Tag Archives: roads

Campgrounds in Mendocino

Mendocino Campgrounds

Camping in Northern California / Camp Mendo

foutspicnic

2018 & 2019
Hit especially hard by wildfires recently. Certain campgrounds and roads are closed to the public, due to the significant fire damage.

Mendocino National Forest has an abundance of small campgrounds and 4×4 camps, many of which, due to snow & elevation, can only be accessed in summer months. Many developed campgrounds are located on dirt roads, so know the road conditions before you get out there.

NOTE: all camps 2000′ elevation or lower are OPEN ALL YEAR LONG
Red text for OHV = off road use, dirt bikes, quads, 4x4s, trailers.

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Atchison Campground 4300′ 6 mixed yes creek road# 22N11
dispersed
Bear Creek Campground 2000′ 16 yes creek CLOSED
Cedar Camp Campground 4300′ 5 pines yes no No trailers, June-Oct
Davis Flat Campground 1700′ 28 vault no Fouts Springs OHV
Deer Valley Campground 3700′ 13 yes no Upper Lake
OHV
Dixie Glade Campground 3700′ 8 mixed yes no CLOSED
Eel River Campground 1500′ 16 oaks vault piped bike trails
Fouts Campground 1700′ 11 mixed vault piped Fouts Springs OHV
Georges Valley Campground 5000′ 3 no no Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Green Springs Campground 6000′ 4 pines yes spring Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Hammerhorn Lake Campground 3500′ 9 pines vault piped 1 handicap spot
Howard Lake Campground 3500′ 12 vault lake high clearance vehicle
Kingsley Glade Campground 4500′ 4 vault piped June-Oct
Letts Lake Campground 4500′ 44 no CLOSED
Little Doe Campground 3600′ 13 pines vault no June-Oct
Little Stony Campground 1500′ 8 pines vault no OHV trails
Lower Nye Campground 3300′ 6 mixed vault no May-Sept
Middle Creek Campground 2000′ 12 yes no Upper Lake
OHV
Mill Creek Campground 1700′ 5 yes no Fouts Springs OHV
Mill Valley Campground 4200′ 16 vault piped OHV trails
Navy Camp Campground 1800′ 20 vault piped PG&E Camp @
Lake Pillsbury
North Fork Campground 1700′ 10 oaks yes creek Snow Mountain
Oak Flat Campground 1700′ 12 pines yes no Lake Pillsbury
Old Mill Campground 3700′ 10 pines yes no narrow road
Plaskett Meadows Campground 6000′ 35 pines yes piped Plaskett Ridge
Penny Pines Campground 3600′ 5 pines yes piped Upper Lake OHV
Pogie Point Campground 1900′ 50 oaks yes piped Lake Pillsbury
Soldier Ridge Campground 6000′ 3 no no Yolla Bolly Wilderness
South Fork Campground 1700′ 4 vault creek Stony Creek, OHV
Sugar Spring Campground 5400′ 3 vault no Burnt Creek / Eel River
Sugarfoot Glade Campground 4200′ 4 mixed vault creek May-Nov
Sunset Campground 1800′ 54 mixed vault creek May-Nov
Surveyor Camp 3900′ 2 yes no OHV, Rd# 7
Sycamore Grove Camp 300′ 30 mixed yes no Red Bluff,
open all yr
Three Prong Campground 4800′ 6 pine vault piped June-Oct
Wells Cabin Campground 6300′ 15 pines vault piped July-Oct
Whitlock Campground 4300′ 4 mixed vault piped June-Oct

OFF-ROADERS NOTE: 3 OHV camps are located in higher elevations; the rest are 2000′ or lower and open year round. Always check with National Forest for road closures and conditions.

