All posts by danamite

California Towns by Population

Small Towns in California,
Listed by Population

Seeking to explore more of California:
Outside more, Inside less.

CaliforniaRural reaches of rivers, mountains, high and low deserts. Find a new town in Northern California or in the Sierra foothills. Discover a new place for local vacations, or go all out and get a new job, in a new town.

Relocating, outside of a big city – for a life style change,  more nature, less people, less traffic. Real living life outdoors, walking to the market, growing some food, and enjoying a forced, early retirement.

Most populated state in US = California

smalltownCA

Most of the towns listed below are NOT located in the popular San Francisco Bay Area, nor the massive hot and smoggy Central Valley, nor in the over-crowded Southern California region.

cool town

Upscale villages, mountain hamlets and historic downtowns often have loads of attractions and eateries, yet unaffordable rentals and sky high residential real estate prices. We’ve purposely left out the super expensive and over-priced places like wine country, coastal enclaves and the typical touristy stops.

Many in this list are unheard-of farm towns, forest cabin communities, or river canyons – often neglected, minimal and unimproved. Some of these will not have a Wal-Mart in town, seldom a chain grocery store, nor a main street full of fast food restaurants. Although, they might be located next to a National Park, National Forest or State Park. Hike, bike, kayak and camp!

Backwoods, back roads and backcountry. Wildfires are often an annual threat. Higher in elevation means less smog and more stars. Altitude also means snow is quite possible, at least half the year. If you moved to California to avoid snow, then skip a winter visit (DEC-APR) or find elevations below 3000 feet.

California

California Small Towns under 100 people

Aspendell
Belden
Blairsden
Bucks Lake
Butte Meadows
Darwin
Duncans Mills
Fish Camp
Hope Valley
Kennedy Meadows
LaPorte
Nipton
Randsburg
Twain
Twin Lakes

snow

California Small Towns under 500 people

Amador City
Angelus Oaks
Bear Valley
Benton
Camp Nelson
Caspar
Cazadero
Crescent Mills
Gazelle
Kirkwood
Knights Ferry
Lee Vining
Lemon Cove
Markleeville
Mill Creek
Mineral
Olancha
Paynes Creek
Petrolia
Ponderosa
Seide Valley
Stirling City
Valley Ford
Volcano

star

California Small Towns under 1000 people

Adin
Alleghany
Avery
Bass Lake
Bridgeport
Cedarville
Cobb
Dorrington
Dorris
Douglas City
Downieville
Elk Creek
Etna
Fall River Mills
Fawnskin
Forest Falls
Fort Jones
French Gulch
Gasquet
Gazelle
Happy Camp
Independence
Isleton
June Lake
Klamath
Leggett
Meadow Valley
Miranda
North San Juan
Oak Glen
Orleans
Philo
Pinecrest
Pioneertown
Plymouth
Point Arena
Ponderosa
Scotia
Shasta
Sierra City
Sierraville
Springville
Somerset
Taylorsville
Walker

pinetree

California Small Towns under 5000 people

Ahwahnee
Alturas
Angels Camp
Angwin
Arnold
Berry Creek
Big Pine
Bishop
Camino
Cayucos
Challenge
Chester
Colfax
Coloma
Columbia
Copperopolis
Coulterville
Covelo
Dunsmuir
Ferndale
Forestville
Frazier Park
Georgetown
Greenville
Guerneville
Hayfork
Jackson
Jamestown
Joshua Tree
Kelseyville
Kernville
Lake Almanor
Lake Isabella
Laytonville
Lewiston
Lone Pine
Lucerne
Mariposa
Meyers
McCloud
Mount Shasta
Murphys
Nevada City
North Fork
Oakhurst
Pine Cove
Pine Grove
Pine Mountain
Portola
Quincy
Redway
Running Springs
Santa Margarita
Shaver Lake
Shoshone
Sonora
Strawberry
Sutter Creek
Three Rivers
Tuolumne
Twain Harte
Upper Lake
Weaverville
Weed
Westwood
Willits
Willow Creek
Wofford Heights

