Tag Archives: destinations

California Aspens

AspenGroves

Aspen Groves are easy to recognize with their thick stands. White trunks with dark knots, slender, with oval shaped leaves. Growing in a network of roots, which are found lining creeks, alpine lakes, or spilling out from higher elevations, along  scenic canyons.

The unique round leaves which can turn spectacular colors in the fall season. The fluttering and flapping of the oval-shaped, thick, green leaf is a sure sign of summer. When breezes get cooler, Autumn is only a few weeks away and as quick as the cold comes in, what a short and special show they put on.

California Fall Colors

aspensplit

Aspen trees can be found at higher mountain elevations in California, usually above 4000′ – all the way up to about 10,000′ or higher, depending on the mountain range and local water flows. Groves have an extensive root systems underground, so they often withstand wildfires and can come back after the rest of the forest is gone.

Beavers build dams in creeks around aspen trees, fishermen and campers love to camp next to aspens, and lovers carve their initials into their white bark. These trees do indeed take a beating, from all angles, winter weather included… so stop from cutting them!

carvings

fishing creeks mountain biking stargaze Picnic Camp Hiking horseback back roads mountains

  • BIKE
  • CAMP
  • FISH
  • HIKE
  • KAYAK
  • PICNIC

summer and autumn

These deciduous trees are naked half the year, typically from November to April, as winter buries them in snow and ice. Time is of the essence, limited to Summer and Autumn – to enjoy their shade and the beauty of the groves. Scenic meadows and fishing creeks are just an added bonus for searching out the aspen.

Aspens can be found in hidden canyons, primarily along the Eastern Sierra US Hwy 395 and surrounding mountain lakes. Some Sierra Passes have decent displays of color as well – like Carson Pass Hwy 88 and Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Hwy 120.

Below is a list of Total Escape’s favorite aspen areas of California

ASPENDELL
BAKER CREEK (4×4)
BIG PINE CANYON – NORTH FORK TRAIL

BISHOP CREEK
BLUE LAKES, CARSON PASS
BLUE LAKE, MODOC

CONVICT LAKE, US 395
COTTONWOOD CREEK @ ANCIENT BRISTLECONES
COYOTE FLAT (4×4)

CROCKER @ LAKE DAVIS
CROWLEY LAKE, US 395

DUNDERBERG MEADOW

EAGLE LAKE @ ASPEN CAMP

GREEN CREEK ROAD, US 395
HASKINS VALLEY @ BUCKS LAKE
HILTON CREEK, US 395
HOPE VALLEY
JUNE LAKE LOOP

LAKE SABRINA
LAKE TAHOE
LAUREL LAKES ROAD, US 395
LEE VINING CANYON
LUNDY LAKE, US 395

MAMMOTH LAKES, US 395

MCCLOUD CREEK @ ALGOMA
MCGEE CREEK, US 395

MODOC NF @ BLUE LAKE
NORTH LAKE, ASPENDELL @ BISHOP

ONION VALLEY @ INDEPENDENCE
PARKER LAKE RD @ JUNE LAKE LOOP
PINE CREEK ROAD, BISHOP

QUAKING ASPEN CAMP, GIANT SEQUOIA

RED’S MEADOW, MAMMOTH
ROCK CREEK ROAD @ US HWY 395

TOM’S PLACE, US 395
TWIN LAKES @ BRIDGEPORT
VIRGINIA LAKES, US 395

WISHON RESERVOIR

aspentips
Aspen Tips @ Eagle Lake California

 

aspenwall
Green Creek Camping

Autumn Camping in California

 

amigoaspens
Laurel Lake Road @ 9000′ – Eastern Sierra, California

California Locations

La Porte Road
One Eyed Jacks Market & Grill – on La Porte Road. Clipper Mills, CA

