Dirt Street

7S02 up hill

An avenue made of dirt, earthen highways, dirt trails, forest roads, fire roads, jeep road, graded roads. Dirt driving trails that lead into the middle of nowhere. No stop signs, no billboards, no stores, no one else around… for miles. Enjoy less crowds and more open space.

dirt streetsIf you are fed up with city life, sitting in traffic & need to vacate your mind among the barren hills of California (if only for a weekend), then Total Escape is your place. You seek solitude, peace, maybe a mini tailgate party & BBQ on a dry lake bed, with the heavenly stars above. Imagine the warm camp fire light reflecting off the high canyon walls, your music echoing, moonlight hikes for a few miles.

California has some awesome spots to drive on dirt, get way back in nature. Right up to the edge of the Wilderness boundary. That’s what this one silly “dirt street” page is all about… helping you get out there, the easiest & best way possible. We even got you the right maps!

Back Roads in California

The End of Dirt Roads

California OHV Maps

Most of this is just dirt road driving, graded, some hills, easy stuff. But on occasion you might come across a 4×4 required sign – or perhaps a triple black diamond trail. Having several good maps on hand will help you enjoy these roads, instead of stressing & wondering if there is a lock gate at the other end – 18 miles in.

Some dirt streets lead to campgrounds, some to waterfalls, some to viewpoints, some have loop options & others are just dead end; sometimes at old mines. Get ready to explore with your truck or SUV. 2WD or low clearance vehicles (such as passenger cars) should be ready to turn back if the road get too nasty. Any decent precipitation can make any unpaved road much worse & may require 4 wheel drive, so have a plan B mud terrainor C as a backup idea.

Best off road areas & parks in California:

Death Valley Roads

Tooling around Goler Wash & Barker Ranch on the very edge of Death Valley

El Dorado Camping

Primitive Camping in El Dorado County

Camping Rivers

More & more people are venturing off the beaten touristy path of Gold Country. Getting outta the developed campgrounds to discover the joys of dispersed back woods camping is a new adventure, not to be taken lightly.

With truck or SUV ownership come some great rewards! Order a good map & go find some dirt roads. Waterfalls, dense forests, secluded creekside camp sites & more await you. Obtaining a camp fire permit is mandatory for this style of camping. Campfires are often banned in California, due to extreme wildfire danger. Since the gold mining foothills are usually oak and dry grass, with large steep river canyons, extra caution should be given. Always know the fire conditions before you build a campfire. Caldor Camping

Discover the hidden back roads: like Caldor Road off of Grizzly Flat Rd. – up above Placerville CA

Hey, now this is what we’re talking about. Plenty great dispersed camping down by the Cosumnes River & Consumnes Mine Rd. There are hundreds of miles of small roads to discover back behind this historic mining area. Rivers, waterfalls & decent fishing too. Make sure you clean up some litter. This is the only price you pay for the beauty, serenity, peace & quiet & no neighbor campers next to you.

Out exploring these parts, you may run into a dead end road that peters out at some Private Property, which is usually signed & fenced. Make nice with the old crazy miner dude & turn your ass around politely, everything will be okay as soon as you are not within gun shot of him. Yes, there still are plenty of small time mining experts tucked away back here in the hills.

river camping
Premium and secluded river side camp sites in El Dorado National Forest

Plenty creeks and rivers run throughout this central Sierra region, so you can fish all day – until your hearts desire. River rafting and river kayaking opportunities are also great reasons to get wet.

Several mountain reservoirs around offer camping and boating too. Eldorado lakes are listed below.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

  • Caples Lake @ Carson Pass
  • Ice House Reservoir
  • Jenkinson Lake – US Hwy 50
  • Kirkwood Lake
  • Lower Bear River Res. – South Shore Campground
  • Salt Springs Reservoir
  • Silver Lake @ Carson Pass
  • Union Valley Reservoir
  • nearby towns –

    El Dorado Forest Maps –

    Travertine Hot Springs

    Eastern Sierra Hot Springs

    Travertine Hot Pools, Toiyabe National Forest

    Travertine Tubs

    Inyo MapSouth of Bridgeport, California
    just off US Highway 395

    Also known on some maps as Travertine ACEC.

    Take the road next to the Ranger Station (South of Bridgeport, along Hwy 395); Drive up the hill and past the rock quarry. Bear right & look for dirt parking lot. Two pools, short walk, no shade, wonderful views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

    Popular with local commuters and travelers, with easy access off the highway. Great spot for views westward w/ sunset picnic and soak.

    Dirt Road with Views

    campNo overnight camping allowed at Travertine hot springs (posted signs)

    Plenty of great, free, camping nearby:
    Primitive or developed Campgrounds.

    Views to Bridgeport Valley

    Hoover Wilderness Trails

    parks, lakes and forests nearby:

    nearby towns:

    Travertine Rock

    Green Creek Road

    Mono County Wildlife Area

    Mono County Wildlife Area, Green Creek Road- off Hwy 395, near Bodie

    Green Creek California

    Eastern Sierra

    S of Bridgeport, CA
    MONO – Road #142NFS

    Toiyabe National Forest
    Bridgeport Ranger District

    If you are thinking about fishing or camping the Eastern Sierra, North of Bishop & you are not up for the crowds at Mammoth or June Lakes, then try the Bridgeport area, north on Hwy 395. Rural ranch lands along main road, Bodie ghost town turn off across the highway and Virginia Creek Settlement are also nearby

    Green Creek is a 11 mile long dirt road in the lush Eastern Sierra the northern portion. The wide, graded dirt road is signed and dead ends at a Toiyabe National Forest campground called Green Creek Campground. The drive up can be washboard bumpy in some parts, but that doesn’t stop the hundreds of adventurous motorhomes that make this trek annually. This place features some of the best prime Sierra back roads camping options for RVs.

