Tag Archives: no fee

Crocker Campground

Davis Lake Free Camping

Crocker Camp Lake Davis

Crocker Campground
Crocker Guard Station

Plumas Forest Rd #24N06
Crocker Mountain Rd @ Beckwourth-Genesse Rd

Seldom used, but often loved. This old camp used to be a California Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, during the construction of Lake Davis in 1966. Situated next to a big meadow w/ ancient lava flows up hill, the small campground hugs a wooded hillside above the freshly paved Beckwourth-Genesse Road #111

Lake Davis Recreation Area

Plumas National Forest
Beckwourth Ranger Districtranger
530-836-2575

If choosing to enter camp from the lake side, take Crocker Mountain Rd. / Plumas Forest Rd #24N06, up from Grizzly Road #112.

The Lake Davis area is a north turn off Hwy 89, in between Beckwourth and Portola, CA

Access from the paved (east) side is via Beckwourth-Genesse Road #111. Adventurous camper trucks, or small RVs may attempt this dirt hillside campground, but roots and rocks and erosion are abundant in the upper portion of the camp, so be warned.

Off Roaders (dirt bikes, quads, 4x4s) like this rustic camp spot, cuz it’s not too far off the pavement – and they can drive their comfy campers w/ trailers en tow, and the big BBQ grill and easy-up shade.

hikerNote: you cannot see Lake Davis from this side of the hill.

Autumn is nice here w/ aspen groves at nearby Crocker Guard Station. There are no aspen trees in campground – only pines. This primitive campground is located on a forested, volcanic hillside facing east; Dirt road entry, vault toilet w/ minimal facilities. No paved campsite loop here!

Numerous unmarked foot trails lead out to the meadows edge, up lava ridges or into the forest behind the aspens. Crocker Guard Station is a very short walk; and available for rent from the NFS w/ reservation.

Crocker Campground NFS camp

• Elevation: 5600′
• Number of Sites: 10
• Vehicle Accessibility: Small RV
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May – November
• Trailheads: Crocker Meadow Loop

Crocker Campground

Crocker Guard Station

aka Crocker CCC Camp

Set back nicely off the main road, this stylish, historic, two story cabin – with wood siding and front porch – has meadows and aspen groves surrounding it. Paved road access from Beckwourth Genesee Road

CCC = the Civilian Conservation Corps is often mentioned when reading about this specific location.

Crocker Guard Station was built in 1912 as a home for Forest Service personnel, and was later staffed as a fire station until the 1980s. Now the building serves as a USFS Cabin Rental; which could also make a nice (small) wedding location. Very scenic location w/ aspen groves.

lava campsites

Crocker Mountain (7444′ elev)  is popular for deer hunting, mountain biking, as well as off-road travel. Trails can be dusty and steep in summer, then snowy, slippery and muddy in wetter months. This Plumas mountain region does get some snow, so check the weather forecast!

Lake Davis is about 5 miles away from this small campground, to the west. From Crocker Camp to Lake Davis (the most direct way) is a one lane, graded dirt road – Plumas Forest Rd #24N06

The paved driving to the lake will be triple the distance – and you’ll need to go back to the highway.

View East from Davis
Crocker Mountain @ Lake Davis, California

What is Camping?

Old Timers Berry Creek

Basically, what is Camping?

4x4 camping RV camping car camping primitive camping backpacking cabin camping

BLM camping State Park camping National Forest campgrounds National Park camping

 

An overnight stay out-of-doors. Sleeping out under the stars.
Air bed, camping cot, tent… or just a tarp on the ground.
Perhaps A Mountain Cabin Rental. Your choice.

stars camptruck campfire

campFrom a luxurious cabin in the mountains, to a small clearing in near a meadow with a stream nearby – with just a backpack, the idea of “camping” is always a bit different for each person. Roughin’ it for free in the wilderness, or on the backroads; Or pay dearly for the price of real amenities, while on vacation.

car camping

Various types of Camping in California:

type of
camping
average
cost per night
brief description – what to expect
modern cabin $150 – $350 just like a hotel room, full kitchen, phone, internet, TV, real furniture
rustic cabin $90 – $190 bare minimum, beds, kitchen sink, electricity. maybe a bathroom
tent cabins / yurts $60- $150 wood floors, canvas walls, sleeping cots. reservations accepted. (very popular) may be open seasonally
camper vans, motorhome,
recreational vehicle
rentals, or own it all creature comforts on wheels, lots of luxury. camp the back roads.
camper shell own it mini motorhome on the back end of a pickup truck. smaller than RV
RV campground $25- $70 50+ sites, lots of facilities & families w/ RVs. reservations accepted
developed campground $25- $50 usually 30 – 100 sites, paved loop, facilities. toilets, piped water. plenty in our camping section (most popular)
small campground $12- $27 less than 25 camp sites, pit/vault toilets. plenty small campgrounds listed in our camping section
primitive car camping free way-out-there camp spots w/ dispersed camp sites, for the rugged self-contained, self-sufficient camper; access usually via dirt back roads.
SUV/ 4×4 camping free remote spots on long, steep, bumpy dirt roads; dispersed camp sites in secluded areas. 4 wheel drive may be needed
walk-in campsites
bike-in campsites
low cost or free camp sites that require you to physically haul your camp gear from a parking area to the camp spot, ranging from 1/8 mi. walk to a 1-3 mile hike
backpacking free w/ wilderness permit ultimate in seclusion, bring it all on your back, on foot into the wilderness & enjoy trail camps

  pinetree    fish

River Beach Campground
Trinity River Camping, Douglas City, CA

yellowpost

SO CAL CAMP FIRES – Yellow Post Campsites are remote camping spots in secluded areas, in a designated fire safe clearing. Camp FiresNo facilities such as toilets or showers. Maybe a picnic table & fire rings, if you’re lucky. Southern California forests have these kinda spots. Required campfire permit & you must double check on local fire restrictions.

Tent Cabin Rentals

Canvas Tent Cabins & Yurts

These structures are half way between ‘roughing it in a tent on the ground’ & having a ‘mountain cabin’. Tent cabins have wooden floors w/ canvas walls and roof; Dismantled annually for winter rain/snow, they are usually only available in mild, coastal climates or during summer months in the mountains.

deluxe-tent-cabinRentals typically include sleeping cots, but you’ll need to bring your own bedding (sleeping bags, sheets, pillows). Some rentals include shaded porches, wooden decks, minimal furniture, kitchenettes and/or wood burning stoves. Electricity may be available, or maybe not. Ask ahead of time, if you really must have that particular luxury when on vacation.

Yurts are a ’round version’ of this canvas cabin – which need to be aired out, often (to prevent mold). Yurt rentals are very popular and in high demand in California.

Find these type of rentals at yoga retreats, hot springs, beach canyons, remote lakes, redwood forests, high sierra camps, fishing camps and at certain RV parks.