oaktree

Small Cities under 10k population

Alta Sierra
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Coarsegold
Colusa
Crescent City
Fort Bragg
Gridley
Groveland
Ione
King City
Lake Crowley
Mecca
Needles
Ojai
Orland
Williams
Willows
Winters
Woodlake
Yreka

hiker

Small Cities under 20k population

Alpine
Arcata
Arroyo Grande
Auburn
Baywood Park
Coalinga
Crestline
Desert Hot Springs
Garberville
Grass Valley
Lindsey
Live Oak
Los Osos
Morro Bay
Placerville
Reedley
Red Bluff
Susanville
Tehachapi
Truckee
Ukiah

maindrag

fish
dirtbikes
horseback

List of Rural Counties in California

Rural California
forests, mountains, rivers, canyons, orchards, farms, wilderness 

The states with the largest amount of land classified as rural are:
1. Alaska, 2. Texas, 3. California, 4. Montana

The state of California has the highest population in the nation, but residents are highly concentrated and unevenly distributed.

NOTE: Half the population resides in just 4 counties:
Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino

chickens

58 counties in California

In California the majority of the population live in urban (city) areas, while just a small percentage live in rural areas. California’s rural population is not highly concentrated, but distributed throughout many of the 58 counties.

Rural Relocation inside of California

bycounty

Rural Northern California

California counties defined as rural:

California counties considered mostly rural:

horseback

Other CA counties w/ rural residential areas:

centralfarmland

checkRural areas can still be found in Southern California, in places like East County San Diego and maybe Riverside County, but the cost of real estate is high in many parts of the state and generally unaffordable.

Anything near the coast is way more expensive than sunny, hot inland locations, with desert lands being the least expensive. Food grows well in sunshine and heat, just make sure you have lots of water.

Total Escape is here to show you the rest of the state.

RELOCATING TO RURAL COUNTRY

Many older homes may be in dire need of complete renovation, so be ready to work, or hire out to have it done. Moldy foundations, collapsing basements, leaky roofs, retaining walls. Home inspection should be learned (in advance) of home ownership.

Rural ranches and mountain homes may be located on dirt roads. Snow and rain make unpaved access messy or impossible, so vehicle choice (4×4) could be an issue when relocating to wilder lands. Larger properties could be totally undeveloped.

Looking for a rural property with a well and/or a creek will ensure a good water source for years to come. If you maintain the system. Upgrades may be needed and water filters are always a reoccurring cost. Water testing is recommended for your home. Well tests are usually offered by local well companies. To drill a new well on raw land, expect to pay thousands of dollars. Especially if no road or drive way exists.

DOWN THE HILL

Shopping and groceries could be many miles away, so you’ll need to see how far you are willing to drive and how often for food staples. Hardware stores, big box stores and most conveniences of city life are now hours away.

rural_living

As Americans, our ancestors come from the natives, the rebels, the adventurers – and the dreamers, many of who migrated here from the Old World (Europe) to create a better life. 

day trading in cyberspace 

Now is a time that we could re-create ourselves, as a nation and individually.

During the Great Depression of 1930’s – nearly half the US population worked in agriculture – and many households had a backyard vegetable garden. That lifestyle continued through the 1950’s, but then commercialism and pesticides took over our food; and we became less interested in food production over the decades.

DESTRACTED

Today, farm workers have decreased to less than 10% of our population. Now we rely on corporations to feed us. If you yearn for a new life – outdoors, out in the country, with less city, less noise and more nature – this site can help you find a new rural location to explore, even in Crowded California.

ruralhuasna

Total Escape has been focusing on rural California since 1996

AtoZsmalltowns

California towns & cities by Elevation

California towns & cities by Zip Code

California Regional Map

 

oaktree

recreate

ideas

forestmaps

pitjessvalley

colusalevee

growingonions

snow pinetree canoe dog

McCloud River California

McCloud Creek & McCloud River

South of Mount Shasta
Shasta National Forest

The pleasure of visiting McCloud – hiking, biking and camping – is best done in the summer or early autumn. This region receives large amounts of snow, so visiting in winter often means a snow-mobile.

