Not up for those snowy mountain roads? Enjoy the California deserts! From luxurious resorts to secluded rustic hide-aways. Salt flats in baren lands to fields of joshua trees and wildflowers. Ghost towns and old mines, there is plenty to explore throughout the desert regions.

Anza Borrego Desert

The most scenic of all California deserts is Anza Borrego. The largest State Park, the endless dirt roads & many hiking trails, the steep slot canyons, mud caves, huge desert washes, tons of vegetation and the non-threatening town of Borrego Springs. Plenty to do out here: Mountain bike, hike, picnic, relax soaking up the sun, golf. See our So.Cal. Desert Loop Trip for additional info.

Death Valley National Park

The best time to enjoy Death Valley is in the winter, since the summer temperatures can reach beyond 100 degrees! Little rainfall makes this an ideal place to escape the winter storms. Vast space with spectacular scenery! Wildflowers, ghost towns, beautiful canyons, sand dunes, scenic drives, old abandon mines, hiking, backroad exploration.
Look at our Death Valley Loop Trip for ideas.

Mojave Desert Parks

The rural & secluded area known as the Mojave, is just the perfect spot to get away from it all. Plenty of clean air, space & open road with wonderful scenery. Mojave has great places to camp spring, fall & winter months. Summer can get ridiculously hot. Check out Death Valley Loop Trip for options.

Area activities include:

Palm & Desert Hot Springs

Take a weekend to relax in the hot mineral baths of the local deserts. While Palm Springs offers all the upscale spas & glitz you could dream about, Desert Hot Springs is a much better deal. Ride the tram up to Mt. San Jacinto & enjoy the breathtaking views atop the 8000 foot station. Eat lunch in the restaurant & take a nature walk. Winter season may also see some snow & horse rides are available in warmer months. Visit the famous high desert area & enjoy some bizarre, but cool scenery at Joshua Tree National Park. Check out Palm to Pines Loop Trip for other options.

Desert Hot Springs, next door to Palm Springs, has the quaint Lido Palms. This small hotel offers a few rooms that share a spacious courtyard with various pool sizes & a BBQ area.
Lodging in Desert Hot Springs

Downtown Palm Springs has the areas main shops, galleries & restaurants. Ingelside Inn is a nice place to stay while being within walking distance from the downtown area. Situated next to a residential area, it tends to be quite & very relaxing. It has nice landscaped courtyards, a restaurant on premises & pool/jacuzzi.
Lodging in Palm Springs

Area activities include:


Joshua Tree National Park

More natures playground! Mountain bike, rock climb, hike. Endless beauty out here in these remote hills. Scenic Joshua Tree National Park will have you using up rolls & rolls of film. There is lodging in the town of Joshua Tree and TwentyNine Palms.A great overnight stop is Desert Hot Springs. Check out Palm to Pines Loop Trip for other options.

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Total Escape is California, off the beaten path

Giant TreesAncient Sequoia, the largest living trees on earth, are burning in wildfires and falling over from severe winds. From the Kern River to Yosemite National Park, we are witnessing epic changes in our cherished Sequoia groves. Giants that have stood the test of time, for thousands of years - right here on the West Coast - are now vulnerable to our changing weather patterns. The droughts, the bark beetles, more lightning, bigger fires, and stronger winds. Coastal redwoods and Joshua trees have also been impacted by recent wildfires. If you haven't already, go see and experience these monumental trees, while they are still around.


Rural California Directory: Now that you've found this independent California resource, you can discover more local destinations online. Find your own rural place, a homestead way up in the hills. Or discover that perfect spot for summer vacation, a hidden Sequoia grove, the best waterfall ever, the secret alpine fishing lake or maybe, just a bike rental shop in the forest. We list it here, all outdoors, all local. Travel the back roads of the west, on the cheap. Camp year round, without the fees, from Baja to Shasta. Find secluded spots. Historic, independent inns to remote yurt resorts, yoga weekends to primitive hot springs, RV resorts, or dispersed camp sites. Hiking trails, kayaking lakes, fishing streams, gold mines and ghost towns, and all the topographic maps to go with.

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We're still here, thousands of pages and decades later. Way outside the city limits, beyond the county line. No wifi, no smart meters, no gaming addictions, no traffic lights, no city noise. Rural living in California still exist. Hike on the weekends, bike to work, boating mid-week, we have you covered for destinations. Find a new creekside camp spot, a waterfall, trailhead or an ancient lava cave. Total Escape - Two whole decades online. Not quite obsolete.

Craving the Wild? Before the tweets, the constant memes and paralysis of our current culture, DanaMite started this travel web site way back in 1996. Catchy phrases like, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) did not yet exist.

Total Escape features abundant real photos of real places. Secluded destinations, camping and lodging, examining the best back roads, side routes, the topo maps (to get you out there). Locals-only travel tips, gear reviews, festivals and events. This unique travel site is updated every month, for the past 24 years!

Juicy content specific only to California. Focusing on outdoor destinations, small towns and budget-minded travel since 1996, we've recreated the weekend getaway - without the crowds. Escape the matrix, the city life, the traffic jams and learn how to avoid the tourist traps. Drive on past the factory outlet malls and the water slides, we've got much more to show you. Way out there, on the back roads, and in the backcountry.

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