National Forest Service Rangers wildlife

Deck w/ View

National Forest Fire Lookouts
& Historic Cabins

hiker

Tent Camp Yosemite Valley

Camping California Back Roads


Free RV Camping

Free RV Campsites / RV Campsite California

picnicThe best free camping in California for RVs & motorhomes is NOT the WalMart parking lot in some random town, but the gems that you find here on Total Escape.

The California back roads is where it’s at. Star filled skies, fresh cedar scents & tall pines, plus the awesome views. Primitive camping at it’s best, with your kitchen sink. No hook-ups, no fees, no problem.camptruck

So, if you are one of those that are terrified of driving your big camper on dirt roads, these may not suit your taste. But if you crave the back country camps with your RV, then you might enjoy the list below.

no hookups, no paved stalls, no dump station

These are camping areas, that you can pull into anytime of the night or day & find a flat spot. Some places may have picnic tables or campfire rings, but not all. No OHV parks, no large developed campgrounds, just dispersed FREE camp sites on the back roads of Cali.

Camping National Forest
Somewhere out near Dinkey Creek in Sierra NF

Dispersed Camping for RVers in California:

camp

SoCal Areas & Deserts

campersatcalkin
Calkins Flat on Kern River

Southern Sierra Nevada California

Eastern Sierra California

Mokelumne River Campground
Mokelumne River Campground

Central Sierra Nevada California

RV

Rd #54 Tahoe
Rd #54 – South of Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Free North Lassen
Lassen Rd #32N12D, 1 mile past Twin Bridges

Northern California

LassenWestRd17
Lassen Forest Road 17 @ Hwy 44
vanlifenorcal
Van Life, on McCloud Creek @ Algoma

Primitive Camping California

Sierra Creek Camping

Primitive Camps in California

Free camping outside of a developed campground, for a self-contained camper who wants seclusion and privacy. Real relaxation in total peace and quiet. More nature, less people and minimal vehicles.

Campfire NIghts

Free Campsites • Dispersed Camps  Open Camping Boondocking

primitive camp sites the bare minimum. a clearing for a tent, maybe a fire ring. no toilet, no fees; dirt road access. campfire permits required. And it is up to you to know the current fire restrictions in the area you seek to camp overnight.

  • shovel
  • water
  • topo maps
  • trash bags
  • tow strap
  • camping gear

Back Roads to Secluded Camps –

The further out you are willing to drive, the more remote you can be. Good topo maps of the region help you to find these ultimate, secret camping spots. National Forests & BLM Lands require a free camp fire permit to have a campfire.

campfire

Fire safety is always a big concern in wildfire prone areas like California. Additional Permits & Passes may be needed in some forests or parks; each location is different. Check with the local ranger station for up to date restrictions.

Many dirt roads lead avid campers to the best out-of-the-way camp sites. Camps may have picnic tables or just a fire ring, but usually NO toilets. Have the “No Bathroom Blues”? Don’t sweat it. check out the page on Camp Potty

Some camp sites are as bare as a small clearing, a rock fire ring if you’re lucky. A detailed backcountry map is always advised. If you count on your digital mobile device and online access for mapping, you could find yourself very lost. GoogleMaps is known for mislabeling the smallest of back roads – and they do not feature dirt roads either.

free desert washes
Turtle Mountain Road, SoCal

camptruckA high clearance vehicle may be needed to reach certain camp spots, but many can be accessed with a standard passenger car. Low riders will likely bottom out and motorcycle riders will get dusty.

Know your vehicles limitations for any off-road use and don’t get stuck in a bad situation. Soft sand is quite common in deserts and 4×4 might be needed. There aren’t any tow trucks out in the boonies and if you do find one, it’ll cost you something fierce. Watch for large rocks, deep ruts or tree limbs in the road (at any time) and watch low overhanging branches when driving a motorhome in to such spots. Some dedicated, hard-core RV campers prefer to camp in remote locations.

yellow-post camp sites

Backpackers trailheads often have a few camp sites near the parking lot, but these may be busy during summer months. Dirt roads leading to trailheads can have primitive camp sites along them as well. Long, big creeks in the forests are notorious for having awesome camp sites. Big river camp sites are sometimes free, if you know where to look. Sometimes the smallest of California campgrounds have no charge, first come, first serve (BLM, National Forest, or State run).

freespice

No charge campgrounds in the Sierra Mts 

find free camp spots

Before it got labeled BOONDOCKING: Primitive Camping in remote spots was what we lived for. Camp outside of developed campgrounds, for free

inyohighroad
Inyo High Country Roads

pros and cons

possible dirt road access, seclusion, privacy, darker skies, no fees, no crowds, real peace & quiet

no toilet, no picnic tables, no pavement, no hospital, a long hike out, no cell phone service?

hiker

always be prepared to hike out (if need be). a giant tree can come down and block your exit road. landslides often happen on dirt back roads. the vehicle could break down or become disabled. get a topographic map and know how to read the terrain, without your device/phone.

Primitive Campsites


Free Campgrounds Sierra

Granite Creek

Free Campgrounds in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

no charge camp, no fee camping, free campgrounds

No fee camping: Bare bones. California Sierra Campgrounds without the fee.

NFSlogoDeveloped BLM or NFS campgrounds, where you can still have a campfire. Vault toilets, panic tables and fire rings. Use bear boxes when provided for proper food storage.

secluded campgrounds

Below is a good long list of some favorite free developed campgrounds in the Sierras. Many will require dirt road driving, as most are located well of the highway. Perhaps the 12 mile rough road will thin out the crowds. Free overnight stay!

campfirePack in your drinking water and pack out your trash. Campfire permits are not required at developed campgrounds; but a bringing a water bucket and shovel is necessary for tending your campfire. Piped water is not always available, or perhaps, not in working order at these primitive style camps. Be prepared to rough it a little.

Sierra National Forest – Central Sierra

Mammoth Pool Areacamptruck

Granite Creek Camp
Granite Creek Campground

Redinger Lake lakeboatramp
open all year long; no campfires

Redinger Campground

Courtright Reservoirlake
no-fee OHV

Voyager Rock 4×4 Camping

4x4

Huntington Lakelake
no-fee OHV

West Kaiser Camp 4×4

Kaiser Pass Roadlake
no-fee camping

Dinkey Creek Roadlake

Sawmill Flat Campground

Kings River Campgroundfish
free river camping

mosquito_lake
Mosquito Lakes @ Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4

Stanislaus National Forest – Central Sierra

Highway 4 – Ebbetts Passhiker

mosquitoTH

Highway 108 – Sonora Pass

Hwy 120 – West of Yosemite NPcamp
Tuolumne Wild & Scenic River

Eldorado National Forest – Central Sierra

mokelumne camp
Mokelumne Campground

Tahoe National Forest – Northern Sierra

creekcanyon
Canyon Creek, Tahoe NF

Highway 89 – Truckeehiker

Interstate 80 – Donner Pass

French Meadows Reservoircanoe

campsite snag lake
Snag Lake (free) Camping on Gold Lake Highway
secludedcamp
Deane’s Valley Camp, West of Quincy, CA