Abundant on California Locations

califrepublic

depot desert
Kelso Depot, Mojave National Preserve

train

Subway Cave California
Subway Cave California

ranger

bridge kings
Kings River, California

hiker

kongsberg_town


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

More Time, Offline

boulder fire ring

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

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

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

blue light special

Campfire Community

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

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

Highland Wildflowers


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

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

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

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

Wilderness Lakes

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

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

Cheap Road Trips

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

Find something OUTDOORS, this weekend –

canoe

All posts alphabetical
California A to Z

avoid crowds

back roads

lake list

out of the box

play hooky

recreate

camp fish  4x4

Most popular pages on Total Escape –

Granite Creek
Granite Creek Campground NFS

nicemeadows

California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

Lupine Drive

Rules of the Meadow

Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

No driving on meadows. No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

4x4Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires across the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading. You’re not spreading the seeds, you’re destroying a fragile ecosystem.

Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas. Fences also help keep the wandering public out of private lands or sensitive areas.

hikerWhen hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

Snow Mobiling

highmeadows

meadow views

California Mountain Maps

The Mountains of California

Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River
Camping El Dorado NF, on the Consumnes River

If you know you wanna head up in elevation, higher altitudes – to the pine forests of California, but have no clue where to start, this page may be very helpful in determining your ultimate destination. We have hundreds of pages on adventures & locations throughout the golden state. We sell all California maps for outdoor recreation, hiking topos to off road routes.

Wanna camp under the stars this weekend – and avoid the crowds too? You will need a good back road map to find this awesome camp site, guaranteed. Need a hammock spot, small swimming hole & total seclusion? Or how about a large family camp w/ Sequoia grove nearby? Total Escape has something for every ones budget & lifestyle. See below for an extensive breakdown of California mountain regions.

#1
SoCal mountains have tighter restrictions on campfires, larger number of people camping in a smaller amount of space, minimal primitive camping options in the forests, more fees to access these lands.

#2
The Sierra Nevada mountains are the prime outdoor destination for many in the Central California region. High elevations w/ granite slabs to lower country reservoirs & riverside oak flats. Folks come from all over the world to visit parks and lakes within this mountain range. Indeed, 4 National Parks call the Sierras home: Lassen, Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia NP – not to mention the 10 National Forest and 15+ Wilderness Areas.

#3
You want big water? Cabins next to a prime fishing river or camping near lakes, creeks with dense forests, then you will have to drive to the mid Sierra or even NorCal to find ’em.

Wilderness maps

California Mountain Regions Defined –
find the details on specific region for California mountains

saabaru_forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

epic finds

Find little known parks, camps and forests within our vast California BACK ROADS data base. Below is a small sampling of our picturesque mountain pages, where you can find the best seclusion: hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking trails, rivers, creeks and peaks.

NFSlogo

Sierra Buttes
The Sierra Buttes, Northern Sierra near Gold Lake

sierra National Forest map

Outdoor Recreation Maps of California:

inyohighroad
Inyo high roads, of the Eastern Sierra


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

Winter Wheelin

winterwheelin

Winter wet weather doesn’t need to put a damper on your outdoor exploring, if you can get your hands on a 4×4 vehicle. Almost any SUV or truck with 4 wheel drive is capable of driving through some snow or mud. Just how deep is the mud (underneath the snow) is usually the big question. Many National Forests and State Parks close certain dirt roads due to over-use, or to control soil erosion and prevent the deep muddy ruts which are costly to re-grade come springtime. Call ahead to the rangers to find which back road routes are indeed open, or bring your printed topo map and wing it.

