1N17 – Inyo NF


Road #1N17 – Inyo National Forest

Highway 158 @ Grant Lake, North June Lake Loop

Forest Road 1N17 is a major graded dirt road that connects June Lake Loop to the Lee Vining junction, the back way. West side of US 395; south of Hwy 120.

At north end of Grant Lake, slow down and look for the signed intersection. Sage brush hills and big drainage, with towering granite peaks above.

This well-traveled, wide dirt road leads along the base of the mountain range on BLM land, skirting the National Forest. Several side routes head up into numerous canyons, which are part of Inyo NF. Suitable for SUV, passenger cars, camper van and small RVs. Easy access off US Highway 395 and June Lake Loop #1S63

side routes off #1N17 –

Parker Lakes Road #1S25A
Sawmill Canyon #1S24
Bloody Canyon #1S23
Walker Lake Trailhead
Bohler Canyon #1S19
Gibbs Trailhead #1S106


Several hike-in only lakes, creek camping, some seclusion. Great picnic areas, trail head access, short or long hikes. National Forest lands. Backpacking, day hiking and primitive camps, some deep in the aspens. Autumn here can be gorgeous, and these are all prime summer time camp sites, for free. Make sure to get your campfire permit ahead of time, at ranger station in Mammoth. Wilderness permits may also be required for overnight camping in this canyon, so check with the NFS rangers on that issue.

towns nearby:
June Lake, CA
Lee Vining, CA
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Mono Lake, CA

Ansel Adams Wilderness
Inyo National Forest

Certain areas back here can be muddy in springtime, other major routes can even be over whelmed with water when creeks swell. Summer thunderstorms are common. One lane bridges should always be driven with caution, especially on dirt roads. Always be extra slow when driving thru water at creek crossings.

area maps:
Inyo National Forest USDA
Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo


California Motorcycle Roads

CA motorcycle roads

These are the roads that drivers love. More room to roam, more space, more pavement, more scenery to love and less people, less drivers and less distractions. California has endless roadways that wind through every part of the entire state. If you enjoy real driving in California, you like the curvy roads & scenery. Total Escape  has dedicated numerous hours to the collection of back roads in California. Some paved, some not.

4000 RPMs or higher / Cerro Noroeste Road to Hwy 166



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see also

  • Motorcycle California
  • California Back Roads (mostly dirt)
  • scenic drives

    Some random road east of Trinity River

    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.

    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


    Southern California

    has minimal fall colors.

    Big Bear Lake, CA
    Lake Arrowhead, CA

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


    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


    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


    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


    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)

    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).

    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.

    Sierra Road Conditions

    Sierra Nevada Road Conditions – Highway California

    Snowy RoadsWinter Snow/ Winter Roads Sierra Nevada:

    On rare occasions the Golden State freeway – Interstate 5 can be closed due to snow; N of Valencia on the Grapevine (near Lebec) or more likely up in NorCal (near Shasta).

    Interstate 80 (aka Donner Pass) is often closed during big storms. Luckily there are hotels in Auburn or Truckee.

    Highway conditions on mountain passes higher than 4000′ elevation can be unpredictable in winter months (Oct-May). It may be fine & just sprinkling @ 2000′, but a few miles up can be a white out. Ask anyone who’s ever driven the infamous Donner Pass in winter time. (more on Donner Party)

    Annual Sierra Highway Closures

    Ski mountains

    shaver lakeWhere does it Snow in California ?
    Okay, okay ….so it’s nothing like those dreaded East Coast winters, but hey, some parts of California do get some serious snow. (see elevations) And the newbies who don’t prepare for it will be sorry. On the winter vacation travels, be prepared for almost anything, especially in the Sierra’s & Northern California.
    Snowy towns in California

    See California Weather & Road Conditions

    California Winter: When does winter actually ‘set in’ for California?

    Eastern Sierra CA: OCT- MAY
    Western Sierra CA: NOV- APR
    High Sierra CA: SEPT- MAY
    North Coast CA: OCT- MAY
    Northeast CA: OCT- APR

    The following mountain roads are partially closed or totally closed during winter months. Please check road conditions before you leave for your trip. Chains may be required in most mountain areas of California.

    CALTRANS web site

    Highway CA County Region Connecting Towns
    Hwy 155 Kern Southern Sierra Alta SierraWofford Heights
    Hwy 190 Tulare Western Divide Hwy Camp NelsonPonderosa CA
    M 375 Tulare Sequoia NP Hammond – Mineral King
    Hwy 180 Tulare Kings Canyon NP Hume Lake – Cedar Grove
    Whitney Portal Rd Inyo Eastern Sierra Lone Pine – Mount Whitney
    Onion Valley Road Inyo Eastern Sierra Independence – Onion Valley
    Glacier Lodge Rd Inyo Eastern Sierra Big Pine – Glacier Lodge
    Lake Rd Hwy 168 Inyo Bishop Area Hwy 168 – South Lake
    Hwy 120 Mariposa Yosemite NP Yosemite Lee Vining CA
    Hwy 120 Mono Mono Lake Lee ViningBenton Hot Springs
    Hwy 108 Mono Eastern Sierra DardenelleSonora Jct. Hwy.395
    Hwy 89 Alpine Eastern Sierra MarkleevilleLake Topaz
    Hwy 4 Alpine South Lake Tahoe Lake Alpine – Hwy 89
    Hwy 44 Shasta Lassen Volcanic NP Manzanita Lake – Mineral CA