Plumas National Forest –  Northern Sierra

Brady’s Campcamptruck
Deanes Valley Campground
Grizzly Creek Campground
Rock Creek Campground
Rogers Cow Camp

Silver Lake Campground @ Bucks Lake
Snake Lake Campground

Snake Lake
Snake Lake Campground near Quincy, California

Sequoia National Forest – Southern Sierra

Breckenridge Campground
Forest Rd# 28S06
South of Kern Rivertree_stainglass

Giant Sequoia Area

Kings River Area

Mill Flat Kings River
Mill Flat @ Kings River

see alsoWalk-In Campsites


Best View Camp Sites

view campsite

Great Overlooks for Camping

Best View Camp Site in California 

Overlook Camps, View Spot Camp Sites

This camp list is comprised of primitive camp sites and developed campgrounds with good views overlooking a large area (valley, town, canyon, desert, river, ocean). Many ideal spots may require dirt road driving, and a few might need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to reach.

Prewitt Ridge, Big Sur Coast

We were suggesting this very spot way back in 1999, well before anyone else was ‘blogging’ about it. This area is by far the best, free coastal camping on the Central Coastline of Big Sur. Dirt roads traverse 10 miles out to vacant ridges overlooking the Pacific, with steep hills down to the highway. Camp above the fog layer and above the crowds. Explore the beaches during the day, and camp above the traffic & crowds at night.

Dry brush is abundant on the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Camp fire restrictions should be of utmost concern in this area, since wildfires burn here often. Camp fire permits are required for camping on the back roads, and much of the time camp fires are banned in this region. Call ahead to the rangers to find out the current conditions.

Swinger

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Big Sur Coastline

Two prime walk-in camp sites, on a shady point, high above a beach cove w/ scenic waterfall.

Called “environmental camps” these highly desirable spots need advanced reservations w/ fees many months in advance. Tables, fire rings and a vault toilet. Bare bones basics, but the ideal location is worth it. A forested cliff on the edge of the ocean, high above a secluded cove. This location a can get windy if a storm moves in (generally October – March).

Los Padres National Forest

Kirk Creek Campground
on Highway 1 @ Nacimiento Road
Big Sur CA

Willow Creek Road # 23S01
primitive camping on dirt road, above Hwy 1 @ Gorda, CA

sunset watch

Reyes Peak Camping
North of Ojai, CA
Pine Mountain Summit, CA Hwy 33

Off Cerro Noroeste Road, W of Pine Mountain, CA

Above Santa Maria, Highway 166
West of New Cuyama, CA

  • Miranda Pines Campground @ 4100′ elev
    Located well off hwy. on Road #32S13

Mendocino National Forest

There are several primitive campsites off of M10 with views of chaparral and canyons. Just above Stonyford, CA, on the way up to Fouts Springs. Unfortunately Mendocino National Forest is may be closed for 2019 due Ranch Fire (wildfire 2018) w/ Snow Mountain Wilderness completely 100% burnt.

Planning more scouting of this region summer 2019. Stay tuned.

Angeles National Forest

  • Mount Pacifico Campground
    Angeles Forest Highway
  • Lightning Point Group Campground
    near Jackson Lake @ Hwy 2
Fire Safe Spot
Random ridge spot in Big Sur
john bull camp spot
john bull 4×4 camp

San Bernardino National Forest

Toro Peak Campground Rd# 7S02

toro_campsite

  • San Berdu has more than a few trail camps for 4×4 enthusiasts. Weekends can be busy all year long. Snow usually closes some routes. Pine forest in southern California means very tight campfire restrictions. All yellow post camp sites include table and a fire ring. Campfire permits are required.
  • East ridge line, rocky, dusty, 4WD-only route, the John Bull Trail (near Holcomb Valley) has ONE real awesome view camp spot with great spans over the Mojave desert w/ smog and city lights @ night.
  • Mesa Campground @ Silverwood Lake SRA

I-8 East of San Diego, CA

  • Larkin Campground
    McCain Valley BLM OHV
  • Mar Tar Awa above Viejas Casino
  • Sweetwater Summit Co Park San Diego

I-5 North of San Diego, CA

  • San Elijo Campground, San Elijo State Beach
    Coastal cliffs, overlooking beach and ocean
    Solana Beach, CA

S-22  East San Diego County

Montezuma Grade, overlooking Borrego Springs & Anza Borrego Desert

  • Culp Valleyboulders, primitive camps on dirt roads; better views off-road. Vault toilet. Few tables, no signs. Small campground at the highway is easy to find. Boulders and bouldering. Mountain biking and hiking. Wildflowers in spring.

providence

Interstate 15 & I-40 Mojave Desert

view spot mojave

US Hwy 395 Eastern Sierra

inside Death Valley National Park

  • Mahogany Flat Campground steep dirt road access. Trailhead for tallest peak in the park, Telescope Peak (11,049′ elev)
  • Tucki Mine, 4×4 route. Unmarked dirt road inside Emigrant Canyon, off Wildrose Road.

inside Inyo National Forest

ohridgeview
oh ridge view
    • Coyote Flat @ Pinyon Boulders – 4×4 required, one primitive camp w/ great views overlooking the Owens Valley & peaks to the east. Coyote Flat has views toward the Sierra
    • Oh! Ridge Campground Off the main highway 158, June Lake Loop
      (148 sites @ 7600′ elev.) near June Lake, CA
    • Onion Valley Campground – High Sierra @ 9200′ elevation. Trailhead to Kearsarge Pass. W of Independence, CA

4x4 Camps

Western Sierra Nevada Mountains
Sierra National Forest

cabin rental

NFSsee also – NFS Fire Lookouts & Rental Cabins
many of which have excellent views of the wilderness areas; a hike or climb may be necessary

Colorado River Camping

Multiple riverside RV havens, county parks, and campgrounds near Parker, AZ

Riverside RV parks in Blythe, CA

Riverside RV parks in Lake Havasu, CA

coloradoriverRV
colorado river camping

 


Kirch Flat Campground

Kirch Flat NFS
Camp Kings River

kirch flat

Low elevation Western Sierra: a big river at the beginning of Kings Canyon. Fishing, biking and hiking. The Kings Cyn National Park is directly east, upriver.

Oak woodlands, steep granite canyons, waterfall hikes, rock beaches, river fishing, mountain biking and wildflowers. Day time temperatures get triple-digit in summer months, so best time to visit is the rest of the year. Small RV accessible, paved road, river close – and best of all, open all year long!

flora west sierra

Kirch Flat Campground

Due EAST of Fresno, California in a large river canyon, Western Sierra Nevada
Located 18 miles up Trimmer Springs Road (paved), 5 miles above Pine Flat Lake. Sierra National Forest; River rafting take-out spot for Middle Kings River.

