Dirt Street

7S02 up hill

An avenue made of dirt, earthen highways, dirt trails, forest roads, fire roads, jeep road, graded roads. Dirt driving trails that lead into the middle of nowhere. No stop signs, no billboards, no stores, no one else around… for miles. Enjoy less crowds and more open space.

dirt streetsIf you are fed up with city life, sitting in traffic & need to vacate your mind among the barren hills of California (if only for a weekend), then Total Escape is your place. You seek solitude, peace, maybe a mini tailgate party & BBQ on a dry lake bed, with the heavenly stars above. Imagine the warm camp fire light reflecting off the high canyon walls, your music echoing, moonlight hikes for a few miles.

California has some awesome spots to drive on dirt, get way back in nature. Right up to the edge of the Wilderness boundary. That’s what this one silly “dirt street” page is all about… helping you get out there, the easiest & best way possible. We even got you the right maps!

Back Roads in California

The End of Dirt Roads

California OHV Maps

Most of this is just dirt road driving, graded, some hills, easy stuff. But on occasion you might come across a 4×4 required sign – or perhaps a triple black diamond trail. Having several good maps on hand will help you enjoy these roads, instead of stressing & wondering if there is a lock gate at the other end – 18 miles in.

Some dirt streets lead to campgrounds, some to waterfalls, some to viewpoints, some have loop options & others are just dead end; sometimes at old mines. Get ready to explore with your truck or SUV. 2WD or low clearance vehicles (such as passenger cars) should be ready to turn back if the road get too nasty. Any decent precipitation can make any unpaved road much worse & may require 4 wheel drive, so have a plan B mud terrainor C as a backup idea.

Best off road areas & parks in California:

Death Valley Roads

Tooling around Goler Wash & Barker Ranch on the very edge of Death Valley

Go Solo

Traveling Alone
Camping Solo

Sierra Hiking Path

it’s the way to go… slow & solo

enjoying quality time alone is not weird, wrong, or unnatural, no matter how many strange looks you get from friends & envious co-workers

Solo Outdoor Trips

Stop waiting for someone to do things with. Quit thinking that your best friend or partner will one day magically suggest an outdoorsy road trip, or day hike, or mountain bike ride. YOU are the one who craves the wildness of the earth, the unexplored, the secluded. The time is now for you to start living the life you want, outdoors, in California – today!

If you’ve just about had it with the pressures of everyday stresses, the wifi city life and the busy pace of civilized society is starting to get to you. Get a clue fast – before you loose your marbles. It’s time for much needed rest and relaxation. Nature is the best place to relax and reconnect with yourself and mother nature.

A change in scenery. A fresh perspective. A real break from the norm. No shopping, no errands, no phones, no television, no computers, nobody around. No one, except you.

and they might call you anti-social…

Travel Solo

alone, by yourself

away, distant, solely, detached, free, independent, unique, individually

The Call of the Wild


Unplug yourself from the hectic rat race and go exploring. Give yourself time to fully unwind: time to think, time to enjoy the outdoors and really find that special place of peace that comes only from earth. Yes, all by yourself.

VISION QUEST

Call it an annual primal ritual, or a first time experiment, traveling solo can be a blessing in disguise. Learning to be alone outdoors, become more aware of the physical world and enjoying yourself is an important key to a balanced life. Whether you seek a quick refresher course for the weekend or a full blown month long road trip, seeking a new comfortable destination and the art of basic relaxing is the main focus for this trip.

Camping Alone

slow going

When you travel alone, it’s easy to take your own sweet time. Going slow is something we don’t usually do in our busy city lives. Time is so precious, so you may as well stretch that vacation out as long as possible. Savor the moments.

Take as long as you like for – photography, picnicking, hiking, stretching, yoga, cooking and stargazing. Firewood collection becomes the biggest chore of the day, and it could take hours. Walking from camp, every direction will lead to a new adventure. Driving back roads at 20 mph is luxurious. No one to be your back seat driver. Sleep in every day if you want. No pressures, no schedules, no big worries. Sunlight, food, heat, weather, cooking and cleaning. Sit back and learn to really relax. Enjoy a secluded camp site for a full week, and get to know the wildlife on a first name basis.

