Kelbaker Road

Kelbaker Road, Mojave NP

Kelbaker Road is one of the well-traveled back roads in the Mojave Desert connecting two major Eastern California routes of Interstate system. The I-40 to the south and the I-15 to the north, spanning 50 miles from one to the other.

Kelbaker Rd continues south to T up w/ historic Route 66 near Amboy, CA. Gasoline is very iffy in Amboy, so remember gas up in Barstow.

This region is super scenic portion of Kelbaker Road, which cuts thru the western edge of Mojave National Preserve. The Kelbaker pavement reaches to an elevation of 4024′ at Granite Pass, about 6 miles north of the exit @ interstate 40. Boulder outcroppings, bare mountain peaks, secluded cove camp sites w/ dirt roads, and old mines all over. Joshua tree forest and pinyon pine forest encircle the Mid Hills region.

Some roads are suitable for passenger cars, but many are not. Dirt slides, erosion gullies, wash outs and rocks are common on these roads, so drive slow and pay attention.

There are private property ranches, active railroad tracks & BLM lands along the Kelbaker route. Some of the boundaries of NPS have been extended, so best to bring a map.

MOJAVE DESERT topo maps

Free camping is abundant in this desert region, but it’s all primitive w/ no facilities and all are on dirt roads when your turn off Kelbaker. Some of the best camping areas are around 4000 feet (above sea level), so serious wind and even snow is quite possible in the winter months. Go prepared w/ plenty firewood.

Historic Mojave Trail (aka Mojave Road) is out this way. Dirt bikes, off roaders love this trail that connects the Colorado River @ Avi Casino to Afton Canyon near Barstow.

WILDFLOWERS – joshua tree, yucca, barrel cactus
Higher elevation deserts bloom in late Spring, generally March thru May. Perfect rainfall timing in the autumn, can determine wild blooms and flora months later. Providence Mountains SRA can be a good location for wildflower viewing.

Kelso, CA

Kelso Depot:  historic spot, centered around the old train depot, which has been restored and has become the new visitors center and museum. Totally worth a 2 hour stop and HIKING/WALKING stretch break. The road heads north from Kelso and the name changes to: Kelbaker-Cima Road

Cima, CA

mojave dirt roadsCima Store, 20 miles to the north is one of the few businesses in this region. Post Office next door, maybe. Cima Road connects to I-15 in approximately 15 miles north. Kelbaker Road splits again and it heads up to I-15 @ Baker, CA

See more in this Mojave area —

Kelbaker Rd

Kelbaker Road and Railroad Tracks

Hole in the Rock

Hole in the Rock, Mojave NP

Mojave Scenery

Mojave Mid Hills boulder peaks

Sonoma Beach Camping

Sonoma Coast Campgrounds

Gerstle Cove @ Salt Point

Gerstle Cove @ Salt Point SP

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

tent camp RV camps

Sonoma Coast State Park  State Park

  • Bodega Dunes Campgrounddscn0045
  • Wrights Beach Campground

Salt Point State Park Camping State Park

  • Woodside Campground
  • Gerstle Cove Campground

Fort Ross State Historic Park (a Russian fur trading fort from 1812)

  • Reef Campground
    21 spots. no RV hookups. no reservations

coast

Sonoma County Parks Campgrounds

private campgrounds @ Sonoma Coast –

Gualala River Redwood Park
Ocean Cove Campground

Sonoma coastal towns –

Woodside Campground

Woodside Campground @ Salt Point State Park

Campgrounds Beach

California Campgrounds –
Camping at the Beach

Costal Cliffs

Autumn and Spring are often the best months to enjoy the (somewhat) uncrowded coastline of California. Kids are in school, summer vacation rush is over, and there is plenty of sunshine before those winter storms come rolling in.

reservations are highly recommended

Anything & any place along the coast is “much desired”, worthy of charging for. From seaside restaurants to convenient, paid parking lots – face it – California can be expensive.

Beach camping is no different. Coast camping in California is abundant, but state run campgrounds will run you a pretty penny. Camping fees are well above $20 per night. If you want flush toilets in the bathroom and a level, paved spot for a big RV, it will cost even more. Make sure to reserve a campsite as far ahead as possible. Ask about off-season months to visit.

Privately run campgrounds are often more expensive, but they might be a nicer facility and be in a better location. If you want free camping, then head to the northern part of the state – and take a dirt road to reach your seclusion. Both the Big Sur and Lost Coast both have excellent dispersed camping on backroads, at no charge, and a campfire permit is required for such camping.

Campgrounds situated on a sandy beach or right on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean. Private cove camp sites, tent cabin rentals, yurt resorts, RV campgrounds; Several coastal canyons (from sycamores to redwoods) usually have creeks and abundant camping options.

