Perfect Tent Spot

Boulder Cove Camping

Choosing your Perfect Tent Spot

Before you can choose the ultimate place for your tent, you must decide where it is you wanna sleep OUTDOORS. What ultimate location? Your destination can play a huge factor in you getting a peaceful nights rest. And do you really need a campground? Or, are you ready to try to rough it, without the amenities? Best camping is off-the-beaten-path, and usually on the back roads. Trailhead camps, 4×4 camps, best view camps, creek camps; Dispersed camping, often called primitive camping. Focusing here on car camping, tent camping and backpacking routes.

Sierra Granite ViewsJust choosing a flat tent spot isn’t good enough anymore. You crave the best camping experience and seek real nature, with minimal crowds. No annoying neighbors, no parking hassles, no traffic or cars passing by. We at Total Escape are here to help you get to your wilderness goals and experience nature like never before. Right here, right now and it doesn’t hafta cost you a dime.

California Camping Destination:

Let’s start with a terrain overview. California has it all ­ – mountains, deserts, coastal, rolling oaks with rivers in the countryside, plus the infamous wine country and developed campgrounds within city limits. Desert camping in summer months should only be attempted by the experienced camper who loves 90+ temperatures. Mountain camping in winter can be freezing, so make sure you have the proper gear. Good maps are a must have and the readily available National Forest maps are your best avenue for getting and staying away from the masses. Visit our Destinations page to decide what kinda place you wanna ‘call home for the weekend’.

topo mapsIf you are the “I don’t care where I sleep kinda guy, as long as I can do/see this many things” all crammed into a 3-day holiday weekend, then you best do your research ahead of time. Get a good map, measure the mileage, plan picnic stops and sightseeing. Plan to set camp in a central location close to the main highway to call home-base, so you can be off exploring as much as possible.

Schedule in some “down time” or a full day for relaxing. Calculate driving distances and pad it w/ an extra hour. Maybe make a campground reservation if you are visiting a National Park or busy State Park. If you plan to wing it without reservation, always have plan B or plan C  options already picked out. With millions of residents and tourists on the west coast, chances are you won’t be the only person wanting to do Big Sur, Yosemite or Point Reyes that particular weekend.

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Helpful Hints
for a Good Nights Sleep @ the Camp Site

  • Bring a decent Sleeping Pad. Air Mattress with the inflator pumps will be the most luxury, without sleeping directly on the hard ground. Therm A Rest sleeping pads are another fine option, for those who like to travel light and still have air underneath them. Extra blankets, always.
  • Flat & Soft ground is the goal in choosing the best tent spot. Park your vehicles over the rocky slanted ground and keep the best flat areas for your camp site.
  • Do not pitch a tent in a meadow, no matter how inviting it looks. Wetlands and meadows are fragile ecosystems, an area that should be protected.
  • Look at the big trees above your sleeping spot and examine them. Do not place your tent near or underneath a dead tree or a dead limb. Trees do break and fall, especially if winds pick up. This could be a life or death choice, so remember to look up.
  • Bring abundant good tent stakes and USE them. Yellow plastic stakes are for soft cedar and sand. Thin aluminum stakes are for backpackers. Large steel nail stakes (some w/ plastic tips) are best stakes for all-around terrain.
  • Bring a mallet to pound stakes or use big rocks to hammer them. Gloves are also a good idea!
  • Never underestimate the use of a big tarp and some rope.
  • Guy lines help hold a tent in place when windy weather turns to big storm. If wind is in the forecast, then do this task before you head out on your day hike away from camp.
  • Make sure selected tent site is flat. Lay on the ground to check it out.
  • Place head of bedding up hill (if any slant can be noticed)
  • Tents should be at least 10 feet away from your campfire. At least 100 feet away from a creek or lakeshore.
  • Beach camping at the ocean edge; Know the high tide mark; place tent accordingly.
  • Slot canyons are awesome, sandy, narrow washes, many with cliffs and caves. In the desert badlands these can become raging rivers w/ flash floods. When rain is heavy in the mountains many miles away, you could get flooded in the low lands. If you hear any thunder – RUN to high ground. Better off picking another camp site, than to die by a wall of water!
  • Shade in the Desert sounds like an oxymoron, unless you find a place with high cliffs, or slot canyons. Tamarisk trees and palm canyon locations are usually an oasis of RV tourists & travelers. Hot Springs are also busy spots. Pinyon pines, juniper and over-sized manzanita can be found in higher elevation deserts above 1000′. The prime desert camping season is generally October thru March, as April can easily soar close to 90 degrees high.
camp

Campgrounds listed individually on
California town pages A to Z

campfires

morning sunshine

Late Nighters & Sunrise:
Determining East & the North Star

reading the stars

Sequoia NF - The Den

Campground vs. Dispersed Camping:

Follow Dirt Roads
Some people swear by the open spaces and back road camping options, as they have more seclusion, plenty privacy and best off all, no campground fees. You might need a GPS and a high clearance SUV to reach some of these camp spots, but you will be blessed with a unique secret spot to call your own.