California Road Trips

The California destinations listed below are popular winter spots for off roading enthusiasts. Some places may be busier than others. The dirt roads surrounding these spots are real treasures, so try to plan an all-day loop trip if possible. Camping w/ a campfire permit is an option on many back roads. Plenty lodging in nearby small towns if winter camping is not your thing.

ghost towns

Bodie State Park
Randsburg Mining District
Calico Ghost Town
Ballarat in Panamint Valley
Skidoo @ Death Valley NP
Barker Ranch, Goler Wash @ Death Valley NP
Panamint City @ Surprise Canyon
Cerro Gordo – 4×4 Inyo
Oatman, Arizona

California Road Trips

hot springs:

primitive tubs
hot springs resorts
hot spring campgrounds

fishing spots

Green Creek Road
Walker River
North June Lake Loop
Trinity River

California Road Trips

California Mountains, Viewpoints & Fire Lookout Towers

Bald Mountain, Shaver Lake
Cuyama Lookout, Santa Barbara Canyon, Ventucopa, CA
Coyote Flat, Bishop, CA
Los Padres National Forest
Mount Pacifico, Angeles Forest Highway
Upper Lytlle Creek, Wrightwood, CA

see – NFS Cabins Rentals & California Fire Lookouts

California Road Trips

Indian Casinos

Tribal lands are mostly located in rural regions which always have plenty of dirt roads to explore. Get a good back roads map for the public lands nearby, parks, BLM, National Forest. If the overnight camping is dropping into the twenties or teens, then know the forecast. A good rule of thumb for California hotel stays: If the low temps overnight are below the cost of a hotel room at the nearby casino, the comfy lodge might be well worth considering.

Avi Casino
@ California – Arizona border.
The Laughlin casino in the middle of nowhere, right on the Colorado River. Jet ski rentals, swimming pools and spas, restaurants, RV park. The historic Mojave Trail, aka Mojave Road, starts next to the property.

Gold Country Casino
@ Lake Oroville, California
Sierra Nevada mountains Northern California. Conveniently located near Feather River (all 4 forks) and Plumas National Forest, with Berry Creek and Bucks Lake Wilderness to explore. Snow often closes the highest elevations.

Viejas Casino
@ Pine Valley, East County San Diego
Great bouldered mountains with back road exploring, hiking, mountain biking trails, all easy access from Southern California. Get a Cleveland National Forest map and expect some road closures near Laguna Mountain Sunrise Highway, especially when it snows.

Diamond Mountain Casino
Susanville, Northern California
Located in between US Highway 395 and Mount Lassen, the scenic Susan River region has lots to offer for the outdoor enthusiasts. Plenty of roads to explore, some big lakes too. Many Forest roads could be closed due to snow, so be warned and call ahead to the ranger.

Native Californians

Indian Rock Art
Petroglyphs are found in numerous locations throughout the deserts of the SouthWestern US. Inscription Canyon Mojave. See more on Native American rock art or explore photos.

California Road Trips

California Beaches
Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach
Lost Coast, Northern Cal Redwoods
Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove (open to foot traffic only)

California Deserts

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Box Canyon @ Mecca Hills
Mojave National Preserve
Canebrake Road, Kern Mojave
Black Canyon, Barstow, CA
Panamint Valley, near DVNP
Death Valley National Park
Bodie State Historic Park

California Off Road Parks

These are parks that specifically offer trails and obstacles for off-roaders. Entrance fees and camping fees are usually charged at the entry gate.

Off Highway Vehicle Areas (OHV)
State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRA)

Other Off Roading Options

The whole Carson City area in Nevada has some excellent dirt roads to explore. Old mines, caves, many miles of pinyon forests. Lake Tahoe is nearby with luxury resorts, casinos and snow skiing.

If you just can’t stand the cold and snow, then warmer climates lie to the south. Baja California is a tourist/traveler and off-roader haven in the wintertime.

Holiday Wheeling
Jawbone Canyon for Thanksgiving weekend will get dirt bikes by the thousands and big families. Christmas is busy around the Palm Spring desert destinations – like Joshua Tree. Easter weekend is popular w/ wildflowers and campers in Anza Borrego Desert.

