesome summertime family vacation destination as well. Fishing is excellent through Autumn months. Campgrounds close up shop in October, generally when the snow starts. High Sierra – Deep snow pack means they will not reopen until May (at the earliest).

    Carson is major Sierra Pass highway, but it closes for big snows, so always check CalTrans before you make the drive up the mountain. Carson Pass is California State Route 88, which connects the Gold Country (on the western slopes) to the South Lake Tahoe region (on the eastern border), near Nevada.

    Check Current Highway Conditions
    dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi?roadnumber=88
    Cal Trans 800-427-7623

    Silver Lake Day Use Areas

    fishing lakes picnic grounds fishing lakes boat ramp

    These areas listed below are operated by El Dorado Irrigation District and they do charge a day-use fee for many of the amenities provided. Boat Launch fee? Yep. Parking fee? Maybe. Picnic stop! How much? Eat fast!

    • Ferguson Point is located on the north shore of Silver Lake: 10 picnic tables & vault toilets.
    • Sandy Cove is on NW shore of Silver Lake: Wheel-chair access to lake edge, 5 picnic tables, piped water & vault toilets.
    • Oyster Creek Rest Area, up along Highway 88, 1 mile NE of Silver Lake: 10 picnic tables & vault toilets.

    kaysresortsign

    Historic Memories: Camp Minkalo, Camp Silverado & Kays Silver Lake Resort are all closed now.

    National Forest Campgrounds in this lake vicinity:

    East Silver Lake Campground – 62 sites
    West Silver Lake Campground – 42 sites
    Kirkwood Lake Campground – 12 sites

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    campground RV campground

    Silver Lake Campground NFS

    • Elevation: 7200′
    • Number of Sites: 62
    • Vehicle Accessibility: RV 30′
    • Campsite Reservations: Yes
    • Camp Fee: Yes
    • Toilet: Vault
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: June – October
    • Trailheads: Hidden Lake, Sandy Cove

    NFS
    El Dorado National Forest
    Amador Ranger District
    26820 Silver Drive
    Pioneer, CA 95666
    209-295-4251

    silver from highway

    Older lodges, resorts, camps and cabins at Silver Lake were mainly built in the 1920s, while the oldest resort dates back to the mid 1800s. Wow, how cool is that! Much history in this mountain region w/ Kit Carson Emigrant Trail, all stories totally worth exploring.

    Kit Carson Lodge
    Rustic Silver Lake Cabins & Restaurant
    kitcarsonlodge.com
    209-258-8500

    Historic Plasse’s Resort
    One of the Oldest Camps in the USA
    plassesresort.com
    209-258-8814

    Gold Miners

    See all Silver Lakes in California