Poppy Stompers

California Golden Poppy

The official state flower of California is the POPPY

Spring usually means it’s warming up, to a great wildflower season in California. Time to get outdoors more! Hike, bike and picnic near the wildflowers and see some poppies.

poppy fields

California Golden Poppies can be found throughout the state, in small patches near the roadways, rolling hills behind vineyards, in high desert flats (where wind gets whipping) or even out near a ranch, with oak hills and fields of golden orange.

POPPIES can blanket hillsides, resulting in a show stopping event – which can be deadly on freeways? N of L.A. interstate 5 (the Grapevine) TEJON PASS (Lebec, Gorman, Junction 138) >> Please pull to nearest exit and stop the car. (It will be safest and well worth the 10 minute stretch break.)

Golden poppies can be found all over California. Flowers like lupine and owls clover can often be found nearby. Wildflowers may only last a few weeks, so go enjoy them while they last.

Bright yellow, gold, deep orange – or any shade in between!

best places to find poppies

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Table Mountain @ Cherokee Road
North of Oroville, CA

wine country

Wine Country NorCal

Alexander Valley Road

Railroad Tracks @ Santa Rosa, CA
Napa County
Sonoma County

Santa Rosa Tracks

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Kern County

Fort Tejon State Historic Park @ I-5
Cerro Noroeste Road & Klipstein Canyon
Carrizo Plain National Monument BLM
Kern River Canyon
S of Walker Basin @ Caliente Bodfish Rd
North of Tehachapi, CA

Santa Lucia Mountains
Rock Front Ranch
Schoolhouse Canyon
Cottonwood
Hwy 166, West of New Cuyama, CA

Figueroa Mountain Road
Los Padres National Forest
East of Santa Ynez, CA

Pine Flat Reservoir
@ Kings River, Sierra National Forest
East of Fresno, CA

East Bay San Francisco
The rural hills out east are the best places to find poppies in the Bay Area.

Mojave Desert Preserve
Providence Mountain SRA
Interstate 40
East of Barstow, CA

Central Coast California

Gold Country Hiking

Gold Country California

Auburn, CA
Central California Reservoirs
Located all around most rivers w/ dams (reservoirs) poppies can easily be found along highways, rural roads and on oak hillsides.

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Boulder Creek Road (dirt)
Descanso to Julian, CA
San Diego Mountain Foothills

SoCal poppies

Lancaster Poppy: Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Poppy Hotline (661) 724-1180

Remember, stay on the trail!  Getting a picture of that one really nice poppy will crush all the plants along the way, and compact the ground leaving lifeless bare dirt for the next year or longer.  If someone else has started a trail, do not add to the damage.  Please be a responsible park visitor and leave the park as nice as you found it.

Or you can avoid the crowds & tour buses at the Poppy Park to head off on your own adventure. All along both sides of high desert Hwy 138 you can find fields of California Poppies, from the small town of Neenach, CA east to Hwy 14. Plus the hills of Gorman are usually full of color.

Gorman @ I-5

Gorman CA – Interstate 5 @ jct Hwy 138

Borrego Camping

Anza Borrego Park / Anza Borrego Campgrounds

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California Highway 78 cuts across Southern California and right thru the middle of the largest State Park in the lower 48. Anza Borrego Desert State Park is a place that must be visited more than once to really take in all the beauty it has to offer. Free camping in Southern California is abundant here, if you are willing to follow the primitive camp fire rules of the park and you are comfortable camping away from developed campgrounds.

North-South: San Diego County Road S2 skirts the western border with Laguna Mountain towering above. It starts at Ocotillo @ Interstate 8 and heads Northwest to Lake Henshaw at Warner Springs.

East-West: a major route S22, connects Ranchita /Montezuma Valley to the Borrego Valley, and continues East to the Salton Seawhataview. The center of the parks is pretty much the town of Borrego Springs, where the State Parks visitors center is located. San Diego County Road S3 leads from Hwy 78 down the the town of Borrego Springs Valley.

developed campgrounds:

free camping: While the camping facilities listed above provide picnic tables and toilets, or more luxury camping… Total Escape thinks the best part of camping in Anza Borrego Desert is the vast amount of free, open camping available on most back roads. Hundreds of dirt roads lead off in all directions, so you can find the peace and solitude that few inside busy campgrounds ever experience.