Boy Camping

Follow the back roads to seclusion, or reserve several days at a unique campground. Imagine night after night of peaceful rest, with the sounds of nature surrounding you & the stars of the heavens dancing across the darkest skies.

Explore new terrain every day & move to a new camp every night. Or make it a “stay put” week-long meditation, in one spot. Whatever fits your needs. Either way, you’ll enjoy the solitude & the healing powers of nature. Answering to no one but yourself, you may feel guilty or kinda selfish the first few days, but this will fade as you learn to embrace the solo journey.

And it doesn’t hafta be all about roughin it either. While backpacking into the almighty wilds of the true wilderness has its good points – along with life threatening dangers possible every day, a simple quick weekend trip to a nearby small inn, fishing lodge,  or a bed & breakfast could work for the pampered types. Choose something different and unique, yet know your own limitations (on comfort & on a physical level). Make sure your destination choice is surrounded by some nature and preferably wilderness. You won’t miss the television one bit!

  • FARM STAYS & GUEST RANCHES
  • BED & BREAKFAST INNS
  • NFS FIRE LOOKOUTS & CABINS
  • TENT CABINS & YURTS
  • CA LAKES & RESERVOIRS
  • WILDERNESS AREAS
  • SMALL TOWNS IN CALIFORNIA
  • Spend One Full Day a Week Outside in Nature

    Good California Maps are a must have! Don’t rely on digital cell service or count on online maps being readily available. The hard-copy versions are always the best back up plan. Old paper maps are the very best, cuz they can often show more hidden waterfalls, trails and old mines than the newer maps.

    National Forest maps are best for getting and staying away from the tourist crowds. Visit Destinations to decide what kinda place you wanna explore this season.

    California has it all – A to Z

    which is why the golden state population always seems to be increasing, right? Helping you get away from your normal routine and the masses is what we do best here at Total Escape. Discover the thousands of pages, photos and links on this site to create your very own unique retreat.

    The mountains, deserts, coastal, rolling oak countryside & even urban escape inside city villages, are perfect starting points for planning your little escape. Desert Retreats California

    Desert camping in autumn, winter and springtime months is perfect timing for any kinda soul searching, catching up on a good book, or just gazing out at the vast vistas. Meteor showers fall within the latter part of the year, so stargazing and camping is excellent with the new moon. Temps start to drop come September, so be warned. Mountain cabins drop to their off season rates after summer, but be prepared for chilly temps and get proper outdoor gear.

    camping destinations
    lakes in calif
    California State Parks
    hiking trails
    BLM camping
    back roads
    usda nfs
    mountains of California
    California National Parks
    stargazer
    desert in cali

    Desert Sunsets in Winter

    SAFETY TIPS: Give your schedule to someone. Any bit of info is helpful. A map or written itinerary given to a neighbor or close friend will help ensure your safety and timely return. Bring your cell phone, plenty maps, bear mace and emergency supplies for additional security.

    Mono Lake California

    The Great Basin meets California, at the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

    Navy Beach, Mono Lake

    Mono Lake


    elevation: 6383′
    Eastern California
    US Hwy 395 @ CA SR 120

    East of Yosemite NP
    Lee Vining, CA

    Mono Lake

    Rumor has it this lake basin could be the ancient super volcano of the region. MonoLake is located on the north end of the Long Valley Caldera, a volcanic ridge which stretches down to Bishop and parallels Mammoth Mountain & US 395.

    Huge shallow lake with a very turbulent history. Signs and plaques throughout the lake shore give info on ancient history of the lake, the wildlife, and regional detail. Majestic views of the Sierra Mountains, with sparse vegetation, lunar type landscape. Eerie with storm clouds; Beware of bad weather. Kayakers love this lake too!

    Sierra Nevada backdrop

    Canoeing
    Hiking
    Hot Springs
    Kayaking
    Picnic
    Primitive Hot Springs
    Stargazing
    Volcanic Landscape

    Mono Lake Camping

    Camping is closeby, but not located on the fragile lakeshore.
    open camping
    Dispersed camping (FREE) is allowed in Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, the region that surrounds the Tufa State Natural Reserve. Campfire permits are required. Contact the park listed below for all the details on the camping policy.

    campgrounds
    Camps include National Forest Campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon (8 miles), June Lake Loop (15 mi), Lundy Lake (12 mi). Private RV parks can be found in nearby Lee Vining and further south, at Lake Crowley.