RV camping
Occasionally, wide graded dirt roads lead to secondary routes, so overnighting it with a motorhome on the back roads is very possible (if deep mud is not present). RV camping is quite the tradition for Southern Californians. Desert off roaders in tow, all over the Mojave. Steer clear of busy family groups. Pick a lesser known area to camp and explore. Get your real topo maps out and choose easy access from pavement, but wide graded dirt roads are best. Plenty roads like this in the Eastern Sierra, on the east side of US Hwy 395. RV campers that follow Total Escape might very well be interested in testing the limits of their recreational vehicle, slowly.

AWD Sportwagons
Before AWD got marketed as 4WD, Total Escape was way out there exploring in a 2 wheel drive and posting it online for you. All wheel drive station wagons should stick to the paved and plowed roads. If you plan to do a lotta dirt road driving in the old Subaru, keep the rock crawling to a minimum. If not, you may want to invest in a skid plate for the oil pan. Nothing beats first hand experience and learning ahead of time how your car will behave before you loose control on icy dark steep roads. Go practice with the emergency break and get the vehicle in a wide open snow plowed area if possible, just avoid the temptations to get wild. Don’t get the doughnut urge and plant yourself in a tree. Remember, it’s not like the commercial showed us, those are closed roads they are filming on.

Snow Chains
If you plan to be off roading in snow or mud at all you might want to consider some important safety items: tire chains for snow, a tow strap and tire plugs for flats. If you own a high clearance 2WD SUV, you could benefit from running chains on all four tires when snow is present. How deep the snow gets and how steep the hills are, determines how far you can go without a real 4 wheel drive. Some choose to rent a 4WD for the weekend road trip.

Snow Plow - the first pass
Snow Plow First Pass

Carry these items when traveling in winter conditions:
tools, jumper cables, tow strap, emergency gear, first aid kit, real boots, extra clothes, blankets, flashlights, food, drinking water, cell phone, maps


California Reference
California Road Conditions
California Weather
Sierra Highway Conditions

and just imagine when you can’t get past the deepest snow, it is time to try California Snowmobiling

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.

Lake Campgrounds

Rancheria Falls
Rancheria Falls, Huntington Lake, CA

California Lake Campgrounds

Wanna Camp at the Lake?
(you’re not the only one)

lakes  fishing boating mountains backroad horseback trails picnic mountain bike camps hikesnight skies

Nothing beats fresh, cold, clean water from the California mountains, in the summertime. Find time to exit the urban rat race, soon. Escape the smoggy city life and the triple-digit heat for a road trip to the higher elevations.

View East from Davis
Crocker Mountain @ Lake Davis, California

Lake Campgrounds are abundant in California, where man-made reservoirs and recreation abound. Alpine lakes in pine forests are also numerous in the west, although only accessible for a portion of the year, they draw in the campers all summer long. A majority of the small lakes are located inside the California National Forests.
USDA / USFS / NFS

NFS State Parks

Larger reservoirs can often be managed by California State Park system. State Parks, SRA, State Recreation Area. Suburban lake locations can be local County Parks. A few locations listed could even be desert lakes.

Many ideal secluded lakes are only accessible with a 4WD vehicle, by foot or horseback. Super scenic, backcountry lakes are so far out – that a day hike is usually required.

tent camp developed campground

primitive camping primitive campsites

RV camper trailers allowed RV campground

hikes wilderness access

Spicer

No motorized boats, camping on west shoreline only, no fishing from the dam, catch & release?

No access for trailers? Individual rules for each lake are different. Learn the basic before you get out there.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS tent camp

Lake Campgrounds are so popular in California that many require reservations during summer. Many locations accept reservations online and we have links for those too. Other lakes are so small and remote, that only the fishermen, hikers and 4×4 gear-heads know of them.

outdoor recreation found at or near lakes

  • backpacking
  • boating
  • camping
  • canoeing
  • creeks
  • fishing
  • floating
  • four-wheelin
  • hiking
  • horseback riding
  • house boating
  • jetski
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • OHV trails
  • picnicking
  • rivers
  • river rafting
  • swimming
  • water skiing
  • waterfalls

Silver Lake from Above

Lake destinations listed here have some sort of campground facilities. Some may be mini resorts with boat launch, marina or bait shop/general store. RV hook-ups, maybe. Dump station, it will cost you. Usually these bigger lakes are busy centers of tourists activity with boat rentals, RV camping and certain locales are even walking distance from ‘town’.