• Elevation: 1100′
• Number of Sites: 17
• Camp Fee: No
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′ max
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: Open Year Round
• Trailheads: Kings River

lowerkings

see also Kings River Camping

nearby destinations –

Big Creek Rd #9
Blackrock Reservoir
Dinkey Creek
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
Fresno, CA
Kings Canyon NP
Monarch Wilderness
Pine Flat Reservoir
Reedley, CA
Shaver Lake, CA
Sierra National Forest
Sequoia NP
Wishon Reservoir

Culp Valley

vegculpvalley

Anza Borrego Camping

Culp Valley Campground

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Southern California, high desert; in between Temecula & Borrego Springs, CA

Culp Valley Primitive Camp Area, Anza Borrego

San Diego Deserts, San Ysidro Mountains
Montezuma Grade
Montezuma Highway, Hwy S-22

High desert elevations, large boulders, highway w/ primitive campground. No trees, but much vegetation; flat parking, large tent spots, picnic tables, vault toilet. High desert mountain pass, with boulders, canyons and many dirt roads to explore.

• Elevation: 3,350′
• Number of Sites: 10
• Vehicle Accessibility: all
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 10 Days
• Season: October – May
• Trailheads: Grapevine Canyon, Pena Springs, Anza Borrego & PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)

culp valley

hike highcountry borrego

Culp Valley Trail, Grapevine Canyon, Montezuma Valley, Pena Springs, San Ysidro Mountains.

  • bouldering
  • camping
  • climbing
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • picnic
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers
  • culptoilet

    2018 Wildfire Walk – Culp Valley
    https://www.parks.ca.gov/Events/Details/9825

    Summit Post for Culp Valley
    https://www.summitpost.org/culp-valley/931432

    culpvalleyOHV
    OHV trails SoCal Deserts

    Sierra NF – Road #9

    sierra10S69

    Sierra National Forest
    Big Creek Road #9

    aka. Rd #10S69

    Connects Pine Flat Reservoir @ Lower Kings River, to upper elevation Sierra forests near Dinkey Creek Road. McKinley Grove of Sequoia

    Sierra Road number 9 is a north turn off of Trimmer Springs Road. Marked as National Forest Rd #10S69, as well as just plain NINE. Big Crk. canyon is after the Maxson Road junction, and before the Balch Camp / Blackrock Reservoir turn off on #11S12. The area is known for abundant wildflowers in the early season.

    dirt road climbs 25+ miles thru Sierra NF

    sierra9

    • back road exploring
    • camping
    • fishing
    • hiking
    • hunting
    • kayaking
    • picnic areas
    • swimming
    • wildflowers
    Tall White Lupine
    Tall White Lupine

    Big Creek Rd 9

    A popular dirt road drive for the western Sierra – Pine Flat Lake region. A forested, south facing canyon in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Big Creek, wide, graded, dirt road w/ primitive camp sites. 4×4 could be needed in wetter months.

    The higher you go on this route, the more pine trees you will experience. Winter weather can close this route. A campfire permit is required to camp along this road.

    The lower part of the canyon has rock features, small waterfalls, swimming holes, picnic spots and sometimes cattle grazing. Several prime unmarked, primitive camp sites along this road – but few and far between. High clearance or 4WD may be needed, depending on road conditions.

    sierra hiker

    Soaproot Saddle Road is a not-so-obvious left fork (dirt, without signs) that leads steeply up away from main road. Climbs a steep hillside, way up above and along Rush Creek; continues for many miles. Less people back this way, if you are seeking seclusion. Few primitive camp sites on right side of road, near where the creek breaks away from road. Good for stargazing way back here. 4×4 may be needed. Road may or may not connect through to desired destination.

    The mid-route climbs into pine forest and the dirt road switchbacks, steeply, with a few more camp sites available; usually found on short side roads off the main road.

    sierra creek camps

    At Sierra #9, a major junction w/ dirt road #10S69, called Dinkey Trimmer Road. This leads way off through the rugged terrain, many miles, over to the pavement at Dinkey Creek Jct – Campground, Trailhead and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness.

    Big Creek will turn left (north), and follows the large Big Creek Canyon. Several steep miles climb up into the dense pine forest, following the creek the whole way. Several prime creekside camp sites fill up fast in this stretch. Great views, steep dirt roads. GPS waypoint these camp driveways – so you can find it next time, (first, before everyone) on Friday, Thursday before midnight.

    Peterson Mill Road is Rd #10S02, found on the left (west) side of Sierra #9. That westbound route becomes pavement half way back to Highway 168. This way is the quickest way from Fresno, out to the developed NFS Bretz Campground.

    Sierra #9 Big Creek Road arrives in the densest of forests. Many camp sites and side routes to explore. Dark, upper elevations, snow lingers long in the shade. 4WD may be needed in wet areas. Mud is quite common MOST of the year in this spot, so know your vehicles capabilities before you get yourself stuck (or stranded). It’s a very long walk to any kinda civilization!

    Hunters like to use these upper camps during hunting season. A camp fire permit is required, so bring your shovel and bucket; self-sufficient campers enjoy the back roads most often.

    wild sierra flora

    Bretz Campground NFS is up here on the main road, number nine. Clock it w/ dash trip meter; 15 miles from the road start @ Pine Flat Lake. Popular with OHV and 4×4 groups. Max RV or trailer length = 24′
    Open all year long; No fee.

    Sierra Forest Road #9 the far north end, enters Blue Canyon @ #10S18, but the Rd #9 route continues NE as Providence Creek Road. Eventually intersecting @ Dinkey Creek Rd w/ Rock Creek & Dinkey Dome closeby. Great granite 4×4 Trail @ Bald Mountain (elev. 7832′) overlooking Shaver Lake.

    Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mtn, above Shaver Lake, CA

    Kings River Camping

    2 tone lupine

    SIERRA MAP
    sierra National Forest map

    places nearby –
    shaver lake map

    Balch Camp (utility & NFS)
    Black Rock Reservoir
    Courtright Reservoir
    Dinkey Creek
    Huntington Lake
    Lakeshore, CA
    Pine Flat Lake
    Shaver Lake, CA
    Trimmer Springs
    Wishon Reservoir

    Kern Flats Camping Free

    chamise flat

    Dispersed Camping Kern River

    boondocking
    primitive camping
    undeveloped sites

    KERNVILLE, CA

    Located north of the small community of Riverkern and south of the Johnsondale Bridge, numerous flat camp spots adjacent to the rivers edge can be found.

    johnsondale bridge @ KERNAnt Canyon Dispersed Area
    Brush Creek Campground
    Calkins Flat Dispersed Area
    Chamise Flat Dispersed Area
    Chico Flat Campground
    Corral Creek Campground
    Springhill Dispersed Area

     

    Kern River Road
    Sierra Way in Kernville travels north along the Upper Kern River & becomes Mountain Hwy 99 – which eventually connects with the Western Divide Highway in Giant Sequoia National Monument.