  • Anza Borrego Desert Map
  • San Diego Backcountry Map
  • Many Anza desert routes are sandy washes, dirt roads, some for high clearance vehicles only, or 4WD in several canyons. Often there is no signs telling you need 4×4 to proceed. May only find out when its too late and you’re stuck.

    Have a good dirt road map with you and know your vehicles limitations. Passenger cars should be very cautious off road. Cell phone coverage is spotty out here in the most remote wilderness areas. oystercamp

    Eastern Sierra Camping

    tallpeaktower

    Inyo Forest Campgrounds – Eastern Sierra Campgrounds

    areas include: Lone Pine, Mount Whitney, Independence, Onion Valley, Ancient Bristlecone Pines, Big Pine, Bishop [Hwy 168], High Sierra, Owens River, Lake Crowley, Rock Creek, Mammoth Lakes [Hwy 203], June Lake Loop [Hwy 158], Lee Vining & East Yosemite National Park [Hwy 120]. Camping on Eastern Sierra Highway 395

    Eastern Sierra recreation – backpacking, horse packing, day hiking, creek fishing, mountain biking, mountaineering, rock climbing

    Listed below are all the Inyo National Forest campgrounds, County Parks, BLM public lands for outdoor recreation. Most campgrounds are closed for winter months. Blue links lead to camp reservations. Boldface links to more detailed information & photos on campground.

    campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
    Agnew Meadows 8400′ 21 pines chem piped Mammoth; Jun-Sept
    Big Bend Campground 7800′ 17 pines vault piped Lee Vining, April-Oct
    Big Meadow 8600′ 11 pines flush piped Rock Creek; May-Oct
    Big Pine Creek 9000′ 30 pines vault piped W of Big Pine; May-Oct
    Big Trees Campground 7500′ 9 pines flush piped W of Bishop ; April-Sept
    Bishop Park Group Camp 8400′ 20 pines flush piped No RVs;
    Bishop Creek
    Crowley Lake Camp 6800′ 47 sage vault piped BLM Camp; Apr-Oct
    East Fork Campground 9000′ 133 aspens flush piped fishing camp Rock Creek
    Ellery Lake Campground 9500′ 12 pines flush piped E Yosemite; June-Oct
    Forks Campground 7800′ 8 pines flush piped W of Bishop,; April-Oct
    Four Jefferey 8100′ 106 pines vault piped W of Bishop; April-Oct
    Goodale Creek 4000′ 43 cttnwd vault no BLM Camp; April-Nov
    Grandview Campground 8600′ 26 pinyon vault no Ancient Bristlecone Pines
    Grays Meadows 6000′ 52 pines flush piped W of Independence
    Gull Lake Campground 7600′ 11 aspens flush piped June Loop; April-Nov
    Hartley Springs 8400′ 20 pines vault no Glass Creek, June-Oct
    Horseshoe Meadow 10,000′ 10 pines vault piped 1 day limit; horses; More
    Horton Creek 4975′ 49 pines vault piped BLM Bishop; May-Oct
    Intake Campground 7500′ 8 pines flush piped W of Bishop; April-Oct
    Iris Meadow Campgr 8300′ 14 pines flush piped W of Bishop; May-Oct
    June Lake Campground 7600′ 22 pines flush piped fishing/hiking
    Junction Campground 9600′ 13 pines vault lake E Yosemite; June-Oct
    Lake George Campground 9000 16 pines flush piped fish, June-Sept
    Lone Pine Campground 5500′ 43 pinyon vault piped W of Hwy 395
    McGee Creek 7600′ 26 aspen flush piped Tom’s Place, Hwy 395
    New Shady Rest 7800′ 94 pines flush piped Mammoth, in town
    North Lake Campground 9500′ 11 pines vault piped W of Bishop; June-Oct
    Oh Ridge Campground 6000′ 148 pines flush piped June Lake
    Old Shady Rest Camp 7800′ 51 pines flush piped Hwy 203, Mammoth
    Onion Valley Campground 9000′ 15 aspen vault piped High Sierra access
    Palisade Campground 8600′ 5 aspen flush piped Rock Creek; May-Oct
    Pine City Campground 8900′ 10 pines flush piped Lake Mary, June-Sept
    Pine Grove Campgr 9300′ 11 pines flush piped May-Oct
    Pumice Flat Group Camp 7700′ 17 flush piped June-Sept
    Reversed Creek Campground 7600′ 17 aspen flush piped June Loop; May-Oct
    Rock Creek Lake 7600′ 25 aspen flush piped Tom’s Place; May-Oct
    Sabrina Campground 9000′ 18 pines vault piped W of Bishop; May-Oct
    Saddlebag Lake 10,000′ 20 pines vault piped highest camp; June-Oct
    Sherwin Creek Camp 7600′ 87 pines flush piped Mammoth Lakes
    Taboose Creek 3900′ 55 shade vault stream Big Pine;
    open all yr
    Tinemaha Creek 4400′ 55 shade vault stream Independence, Inyo Co Park
    Tioga Lake Campgr 9700′ 13 pines vault piped fish Yosemite, June-Oct
    Tuff Campground 7000′ 34 pines flush piped Rock Creek; RV 22′
    Tuttle Creek 5120′ 83 sage vault seasonal Lone Pine; open all yr
    Upper Pine Grove 9400′ 8 pines piped May-Oct
    Upper Sage Flat 7600′ 21 pines vault piped W Big Pine; April-Oct
    Whitney Portal Camp 9000′ 44 pines flush piped Trailhead; May-Oct
    Whitney Trailhead 9000′ 10 pines vault piped Trailhead; May-Oct