Mill Creek Camp @ Mendo
Mill Creek Camp @ Fouts Springs

Mendocino Ranger Stations can be found on link below

NFSMendocino National Forest

 

MENDO GROUP CAMPGROUNDS
(reservations required)

GRAY PINE GROUP CAMP @ Stonyford

MASTERSON GROUP CAMP @  Plaskett Lakegroup campground

multiuse_sign

cement_table

group camps Mendocino

Mendocino & North Coast Maps

Anza Borrego 4×4 Trails

anzawashes

Being the largest State Park inside California, Anza Borrego has certain advantages. Lots of land to explore, abundant dirt roads, free camping and a very diverse terrain. Located in SoCal, this desert has lots to offer the outdoor enthusiasts, all year round.

Anza Borrego Desert

with hundreds of miles of dirt roads to explore

SUV / 2WD / AWD / 4WD / 4×4 / OHV

The Anza Borrego desert, in east San Diego County, is quite large and very easily accessible from Southern California. The park spans mid-elevation, mountain foothills (3000′ elevation) down to dry lake beds near sea level. Large, vast and varied terrain – and full of vegetation in certain spots. Borrego Desert Wildflower blooms attract thousands of visitors between March-May each Spring.

Borrego Valley

Wildflower Camping

 

While the majority of the dirt roads inside the ANZA DESERT are passable with a regular passenger car (on most days), some specific areas and routes are indeed considered “too hairy” and may require a 4 wheel drive. Rains change landscape fast in this region, so know before you go.

FLASH FOOD WARNING: Wet weather (anywhere nearby) can make a mild, soft, sandy wash into a wild, flowing river. On occasion desert washes are ‘washed out’ during big rain, often becoming mini rivers that can swallow your vehicle; Road and weather conditions can change suddenly in the California deserts. Wind can also play a huge factor in a selecting a decent camp site. Know the weather report in advance and always be on the watch for big clouds on mountains to the west.

Deep sand washes, steep sandy hillsides, boulder passes, rock yards to boulder hopping, soggy bottoms to straddling ruts, the deserts of SoCal are indeed fun and challenging. Enjoy your public lands responsibly and pick up some litter, stay on the trail and do not target shoot inside park boundaries.

To find these off-roading areas: OHV routes, camp areas and gear heads galore. Or try avoid them. Keep reading.

the well known spots

 OHV routes

Anza Borrego Desert State Park itself is NOT AN OFF ROAD PARK. If you want the free-for-all, open, OFF-ROAD areas, with sand dunes and terrain to explore, then the list above should help. Some places can be secluded and private for camping, and only one Jeep may pass by (for the whole weekend).

On the other end of the spectrum, most OHV camping areas are closer to paved routes and busy w/ motorized activity. On weekends, traffic, events and crowds are the norm.  ATV, dirt bikes, buggies, quads, jeeps, families, RVs. Often, a big noisy scene.

Seeking to travel to distant places to avoid crowds? then this site can help point to the best destinations. Follow links, browse images, get a decent topo map – and discover private desert camping for free.

Canyon Sin Nombre
Bad land canyons, easy SUV exploring – off of San Diego Co Road S-2

other awesome anza trails & canyons

most w/ 2WD access; high clearance vehicle is preferred (and as usual, 4WD may be needed in storm conditions). Not all 4×4 routes will be signed. Signs get washed away in desert areas, so don’t count on them. Have a good hard-copy, topo map handy – just in case.

culpvalleyOHV
Out exploring the Culp Valley Area, one fine Sunday afternoon.

Anza Borrego Desert Maps

Tom Harrison Anza MAPSDBKCO Recreation Map

The Tom Harrison Map of Anza Borrego Desert is actually called the San Diego Backcountry Recreation Map and is by far the best seller of the region.

hike anza

Wilderness Anza Borrego Map

Wilderness Press makes an excellent topographic map for the Borrego Desert, with all the details on terrain and info for camping, hiking & off roading.

MORE AREA MAPS

The infamous west coast backpacking route, the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail runs above the desert (a few thousand feet), on the ridges of Mount Laguna.