    California NFS Kern RVing kern campgrounds open camping

    truckcamping

    Dispersed Camping Areas along the Kern River

    Open Year Round! These FREE camp areas are called dispersed camping sites. No pavement, no picnic tables, no bathrooms, no piped water. Portable toilets & trash bins may be available in the busier summer months. Campfire permits are required for all campfires, BBQs, and camp stoves. Fire restrictions are common in extreme dry conditions. 14 day limit on camping.

    Mountain Biking Kernville kern hiking fishing Kern snow Kern

    camping, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, rafting

    Many flats are signed w/ small brown signs, while others are not. Some are actually flat and easy to access, while others are steep, eroded dirt trails unsuitable for RV travel.

    Kelly’s Hole, overgrown, unknown, well-known or burnt beyond recognition? Roads End is no more.

    Camp sites listed on this page are dispersed camping areas around the Kern River Area. Not all camp spots are listed, cuz many are unnamed. Bring your GPS to mark your favorite camp sites and you can arrive in the dark, late at night, anytime, (avoiding city traffic after work).

    chamise pre-wildfire

    Several spots known as “dirt flats” are easy accessible right off the pavement of Sierra Way. Primitive river camping, fishing spots and raft launch areas north of town. Vault toilets might be available during busy summer months, but you’re on your own the remainder of the year. Bring a shovel and take a hike, away from the water flow. And if that sounds like too much work for a potty break, maybe you are not cut out for the primitive kinda camping style. No garbage service either: pack it in, pack it out.

    Wildflowers are abundant in the Kern Canyon nearly every Spring season (April & May), which is a popular time to enjoy this region. Autumn brings minimal fall colors to this dry, desert mountainous landscape, but the fishing is decent at that time of year.

    campfiresCAMPING OUTSIDE OF CAMPGROUND means you must obtain a free fire permit from the local rangers. Sometimes these dispersed spots are fire-safe areas, and you are allowed to have camp fires. Other times campfire restrictions are in place w/ wildfire dangers too extreme and no fires are allowed, anywhere. (Not even inside a developed campground!)

    Kern RV spot

    river Kern WILDERNESS NOTE: The USDA National Forests web site states that “Camping and campfires within 25 feet of the water’s edge is prohibited due to the Wild and Scenic Designation”, but that doesn’t seem to stop some from setting up right on the fragile rivers edge. Doubtful that this rule is being enforced by the rangers, but consider yourself warned unless they start to get serious about this restriction. Many believe that the free camping along the Kern river is destroying it, so don’t be surprised if these areas get closed or barriers placed at the flats.

    Caulkins FLAT has some new boulder barriers put in place which prevent cars from reaching certain ideal camp spots (right at the waters edge). Tough luck. Now we have to hike more.

    California rivers

    kern flat camping

    Upper Kern River
    North of Kernville, CA

    all camps below listed from south to north

    ALL CAPS = developed campgrounds managed by US Forest Service, w/ links to Kern River Campgrounds. California NFS

    HEADQUARTERS CAMPGROUND (NFS)

    Both Halfway & Thunderbird used to be dispersed camps, but they were converted to reservation-only Group Campgrounds by the National Forest in 2014

    Chico Flat
    2500′ elev
    Just south of Hospital Flat Campground.
    This camp area is known as “Chico Flat Campground” on GoogleMaps.

    HOSPITAL FLAT CAMPGROUND (NFS)

    Corral Creek
    3200′ elev
    Hike to Corral Creek Beach & Picnic Area.
    This camp area is known as “Corral Creek Campground” on GoogleMaps.

    Spring Hill
    This camping area is marked as “Upper Springhill Campground & “Lower Springhill Campground” on GoogleMaps.

    GOLD LEDGE CAMPGROUND (NFS)

    Ant Canyon
    Just north of Goldledge Campground, along the Upper Kern River.
    South of Salmon Creek; Hike to Salmon Creek Falls.

    Chamise Flatchamisespot
    12 miles north of Kernville, CA
    This camping bluff could be the most forested of all the ‘kern flat’ camping areas, but river is a short hike down a very steep cliff. Fishing is excellent in this stretch.

    Calkins Flat
    15 miles north of Kernville, along the Upper Kern River. Just south of Fairview (McNalley’s). Sign at the location reads a different spelling of “Caulkins Flat”. Kayak and rafting put-in spot. One of the best sites for large groups. Area is also known as simply “Lower Campground” on GoogleMap.

    free kern river camp

    FAIRVIEW CAMPGROUND (NFS)

    LIMESTONE CAMPGROUND (NFS)

    Brush Creek
    3600′ elev
    Just south of Sherman’s Pass Road turnoff. This place also serves as a Day Use Area, where Brush Creek meets the Kern. Kayaking put in spot. Popular fishing area. Large open dirt parking lot with a vault toilet.

     

     

    California rivers

    Lower Kern River
    Southwest of Kernville, CA

    Lake Isabella has some shoreline camping with wide open access to the lake. Paradise Cove perhaps?

    Historic Keyesville – “off-roaders camping paradise” along the river, but no swimming is allowed due to the extremely dangerous section of river. OHV trails lead (west) down river for many miles. Dirt bikes love the rugged boulder-scapes and steep hills. FREE camping; BLM Kern.

    SANDY FLAT CAMPGROUND (NFS) – Open all year long! Terraced & paved hillside with numerous camp sites and plenty of room to spread out. RV campers like this location, due to the proximity to Hwy 178. elev 2300

    HOBO CAMPGROUND (NFS)

    Remington

    Remington Hot Springs can be a zoo at times w/ the amount of people who love to stop here. A busy dirt parking lot, right across from the Remington trailhead sign. Many vehicles park here daily for day hikes, hot springs, fishing – and people also like to camp out, although camp sites are on slopes (not ideal), only a few and they fill up fast (before sunset).

    Total Escape TIP: The very best camps at Remington are actually the ones you hafta hike down to. Less than a half mile down to the rivers edge to find a private mini beach. Pack light and arrive prepared to walk several miles (back & forth, several times).

    Old Kern Canyon Road parallels Sierra Highway 178 and sits well above the river, so any flat spots you find will have great views w/ minimal river access.

    Lower Kern River
    Lower Kern River has very limited camping options.

    Silver Lake @ Bucks

    Silver Lake from Above

    Silver Lake @ Bucks Lake Wilderness

    (Plumas Co)

    Plumas Road #24N29, off Bucks Lake Road
    East of Bucks Lake, California.
    a six mile, one lane, dirt road is the only vehicle access into this high elevation, dammed reservoir, tucked back against the wilderness. Secluded lake campsites await, you’ll just need to get a little dusty first. The turn off, at a small brown sign reading “Silver Lake”, one which is very easy to miss – due to the amount of homes, cabins, fencing and driveways in the vicinity.

    bucks trailhead

    Bucks Lake Wilderness
    Plumas National Forest

    All Bucks Lake Campgrounds

    Kayaker @ Silver Lake

    No swimming allowed at this Silver Lake, as it serves as a drinking water source for the neighborhoods below. Canoe & kayaking are allowed. Fishing is also popular at this location. Hiking trailheads at Silver Lake lead to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), Mount Pleasant, Spanish Peak and a small gem of a swimming hole, we call mini Gold Lake.