    sunsetgrandview

    see Group Campgrounds in Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra

    8

    Eastern Sierra Vacation, see also –

    Topo maps, wilderness hiking maps, fishing maps
    Equestrian trails, 4×4 routes, OHV maps –

    Twin LakesEastern Sierra communities include:

    Dogs in Lake

    Mojave Road Map

    Mojave Road Trail

    The Mojave Road

    Mojave Desert Back Roads

    The historic Mojave Road spans the high desert region of east California – crossing the Colorado River westward to roughly Los Angeles. Now a network of dirt and paved routes follow the original overland trade route. Click the plaque photo below to read more.

    The Mojave Road

    The rugged, dirt road cuts right through the middle of the Mojave National Preserve. Mid Hills, Kelso Depot, Cima.

    mojave topo maps

    Joshua Trees, mountains, boulders, sand dunes, railroad history. The high desert is abundant with wildlife, plant life, lava tubes, caverns, camping, and dirt roads. Plus wild windy weather.

    Mojave Loop

    MOJAVE PARK
    Located on the way to Vegas, NV – or the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Mojave NP is in the triangle space in between Interstate 15 and Interstate 40, on the eastern side of southern California. Freeway close, free camping in the Mojave does indeed exist, if you know where to look.

    Mojave Map by Trails Illustrated NatGeo 

    NatGeo Map Mojave California

    National Geographic acquired Trails Illustrated Maps more than a dozen years ago. Ever since these plastic topo maps have gone 2 sided, full-color w/ more details featured than ever before. Updated regularly. Waterproof plastic, perfect for outdoor desert travels.

    Mitchell Cavern, called Providence Mountains SRA, has camping, but it is situated up on an exposed bluff overlooking the freeway. Location gets windy as hell. Better campground is at Hole in the Wall, or even better, Mid Hills Camp.

    Mojave Peaks

    Primitive, free camping can be found off of Kelbaker Road, but be warned: dirt roads can get deeply rutted and impassible during extreme wet weather. 4WD may be required sometimes.

    • CAMPGROUND CAMPING
    • FREE CAMPING
    • GROUP CAMPING
    • HIKING TRAILS
    • HISTORIC MONUMENTS
    • HORSE CAMPING
    • HORSEBACK TRAILS
    • JOSHUA TREES
    • LAVA TUBES
    • MINING HISTORY
    • MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS
    • OFF ROAD CAMPING
    • RAILROAD HISTORY
    • RANCHES
    • RV CAMPING
    • SAND DUNES
    • VOLCANIC TERRAIN

    Mojave Desert Map by Tom Harrison

    Mojave Road Map

    One of the first readily available topographic style maps of the Mojave desert. Waterproof plastic, Tom Harrison brand maps are perfect for any type of backcountry travel, on foot, on horse, or off-road.