    Another dirt route, Dunderberg Meadow Road peels off to the left. Dunderberg departs  off Green Creek a couple of miles from the highway and well maintained. This route leads to meadows, aspens, picture perfect scenery and much more seclusion. Passenger car accessible, wide graded dirt roads to wilderness edges. Two-track one lane trails lead to meadow edges and more creeks. Very impressive views of the Sierra peaks over here on this side. Meadows are sensitive areas, wonderful for picnics and you should always minimize impact.

    State Park California

    Green Creek Wildlife Area
    Mono County, California

    Aspen Grove Camping for RVs

    • alpine lakes
    • backpacking
    • bird watching
    • camping
    • creeks
    • day hikes
    • fishing
    • hiking
    • horseback
    • hunting
    • mountain biking
    • wildlife
    • wilderness

    Plain old passenger cars can easily make this route deep into the Eastern Sierra aspen canyon. Graded dirt and4x4 could be needed winter months. Backpackers can enjoy easy access to the Hoover Wilderness trailheads. There is plenty semi-primitive camping spots along the way, right on the creek, for free…. so no need to sleep in your vehicle upon arrival.

    Autumn Aspen Groves: fall colors peak in October, which is usually when the first snows for the winter season start. November – usually the freeze gets them and lifeless brown leaves dangle, until the Sierra Nevada wind gust blow real good.

    camp

    Green Creek Camping

    DIRT ROAD CAMPING

    • alpine lakes
    • backpacking
    • car camping
    • day hikes
    • fishing camping
    • meadows
    • RV camping
    • tent camping

    Hoover Wilderness

    Dispersed, primitive camp spots along this main dirt road are on a first come basis. You’ll need a fire permit. Many flat camps are set along the creek in aspen groves, some pines, others have  cubby hole privacy. Large granite valley, big creek, bird, scenery and nature everywhere.  Some folks spend weeks camping out here in the warm weather months. Fishing is a big attraction.

    Old Cabin in autumn leaves, up near the top of the dirt road deep in the aspen grovesNFS

    Green Creek Campground USFS
    7500 elevation
    11 camp sites
    fee, open May – October
    trailhead parking nearby

    hiking trails lead to

    hikes

    TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS:

    Aspen Camp

    Mono Lake California

    The Great Basin meets California, at the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

    Navy Beach, Mono Lake

    Mono Lake


    elevation: 6383′
    Eastern California
    US Hwy 395 @ CA SR 120

    East of Yosemite NP
    Lee Vining, CA

    Mono Lake

    Rumor has it this lake basin could be the ancient super volcano of the region. MonoLake is located on the north end of the Long Valley Caldera, a volcanic ridge which stretches down to Bishop and parallels Mammoth Mountain & US 395.

    Huge shallow lake with a very turbulent history. Signs and plaques throughout the lake shore give info on ancient history of the lake, the wildlife, and regional detail. Majestic views of the Sierra Mountains, with sparse vegetation, lunar type landscape. Eerie with storm clouds; Beware of bad weather. Kayakers love this lake too!

    Sierra Nevada backdrop

    Canoeing
    Hiking
    Hot Springs
    Kayaking
    Picnic
    Primitive Hot Springs
    Stargazing
    Volcanic Landscape

    Mono Lake Camping

    Camping is closeby, but not located on the fragile lakeshore.
    open camping
    Dispersed camping (FREE) is allowed in Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, the region that surrounds the Tufa State Natural Reserve. Campfire permits are required. Contact the park listed below for all the details on the camping policy.

    campgrounds
    Camps include National Forest Campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon (8 miles), June Lake Loop (15 mi), Lundy Lake (12 mi). Private RV parks can be found in nearby Lee Vining and further south, at Lake Crowley.

    [PDF download]
    Camping In The Mono Basin
    by LeeVining.com

    Inyo National Forest USDA
    Camping Mono Lake Ranger District

    local links:

    Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
    California State Park
    760-647-6331

    Mono County Tourism
    MonoCounty.org

    760-924-3699

    Mono Lake Committee
    MonoLake.org

    Bookstore @ 3rd, Lee Vining
    760-647-6595

    Tufa Towers

    nearby interests:

    Yosemite National Park
    Inyo National Forest
    Toiyabe National Forest
    Benton Hot Springs
    Bodie Ghost Town
    Convict Lake
    Mono Craters – Panum Crater & Crater Mountain
    Long Valley Caldera
    Lundy Lake
    California Aspen Groves
    Autumn Colors Camping

    Long Valley Craters Mono Lake

    Long Valley Caldera Craters near Mono Lake

    regional maps:

    Tom Harrison Mono Lake Map

    NatGeo Mammoth Lakes & Mono Map

    Inyo National Forest USDA Map

    Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps

    nearby towns w/ lodging:

    Benton Hot Springs
    Bridgeport, CA
    Lee Vining, CA
    June Lake, CA
    Mammoth Lakes, CA


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