    [PDF download]
    Camping In The Mono Basin
    by LeeVining.com

    Inyo National Forest USDA
    Camping Mono Lake Ranger District

    local links:

    Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
    California State Park
    760-647-6331

    Mono County Tourism
    MonoCounty.org

    760-924-3699

    Mono Lake Committee
    MonoLake.org

    Bookstore @ 3rd, Lee Vining
    760-647-6595

    Tufa Towers

    nearby interests:

    Yosemite National Park
    Inyo National Forest
    Toiyabe National Forest
    Benton Hot Springs
    Bodie Ghost Town
    Convict Lake
    Mono Craters – Panum Crater & Crater Mountain
    Long Valley Caldera
    Lundy Lake
    California Aspen Groves
    Autumn Colors Camping

    Long Valley Craters Mono Lake

    Long Valley Caldera Craters near Mono Lake

    regional maps:

    Tom Harrison Mono Lake Map

    NatGeo Mammoth Lakes & Mono Map

    Inyo National Forest USDA Map

    Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps

    nearby towns w/ lodging:

    Benton Hot Springs
    Bridgeport, CA
    Lee Vining, CA
    June Lake, CA
    Mammoth Lakes, CA


    View Larger Map

    Marin Camping Point Reyes

    Marin County Camping

    Point Reyes Peninsula / Pt Reyes Campgrounds

    Ocean View CampsitesThe Lighthouse doesn’t have a campground! There are no camping facilities at Muir Woods National Monument, nor Muir Beach. No camping at Stinson Beach, nor Bolinas.

    The Tule Elk Reserve has no camping at all. Tomales Bay State Park no longer has car camping available; hike-in or boat-in camping, maybe.

    What is available for campground camping on “the Point” is listed below, with links for more info and reservations.

    foggy seashore

    POINT REYES, CALIFORNIA

    blue links lead to camp reservation services. campgrounds

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    Point Reyes National Seashore Campground
    reservations required
    hike-in, bike-in, and boat-in camp sites only
    415-464-5100
    415-464-5137

    Mount Tamalpais State Park Campground State Parks
    reservations required
    415-388-2070

    • Alice Eastwood Campground
    • Frank Valley Campground
    • Horse Camp Campground
    • Pantoll Campground
    • Steep Ravine Campground
    • Steep Ravine Cabins

    Marin Headlands Camping
    reservations required
    415-331-1540

    Samuel P. Taylor Redwood State Park State Parks
    reservations recommended; open year round
    415-488-9897

    • Devils Gulch Horse Camp
    • Historic Camp Taylor
    • Madrone Group Camp
    • Car Camping / Tent Camp
    • RV max 27′
    • Cabin Rentals @ SPT

    DSCN4484

    Cycling, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking and boating are all popular outdoor recreation activities.

    Small towns located on the Point Reyes peninsula do have a few private campgrounds, some of which can accommodate motorhomes. Follow towns links for those.

    RV camping

    There are no RV parks, camper trailers or motorhomes allowed in campgrounds on the steep coastal region of Point Reyes. Most of the narrow, winding roads are forbidden for motorhome travels. No shoulder, no guard rails, on many curvy roads. Great viewpoints are best when you STOP to look, off the roadway.

    hike NPS

    Golden Gate National Recreation Area NPS

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    Stinson Beach Park

    Tomales Bay State Park State Park

    Tule Elk Reserve

    dockside

    nearby towns – 

    Sonoma Beach Camping

    Sonoma Coast Campgrounds

    Gerstle Cove @ Salt Point

    Gerstle Cove @ Salt Point SP

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    tent camp RV camps

    Sonoma Coast State Park  State Park

    • Bodega Dunes Campgrounddscn0045
    • Wrights Beach Campground

    Salt Point State Park Camping State Park

    • Woodside Campground
    • Gerstle Cove Campground

    Fort Ross State Historic Park (a Russian fur trading fort from 1812)

    • Reef Campground
      21 spots. no RV hookups. no reservations

    coast

    Sonoma County Parks Campgrounds

    private campgrounds @ Sonoma Coast –

    Gualala River Redwood Park
    Ocean Cove Campground

    Sonoma coastal towns –

    Woodside Campground

    Woodside Campground @ Salt Point State Park