Tag Archives: mountains

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

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

Yuba River California

unionflatyuba
North fork Yuba River @ Union Flat Campground

Yuba River

Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains
Tahoe National Forest
North Gold Country @ Historic Highway 49
Marysville, California

Historic ‘gold rush’ mining camps and towns line this popular recreation river in the Northern Sierra. Numerous State Parks, museums, and campgrounds can be found along this route, in which Tahoe National Forest land encompasses the whole region.

North fork of the Yuba River lines Historic Highway 49, on the way to Downieville and Sierra City, CA. Plenty of camping in these parts.  Lakes Basin Recreation Area  is located up behind the impressive granite spires called Sierra Buttes and this area is the headwaters for this portion of the river.

New Bullards Bar Reservoir is also located in these parts, and offers camping and boating w/ very limited shoreline access.

Middle fork of the Yuba River cuts through the residential mountain community on Moonshine Road, and ends up in Lake Bullards Bar; The rest of the middle fork flows through remote forest lands and is only crossed by one dirt road #191 in Tahoe NF.

South fork of the Yuba River flows from the far heights of Donner Pass and I-80; near Lake Spaulding. Passing Washington Ridge; northeast of Nevada City; and North Bloomfield @ Malakoff Diggins continuing down to Bridgeport @ South YUBA – where the longest wooden, covered bridge is located. Numerous old, one-lane bridges cross this southern fork of the river, and the region can take years to explore. Lots of residential and private properties.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a campground way back here, the CHEAPEST CAMP around; Look for signs, along the dusty North Bloomfield Rd (graded dirt road) about a mile UP hill from rickety Edwards Crossing (pictured below).

edx1898_sm
Edwards Crossing Bridge, built 1898

soyubaBLMsign

South Yuba State Park, located along the Golden Chain Hwy 49, is a short drive up Hwy 4 from Nevada City and a very popular spot for sightseeing, day hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and riverside picnics. The parking lot at the large curved bridge fills up fast, daily. Pedestrians and hikers are always seen here, so slow down driving along this portion of the highway.

The big river forks all join west of Grass Valley, heading down the mountains, paralleling Hwy 20 to Marysville, CA

northyuba
North Yuba near Downieville, CA

Yuba River Recreation

Backpackinghiker
Camping
Fishing
Hiking
Kayaking
Reservoirs

Mining History
Mountain Biking

Off-Roading
Picnics

Rafting
Tubing
Sightseeing

Forests, Lakes & Parks along this River:

Tahoe National Forest
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
BLM South Yuba Recreation
Bridgeport Covered Bridge
Kentucky Mine Museum
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
New Bullards Bar Reservoir
Englebright Lake
South Yuba River State Parkyubariver

Yuba River Camping

Campgrounds along Yuba River:camp

Fiddle Creek Campground
Indian Valley Campground
Rocky Rest Campground
Ramshorn Campground
Union Flat Campground
Loganville Campground
Wild Plum Campground
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Chute Hill (Shooter Hill Campground)
South Yuba BLM Campground

Lakes Basin Campgrounds: Gold Lake, Sardine, Salmon, Snag, Goose, Packer, Long, Big Bear, Jamison, Smith

MainStreet
Main Street in Sierra City, CA

The historic river town of Sierra City is defined by the North Yuba River that cuts through the granite, forested canyon. Granite towers above and snow is around more than half the year.

The river is free-running up here; Sierra City is only about 10 miles below the headwaters of the Yuba, at Lakes Basin Gold Lake California. In spring, runoff is pure Class 5 whitewater. Wild Plum Campground is walking distance to town.

camptruckFree primitive camping on dirt roads, can be found way up near the Bassetts intersection. Opposite from Gold Lake Hwy – turn RIGHT (south) on to logging roads: Forest Rd #54 (long ridge route, all dirt) and club into the forest. Drive a several miles up to any large dirt pulls out. Passenger car accessible road; No low riders. Carry a good forest map. Many primitive camp spots have wide openings with views of the Sierra Buttes and crystal clear night skies. Wind can get bad on this mountain ridge, so pick your camp spot with that in mind.

Epic view camp – or expensive river camp? (you choose). Campfire permit are required for camping outside of developed campgrounds. Bring your own water and shovel!

sierra buttes
Looking North to Sierra Buttes

Towns nearby & along Yuba River:

Allegheny, CA
Bridgeport, CA
Brown’s Valley
Downieville, CA
Goodyears Bar
Gold Lake California

Marysville, CA
Nevada City, CA
North Bloomfield
North San Juan
Sierra City, CA
Yuba City, CA

downierivers
Downieville, CA
southyubariver
south yuba river map USDA

Maps near this River:

Tahoe National Forest Map
South Yuba River Map
Lakes Basin Recreation Map
NatGeo Sierra Buttes Map
Tahoe Forest 4×4 Guide

bridgeportint
Bridgeport Covered Bridge, South Yuba River SP
bridgeportplaq
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
southyubariver
South Yuba River, California

Mountain Home Sequoia

Mountain Home State Forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

mtnhome

North of the Giant Sequoia , above the Western Divide Highway (CA 190) sits a little known Sequoia Park called Mountain Home. This lush forested area separates the Sequoia National Park (to the north) from the Giant Sequoia National Monument  (to the south).