Campgrounds come in all styles these days: From small primitive camps on a creek to the luxurious RV resorts with laundry room and showers. And then there is everything in between. This web site Total Escape specializes in FREE camping on the back roads and the smallest of campgrounds.

Reservations are usually accepted at the most popular camp locations, many are wide open on weekdays and the majority of campsites overall are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Rent Camping Gear

Camp Gear Rental / Camping Equipment Rental /

Outdoor Equipment Rentals

Backpacks

recreational equipment

California Camping Rentals: Outdoor gear rentals in California are more common in big cities with large retailers and harder to find in specific, small towns on the back roads. Plan ahead trying to rent gear. Recreation destinations such as Joshua Tree, Mammoth & Bishop might have rental shops, but finding a rental store in an unfamiliar area could be ‘just chancing it’.

Be sure, before you go.

DanaMite has compiled this handy list for your vacation planning, recreational equipment and rental needs.

RENTAL SHOPS specific to California

major retail chains:

REI rents gearREI rents gear!

BUMMER: Sport Chalet has CLOSED all stores (2016)
and no longer rents gear.

independent rental shops in small town Cali:

(listed from south to north)

JoshuaTreeOutfitters.com (Joshua Tree)

Stone Equipment Rental (Bishop) 760-873-7907

MammothGear.com (Mammoth Lakes)

Yosemite Equipment Rentals (Yosemite Valley)

Camp Kit Rentals (San Francisco Bay Area)

Sierra Nevada Adventure Company (Gold Country)

MountainSportsChico.com (Chico)

TheFifthSeason.com (Shasta)

ShastaBaseCamp.com (Shasta)

Humboldt State Rentals (Arcata)

California gear rentals

RENTAL SHOPS online

There are many reason people rent gear. Tourists or vacationers passing through, wanting to experience a non-hotel night outdoors; Beginner backpackers wanting to try out equipment before committing to a big purchase; College students on an impromptu road trip; Novice cross country snow skiers;  Doggy now packs in his own food & water too.

A new concept now being delivered is online gear rental, from camping to fly fishing. Seriously. They can ship you quality rental gear, and you can use it, test it, review it, all hands-on, out in the field. These 2 players in the West both ship nationwide. Imagine what else the web will rent in the future?

viewfromtent

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, cot, tent… or just a tarp on the ground.
Perhaps A Mountain Cabin Rental. Your choice.

From 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.

Camping Out on Back Roads

Various types of Camping in California:

type of
camping
average
cost per nite
brief description – what to expect
modern cabin $150 – $400 just like a hotel room, full kitchen, phone, internet, TV, real furniture
rustic cabin $60 – $180 bare minimum, beds, kitchen sink, electricity. maybe a bathroom
tent cabins / yurts $50-100 wood floors, canvas walls, sleeping cots. reservations accepted. (very popular)
RV/motorhome rental or own 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 $30- $70 50+ sites, lots of facilities & families w/ RVs. reservations accepted
developed campground $25-50 usually 30 – 100 sites, paved stalls, facilities. toilets, piped water maybe. plenty in our camping section. (very popular)
small campground $10-25 less than 25 camp sites, pit/vault toilets if any. plenty 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 via dirt back roads.
SUV/ 4×4 camping usually free remote spots on long, steep, bumpy dirt roads; dispersed camp sites in secluded areas. 4 wheel drive may be needed
walk-in campsites low cost or free camp sites that require you to physically haul your camp gear from a parking area to the camp spots, ranging from 1/8 mi. walk to a 1 mile hike
backpacking free / wilderness permit ultimate in seclusion, bring it all on your back, on foot into the wilderness & enjoy trail camps
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 forest have these kinda spots & do require you to have a campfire permit & double check on fire restrictions.

Tent Cabin Rentals

Canvas Tent Cabins & Yurts

these are half way between roughing it in a tent on the ground & having a mountain cabin. Yurt rentals are very popular in California!

National Forest Service Rangers wildlife

Deck w/ View

National Forest Fire Lookouts
& Historic Cabins

deluxe-tent-cabin

Tent Camp Yosemite Valley

Camping California Back Roads