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Activities | Wheels | Backroads


Snow at higher elevations

finding current conditions
Road Conditions in California

road closures

Most of roads featured on Total Escape are located in remote areas, deep in the woods in National Forests or way out in desert BLM land. California's deserts stretch over one third of the state land - from the Mexican border to the Eastern Sierra. Real "out in the middle of nowhere" kinda places!

Read all entrance signs & remember, "private roads" are most likely no entry. If you come to a closed but unlocked gate, pass cautiously & make sure you close it behind you. This is quite common practice traveling in Baja. Driving rules that apply to state highways also apply to these remote roads, so know that rangers do give traffic tickets.

Dirt roads range from paved, partially paved to graded dirt, gravel, cinder or just plain ole unmaintained "dirt roads". Fire roads, gated (often) and forest service roads may require 4WD in the more difficult areas: steep hills, eroded hillsides, bumpy stream washes, deep sandy washes.

California dirt roads Use extreme Caution when traveling dirt roads -
  • on mountain dirt roads when snow appears light, there could be a foot of mud underneath
  • in desert washes, rivers with soft sand (with added vegetation) can be deep watery sink holes
  • soft sandy washes in the desert; keep your speed up 15-30 mph & keep moving

Be aware of the Forest Service Signage & have a good map on hand. It is easy to get lost & you may end up driving for hours.

Find more on back roads in California

Maintained Roads -
  • passenger cars, motorhomes, trailers
  • pavement, graded road, gravel, dirt (or a combination of surfaces)
Un-Maintained Roads -
  • high clearance vehicles
  • not maintained for passenger cars; tractor 'graded' once per year, if at all
  • minimal up keep, usually bumpy dirt or washboard
  • be very aware of speed, expect fallen trees & rocks
  • drive careful & slow (under 25 mph)
  • stream crossings & washes are common, so take it easy across the creek

Closed Roads - closures are gated or signed. Off limits to motorized vehicles, but you may hike in on foot. Complete wash-outs, revegetation, eroded hillsides, over-use scares, wildlife habitation & watershed protection are common reasons for road closures.

anza back roads

Helpful items to always carry in your vehicle

  • full spare tire
  • air compressor
  • shovel, saw and basic tools
  • gallons of water
  • cell phone
  • blankets/tarps
  • day pack w/ work gloves, maps, snacks, and a first aid kit

California Weekends
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