Tag Archives: stargazing

California Eclipse

Moon Eclipse

The Blood Moon

Solar Eclipses & Lunar Eclipse

Eclipse schedule, as seen from North America

Make plans for your nights spent camping out, under the stars, watching the celestial events and meteor showers. Comfortable: Hat, blanket, radio. Hot cocoa and sugary treats will help keep you awake and alert.

Upcoming Solar Eclipses, 2021-2030

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

2021 Jun 10
2023 Oct 14
2024 Apr 08
2026 Aug 12
2028 Jan 26
2029 Jan 14

orange, red or amber colored moon

A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a Blood Moon, because of the reddish tinge the Full Moon takes on when fully eclipsed.

Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipses

moonfire

best places to watch the skies

 The California Deserts are sometimes the best place to watch the nights sky, unless the winds are kicking up. Deserts are warmer than other locations and if you position yourself well you can be far from any city lights.

The California Foothills, both coastal foothills or mountain foothills – are the second best choice, if you can drive up canyons and get well away from the sprawling suburbs. Choice spots would be ridges above 2000′ elevation, with minimal trees. Oak foothills are choice spots. Higher than 4000′ and you will be chillin overnight.

The California Mountains are the prime choice for summertime recreation of all kinds. Primitive camping on the back roads will save you fees at a developed campground. The higher in altitude, the less atmosphere above you – the better night sky viewing is above. Choose a meadow or mountain ridge w/ minimal trees. Burn areas provide wide open spots, so you can seek old wildfire ridges. Nights can get pretty chilly most all year long, so go well prepared. Jackets, gloves, hats and all. Keep all campfires to a bare minimum after 9pm, so you can focus on the stars in the sky.

your pupils will welcome the dark skies

The California Coast is often covered with a thick layer of clouds and moisture, so star gazing along the ocean front is not always great. Central Coast and NorCal beaches have less less population, so these would be the ideal locations. Choose an inland valley w/ rolling oak hills and dirt roads, over the busy beaches. There might be clear days and nights, especially if forecast call for heat – check the local weather forecast for accurate up to date conditions.

Large urban areas, the cities and towns of California are the worst place you can sky watch, due to light pollution, traffic and smog. Drive to the outskirts of town – pick a dark location, a park, open space or forest lands nearby. Arrive before dark to get the best spots, well off the main road. Choose viewing spots without street lights and without passing traffic. Find a nice level spot to set chairs up and bring lots of snacks.

Stargazing California

How to watch a meteor shower

Follow YouTubeYoutube
SuspiciousObservers

moonrise


Lake Henshaw

henshawabove

Lake Henshaw
North San Diego County

Lake Henshaw is next to Cleveland National Forest with Palomar Mountain State Park closeby. The northern border of Anza Borrego Desert State Park is not too far away either.

MAPS of this region –SAN DIEGO mountains map

Cleveland National Forest USDA
Cleveland Forest Topo Atlas USDA
Anza Borrego Desert Map
San DiegoBackcountry Map
Agua Tibia Wilderness Map

If you are imagining a forested alpine lake near Palomar Mountain, this is not it. Henshaw is a countryside area w/ meadow setting near ranches with open skies and open terrain. Can be windy at times! Can be hot in late summer.

Perfect remote spot for stargazing. Henshaw is the nearest body of water to Mount Palomar & is located on Hwy. 76, but the terrain is quite the contrast to the pine topped mountain nearby.

treebwTREES: Lake Henshaw has very few trees; mostly large open spaces & fields surrounding it. Cattle grazing & rolling hills w/ mountain backdrop. Stargazing and fishing cabins is more fitting of a description. This bare bones basic, little cabin resort offers a true get away from civilization for maximum relaxation close to SoCal cities.

Lake Henshaw specs:
elevation: 2740′
surface area: 1137 acres

Lake Henshaw Resort
760-782-3501
lakehenshawresort.com

Camping – 400 developed camp sites for tent and RV. swimming, picnicking, hiking, cabins, groceries

fishing:

  • trout
  • catfish
  • bluegill
  • bass
  • crappie

boating:

  • boat launch ramp
  • canoe
  • kayak
  • row boat
  • power boats
  • boat rentals available
  • inflatables
  • windsurfing

California Fishing Cabins SoCal

The Geminids Meteor Shower

palomar cabin

Geminid Meteor Shower

One of the better winter star shows. This well known meteor shower peaks in mid December, right in the middle of Christmas Rush. It’s a nice time to plan a desert camping trip around or a weekend away in the mountains. Look in the southern part of the nights sky these shootings stars.