The McCloud River starts on the east side of the National Forest and flows west through these campgrounds listed below, then south to Lake McCloud. The river continues on past the lake and crosses the Pacific Crest Trail, then it descends another 25 miles southbound to the bigger Lake Shasta.

Middle Falls McCloud
Middle Falls @ McCloud River

McCloud Falls
Northern California 

3 developed campgrounds near waterfalls, along Highway 89

  • Fowlers Campground NFS @ lower falls
  • Cattle Campground NFS @ swimming hole
  • Algoma Campground NFS (the free camp)

downriver

Fowler Campground is the largest of these campgrounds, with bathrooms and fees. Only 6 miles (biking distance) to the small town of McCloud, CA

#40N44 UPPER FALLS RD – a paved road (which parallels the highway) connects all 3 tiers of water falls, the parking lots, trail systems, and two campgrounds – Fowler and Cattle.

camp

Cattle Campground is a spread out, flat, forest loop, walking distance to the river and numerous swimming holes. Located close to the highway @ Tate Creek Road.

Water from this river originates on Lone Pine Ridge, near Dead Horse Summit (4505′) along Hwy 89. PCT Bartle Gap trailhead.

Feeder streams to this river include: Angel Creek from the south; from mighty Mount Shasta on the north side, Ash Creek joins McCloud River near the Cattle Campground. Mud Creek merges into McCloud River, from the north, running down the east side of town. Lake McCloud is fed by the river and Squaw Valley Creek, coming in from the north. PCT Cabin Creek trailhead.

McCloud Creek starts east of McCloud, CA and becomes a raging, wide river within a few 20 miles.

hiker
The smallest of these camps is Algoma Campground – located on a paved road,  near a one lane bridge at McCloud Creek, the headwaters to the McCloud River. Algoma is the only free campground on this river, and due to that fact, it fills up quick w/ first come campers.

algomabridge

The paved access road is not well signed from the highway, so it helps to get a decent back roads map of the region and plan to arrive during daylight.

GRIZZLY PEAK RD. or aka Grizzly Peak Lookout Road is
Forest Road #39N06
 and it turns to dirt and continues past the campground, deeper into the forest and eventually ends up climbing to an elevation of over 6000′ and then down the mountain to Big Bend @ Pit River.

3N06daytime

McCloud Algoma
McCloud Creek @ Algoma Campground
  • camping

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • mountain biking

  • off roading


aspencampsite

Small aspen grove has autumn colors during October. A signed river trail leads many miles (down river) to seclusion.

algomacamp

self sufficient campers

Minimal facilities at this campground, so bring your shovel, bucket, water filter, plus any additional gear you may need. Town of McCloud is closest place (19 miles) for ice, groceries and gasoline.

fish

rivertrailsign

rivertrailpath

Susan River California

Susanville Footbridge

Susan River California 

67 miles long, northern boundary of the Sierra Nevada

Lassen Peak to Susanville, CA

Lassen Volcanic National ParkNPSplaque

California’s Susan River begins way up @ Caribou Lake (6,571′ elevation) , on the east side of Lassen Peak at an altitude of 10,457′  inside the Caribou Wilderness.

Silver Lake (6400′ elev) at the Silver Bowl w/ Lassen National Forest Road #10 being the main, north-south access route, on the west side of A21.

Rocky Knoll Campground, Hourglass Lake, Hidden Lake, Tule Lake, Pine Lake. PCT is located 10 miles to the west of this area, running north-south through the center of the National Park.