Fine dining is a rare find on the lakes, but some lake side restaurants (open seasonally & with limited hours) can be found. Most will require reservations, especially on the weekends.

Other lake camps listed are literally on the edge of wilderness – with trails to the high country. The best little lakes will have one dirt road access. Below is a wide variety of lake destinations within California.

 gardisky_lake

Floating Flyfishing Tube
Red Lake, 4×4 access (primitive, no facilities)

and let’s not forget the ever-popular California Lake List

Grassy Picnic Faucherie Lake

Fishing Maps California

owensfishing

California Fishing Maps & Destinations

California fishing recreation ranges from sport-fishing, an open sea adventure, to solo casting in deep river canyons. Big Sierra Reservoirs near Gold Rush Country to High Country Alpine Lakes, the golden state has the water – and the outdoor recreation you crave.

Below is an alphabetical list of popular fishing destinations within California. Mountains to coastline, there are many maps to choose from.

 

gonzagadusk

Baja California Maps
Surf, Camp, Fish, Kayak, Dive
Sea of Cortez, Baja CA Mexico

Big Bear Trail Map
San Berdoo Mountains Map

San Bernardino National Forest Map USDA
San Bernardino National Forest
Big Bear Lake, Arrowhead & Idyllwild
SoCal Mountains

but you do know that… all the good fishing is up north, right?

Bishop Creek Eastern Sierra

Bishop Pass Map
North Lake, Sabrina, South Lake
Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map
Bucks Lake Wilderness, Quincy CA
Bucks Lake Campgrounds
North Sierra Mountains

Carson Pass, Sierra Highway 88
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map
Central Sierra Nevada Lakes & Rivers

Crystal Basin Sierra Nevada

Crystal Basin / Silver Fork Map
Central Sierra Nevada Mountains
Eldorado National Forest

El Dorado National Forest Map
Mokelumne, American River

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Map
Tom Harrison Map
Sierra Hikes, Dinkey Creek

Golden Trout Wilderness Map
Upper Kern River, Southern Sierra

Green Creek Road
creek fishing, trailhead campgrounds
Bridgeport, CA Eastern Sierra

Hoover Wilderness Map
Hoover Wilderness
Bridgeport, CA Eastern Sierra

Inyo National Forest Map
Mount Whitney, Owens River, High Sierra Lakes
Bishop, Crowley, Mammoth & June
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Kearsarge Pass Topo

Kearsarge Pass Trail Map
Rae Lakes Loop, High Sierra
Onion Valley, Eastern Sierra

Kings Canyon High Country Map
Kings Cyn National Park
Trails, Peaks, hike-in only Lakes

Klamath National Forest Map
Klamath River, NorCal
Hwy 96, Happy Camp, Hupa/Hoopa

Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Lakes Basin Map USDA
over a dozen small lakes, w/ trails, fishing
Gold Lake California
Sierra Buttes, North of Gold Country

Lake Tahoe Map

Lake Tahoe Basin Map NatGeo

Tahoe Eastshore

Lassen Forest Map
Lassen National Forest &
Lassen National Park
Feather River, Lassen Lakes

Mammoth Map

Mammoth Lakes Map NatGeo
Mammoth Lakes CA
Mono Divide, High Sierra
June Lake, Eastern Sierra Recreation

Rush Creek

 

Merced River Recreation Map NatGeo
Merced River & Tuolumne River
Yosemite Camping & Fishing
Gold Country, Western Sierra Rivers

Mineral King Trail Map
Southern Sequoia National Park
day hike to wilderness lakes

Plumas National Forest Map
Lake Almanor, Lake Oroville
Feather River (all 4 forks)