Pismo Clear Winter Day

Campgrounds Beach: a popular search phrase for camping near the coast in California. The best months to camp along the coast depends on what part of California you wish to visit – at what time of the year. With 700 miles of ocean front there is a lot to choose from – RV parks w/ small marina, 4×4 camps, hike-in only sites, and plenty of California State Parks & Beaches.

Much of the coastal camping is NOT “on-the-sand” beach camping. Most of the coastline in California is rugged, some forested and usually full of ‘wildfire prone’ chaparral. Cliffside campgrounds, redwood canyons with creeks, green grassy lawns w/ shade trees and paved camp sites, US 101 busy, freeway campgrounds; all are close enough to the shore to be considered COASTAL camping.

Even in winter, the coast can be quite mild in Southern Cal, so the campgrounds are open all year long. NorCal Coast gets the brunt of WET & COLD winter weather, so those camps are open seasonally, during warmer, drier months (APRIL-OCT).

JUNE GLOOM is a cloud layer that covers the coastline in the early part of summer. Weather is warm to cool with clouds, or the weather can be bright and sunny – if the marine layer ‘burns off’ by mid-day. Consider these local weather patterns, May Gray & June Gloom, when planning a vacation to the beaches of California.

listed from south to north

Southern California Beach Camping

Coronado Island
San Diego Beach Camping
Encinitas
Carlsbad
Orange County Beach Camping
San Clemente
Dana Point
Laguna Beach

Los Angeles Beach Camping

Bolsa Chica State Beach
Doheny State Beach
Malibu Creek State Park
Ventura Coast Camping

Coast Campgrounds

Central Coast Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping
Pismo Beach Camping
Morro Bay Camping
Big Sur Campground

Monterey Bay Camping

Monterey Bay Camping
Half Moon Bay
Santa Cruz Camping
Santa Cruz Redwoods

Angel Island

San Francisco Camping

Angel Island State Park
Point Reyes Camping
Marin Redwoods Camping
Sonoma Coast – Camping Jenner

Northern California Coast Camping

Mendocino Coast
Kings Range
Lost Coast: Shelter Cove
NorCal Redwoods Camping
Crescent City Camping

Stairwell to Beach

Partington Cove Hike in Big Sur

Big Sur – Partington Cove

DSCN3026
Go west to & visit the oceans edge or head east to explore a deep redwood canyon.big

Approx. 5 miles South of Big Sur State Park and just north of Julia Pfeiffer Burn State Park, this unmarked dirt turnout area on Highway 1 is a rare find. Rocky shorelines at the historic point, plus the scenic tree lined waterfall & cross the highway & head east for a shady Redwood canyon forest with plenty of backpacking options into the Big Sur back country of Los Padres National Forest. From bright sunny ocean view hillsides to dark shady forests.

This portion of the highway cuts into a deep bend along the coast & has no markings to the paradise that lies within. A steep dirt fire road (down to the cove) with metal gate is your only clue. Dirt parking area on both sides of the road indicate that people have parked here before.

This un-signed secluded hide-away has a variety of landscape & sites to see. You could easily kill 6-8 hours just in this canyon alone!! Definitely not a hurry through kind of place. Take your time, enjoy the view, tide pools, bring your swim suits & refresh in the creek. Carry a picnic eastbound into a shady creek-bed canyon & watch the sun dance through the towering pines above.

Driving northbound on Highway 1, look for large hair-pin turn out in canyon area – approx. 3-5 mi. North of Julia Pfeiffer State Park in wide dirt areas along roadside. Located in between Julia State Park & Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Hike down the dusty wide gated fire road in dry brush chaparral. The view of Redwood trees, the royal blue ocean in front of you, the sounds of a water falling creek. The trail forks off in 3 directions:

Right / Rock Beach – this a boulder lined cove where the clear fresh water stream meets the ocean. Small pools & waterfalls can be found just upstream .

Bridge Crossing / Point – through a wooden tunnel to a cliff area with tide pools & wooden structure (an old boat launch?)

Left / Up Stream – a forested canyon w/ a variety of trees; dead ends a few hundred yards up into the canyon

DSCN3021Another option to this canyon is the East side:

Hike up inland (away from ocean) into a densely forested creek area. Redwoods, waterfalls & boulders. Deer sightings are quite common in this area. Shady & dark this trail climbs gradually in elevation. One fork of the trail leads to an old Redwood Grove. A portion of the trail is closed 2.5 mi. up due to a landslide. But overall the is a perfect option for backpackers wanting a short hike.

  • Los Padres Maps (USDA)
  • Big Sur Map (NatGeo)
  • Ventana Wilderness Map w/ Silver Peak