    Bucks Lake Wilderness Map

    FREE Campground @ Silver Lake, near Quincy, CA

    This small campground is actually set downhill from the rock earthen dam, which is something to ponder before/during a big earthquake. With sites 1-5 in a shady forest area and the others a bit closer to the lake, no campsite is too close to another. These are all well-spaced-out sites, providing decent privacy and minimal noise from neighboring campers. No campsites are located at the lake edge, as the rocky dam is a long structure and quite complex with water control measures.

    All the campsites have new bear boxes for food storage, cuz ‘wilderness’ usually means black bears are roaming about. Deer tend to frequent campsites 1 & 2.

    silver camp 5

    Silver Lake Campground NFS

    campground

    • Elevation: 5800′
    • Number of Sites: 9
    • Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
    • Campsite Reservations: No
    • Camp Fee: No
    • Toilet: Vault
    • Water: No piped/potable
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: May – October
    • Trailheads: PCT, Gold Lake, Rock Lake, Granite Gap, Bucks Lake Wilderness

    silverbackdrop

    As with most of the high elevation lakes in California, winter months can mean deep snow and dirt road closures. This campground is usually open through the end of October, but call head to the local rangers if in doubt.

    Plumas National Forest
    Mt. Hough Ranger District
    39696 State Highway 70
    Quincy, CA 95971
    530-283-0555

    See all Silver Lakes in California

    Lake Mohave

    viewpoint mohave

    Lake Mohave NRA

    Lake Mohave National Recreation Area

    Mojave Reservoir @ Colorado River: AZ / NV / CA
    @ the V, bottom of Nevada state = Arizona – Nevada – California, all merge together

    National Park Service

    The Colorado River travels through the southwest desert, splitting the Grand Canyon and further south, separating California from Arizona at the southern tip of Nevada. Agriculture lines the big river down to Baja, Sea of Cortez, Mexico.

    Up near Las Vegas and down to Searchlight, NV

    Above Hoover Dam is Lake Mead, sediment from Utah National Parks. Red dirt and silt shorelines. South of Hoover dam is a super deep rock gorge w/ hike-in hot springs. Beyond that, this beauty called Lake Mohave – with the super clear water, secluded coves and abundant fishingfish

    Lake Mohave: elevation 647′

    Desert peaks in this region are around 2000-3000′ elevation. Mohave Lake is actually a wide section of the Colorado River, spanning the region from massive Black Canyon south to busy Laughlin w/ river casinos. This lake is long and skinny in spots with lots of shoreline cliffs, canyons and coves. Minimal vegetation, so please bring your own firewood and don’t chop down the few trees trying to survive. Summer temps exceed 100 degrees, so plan your visit for the winter time.

    boatrampLake Mohave Ranger Stations
    Cottonwood Cove
    Katherine Landing

    boating, camping, fishing, hiking, hot springs, kayaking, off-road, picnics, viewpoints

    camping areas below listed from north to south

    Willow Beach RV Park & Campground
    Arizona side, off Hwy 93
    928-767-4747

    car camp mohave

    El DORADO CANYON

    El Dorado Canyon Road, main paved route can be accessed near California’s state border. North of Searchlight, Nevada – off main highway 95, on side route 165 to Nelson, NV

    Secluded dirt roads up and down canyons near El Dorado Canyon Rd. Minimal vegetation, maximum open scenery and dark skies. Kayak rentals @ El Dorado Canyon.

    desert badlands erosion

    deep washes
    Ireteba Peaks Wilderness

    4×4 camping routes: 15 day camping limit

    Find your own route with many to choose from, drive the soft sandy washes (with a few boulders to dodge) and camp for free, right at the waters edge. Adventurers: Only for the self-contained campers. Some routes marked 4WD only, so pay attention to signs. AWD (all wheel drive) vehicles should fare well on the sandy roads; but standard passenger cars and vans will need to keep their speed up in the soft sand areas.

    No garbage collection. Pack it in, pack it out.
    No facilities, no fees. No buildings. No campfire rings, no picnic tables, very few vault toilets. Bring your shovel!

    Driving off the roads is strictly prohibited. Primitive camp sites can be found both at numerous coves and also inland inside the canyons. The ridges get windy in the deserts, but are favorable for night sky views and self contained camper vans.

    Always know the weather forecast, cuz flash floods are possible and these dirt roads will be impassible during big rain. This is the main drainage to the big river!

    Dogs Allowed

    DRIVING TIPS

    Most desert washes here are signed routes 4×4, but mini vans, AWD sport-wagons, trucks, SUVs, small RVs can all be found camping near Lake Mohave. That is – if you know how to ‘drive off road’, which is not fast, but not too slow either.

    Avoid getting stuck in the deep sand: keep speed up, do not turn sharply and do not brake hard. Carry tow strap in case you need an emergency pull. Be nice to strangers and you may find help.

    Campfires are allowed, but you need to bring firewood. Dogs are allowed. Party animals tend to trash these desert coves, so be warned that there is a fair amount of litter. Bring a black trash bag and take some out! This trash problem could get the area closed off to vehicles so keep that in mind.

    The canyons here have giant power lines that cross @ Aztec Wash; they can easily be avoided.

    montana wash

    primitive camping 4x4 camping boat camping

    4×4 recommended @ MOHAVE:

    Eagle Wash Road #46 – popular spot
    Montana Wash #45 – camping ok
    Placer Wash #47 – no camping

    The rangers don’t wanna be pulling your ass out of the sand, which is why they post the 4×4 signs. Don’t expect to find help without walking a few miles first, or waiting several hours.

     

    desert wilderness

    Several wilderness areas are located along the west side of this lake & river. Often dirt roads will parallel a portion of the wilderness boundary, providing excellent access to secluded coves and beaches. Emergency CALL boxes are placed in remote parts of these shores.

    • Ireteba Peaks Wilderness (northwest, next to El Dorado Canyon)
    • Nellis Wash Wilderness (western side)
    • Spirit Mountain Wilderness (southwest)
    • Bridge Canyon Wilderness (southwest, near Laughlin)

    mohave2011

    RV camp campground marina

    COTTONWOOD COVE
    developed campground, boat launch, marina, lodging, hiking, picnic areas

    Cottonwood Cove Resort
    near Searchlight, NV
    702-297-1464

    primitive camping boat camping RV camp campground marina

    LAUGHLIN, NV
    Nevada, California and Arizona states join down in this part of the world. Katherine Landing, full service marina, slip rentals, lodging, city services and casinos.