The meteors from this shower are slow moving, can be seen in December and usually peak around the 13th – 14th of the month, with the date of highest intensity being the morning of the 14th. The shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120–160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions, generally around 02:00 to 03:00 local time.

The meteors in this shower appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini (hence the shower’s name). However, they can appear almost anywhere in the night sky, and often appear yellowish in hue. Well north of the equator, the radiant rises about sunset, reaching a usable elevation from the local evening hours onwards.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geminids

Annual event; December

xmascabins

How to best view a Meteor Shower

California Deserts

California Christmas Cabins

California Amateur Astronomy

List of California Astronomy Clubs & Groups

Mount Pinos Lot

Southern California

 

Star Gazer

DSCN0012

Central & Northern California

 

 
Benchmark Map for California

California Camping Maps

California Campground Maps

Maps are the key to finding your very own slice of heaven in the Wilderness. Online map sources can barely get you to your city destination correctly, much less the remote waterfall you desire. You will need a real map for your adventure. A topographical map, with all the details, dirt roads & hiking trails. If you are seeking to stay away from the touristy crowds, this is the best possible place you can be…. on this site, searching for ways to make it happen – this weekend.

BACKPACKERS BACKPACKING MAPS –

maps of California
Mount Whitney, John Muir & way beyond the High Sierra. DanaMite has all the California Wilderness maps on the new map shop. Various brands and types of maps. Most are printed on waterproof plastic now & are tear-resistant.

CAR CAMPING MAPS –

El Dorado Camping
Planning on camping outside of the developed campgrounds & finding that perfect stream side spot without the reservation & the fees? Then you will need a free fire permit (from a ranger station), plus a good map of the forests & a vehicle capable of handling the rugged the back roads. Much of California is prone to wildfires, so make sure campfires are even allowed on the backroads, before you get out there. Call the “field rangers” for back road advice and current recommendations.

CALIFORNIA OFF ROAD MAPS –

Wanna take that 4×4 vehicle somewhere really special this season? Camp well beyond the masses, way down that dirt road. We have OHV maps for SoCal, the deserts & all the National Forest maps too.

CALIF CAMPGROUND MAPS –

Start your search on the perfect campground or camp site with the destination in mind. Mountains, deserts, coastal. Parks & forests all have their own maps with all nearby camp grounds listed. We feature all the National Forest maps, as well as some State Park & National Park maps

See all California topo, hiking, camping maps

Sierra Nevada maps

coolsprings

  • California A to Z
  • California Camping
  • California Elevations
  • Camp Firewood
  • Camp Potty
  • RV camping deep in the Sierra
    RV camping at it's best in the Sierra; This rig found themselves deep in the alpine lush meadows with towering trees and a view and a very private camp site.
    Big Bend CA
    Big Bend Ranger Station, off I-80

    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

    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

    Faucherie Lake

    Faucherie Kayak Camp

    Faucherie Lake California

    Lake Faucherie is set in spectacular scenery of granite mountains, with peaks and waterfalls all around. Many believe that you could only reach this kinda high elevation beauty by foot, with a backpack, but here it is – accessible by a very long, rough & rocky backroad.

    No motorhomes, no camper trailers, no motorboats, no engine noises on the lake, no big families. Just well-deserved solitude, finally. Peace and quiet!

    Perfect alpine lake for car-top boaters – those who carry their boats on top of a vehicle. But be warned very few ‘passenger cars’ make it back this far, due to the challenging roads.

    BACKPACKING, CAMPING, CANOEING, FISHING, FLOATING, HIKING, KAYAKING, OFF-ROADING, SOAKING, STARGAZING, SWIMMING

    No motorized boats or watercraft allowed. One public boat ramp; gravel parking area, vault toilets, gated entry for group campground. No more driving across dam (it is now gated).

    NFS NFS NFS kayak camp hiking mountains NFS backroads snowmelt stars

    Faucherie Lake Road – a spur road, off of the ‘843 Road’ leads up to both Sawmill & Faucherie Lakes, as well as the Canyon Creek Campground.

