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.


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

4S12 – Inyo NF


Rock Creek Road

Rock Creek Lake, Eastern Sierra, California

Inyo Forest Road #4S12
also known as Inyo Road 12, and also Rock Creek Rd.

Majestic mountain scenery. Popular paved route that leads from US 395 up to Rock Creek Lake, on the edge of granite wild lands; lake is situated above 9000′ elevation and the hiker trailheads are further up, beyond the lake at over 10,000 feet. Steep canyon, large canyon, rocky granite canyon, high elevation.

Super scenic drive, but open less than half the year, due to deep snow. Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Inyo National Forest

North of Bishop, CA
South of Mammoth, CA
SW of US Highway 395

hikes horse camp bike


A popular and favorite place for summer camping, fishing and hiking. Backpacking, horse trails, high elevation lakes, mountain passes, peaks, wilderness areas. RV campgrounds, tent camping, car camping. Mountain biking in vast canyon, near campgrounds and creek. No bikes in the Wilderness (up and above Rock Creek)

Autumn colors, aspen groves usually best in early October. Snow closure in winter months (Nov-May).


elevation 7072′ @ Tom’s Place, CA (US Hwy 395)
elevation 9682′ @ Rock Creek Lake
elevation 10,272′ @ Trailhead Parking (end of road)

One lane, paved route gets narrow, but keeps on climbing. Road #6S05 continues up – past Rock Creek Lake and ends at hiking trailheads, paved parking lot and a few picnic spots.

iris meadow

Iris Meadow Campground NFS

12 NFS Campgrounds in this region, starting with one at the highway, several along the way and the campgrounds at Rock Creek Lake.

No campfires are allowed in this canyon – outside of a developed campground. Not much in the way of primitive car camping options either, except for strapping on a backpack and heading into high elevation wilderness.


Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Campgrounds

Inyo National Forest
John Muir Wilderness

Trailheads along Rock Creek Road #4S12

  • Upper Hilton Lakes
  • Tamarack
  • Lakes Valley (Little Lakes)
  • JMT – John Muir Trail

Rock Creek NFS Hiking Trailheads (download PDF)

Eastern Sierra Maps:
Inyo National Forest Map USDA
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo
Mono Divide High Country Map


rock creek lake

Rock Creek Lake, first snowfall (Autumn)

looking for another place called ROCK CREEK in California? (we are working on that)

6S05 – Inyo NF


Paved, one-lane extension of #4S12, Rock Creek Road.
Up above Rock Creek Lake, East Sierra Nevada, California

High elevation 10,272′ at roads end and parking lot

Little Lakes Valley Trailhead
Mono Pass
Morgan Pass
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

Mosquito Flat Picnic Area

Restrooms, paved parking lot, nature trails, fishing creeks, horseback, wilderness trails.

hikes NFS camp horse camp

Mosquito Flat Walk-In Campground is intended for backpackers departing overnight into the backcountry the following day. Single night stay ONLY. Please camp down canyon if you plan to stay for more than one night. Bear lockers are provided at campgrounds for proper storage of food items, so use them!

No campfires are allowed outside of developed campgrounds. Day use does not require a permit. Wilderness permits are required for overnight trips into the John Muir Wilderness. Bear containers are required for backpackers. Permits for these trails are issued at Inyo National Forest ranger station in Mammoth, or the Eastern Sierra Visitors Center (ESIA) near Olancha.


John Muir Wilderness (JMT) trails, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), epic scenery, alpine lakes, high elevation. Eastern Sierra

Rock Creek NFS Hiking Trailheads (download PDF)

Rock Creek Pack Station provides wilderness pack trips on horseback, and day rides too.

Road and canyon is CLOSED for winter snow approx. NOV-MAY


Peaks and passes surrounding Rock Creek Canyon, in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains –

Red Mountain 11,472′ (elevation)
Mount Morgan 13,748′
Morgan Pass
Mt Huntington 12,405′
Mono Rock 11,554′
Mono Pass
Mt Starr 12,835′
Mt Mills 13,451′
Mt Abbott 13,704′
Round Valley Peak 11,943′

Hike or horseback ride to these alpine lakes from Rock Creek Rd trailheads –

Davis Lake
Hilton Creek Lakes
Patricia Lake
Golden Lake
Pioneer Basin Lakes
Trail Lakes
Summit Lake
Ruby Lake
Mills Lake
Gem Lakes
Treasure Lakes
Dade Lake
Upper Morgan Lake
Lower Morgan Lake
Chickenfoot Lake
Little Lakes
Box Lake
Heart Lake
Marsh Lake
Serene Lake
Eastern Brook Lakes
Tamarack Lake
Buck Lake
Francis Lake
Dorothy Lake
Kenneth Lake

Spicer Reservoir

spicer terrain

Spicer Meadow Reservoir

Spicer Meadows, Spicer Reservoir, Rd #7N01
Spicer Lake, Stanislaus National Forest

lake elevation 6418′
227 surface acres

public boat ramp
hiking trail around lake
more lakes nearby

Ebbetts Pass Sierra Hwy 4

Ancient volcanic peaks mix with Sierra Nevada granite rock, pine forests and fresh, clear, clean mountain water! California, of course.