Cleveland National Forest borders the west side of Anza Borrego Desert, on the rugged steep slopes of the big mountains (7000′ elev). More Maps links are provided:

Diablo Drop
The Diablo Drop

Muck to Stagecoach
Wetlands in the desert? Not that rare, water does flow downhill. Some established well-traveled roads may have added gravel to the soggy marsh areas, but many water crossings are bare, and vulnerable to erosion. Try to avoid driving in and around water. DRIVE SLOW through water where route crossing is obvious. Wildlife need these water sources to survive, so don’t muck it up.

Palm canyons and large boulders are numerous in this desert, water sources scarce. Camping near palms can be limited to walking distance. Several palm oasis camps along San Diego County Road S-2, some RV accessible. Even the county-run Hot Springs Park has some palms. Of course, Palm Canyon is the State Park Campground. Visitors Center headquarters in downtown Borrego Springs has the most popular hikes, hotels, restaurants, with abundant campground camping. Very walk-able town. Super hot during summer, triple digits!

back roads: weekends

Weekends are always busier than week days, in general, all over Cali. Keep that in mind when seeking seclusion. Camping in Anza Borrego desert is always best at least 2 miles off the pavement, well away from the traffic on the highway and for those masses seeking the easy camping.

Campfires require a metal bucket in Anza!
Campfires always require a metal bucket in Anza!

camping back roads

OPEN-CAMPING: camping outside of developed campgrounds, also referred to as ‘primitive camping’ is quite common in Anza Borrego desert. Many Borrego Camping Areas are accessible with regular cars, close to main roads and usually have no bath rooms, or facilities. The further you drive from the pavement, the more likely you are to encounter obstacles like boulders, deep ruts, soft sand and uneven terrain.

Campgrounds Find Campgrounds & freebie spots in Borrego, CA

 

A top the Slot

nearby towns:

other off-road areas in the vicinity

wilderness areas in the vicinity

  • Anza Borrego Desert State Wilderness
  • Jacumba Mountains Wilderness

Mecca Box Canyon


7S02 – San Berdu NF

Fire Safe Trees

Toro Peak
Forest Road# 7S02

Santa Rosa Truck Trail
San Bernardino National Forest

South of Palm Desert, CA
Southeast of Idyllwild, CA
SE of Lake Hemet
Graded dirt road – southbound, off Palms to Pines Hwy 74

7S02 up hill

Road conditions on dirt roads change with the weather and the seasons. This route can be rocky and uneven in spots. One lane road, on a big hill w/ minimal pullouts. Snow is possible, during winter & springtime. This route often closed during winter months – or for rock slides. Trailers and RVs are not recommended on this dirt road, although small motorhome campers can try.

ROUTE CURRENTLY CLOSED? find out on USDA web site link

Elevation approx 6000′ @ HWY
w / route continuing up to Toro Peak @ 8740′NFS

NFS local camp sites: 

  • Santa Rosa Campground
  • Santa Rosa Springs Campground
  • Toro Campground

Bare bones, primitive camp sites. Tables, fire rings. Must have a campfire permit for this region. Vault toilets? None.

toro_campsite

Did I mention the wind yet? Tall trees do block a majority of the wind, but some areas get whipping – so choose your tent site wisely. And stake it down well, before that quick day hike. Since this is a mountain ridge line, expect thunderstorms, wind and possibly light snow.

The big, famous Palm Canyon in Palm Springs starts below. The impressive desert canyon trails lead up to highway 74. Continue on foot uphill, southbound, cross the pavement, and end up in this Toro Peak region. Small campgrounds, few people, great views over the desert. Pick a smog free weekend (with wind) for best Coachella Valley views.

San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal
San Berdu Idyllwild SoCal

Santa Rosa Wilderness

San Bernardino National Forest Map

California 4×4 Club

4WD clubs / 4×4 off road / 4×4 vehicles / 4×4 club



Let’s Roll

Originally uploaded by danamightCalifornia has no shortage of 4 wheel drive vehicles, but how many of them actually use them for what they were intended? If you’ve had your 4WD for a while and are itching to get to know the local trails, then grab yourself a few good OHV maps & head for the hills.
If you are a total novice and think you might want to get familiar with routes, what your vehicle can and cannot do, and learn the ropes from the pros, then you might want to discover the friendly folks in your local 4×4 club. Below we list as many legitimate groups we can find, with or without web sites. If your club is not listed, then please contact us & we might add it.
anzawashes
Anza Borrego Desert Washes

Off roaders (with running rigs) can enjoy pre-planned back road trips with various 4×4 Groups in California:

The very best place to start searching for 4WD routes inside California — is right here on Total Escape. After you’ve narrowed it down to a general location, then buying a decent topo map is a necessity. We have extensive sections devoted to California back roads, SUV interests, OHV Parks, off road tour guides, and of course, offroad trail maps.