    Campsites

    AAA & NPS: one-page freebie; excellent overview map created by the Automobile Association of Southern California w/ the National Park Service. Handed out at Visitors Center and ranger stations (1990s)

    BLM Maps of Mojave: OHV (off highway vehicle) maps can be found at the local Bureau of Land Management ranger stations:

    Benchmark California Atlas

    California Atlas

    Best map for statewide coverage!

    This premium full state atlas has the whole, massive Mojave desert covered, which extends north into Death Valley National Park and south to Joshua Tree National Park.

    Mojave Desert Books


    Camping for Thanksgiving

    Turkey Casserole

    Turkey Leftovers?

    California Camping on Thanksgiving

    If you’ve had it with the traditions, the big meal prep, or just sick of the family. Maybe you are a solo traveler, or a new transplant to California and need to explore more. Take a holiday away – for once this time.

    Camping for turkey day? What a concept.

    VWBus Death Valley
    California is the perfect place for camping, all year long!

    Stick to the lower elevations, look for canyons, and seek seclusion


    California mountains often have snow during November. Avoid camping in snow @ 4000-5000′ elevation and above; Freezing temps above 3000-4000′ elevation.

    Deserts, coastal regions and foothills are top choices for late Autumn car camping. Always check the weather ahead of departure, and have a plan B as an alternative. NorCal will be much wetter than the rest of the state.

    MEALS: Prepare dinner meals ahead of trip departure. Bake turkey days before your trip and create meals based around that. Make mash potatoes at home and don’t forget to bring the butter. Pack pre-baked turkey for sandwiches, plus other quick snacks & meals for on-the-go travel.

    seafood

    Non Traditional: Seafood Feast

    Desert Camping is premium at this time of year. Luckily the eastern half of Southern Cal is desert. The lower the elevation, the better the temps will be overnight. Be prepared for wind when the ‘storm fronts’ approach, the winds do get a cranking! Dirt roads can become flowing washes during a good rainstorm, so know the weather forecast.

    Coastal campgrounds may need advanced reservations. Be prepared for wet weather, especially up north. The redwoods groves are gorgeous anytime of year.

    Gold County Reservoirs are prime areas for relaxing in nature, while everyone else is out shopping. Oak hills, rivers and canyons. RV campers love these large lakes; boating, fishing, mountain biking trails, kayak rentals, hiking near historic Gold Rush towns.

    River Canyons of California are always beautiful destinations in the autumn months. Many campgrounds can be found at lower elevation, river access areas. California’s abundant Hot Springs are also top picks for holiday weekends.

    Joshua Tree Campout

    Joshua Tree National Park may be busy during this weekend. Instead try nearby Mecca: Box Canyon and Mecca Hills Wilderness, BLM desert lands near Interstate 10.

    Anza Borrego Desert State Park is always a nice, easy and relatively close get-away for any holiday. Open camping on the backroads (for free) makes it one of the most attractive camping options in all of SoCal. Many dirt roads are accessible for passenger cars, if extreme caution is used. Don’t plan on driving more than a few miles on dirt.

    Masses of off roaders love to camp out, especially on Thanksgiving weekend. Wheel all day, eat, drink, bon fires every night and rumor has it ‘they roast their big bird outdoors – deep in a dirt pit’. Really? El Centro, Glamis, Imperial Dunes, Ocotillo Wells, Truckhaven Hills, Johnson Valley. All popular off roading areas in Southern California, so consider yourself warned.

    Imperial Dunes

    Mojave Desert, near US Hwy 395
    Jawbone Canyon expect to see RVs, toy-boxes and families outside enjoying the weekend. OHV style. Often the group tries to create a round corral with their huge convoy of vehicles, to keep thru traffic to a minimum around “their camp”. Just stay well away from those gear-heads. In general, it is a very busy area around Mojave up to Hwy 178 during the holidays. Try high desert Horse Canyon instead.

    Tent Camping

    ghost towns
    meteor showers
    hot springs

    Death Valley National Park is one of the best destinations for Thanksgiving, cuz Panamint Springs serves their free turkey dinner.

    Did someone say FREE?

    Leon at Mahogany