Stanislaus Forest Road #7N01 leads down from Highway 4 to this popular series of alpine lakes and reservoirs. Camping, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, floating and fishing are also popular water activities.

Rules of the Reservoir:
10 mph speed limit on Western Arm.
No motorized boating in Eastern Arm.
Camp only in developed Campgrounds.

2 NFS Campgrounds at west end of lake:

  • Spicer Campground (60 sites)
  • Spicer Group Camp (75 people max)
  • Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible.

    Additionally, Stanislaus River Campground w/ only 8 sites, is located just off the main access road #7N01, right near the river.

    spicer lake shore

    Spicer #7N01

    Numerous smaller lakes in the region make this a hot spot for summer vacations. Union and Utica Reservoirs (both with dirt road access) are good for kayaking and canoes, while power or sail boats prefer the larger Spicer Lake. Summit Lake and Elephant Rock Lake are perfect for quite picnics and day hikes. Trails (many unmarked) connect the lakes to each other. Area gets buried with snow in winter, so these roads are generally only open half the year.

    More reservoirs and lakes nearby:
    Highland Lakes
    Mosquito Lakes
    Lake Alpine, CA
    (all along Hwy 4)

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Nearby mountain towns:
    Lake Alpine, CA

    7N01 – Stanislaus NF

    Spicer Meadow Reservoir & more lakes: Paved Forest Rd #7N01

    Spicer, Utica & Union Reservoirs, Central Sierra, Stanislaus National Forest

    summit lake

    Stanislaus National Forest
    North Fork of the Stanislaus River
    Highland Creek
    Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area
    Spicer Meadow Reservoir (6418′ elev)
    Union Reservoir (6850′ elev)
    Utica Reservoir

    Spicer Meadow Reservoir can also be found on various publications, listed as Spicer Meadows, Spicer Mdws, Spicer Lake and Spicer Reservoir.

    tent camping

    Ebbett’s Pass is California State Route (SR 4) Highway 4, which cuts thru the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains (east-west). Wilderness peaks and rivers surround this whole region. Deep snow pack is common, so much of this region is off-limits half the year (or more). Always check with local rangers by phone before venturing out, as winter conditions can keep these roads closed late into the year.

    Topo Maps of this Region:

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
    Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map USDA
    Carson, Emigrant, Mokelumne Map NatGeo
    Sierra Nevada Topo Map

    Wilderness Maps

    N of Arnold, California; Continue up SR 4. Passing Calaveras Big Trees State Park & Camp Connell; After Big Meadow Campground, take the paved right turn for Spicer Meadow; This is forest road 7N01. Meandering thru a forest and descending in elevation, road will dead end at Spicer Reservoir.

    7N01, the main paved mountain road, is located on the south side of the highway. The highway turn off reads ‘Spicer Reservoir’. Suitable for travel w/ RVs and trucks with boat trailers. Quite curvy, scenic and about 7 miles long. There are developed campgrounds in the vicinity.

    The dirt side roads off the pavement can be narrow, muddy, rocky and overgrown, so be cautious when exploring. Choosing a dispersed camp site should be done during daylight hours, and will require a campfire permit ahead of time. Use an existing camp site whenever possible, instead of creating new ones.


    Several man-made reservoirs attract outdoor seekers, mountain bikers, campers, canoes and fishermen. Kayakers tend to love Union and Utica, but power boats and sail boats prefer Spicer Lake.

    Volcanic features mix with Sierra granite in this part of the forest, and geologic formations make for interesting hikes. Mountain biking is common around these lakes, as well as day hiking and backpacking.

    Spicer Lake

    NFS Campgrounds in the region: NFS

  • Stanislaus River Campground
  • Spicer Campground
  • Spicer Group Camp
  • Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible. Boat ramp located near campgrounds.

    outdoor recreation:
    mountain biking

    Left fork turn off, Dirt Road #7N05 leads out to Utica & Union Reservoirs. No motorized boats allowed on those two lakes. No developed campgrounds back that way either. No RV spots; only primitive style camping.

    Another dirt road treks steeply up the hill from Union Reservoir to Lake Alpine (at the highway). That primitive truck trails is actually a (somewhat designated, but not well-signed) 4×4 route and suitable for high clearance vehicles only.

    car camping lakes

    Spur Road #7N29Y is a small dirt road which leads a couple miles into the forest, over to trailheads and primitive camping options. Ideal for accessing all the lakes (on foot) from this prime location. A fire permit is required. No water, no bathrooms, no facilities.

  • Elephant Rock Lake
  • Summit Lake (7068′ elev)
  • elephant rock

    Closest small towns are:


    lake camps

    7N01 – Los Padres NF
    There is another Forest Road in California named 7N01, but that one is a 4×4 OHV access route @ Dutchman Campground, located in south part of Los Padres National Forest. We have mention of it on the page for Frazier Park Camping.