Sequoia National Forest Map
Kern River, Lake Isabella
Kern Plateau, Kennedy Mdws

Shasta National Forest Map
Sacramento River, Lake Shasta
NorCal fishing, Mount Shasta

Sierra National Forest Map
San Joaquin River, Dinkey Creek
Dinkey Lakes Map
Kings River, Pine Flat Reservoir
Lake Edison, Florence
Shaver Lake Map, Huntington Lake
BlackRock, Courtright, Wishon

Stanislaus National Forest Map
Stanislaus National Forest
Sonora Pass, Dardalelle
Stanislaus River, Gold Country

 

sierra buttes

Tahoe National Forest:

Tahoe Sierra Buttes Map NatGeo
Sierra Buttes / Donner Pass
Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Tahoe Yuba Map NatGeo
American River, Yuba River
Gold Country California

Toiyabe National Forest:
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mts

Toiyabe Carson Map
Carson River, Markleeville
Eastern Sierra, South of Tahoe

Toiyabe Bridgeport Map
Walker River, Twin Lakes
Eastern Sierra, Yosemite East

lakes

let’s not forget the ever expanding

California Lake List

rocklakefishing

Northern California Mountains

Mountains of Northern California / NorCal Mountain

sacramento river

Shasta Trinity National Forest

Dunsmuir, Lewiston, Mount Shasta, Trinity Center

Lee Fong Park
Beautiful park setting @ Lee Fong Park, in historic Weaverville, CA

Klamath National Forest

Happy Camp, Weed, Yreka

NorCal California

Modoc National Forest

Alturas, Cedarville

River Beach Campground
Trinity River Camping, Douglas City, CA

Sierra Nevada Lakes

Crystal Clear Faucherie

California Sierra Lakes
Sierra Lake Destinations
Sierra Lake Campgrounds

One of the best physical features about California is the amount of lakes and reservoirs it holds – in the mountains, foothills and the canyons, throughout the state.

recreational lakes – Huge, dammed reservoirs to the secluded, alpine lakes in the high country and all the variations in between.

bowman

There are literally thousands of lakes located within the Sierra Nevada mountains and it would be ridiculous to try to list them all here. Many of them can only be reached by hiking into Wilderness.

Most California lakes are popular and well known recreation spots, but others are secluded – if you drive far and long enough back on the dirt road. Some do not allow motorized boats and most do allow fishing and swimming. Some have campsites on the waters edge, while other camps are up on a hill over looking the lake.

Below listed are some Sierra lakes that allow camping on the lakeshore or nearby. Most campgrounds are suitable for RVs, tent camping, and some may require 4 wheel drive to reach them. bass lake

huntington lake

Total Escape has several hundred more lakes & obscure camps listed under Almanor, Lakes Basin, Secluded Lakes, Yosemite Lakes, Tahoe & the Eastern Sierra Lakes page.

Or just check the tag for Lakes & Reservoir

sierra lakes

Trinity Alps Camping

Trinity Alps Wilderness Campgrounds

Northern California Camping
Shasta Trinity National Forest

Trinity Alps Wilderness

camp

 

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • fishing spots
  • floating
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • soaking
  • swimming holes
  • tubing
  • stargazing

trinitydetail

campgrounds near Trinity trailheads –

camping Highway 3
(California State Route 3):

  • Horse Flat Campground, near Eagle Creek trailhead
  • Eagle Creek Campground @ Hwy, near Stoddard Lake & Eagle Creek trailhead
  • Goldfield Campground, near Boulder Creek trailhead
  • Big Flat Campground (via Coffee Creek Road #104)
  • Preacher Meadow Campground @ Hwy, near Swift Creek trailhead

camping Highway 299
(California State Route 299):

  • Ripstein Campground, near Canyon Creek trailhead
  • Hobo Gulch Campground, on Road #34N07
  • Hayden Flat Campground, near Big French Creek & Green Mountain
  • Denny Campground, near Jim Jam Ridge, East Fork & New River; Way out west
  • Groves Prairie Campground, near Grizzly Camp trailheadtrinityalps_lg
  • Happy Camp Campground, near Grizzly Camp trailhead

camping Highway 96
(California State Route 96):