  • Hay Meadows Trailhead
  • Caribou Lake Trailhead

kidfishing

Susan River follows Silver Lake Road down to Mooney Road A21. Backpacking, fishing and hiking are main attractions out here in the undeveloped lands, but snow can close these routes and trailheads for half the year. Expect crowds on summer weekends, as the Volcanic National Park pulls in a lot of visitors – and those tend to filter over to the outlying regions like the rivers and National Forest.
fish

Road A21

The Susan River Campground [CLOSED 2020] and Swains Campground, developed NFS campgrounds located on Mooney Rd (aka A21), due N of Westwood, CA

Lassen County Rd #A21 is a minimal signed road, near gas station on Hwy 36; Lassen County A21 is a paved road and very forested, with no services. A forested route which parallels Robber’s Creek, all this above Lake Almanor.

lassensignage

EAST BOUND

Susan River flows into the Great Basin – not the Pacific Ocean, like most rivers in California. After exiting the slopes of Lassen, the Susan River descends downhill along Highway 44, to McCoy Flat Reservoir (5556′) and then on to Hog Flat Reservoir  (5494′)  w/ access road #30N06.

camp

NFS Gomez Campground (5200′) is situated along the Susan River, on Road #30N03. Camp centrally located near both highways, with rail road tracks and access to a popular NRT (National Recreation Trail), the  Biz Johnson Trail (BLM).blm

Susan River flows east toward downtown Susanville, underneath highway system. Roxie Peconom Campground (4800′) is on a feeder stream, to the south, on Willard Creek. Forested walk-in camp site w/ large, level drum circle for large gatherings. Awesome location, far enough off the main drag.

Autumn colors can be decent along Willard Creek in September and October. This camping area is only 3 miles from the Highway 36 (via dirt road) and sorta close to town. Only 13 miles (biking distance) west of Susanville, CA

Chaney Creek Road is a dirt road near Highway 36, which parallels the river, the red rock bluff and the road, downhill into town.

Roxie Sign
Jamani Maidu Weda
  • backpacking

  • camping

  • creeks

  • hiking

  • fishing

  • kayaking

  • lakes

  • mountain biking

  • off roading

hiker

Forest Road #29N03 is Gold Run Road, the bumpy dirt road – that skirts around Diamond Mountain on the south side. Lots of one laner dirt roads, which will require a National Forest map or a decent topo map to navigate properly. OHV is common in these areas, so if you seek peace and quiet and solitude, know how to red a map and where the dirt bikes are expected to be.

Susan Sky
Summer Skies over Susanville w/ Diamond Mountain peak

USFS Ranger Station is located on the west side, just outside of town, on the wide downhill grade @ the Eagle Lake turnoff. Cal Fire station is also located along this stretch of highway.

Lassen National Forest
Ranger Station USFS

CA-36 @ Eagle Lake Rd, Susanville, CA 96130
Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-4188

Cal Fire Station
697 CA-36, Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-4171

 

ranger

The main road (highway 36 & 44) through here, and the Susan River parallel the whole way – dropping into town. Slow descent into downtown, as sharp curves come up abruptly (without a stop light) and pavement becomes a 25 mph downtown w/ pedestrians.

You can find the river by turning right (south) on Richmond,  through neighborhood. Susan River Parkway has some trails and picnic areas, with a ball field nearby. Hobo Camp is walking distance; biking and hiking trails abound.

Susanville Hiking Trails PDF
BLM Southside Trails

Susan River
Susan River in Susanville, CA
Susan River Parkway
Susan River Parkway

Small Park in Town
Small Park in Town

The Susan River was named after the daughter of early settler Isaac Roop, in 1857. The Museum Cabin homestead in downtown is that of Issac Roop, not Peter Lassen (as many mistakingly think).

The Susan River continues east to US Hwy 395, then southbound to enter the north Honey Lake. Lower lying deserts make up the Great Basin, which fills most of the state of Nevada.