Giant Sequoias
Hidden Sequoia Groves, Western Divide

 

4WD clubs
4×4 Camps @ Los Padres National Forest

Map California Baja

Secret Beaches
Secret Beaches of Baja

2003 Baja Map

Baja Topo Map

Topographic Maps of California Baja
Baja California Almanac

BAJA MEXICO MAP

The mysterious topographic map maker, Landon Crumpton, is gone. Although his Baja Almanac book of the Mexican peninsula is still as popular as ever.

bajaalmaac

The Total Escape crew has been using this amazing topo map for Baja Mexico since our the very first excursions in 1990. Click below to read more about the famous, hard-to-find Baja Almanac publication.

  • Baja California Almanac
  • Topographic Map Book of Baja California

  • National Geographic Baja Maps
  • NatGeo Baja California Mexico Maps

    Baja California Maps

  • Find more Baja Maps
  • Obscure Books & Maps, AAA Maps of Baja

    Baja Snack

    22S05 – Sequoia NF

    Sherman’s Pass Road: J41 Mojave to Sequoia Forest Rd# 22S05

    Sequoia National Forest

    sherman snows
    Snow Closes Sherman’s Pass

    This paved Southern Sierra highway (aka J41, off US 395) is a paved route thru the eastern portion of the Sequoia National Forest. A curvy mountain corridor which crosses over the South Fork of the Kern River, and skirts the Domeland Wilderness & the South Sierra Wilderness. East side of Sequoia National Forest, the Kern Plateau meets the Mojave desert w/ BLM Camping & Inyo National Forest.

    22s05 snowy
    The Sherman route connects the Kern River, near Fairview to Kennedy Meadows & closes for snow in winter months. There are plenty seasonal creeks, meadows & forests in this region. Elevations range from 4000′ near the Kern River to 8000′ at Black Rock Station.

    BIG MEADOW
    Horse Meadow Campground
    Long Valley Campground
    Chimney Creek Campground
    Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway

    Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is an excellent stop for sightseeing over Domeland Wilderness. Access it via dirt road# 22S77

    Steep Grades

    Ranger Stations:
    Black Rock Station
    760-376-1666

    Snowy Springs

    Campgrounds along Sherman’s Pass Road include –

    • Rincon Camp (primitive campsite) – just up from Brush Creek & Kern River; Rincon Trail #33E23 runs North/South near here.
    • Big Meadow / Horse Meadow Campground
    • Troy Meadows Campground
    • Fish Creek Campground
    • Kennedy Meadows Campground

    westbound

    nearby towns:

    FAIRVIEW
    KENNEDY MEADOWS
    KERNVILLE
    RIVERKERN

    California 4×4 Roads

    Panamint Creeks

    West Coast 4×4 club holds annual trail runs in Panamint Valley.

    California 4×4 – here is search term popularized by the SUV & the anxious city driver who wants to hit some dirt. Gone are the days when peeling out in the back of the Ikea parking lot adventure. You seek real trails & cool spots & Total Escape is here to deliver.

    Take your muddy or dusty vehicle to work on Monday (unwashed), just to prove you did something adventurous this past weekend! Once they see the photos, the co-workers will be envious… cuz they watched TV (and wasted 17 hours).

    BTW, TV = nothingness

    This entire web site was started around California back roads & self guided tours. You finally found us! Gotta get the 4wheel drive SUV into action (at least once per year – so the differential oil wont get like glue) & this web site can help you find the secrets spots of California.