  • Tish Tang Campground, near Tish Tang trailhead
  • Box Campground, near Red Cap Lake, Bear Hole & Mill Creek Lake
  • Klamath Riverside Campground @ Hwy, near Salmon Summit

camping Salmon River (Cecilville Road #1C02):

trinitysign
Trinity Scenic Byway (CA SR 3)

NorCal Topographic Maps – Trinity Map

Shasta Trinity National Forest Map

Pacific Crest Trail Map #6 (Shasta Cascades)

Trinity Alps Wilderness Map

outdoor destinations also nearby –


View Larger Map

Mineral King Camping

DSCN0019

Mineral King is a magnificent canyon in the southern portion of Sequoia National Park, east of  Visalia, CA. So magical indeed that Disney tried to purchase the rugged scenic lands for a wilderness ski theme park in 1960. Thankfully that project never happened, due to strong opposition from preservationists. Mineral King became part of Sequoia National Park in 1978.

Mineral King is the Great Western Divide, where high peaks separate the foothills from the taller Eastern Sierra range. Upper Kern River Canyon lies beneath as the main south drainage from the very tallest peak, Mount Whitney @ 14,494′

sierra topo maps

Mineral King Road is a paved off shoot from Highway 198, just to the east of the town of  Three Rivers, CA. The road is steep and curvy and 25 miles long. No gasoline at all. No RV motorhomes or trailers are permitted to travel this scenic and amazing back road. Certain portions of the road are dirt and usually graded, but most of the route is paved.  Snow closes the road in winter months – NOV-MAY.

We usually get less than a half year to enjoy this special place, so make plans in advance to fit this destination into your schedule JUNE-JULY-AUG-SEPT.

And do not even think of trying to cram spectacular Mineral King into an already packed Sequoia Park weekend trip. The Giant tree Sequoia groves, Hume Lake and Kings Canyon are over an hour north (hwy 198), to other side of the park.

If you have a full week to hang out in the Sequoia National Park area, then obviously Crystal Cave and Mineral King should be on the list, but keep in mind taht each destination will take a full day to drive to and explore.

Driving the distance on Mineral King Road, the wonders abound on every curve. Wildlife, waterfalls, water flowing and the dense forests.

Atwell Mill Campground is located at an old wood mill site and has a good hike to a footbridge at Kaweah River. There is a small cabin community called Silver City which caters to summer crowds and family campers. Only open during the warm season.

At the very end of Mineral King Road is the gravel parking. Step out into high elevation (7830′ above sea level), breathe deep and enjoy the granite bowl of alpine bliss with creeks, meadows, wildflowers, picnic spots, hiking trails and scenery everywhere. Mid day sunshine can be bright. Black bears and marmots are very common.

Cold Springs Campground is the last developed campground, located next to a raging creek. The hike-in sites are the best choice for seclusion at this camp.

South Fork Campground is the smallest of the campgrounds in this area; located in the foothills at 3600′ elevation, open all year. From Highway 198 (W of the town of Three Rivers), take South Fork Drive 13 paved miles to camp.

KaweahFalls

mineral king backpacking

Mineral King is a favorite destination among backpackers as it gives instant access to many high country trailheads with mostly paved road driving. Located deep in the forest at end of a long road, near the center of the Sierra Nevada range gives ample hiking in every direction. The hikes are steep and challenging, but the rewards are solitude, true wildness and grandeur scenery. Although inviting, these steep passes might not be adequate for beginner backpackers, so please keep that in mind when planning. Fishing lakes, day hikes, horseback trails, waterfalls, creeks, and jagged mountain peaks.