    Lake Mohave Resort
    928-754-3245

    katherine landing camping
    Katherine Landing offers back roads camping, via rough dirt roads.
    Laughlin Marina
    Laughlin Marina @ Katherine

    Lake Mohave NRA
    NPS Headquartersnevada_atlas
    601 Nevada Way
    Boulder City, NV 89005
    Visitor Center open daily
    702-293-8990

    maps of the region:

    covecamps

    Mojave Desert – This river-created lake is located on the Colorado River, in between Las Vegas, Nevada and Needles, California. The river water here is crystal clear, very swimmable and the fishing is decent.  No paved boat rampsclearest water

    nearby towns: (with elevation)

    Avi Casino
    Bullhead City, AZ (540′)
    Laughlin, NV (535′)
    Kingman, AZ (3340′)
    Needles, CA
    Nelson, NV (2954′)
    Nipton, CA (3042′)
    Oatman, AZ
    Searchlight, NV (3470′)


    Snake Lake California

    Snake Lake Campground

    Snake Lake Campground, Plumas NF

    Don’t let the name frighten you, Snake Lake is a very scenic fishing lake – but you will NOT want to swim in it. Lily pads cover the water surface most of the year so it is considered “frog heaven” during the warmer months. NFS has been upgrading these camping facilities recently. Snake Lake Campground has new picnic tables, camp fire rings, bear boxes, vault toilet and expanded equestrian camps and corrals. No piped water, so bring your own. A bucket & shovel are always required for proper campfire maintenance.

    morninglakeview

    One of the best free campgrounds in the region, Plumas National Forest and close to Quincy, CA. Paved road access means an easy 3 miles off the main road (Bucks Lake Road, aka Oroville-Quincy Highway, Oro Quincy Hwy). 7 miles west of the town of Quincy, the green, metal, one-lane bridge is easy to spot, but the small sign for “Snake Lake 3” is easy to miss, if driving 50 mph or faster. Turn off is located in between Quincy and Meadow Valley.

    New Signs

    Horse Camping

    Equestrian camp sites, horse corrals, OHV trails, group picnic areas. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, off roading, horseback trails, kayaking or canoe.

    Snake Lake Campground
    • Elevation: 4200′
    • Number of Sites: 17
    • Vehicle Accessibility: small RV
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Camp Fee: No
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: May – October
    • Trailheads: OHV, Horse & Winter Rec

    This lake camp serves as a central hub for travelers, motorcyclists, campers, hikers, fishermen, off roaders and equestrians alike. Mountain biking & OHV trails go off in numerous directions and horseback trails are readily accessible. Winter Recreation Area means snowmobile trails too.

    Another smaller lake, Smith Lake, is a short drive or short hike (on dirt road) further into the woods, with the Butterfly Valley Botanical Area neighboring it.

    Another SNAKE LAKE exist inside Plumas National Forest. The smaller Snake lake can be accessed by off-road trail Road#12E66, off the Gold Lake Highway; 4×4 is required to reach this one. West of Gold Lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The PCT is routed nearby one mile away.

    middayblue

    Dispersed Camping Sequoia

    bone creek

    Sequoia maps

    Open Camping in Sequoia National Forest – Forest Road Camping

    Seeking secluded campsites? This is one of the best areas to camp in pine forest w/ privacy, relatively close to Southern California. Plenty of primitive car camping on the dirt roads throughout this whole Sequoia & Kern River area.

    nfs primitive back roads mountain biking hiking mountains

    No facilities. No picnic tables, no toilet, no fees. Just a rock campfire ring & a clearing. Previously used sites have already been established usually near streams. Try to use these first, if at all possible. It takes a bit of exploring but you will find the perfect spot. Don’t even attempt to try to find these kinds of camp spots at night. They are often buried deep in the forest with no visible markers what-so-ever. But in trade, you will be lulled to sleep by your own private mini waterfall & no RV generators. Many of these back roads are closed & gated during winter months due to snow & rock slides.

    No amenities are available in this neck of the woods, but plenty of seclusion & wilderness. Check official Wilderness rules for proper knowledge of the area restrictions. You must get a free camp fire permit from the ranger station in order to build a fire outside of a developed campground. A large shovel, plus bucket w/ water are a bare minimum for the privilege of camping like this. Certain dry seasons (summers into autumn) have very strict camp fire restrictions. Check with the ranger to see the latest on building campfires on the back roads. camping

    A Sequoia Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. There are so many dirt roads for dispersed primitive camping on the back roads. Due to weather & erosion, some roads may require 4×4 or high clearance, so come prepared with a plan B.

    Camping Checklist to make sure you’ll have what you need. The drive up from the Los Angeles area averages 3-4 hours and is well worth the trip. Once you’ve found that perfect spot, take detailed note of it, for the next time you visit the area. Then, you will be able to get there easily in the middle of the night, if need be.

    Backroad Camping Sequoia: Follow the forest road numbers with your Sequoia map to discover amazing back road camping options. Your own private stream or meadow. Secluded campsites with your own mini waterfall.

    overview

    see also –
    Sequoia Campground Camping

    monache mdw

    Chimney Creek Campground

    campmap

    Chimney Creek Campground
    BLM Kern / Mojave

    High mountain desert camp is mislabeled on some maps as “Chimney Peak Campground” or “Chimney Rock Campground”. Pinyon pine forest on Chimney Creek, near hiking trailheads, wildflowers and Chimney Peak Wilderness. Southern Sierra ridge near Mojave Desert and California SR 178.

    peakpinyons

    Canebrake Road is a graded dirt road that makes up part of Chimney Peak Back Country Byway. This rural route is a major graded dirt road located north of Highway 178 – which connects Canebrake to Long Valley up near Kennedy Meadows. Pacific Crest Trail passes next to this campground in the Southern Sierra mountains. The campground turn off is way east of Lake Isabella Hwy 178 is (near Walker Pass & PCT) and follow dirt road north to Kennedy Meadows in the far eastern reaches of Sequoia National Forest

    Chimney Peak BLM
    • Elevation: 5,700′
    • Number of Sites: 32
    • Camping Reservations: No
    • Sites Available: First come, First serve
    • Vehicle Accessibility: RV limit 28′ max
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Water: Piped (April – Sept)
    • Toilet: Vault
    • Season: Open all year
    • Fee: No
    • Operated By: BLM
    • Closest Town: Lake Isabella, CA

    Bureau of Land Management
    BLM Bakersfield Ranger Station
    661-391-6000

    Lamont Peak
    Lamont Peak – elev 7510′

    nearby destinations –
    Camp Kern Backroads

    Chimney Peak Wilderness
    Lamont Peak
    Long Valley Campground
    Dome Land Wilderness
    Owens Peak Wilderness
    Jawbone Canyon
    Sequoia National Forest
    Sacatar Trail Wilderness
    Kiavah Wilderness
    Kennedy Meadows
    Lake Isabella
    Kern River
    Monache Meadows


    View Chimney Creek Campground in a larger map

    Sawmill Lake Sierra

    primitive camp spots

    Sawmill Lake, California


    N of Donner Pass, Sierra Nevada

    elevation 5800′Canyon Creek connects Lake Faucherie, Sawmill Lake and Bowman Reservoir in the Sierra, Tahoe National Forest. 20+ miles of backroad travel, off I-80.