    Xterra Ken in Baja 2005
    Anza Borrego Desert & Los Padres National Forest has the most 4×4 trails in all the SoCal region. Big Bear forest has some, but the crowds are thick on any given weekend. Angeles has Azusa & Lyttle Creek; Idywild has a few virtually unknown spots. Mojave desert & the Eastern Sierra have plenty to see, volcanoes, ghost towns, old mines, petroglyphs, all reachable with stock SUV. Inyo high country has some incredible sights, but only accessible half the year. You will need 4 wheel drive part time or full time on these trails listed below. AWD doesn’t count! Clearance and 4 wheel traction are key for control w/ rock crawling and deep sand.

    Searching for the extreme, rock crawling, hard core 4×4 stuff, go to the off-road races — or take your time & plan your adventure well. Chances are you’ll need a small team of people to explore these black diamond routes, a good forest map, plus very capable 4 wheelin’ rigs.

    red mountain

    Red Mountain 4×4 Trail near Shaver Lake

    Find California 4wheel drive roads below. Some of these routes will require a four wheel low range, with a transfer case. Do not attempt these with a new AWD SUV. Expect body damage on any 4WD trail.

    Anza Borrego Desert –

    Gold Country & Sierra Nevada 4×4 trails –

    Death Valley 4×4 Camps –

    Inyo NF 4×4 trails –

    Los Padres NF 4×4 trails –

    San Berdu NF 4×4 trails –

    • John Bull Trail, near Big Bear Lake CA
    • Deep Creek Trail, near Skyforest Lake Arrowhead CA
    • Gold Mountain Trail, near Big Bear Lake CA
    • Pipes Canyon, near Big Bear Lake CA

    San Diego 4×4 Trails –

    • Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Lake Henshaw
    • Valley of the Moon, Jacumba CA

    baja roads 4x4

    Now, not every road is gonna need 4×4 all the time. Most of the dirt back roads can easily be passable in a 2WD in dry months, but forget that in winter or any good rain storm. Total Escape has compiled a huge list of Southern California Back Roads, for your viewing pleasure.

    California off road maps –

    Baker Creek
    Baker Creek, Inyo NF

    SUV Trail

    Baker Creek
    Baker Creek, Inyo NF

    Since sport utility vehicles were invented for California yuppies, it makes perfect sense that this California market also has the awesome terrain to use these rugged rigs. After the first shopping cart door ding or windshield crack, most folks are open to taking their utilitarian vehicles on dirt roads, but some will only dream about it.

    big bear joshua trees

    Here at Total Escape, we are here to change all that. The fear of outdoors, the unknown, the capability, the driving skill. Your SUV is a good reason to be outdoors in the golden state, at bare minimum. No excuses. Enjoy the California you never knew – and sometimes that means getting off the pavement. Yes, more than 2 miles.

    SUV trail – any path, dirt road or route that can be driven on; high clearance vehicle are often necessary, 4×4 needed on occasion. National Forests, canyons, deserts, mountains, country lane style drives, some classic routes skirt the wilderness boundaries. We have it all for ya here. Rock crawling Rubicon adventures, all the way down to the leisurely ‘Sunday drive’ thru a forest to a meadow for a picnic. 

    Jeep trails, forest roads, graded roads, gravel roads, back roads, dirt roads, 4×4 routes, OHV (off highway vehicle) trails.

    MAPS will get you out there!
    suv road trip
    Dust, dirt, mud, snow. Beyond the county line, way back there, where you can discover ghost towns, old mines in the desert, hot springs, historic lodges, petroglyphs, river gorges, fire lookouts, waterfalls, and so much more.

    Get motivated and travel in your SUV:

    cattle roads

    SUV camping

    sierra roads

    Sierra Road Conditions

    Sierra Nevada Road Conditions – Highway California

    Snowy RoadsWinter Snow/ Winter Roads Sierra Nevada:

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

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

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

    Annual Sierra Highway Closures

    Ski mountains

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

    See California Weather & Road Conditions

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

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

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

    CALTRANS web site

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