Cool Small Towns Near Yosemite

cutesidewalk

WESTSIDE YOSEMITE

Rural, small mountain towns, close to Yosemite National Park. 

Everyone wants to live in Yosemite! It’s like a magical wonderland of nature. Maybe the happiest place in California. Once you’ve experienced the incredibly beautiful valley and the granite views of the National Park, your thoughts may go directly to ‘when can I visit again’ or perhaps- ‘is it possible to live near Yosemite?’

YES indeed, people do live near Yosemite.
Western foothills are under 5000′ elevation, so super deep snow is generally not a problem. Unless, of course, we break the record on rainy season (again). In 2016-2017, the Sierra Nevada mountains saw the most snow & rain ever recorded. Just so you know.

Often called gateway towns, these towns are the closest to the NPS boundary. There is a whole lotta forest between these towns and the famous Yosemite Valley.

Many more foothills towns (rural residential) are located to the west of Highway 49 – wineries, ranches and oak canyons, most w/ recreational Reservoirs. But we’re here on Total Escape to list the small towns that are closest (in proximity) to Yosemite NP.

hiker camp   fish

Hwy 120 corridor

westside
Groveland, CA
(elev 3136′)

eastside
Lee Vining, CA
(elev 6781′)

driftwood

Hwy 140 corridor

westside

El Portal, CA
(elev 1919′)

Midpines, CA
(elev 2575′)

Mariposa, CA
(elev 1950′)

driftwood

Hwy 41 corridor

southwest

Fish Camp, CA
(elev 5062′)

Bass Lake, CA
(elev 3420′)

North Fork, CA
(elev 2638′)

Oakhurst, CA
(elev 2289′)

Ahwahnee, CA
(elev 2321′)

Nipinnawasee, CA
(elev 2940′)

Coarsegold, CA
(elev 2206′)

star

localization

Living in or near the mountains is a dream for many people in California. Why wait until retirement? Grow food gardens, get some chickens and hike everyday.

  • land is always cheaper outside the city limits
  • home prices are more reasonable in rural areas
  • more room to breathe (one acre to 40)
  • property with well for water

Relocating to a new area like this, often means changing your lifestyle. Less television, more stargazing. No gym membership, more biking and hiking. Less dining out, more cooking at home. Less socializing, more yard work & home improvements. Grocery stores farther away, so limit shopping trips to once per month. And the biggest benefit to living rural – grow your own vegetable garden.

PRO: close to nature, fesh air,wildlife, wildflowers, rivers, creeks, water, lakes, forests, fruit trees, small farms, free firewood, horses, livestock

CON: severe wildfire season, triple digit summer heat, lost tourists, landslides, brush clearance, real manual labor, minimal internet

horseback

grovelandwalk
Groveland walk way
redinger lake
Redinger Lake, near North Fork, CA
funkyoldlodge
Funky, old, motel in El Portal, CA

Trinity River California

Trinity River of Northern California

Highway 96
Trinity River flows north at Highway 96, to meet the Klamath River; N of Willow Creek, CA

Forests & Parks along Trinity River:

fish   boatramp  canoe

boating
camping
canoeing
fishing
hiking
hunting
kayaking
off-roading
rafting

camp hiker pinetree

dispersed camping off Hwy 299
behind Douglas City

steinerflatfree
Steiner Flat is free camping, near Douglas City, CA and Hwy 299
Steiner Flat Camp
Tent camping at Steiner Flat – dispersed camping

Campgrounds along Hwy 3 Trinity River:

( both located @ Coffee Creek )

douglas beach
Douglas City Campground – nice beach

Campgrounds along Hwy 299 Trinity River:

trinity299
Trinity River wide and shallow area at Junction City, CA

ranger  

The largest town  near the Trinity River, is the county seat of Trinity, Weaverville, CA. The historic mining camp and logging town, located at the junction of Hwy 299 and Hwy 3. Oddly, the town itself does not have direct access to the Trinity River, but it is well worth a visit anyway.