    While many consider Faucherie to be the most beautiful scenic lake, Sawmill Lake just downstream a couple of miles is still quite attractive – with dense forests and a granite mountain backdrop. Sawmill is especially nice for those who like to primitive camp, ouside of developed campgrounds. Way off the interstate @ Hwy 20, tucked in way back behind Bowman Lake a few miles, you can find Sawmill Lake.

    Sawmill Lake California

    Fishing and camping, kayaking and canoeing are all popular recreation around this lake. A trailhead on the northend of the lake leads out to even more alpine lakes (a day hike “lake loop” or backpacking option). The Pacific Crest Trail is also routed nearby.

    No motorized boats or watercraft allowed. No boat ramps, no pavement, no picnic tables, no bathrooms, no fees.

    4×4 Lake
    Fishing Lake
    Free Camping Lake

    The north shoreline is abundant with dispersed campsites: metal fire rings and a clearing only; no picnic tables, no toilets. Self sufficient campers only. Campfire permits, a water bucket and a shovel are required. During extreme fire restrictions campfires may not be allowed. Check with local rangers for up to date info.

    Tahoe National Forest
    Truckee Ranger Station
    530-587-3558

    National Forest Lake & Forest Lake Fishing Kayak lake hiking lake

    Most campsites are drive up and park, while others closer to the shoreline have only walk-in access. Hauling your gear down hill won’t seem unthinkable once you’ve seen the lakeside views. There is even a camp below the dam, next to the waterfall.

    waterfallfromdam

    The main access Road #843-037 is very rocky and 4x4s love to frequent the area. The backroads here are best suite for truck travel, high clearance vehicles, off-roaders and SUVs. No small RVs or trailers. Passenger cars are not recommended. The access roads around the lake and up to the lake are dusty and rugged. The road below the dam is quite rough w/ rocks.

    For more driving details, please see entry on Canyon Creek Campground.

    road at dam
    The water at Sawmill Lake is crystal clear snowmelt. The lakes around here are managed by Nevada Irrigation District, so this is why there are no engines allowed on the lake. This canyon area closes to public entry during winter months (NOV-APRIL), due to deep snow.

    clear water

    Canyon Creek Campground

    Tucked way back in the granite high elevations, near Donner Pass is a wilderness water flow called Canyon Creek. Connecting small lakes and big reservoir, this creek is part of the Nevada District water supply. The Sierra Nevada region is Tahoe National Forest and the terrain is abundant rock.

    Campground is perched on the edge of rock overlooking the impressive whitewater; sounds of crashing water at certain campsites is deafening. Half of the campsites are located in a forest loop and the rest are out in the open, with much granite and fewer trees, perfect for star watchers. All campsites have new bear boxes – for proper food storage in black bear country.

    Canyon Creek California

    creekcanyon

    Lake Faucherie is a mile up the creek and Sawmill Lake is a mile down stream, so it’s a great fishing location, as well as hiking, kayaking and canoeing destination. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is also routed close by. A hiking trailhead at the north end of Sawmill Lake leads to a loop hike of small lakes.

    Tahoe Rd 843

    roughest roads in the region

    Campground loop is paved, but the 12+ mile access road is NOT.
    Twenty plus miles of paved & gravel backroads in boulder-hopping bliss, leads to granite lined lakes and forested campsites. Two different driving routes into this canyon:

  • One is the longer way Road 18 – paved access off of Gold Country Highway 20, which becomes an 8 mile long, rocky, rough, one-lane road around Bowman Lake.
  • The other is slightly shorter, county road #843 that comes in the back way from Jackson Meadow Reservoir (off Hwy 89, N of Truckee).
  • Both of these primitive roads join at Jackson Creek Campground, a favorite among off-roaders.

    Canyon Creek Campground is another few miles up Road ##843-037, a rugged canyon route towards Lake Faucherie, where the road comes to a dead end.

    Don’t let the old maps fool you: these National Forest Roads are labeled as gravel roads, but boulders and rock slides are quite common. 4×4 would be nice, but high clearance is recommended.

    Minimal signs designate trails, roads and lake access; What signs that do exist are old, faded and broken. No warning signage reading ‘high clearance’ or ‘4WD recommended’ – so obviously Tahoe NF won’t be installing new signs anytime soon.

    Grassy Picnic Faucherie Lake

    Faucherie, Sawmill and Bowman Lakes are all along this waterway called Canyon Creek.

    Latitude: 39.436863
    Longitude: -120.579564
    Canyon Creek Campground

    • Elevation: 6000′
    • Number of Sites: 20
    • Toilet: Vault
    • Vehicle Access: High Clearance Vehicle, no trailers
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Camp Fee: No
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: June – October
    • Trailheads: Faucherie & Sawmill Lakes

    Small Site

    Canyon Creek Campground is an excellent campground for staying away from the crowds, which seem to focus more around Bowman Lake & Jackson Meadows Reservoir.

    granite camp

    Prefer camping outside of developed campgrounds? then the primitive camp sites that line Canyon Creek will be a welcomed surprise. Most are clearly marked with small signs and some may require 4×4 to access. When fire restrictions are tight, campfires are only allowed in the developed campgrounds.

    granite loop

    Nettle Springs Campground

    Nettle Springs

    Apache Canyon Campsites

    Cuyama Camping near Highway 33

    Los Padres National Forest 

    Way back off there beyond the boonies, 10 miles on a bumpy dirt road #8N06, and far from the pavement. Seclusion, peace and quiet, plus privacy is what this canyon can offer. This small campground is rarely busy, unless a huge family or hunting group has taken over camp. Most of the time it’s so quiet you can hear the wind in the trees, birds chirping and bugs buzzing.

    N of Ojai (about an hour), scenic drive Highway 33 N of Ozena @ Lockwood is a little-known signed route called Apache Canyon. Los Padres Road #8N06 leads from the south end of Cuyama River Valley east to the dead end badlands canyon w/ Nettle Springs Camp. OHV trails and Chumash Wilderness access.

    Elevation: 4,400′
    Number of Sites: 8
    Camping Reservations: No
    Sites Available: First come, First serve
    Vehicle Accessibility: small RV ok
    Length of Stay: 14 Days
    Water: No Piped; seasonal creek iffy
    Toilet: Vault
    Season: Open all year
    Fee: No
    Operated By: National Forest Service
    Closest Towns: Frazier Park, CA & Ojai, CA

    Los Padres National Forest
    Lockwood Ranger Station
    661-245-3731

    Secluded Campground and Spacious Camp Sites