From Mineral King you can access the these popular spots – PCT, the Great Western Divide, the Golden Trout Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon High Country, Keasarge Pass, John Muir Wilderness.

top maps for the region –

Indian Flats Campground

Temecula Camping / Warner Springs Campground

San Diego Mountains – Cleveland National Forest

Indian Flats Campground

Indian Flat Campground is located on the seasonal San Luis Rey River in rural North San Diego County.  From I-15 @ Temecula, CA travel eastbound on Highway 79. Look for the tiny turn off  (on left side) for forest road #9N05, sorta near glider airport located west of Warner Springs. This poorly paved backcountry route (half dirt/mud at times) is also known as both Indian Flats Road or Lost Valley Road.

Graded dirt road (paved in some portions) travel is approximately 6.5 miles to campground, look for gate and turn off on the left side. When you see the giant boulder near the entrance, you’ll know you’ve made it to the right place.

Oak trees and a few pines, plenty shade, boulders and mountain scenery, this is a great small campground that is well away from everything in Southern California.  Seasonal creek-sized river and boulder waterfall often dries up in late summer. This means a wet spring is the best time to visit this camp. Hiking, mountain biking trails and hammock spots. Pacific Crest Trail access.

Cleveland National Forest
Palomar Ranger District
760-788-0250

ClevelandMap_07

Elevation: 3,600′
Number of Sites: 17
Camping Reservations: None
Sites Available: First come, First serve
Vehicle Accessibility: Length 15′ max.
Length of Stay: 14 Days
Water: No Piped; Seasonal creek nearby
Toilet: Vault
Season: Closed for mud & snow during winter months
Fee: Yes
Operated By: National Forest Service
Closest Town: Warner Springs, CA

Indian Flat
Indian Flat Campground Entrance

Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs

Guadalupe Canyon Baja Hot Springs

Canon de Guadalupe

Baja Hot Springs Camping Resort

 

Baja California Hot Tub

40 miles SW of Mexicali – Laguna Salada off Mexican Highway 2

Guadalupe Canyon Oasis
Palm Canyon Hot Spring Camping Resort
619-639-7597

 

Off road destination, palm canyon in Baja California Norte
East of San Diego
SW of El Centro / Mexicali

Imagine a palm oasis canyon in a remote area of the Baja desert; Cool springs that feed the lush landscape with huge boulders & cliff diving waterfalls. With each campsite featuring it’s very own custom hot springs tub. This place was a paradise 20 years ago, but is now over-developed w/ large groups, parties and camping families. If you can handle the 30+ miles of unimproved dirt roads, this spot is worth a visit mid-week. Winter months are prime time to visit the desert. Temperatures are moderate, days are pleasant & midweek has minimal tourists. Avoid holiday weekends as crowds a can get rowdy and disrupt the peaceful setting. Summer is triple digit heat for months. This canyon is hard to reach and inside a third world country, but well worth the distant journey.

Baja MapsPlenty of great hiking and petroglyph canyons, cool pools and waterfalls, granite boulders, soothing warm waters & gorgeous desert scenery. Summers are usually roasting out here, so plan your vacation accordingly. Palalpas (built for shade) add to the charm & unique look. Each campsite is unique & has a different lay out. Reservations are recommended.

A family run set of campgrounds within a steep palm canyon. Hot Springs are piped to individual pools at each campsite for a maximum of privacy. A cold creek runs through the canyon as well, feeding the palm grove below & waterfalls way up canyon. A desert oasis set upon the slopes of the Sierra Juarez Mountains in Baja.

getting there is a journey –

Recommended high clearance vehicle, sport utility vehicle, or truck. The last 35 miles of the trip is through rough & rugged sandy roads.

nearest towns –

Guided tours to Guadalupe Canyon can be booked thru Baja Trek. We are no longer offering Baja California trips with Total Escape Adventures

Baja hot spring photos from Total Escape Adventures trips –
FEB 2000
NOV 2000
APR 2001
NOV 2001
NOV 2002

Lazy Afternoon in Baja

Pool Reflections 5