Autumn Camping California

Autumn Lakeside

RV camping Tent Camp Fishing Hiking

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

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

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

Tent Camp

BOOK CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

Southern California

has minimal fall colors.

Big Bear Lake, CA
Lake Arrowhead, CA

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

Camping

Southern and Central Sierra

have a few aspen groves and several cottonwood canyons.

Kern River Canyon

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

Wishon Reservoir
Lily Pad Campground

Kirkwood, CA
Blue Lakes Road
Carson Pass CA Highway 88

Camping

Northern Sierra

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

Downieville, CA
Yuba River Campgrounds

Hope Valley, CA
Hope Valley Campground Tent Camp

Lake Tahoe

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

Camping

Autumn Bliss Hike

Eastern Sierra

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

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

sabrina creeking

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

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

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

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

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

Lundy Lake
Virginia Lakes
Trumbull CampgroundTent Camp

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

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

Tom’s Place, CA
McGee Creek Campground Tent Camp

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

Rock Creek Lake Campground @ 9600′ elev Tent Camp

Iris Meadow Campground @ 8600′ elev

iris meadow

Iris Meadow on Rock Creek Rd

Camping

Northern California

(this part under construction)

Sundial Bridge,
River RV Parks
Redding, CA

Weaverville, CA

Mount Shasta, CA
(downtown of Mt. Shasta)

McBride Springs Campground
(slopes of Mount Shasta)

Lake Siskiyou
Beach Camp Resort & RV Park

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

McCloud, CA
McCloud Falls

MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park
Dusty Campground

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen National Forest
Lassen Camping
Lassen Lakes

Susanville, CA
Bizz Johnson Trail
Roxie Peconom Campground

Modoc National Forest (coming soon)

Siskiyou Autumn Colors (coming soon)

Fort Churchill Camping

Desert camping south of Reno? Well there ain’t much to choose from. Walker Lake near Hamilton, NV looked real dismal, so keep driving northbound and hope for the best.

Maybe one of the canyons near the reservation has a level pull out along the highway. Just far enough off the main road to hear the midnight traffic, just barely.

Fort Churchill, Nevada

churchill terrain

Fort Churchill was one of the original US Army forts built to help with the flood of overland pioneers making their way to California. Adobe structures in ruin, plus the wetlands along the river make for ideal scenery. A Pony Express route too!

Shall we call it the first of the California Welcome Centers?
Or an invasion of the “wildness” of the Sierra Nevada, and the West Coast.

From the year 1800 on – trappers, hunters, miners, ranchers, prospectors, surveyors, homesteaders – and basically everyone was headed westward, across the continent. The secrets of the golden state were unfolding worldwide. After gold & silver were discovered in the hills, the real rush to Alta California began.

California [population boom] history

Nevada California border

US Highway 95A

ALT95 – The Yerrington Cutoff

Ideal “in route camping” if traveling near Reno, south of Interstate 80. You gotta be off on the side route through Yerrington, Nevada to reach this convenient road side campground. Big trucks stick to the main highway, but this rural 2-laner cuts thru residential, reservations, and ranch lands. Rural backroads are abundant and most are private property.

Fort Churchill State Historic Park
Ranger Office
10000 Highway 95A
Silver Springs, NV 89429
775-577-2345

Nevada Desert Camping

OPEN ALL YEAR LONG

Driving on rural Nevada Highway 95A you can find the park headquarters and fort on the west side of the road. The camping is on the opposite (east) side of the highway, down an embankment, near the Carson River. A very small brown sign with the word CAMPING (reflects at night) and you may see it – if you aren’t driving 70 mph.

DESERT CAR CAMPING – VEGAS TO RENO

In Route Camp

Perfect refuge for weary travelers, along the long, lonely, desert highways of Nevada. RV campers will like the wide dirt road w/ some level spots, accommodating the largest of motorhomes w/ dump station nearby. Trucks w/ trailers are often seen sleeping along the roadside at this location. Equestrian river access w/ horse trailers too.

Cottonwoods in some of the lower spots, but mostly sage brush, rabbits and open skies. This is the Carson River Basin, so dirt roads w/ mud and potholes are common. No street light near here. In the dark, the primitive roads are manageable, but the signs are minimal.

elevation 4250′
SNOW is minimal in WINTER months (DEC-MARCH)

Desperate tent campers (willing to drive dirt for a bit) can find the “scout camp”. Most nights are filled with the cries of the coyotes in the distance. Park rangers patrol in the morning to collect camp fees. Or you can find the park headquarters, across the highway.

fortchurchill

NO CAMP RESERVATIONS
Primitive campground has 20 sites suitable for travel trailers, motor homes or tents. Campsites include a table and fire ring, w/ camping limit of 14 days. Group camping is also available.

churchillruins