greatparks
Great little picnic parks inside Weaverville

Towns near or along the Trinity River:

 lodge

Trinity Lake
Trinity Lake – red dirt shoreline in Northern California
trinityriverrush
Trinity River – North of Trinity Lake, along Highway 3

Salmon River California


salmon river
Photo Credit Erik Meldrum

Salmon River, California
Forks of the Salmon

CAL SALMON – a 19.6-mile long tributary to the Klamath River, located in western Siskiyou County, CA

One of the most remote & biologically intact watersheds left inside California. The headwaters of the Salmon River flow from the Trinity Alps, Marble Mountains, and the Russian Wilderness Areas. 850,000 acres of Wilderness surrounding the Salmon River watershed.

There’s another Salmon River in Idaho, but this page deals with the Northern California river, dubbed “Cal Salmon” with emerald green waters and lush fern-filled canyons w/ a granite inner gorge.canoe

You gotta know how to read a map if you wanna find this hidden gem. Highly sought after destination for river fishing, whitewater rafting and river kayaking. Rapids! With a short rafting season (March-June)

This is a place for those who love seclusion. It’s kinda far for most people to drive here. The NorCal river region is a prime secret spot for true nature lovers: campers, hikers, fishermen, river rafters, kayakers, mountain bikers, backpackers, birdwatchers and horse enthusiasts. Summer is the busiest time and of course, the best weather. The remainder of the year, you’ll basically have the place all to yourself. Winters can be wet and sloppy, so don’t get stuck in the mud. Cell phone reception is minimal in these densely forested backwoods.

Rafting, river beaches, kayak spots. Campground camping, RV camping, tent camping, primitive and wilderness too.

hikerA significant part of the Klamath River’s watershed is in the Karuk Tribe’s Ancestral Territory. Karuk Indians have carefully managed their lands through an integrated continuum with the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem functions for thousands of years. Salmon, or “Ama” in the Karuk language, was a major source of food and spiritual renewal.

Forests & Parks along Salmon River:

Klamath River California

klamathriver

Klamath River, Northern California

The spectacular Klamath River is both the second largest and second longest river in California, making its way through over 250 miles both the Cascade and Coast Mountain Ranges. It’s one of the most important rivers in the U.S. for fish migration.hiker

  • backpack
  • boat
  • camp
  • canoe
  • fish
  • float
  • kayak
  • raft

fishNorCal river renowned for fishing = salmon and steelhead

The river is easily accessible off of Highway 96 w/ boat ramps, trailhead parking and campgrounds located nearby.

Klamath River flows down into California from Klamath Falls, Oregon. Many feeder streams and rivers join the big river – Shasta River, Scott River, Salmon River, and it takes a sharp turn north again where the Trinity River joins it from the south.  Copco and Iron Gate Dam located at the Oregon border, plus Upper Klamath Lake, north of the state line, are the significant dams along this river.

This area is the last hold-out for tribal members of

Hoopa Valley Tribe
Lucky Bear Casino

towns along this river –

Free Camping on Klamath River

Dispersed camping outside of developed campgrounds. Fire permits are required during fire restrictions. Call for more info Orleans Ranger District at 530-627-3291

Aikens Creek West Campground, Road #10N75
No fee. Open all year. No reservations. No services. Trailer spaces available. Maximum trailer length 35′

Ten Bear Trailhead
No fee. Dispersed camping area w/ several corrals, water for animals, and 2 campsites; pefect hunter’s camp. At the hiking trailhead for Ten Bear trail, in the Marble Mountains Wilderness.

orleanswithsnow
Orleans with Snow

Ti-bar, North of Orleans, CA
No fee. Heavy use. Ti-bar River Access offers a paved road to excellent dispersed camping with picnic tables, camp fire rings, a vault toilet and information kiosk. Gravel, steep boat ramp; 4WD may be needed to launch boats.

boatramp

hoopasign
Klamath in 2002 – would you look at those gas prices!