    This primitive road forks off at Jackson Creek Campground, Tahoe NF, way, way back behind Bowman Lake. The rugged route is also known as Nevada County Rd #843-037. Conflicting numbers appear on USDA web site for this route, so don’t get confused.

    The brown Forest Service signage is decent at Jackson Creek Campground – so if you get that far, you’re almost there. Sorta. Did I mention how crazy the road is? Any wet weather or snow will make this route “4×4 required”. This place is closed off about half the year, due to deep snow (NOV-MAY). Although on summer weekends, this area is busy for a remote high Sierra lakes region.

    To reach this rugged Canyon Creek takes hours of driving with a good backcountry map and a reliable, high clearance rig. AWD Subies and mini SUVs beware, you’ll need a spotter on the bad sections of this road (or risk serious oil pan damage). Or perhaps maybe, we “shouldn’t be back on these kinda roads in that ‘lil sportwagon’ missy.”

    See more details on driving directions for Canyon Creek Campground.

    Crystal Clear Faucherie

    Faucherie Lake Group Campground
    (25 people maximum per site)

    • Elevation: 6135′
    • Number of Sites: 2
    • Vehicle Access: High Clearance Vehicle, no trailers
    • Campsites Reservation: Yes
    • Camp Fee: Yes
    • Season: June – October
    • Trailheads: Faucherie Lake Falls, Five Lakes Basin, French Lake, Haystack Mountain

    camp
    Faucherie Group Camping

    Campground Reservations:
    Nevada Irrigation District
    530-265-5302

    incoming flow

    Faucherie Falls – Six waterfalls above lake:
    Upper Faucherie Lake Falls #1: 39.4257 N, 120.5616 W
    Upper Faucherie Lake Falls #2: 39.4257 N, 120.5606 W
    Upper Faucherie Lake Falls #3: 39.4262 N, 120.5568 W
    Upper Faucherie Lake Falls #4: 39.4268 N, 120.5550 W
    Upper Faucherie Lake Falls #5: 39.4270 N, 120.5544 W
    Upper Faucherie Lake Falls #6: 39.4272 N, 120.5538 W
    USGS Topo: English Mountain

    Granite Faucherie

    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

    California Meadows

    Cherry Mdws

    California Meadows

    California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

    Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

    Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

    MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

    High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

    Kennedy Meadows from Bald
    Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

    Wilderness Meadows

    The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

    Excellent near Meadows:
    Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

    Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

    Common Wildflowers

    BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

  • Alta Sierra
  • Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
  • Big Meadow Road #22S12, Dome Land
  • Big Meadows Road #14S11
  • Butte Meadows
  • Camp Nelson
  • Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Drakesbad Ranch, Warner Valley – Lassen NF
  • Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Rd
  • Eastern Sierra Canyons
  • Gold Lake
  • Green Creek Road
  • Holey Meadows Group Camp, Western Divide
  • Horse Meadow Campground, Road #22S12
  • Horseshoe Meadows Road
    w/ Cottonwood Lakes Campground (10,000′ elev)
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Jackass Meadow – way up behind North Fork
  • Kennedy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, Sonora Pass
  • Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Lakes Basin Recreation Area
  • Lake Tahoe CA
  • Lassen National Forest
  • Leland Meadow, Pinecrest, CA
  • Little Shasta Meadow Botanical Area, east of Yreka, CA
  • Long Meadow Campground, Sequoia NF
  • Mammoth Lakes
  • >Manter Meadows>, Dome Land
  • Meadow Valley rural btwn Quincy & Bucks Lake
  • Mendocino NF names these Glade, instead of meadow
  • Mill Potrero Highway, Pine Mountain CA
  • Mount Pinos Recreation
  • Monache Meadows
  • Mountain Home State Forest
  • Panther Meadows Campground, Mount Shasta
  • Plaskett Meadows Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Ponderosa, California
  • Red’s Meadow Campground, Mammoth Lakes
  • Red’s Meadow Resort & Pack Station
  • Redwood Meadow Campground, Giant Sequoia
  • Rock Creek Road: Iris Meadow & Big Meadow Campgrounds
  • Powell Meadow, Sequoia NF
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Shaver Lake
  • Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Thousand Lakes Wilderness
  • Toiyabe National Forest
  • Troy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Highcountry
  • Upper Summer Meadow Road, off Green Creek Rd
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Lupine Drive

    Rules of the Meadow

    Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

    No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

    Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires on the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading.

    Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas.

    When hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

    Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

    Snow Mobiling