 

pearsons

 

januarysnow
January snow near Happy Camp, CA

Smith River Recreation Area

Doe Flat Trailhead, Road #16N02
Trail Parking @ elevation: 4500′
3 campsites and a vault toilet

Dry Lake, County Road 405.
No fee. Open all year.  Tent camping, Vault toilet. Good fishing.

 

USFS

KLAMATH RIVER CAMPGROUNDS NFS

Orleans and above, Six River National Forest

camp

E-Ne-Nuk Campground, Road #10N70
(also known as just plain “E-Nuk”)
10 sites w/ Overnight fee.
No reservations. Open June-Oct.
Tent and RV Camping,Picnic tables, Vault toilet.

Pearch Creek Campground, Pearch Creek Road #11N62
10 sites w/ Overnight fee.
Reservations accepted. Open June-Oct.
Maximum trailer length 30′

Fish Lake Campground, Fish Lake Road# 10N12
24 sites w/ Overnight fee.  Open June-Sept.
Tent camping, RV Camping trailer,Picnic tables, Vault toilet. Maximum trailer length 20′

 

horseback

CAMPING w/ HORSES
KLAMATH RIVER

Marble Mountains Wilderness

Stanshaw Equestrian Camp & Trailhead
4900′ elev
Dispersed camping; No fee. Excellent base camp for equestrian recreationists heading out on the Stanshaw Trail in the Marble Mountains Wilderness Area. One restroom, 5 large campsites with picnic tables, fire rings; corrals with running water for animals.

Ten Bear Trailhead
No fee. Dispersed camping area w/ several corrals, water for animals, and 2 campsites; pefect hunter’s camp. At the hiking trailhead for Ten Bear trail, in the Marble Mountains Wilderness.

canoe

dustingnewyear
Snow levels can reach the river in Northern California

see also – Salmon River

Panamint City California

panahills
Photo Credit © Steve Gardiner

Panamint City, a super remote mining camp on the edge of Death Valley National Park

elevation: 7300′

(Not to be confused w/ Panamint Springs, CA which is NW, along the main Highway 190 on the west side of DVNPhiker

Panamint Valley, Death Valley NP
Inyo County, NE of Ridgecrest
East of Hwy 395, south of Hwy 190

Hard to reach ghost town / abandoned mining camp on the mountainous edge of Death Valley National Park. Access via dirt road and steep trail,  off the paved Trona Wildrose Road. Panamint Valley, west of Death Valley

best time to visit: November – April
Triple digit heat is common in the warmer months, so spring, autumn and winter time is best for this region, but beware of winter storms.snow

Snow is common on  the peaks, and at higher elevations (like this place) during winter (DEC-APRIL). If you see trees on the terrain – joshua trees or pinyon pines, that indicates that snow falls here often enough. Snow is possible around Death Valley, down to 3000′ elev. during coldest of winter storms.

Surprise Canyon Wilderness BLM – Desert mountains, steep rocky terrain w/ peaks and very few trees. Surprise Canyon can become a waterfall, during heavy desert rains. The canyon is the  only access up to reach this hidden town4x4

NO MORE 4×4
Hike or backpack up Surprise Canyon
No 4WD access!
Gotta hike it, on foot now.

This desert destination used to be a very popular off-road trail, where Jeeps would wench and crawl up the narrow, rocky passage; but all that changed with a wilderness designation (1994)  and no longer are machines allowed in this specific canyon area. No vehicles (engines) and no mountain bikes. No wheeled anything.

Off-roading and free-wheelin is still allowed and abundant in neighboring canyons of Nadeau Road & Panamint Valley – Pleasant Canyon, South Park Canyon, Jailhouse Canyon, Goler Wash, Isham Canyon

stack
Smoke stack has collapsed in the recent past, so this structure is no longer standing. Photo Credit © Steve Gardiner

DVNP Topo Map

area activities & links:

  • lookinN
    Looking north in a neighboring canyon

    Campgrounds nearby –

    Ballarat ghost town has a camper bathroom w/ showers and a fee to go along with that. Panamint Springs has a small motel and a big restaurant, plus a large campground (across the highway) which can accommodate tents, camper trailers and RVs.

    campDeath Valley National Park boundary means developed campgrounds are a few miles away up Wildrose Canyon.

     

  • Primitive Camping around Panamint Valley

    Boon-docking, dispersed, FREE, open camping is allowed almost anywhere in Panamint Valley and the neighboring desert canyons. Campfire permits are required and are available at BLM office in Ridgecrest. There is no firewood, nor wood collecting around these parts, so bring your own.

    camptruck

    Nadeau Road has abundant flat spots for RVs; Well stocked 4x4s can find secluded camping further up the canyons, but must be a self-sufficient camper and bring water, plenty of ice, extra gasoline, food and firewood.

    More Mining Camps & towns nearby:check

    Ballarat, CA
    Pleasant Canyon
    Randsburg, CA
    Skidoo, DVNP
    Tucki Mine, DVNP

    wildrosedrive
    Wildrose Canyon Road, DVNP

    lodging nearby – lodge

    Locating a ‘real bed’ near this remote desert region will require some driving. The closest option in Panamaint Springs, which only has a few rooms. The next closest, would be Stovepipe Wells inside the National Park.

    mike_up5
    This is the kinda wheeling craziness that goes on in other canyons nearby.
    bestnite
    Camping in Panamint Valley is best in cooler months. Triple digit heat in summers!


Baja National Parks

Baja California Mexico

Ranger Station
Is this the Ranger Station?

Constitución de 1857 (National Park)

This 13,000-acre park, located in the Sierra Juárez Mountains, has some of the cleanest air on the planet. View deer, bald eagles, pine and oak forest while hiking or camping. Laguna Hanson sits in the middle of the park. Lake fishing for catfish & bass. Granite outcroppings for rock climbers, popular for bouldering. Mountain bike and camping, as well as off roading.

Information Sign
Information Sign

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir (National Park)

This massive range of mountains, 165,000 acres in size, is covered
with pine, oak and madrone forests. Baja’s highest peak at 3,086
meters, Picacho del Diablo resides here. Home to pumas, mountain
lions, bighorn sheep & over 30 species of bats. The region
is the wettest area on the Baja Peninsula, and from October to
May the mountains are covered with snow.

Isla Rasa (Special Biosphere Reserve)

Located in the Gulf of California, this reserve is only 17 acres in size. On this island 90% of the world’s brown sea gulls (larus hermanni) make their nests. Seals and the yellow-footed sea gull also inhabit the area.

El Vizcaíno (Biosphere Reserve)

This reserve is the largest in the world, made up of over six and one half million acres of islands, deserts, and coniferous forests. The gray whale is the reserve’s most interesting inhabitant, where it hibernates and reproduces. Wildlife such as the lynx, puma, red-tail falcon, and white pelican also reside in the unique area.

Isla Guadalupe (Special Biosphere Reserve)

One of the first protected areas of Mexico, this 62,500-acre island in the Pacific Ocean is a prime refuge to sea lions and seals. Unique volcanic geology and specially adapted plants make this reserve a scientist’s paradise.

Isla del Golfo (Special Biosphere Reserve)

Fifty-three islands in the Gulf of California make up this well preserved 375,000-acre reserve. The are is very isolated, making it ideally suited for scientific research and environmental education. Iguanas, lizards, ospreys, sea gulls and cormorant are some of the island’s many inhabitants.

Sea Turtles
Sea Turtles @ Bay of Los Angeles

The Gulf of California
is also referred to as the Sea of Cortez

museum

Gonzaga

baja camping

Camp Archelon
Camp Archelon, Bay of L.A.