Mountain Home is just up the mountain from the West Sierra river town of Springville, CA

horseback

Western Sierra Nevada

In part of the vast Sequoia National Forest, lies a hidden gem of State Forest land worth visiting. Waterfalls, the Tule River, fishing ponds, campgrounds and easy access to Golden Trout Wilderness trails.

MHDSF

The official name of this forest: Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest is quite a mouth full, so most just call it “Mountain Home”. In short MHDSF is managed by Cal-Fire and the California State Park system.

the Largest old growth Sequoias in the state!

Numerous awesome Campgrounds can be found near the Sequoia groves, the Tule River, hiking trailheads, fishing, waterfalls. Balch Park is the County Park, listed below.

    • Sequoia Backpacking
    • Sequoia Backroads
    • Sequoia Campgrounds
    • Sequoia Groves
    • Fishing Pond
    • Hiking Trails
    • Horseback Trails
    • Mountain Biking
    • Tule River
    • Waterfalls
    • Wilderness
    • Wildflowers

Balch Park Sequoia
located within the Mountain Home State Forest is a popular destination for the locals and families. Balch Park Campground is paved and RV accessible. 71 campsites, on first come basis.

fishin
Small pond fishing near Balch Park

Meadows, mountain peaks, streams, waterfalls, huge granite rocks & cliffs are all over. Plus some secluded groves of Giant Sequoia trees. Mosquitos can be annoying in these parts, so bring the chemical warfare and the screen room tent.snow

Roads Open: May – October
Forest mountain roads close annually, due to winter snow

meadows

SEQUOIA_map
SEQUOIA NF MAP

Area activities include:

Backpacking
Back Road Exploration
Campground Camping
Fishing
Hiking
Horseback Riding
Meadows
Mountain Biking
Picnic
Sequoia Groves
Swimming Holes
Tule River (North Fork)
Golden Trout Wilderness

USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. There are many dirt roads & numerous trails. Minimal cell phone signal inside these dense forests and large granite river canyons. GPS even has trouble getting connected, due to the immense canopy of trees.

Mountain Home Backpacking

hikerShake Camp – Best hiking trail access to Golden Trout Wilderness

In the backcountry, tent camping is allowed any place on soil 100 feet from trail or water. No camping on meadows. Ground fires are very allowed with fire permit. Use existing camp site when available. Check with the correct ranger district for all back country camping rules. Wilderness permits are needed for backpackers and horse packers staying overnight in the wilderness area.

Local Ranger Stations:

TH_GoldenTroutSQ
Golden Trout Trail Maps

Sequoia USFS Headquarters
Porterville, CA
559-784-1500

Tule River Ranger District
Springville, CA
559-539-2607

Mountain Home Backroads

Dirt back roads are so narrow they cannot accommodate the large motorhome or RV traveler.  Trucks pulling horse trailers are common, with very few options for a pull-out to pass.

This forested area is filled with old logging roads that lead to lush Sequoia groves & meadows.  The whole network of forest roads back here either –  loop back to each other, or deal end, often at a trailhead parking area. No roads connect through to any other portion of the Sierra range. Golden Trout Wilderness is a road-less area of the Southern Sierra Nevada.

Signs Not Reflective

The old skool, painted, wooden road signs do not READ well at night, so avoid arriving in the dark.

When it’s dark outside, it is best to STOP: Shut off the vehicle, get out and take a stretch break,  find the north star; Get your bearing straight, look at the real map with a flashlight – before driving miles to an unknown destination, just to turn around.

Be very aware of the Forest Service signage, use your trip meter for clocking mileage. Have a good map on hand. See MAP ABOVE.  It is very easy to get lost in this forest and you may end up driving for hours, maybe in circles. I swear this intersection looks familiar.

Road Signs

Mountain Home Campgrounds 

camp

Balch and Frazier are the two larger, developed campgrounds; all others are smaller camps w/ primitive facilities.

NOTE: all the Campgrounds in this forest now charge an overnight fee for camping. (Decades ago they were free, but not anymore.)

Balch Park Campground
Frazier Mill Campground
Hedrick Pond Camp

Hidden Falls Campground
Moses Gulch Campground
Shake Camp

campground elev. spots toilet water nearby comments
Moses Gulch 5500′ 10 pit river Tule River no trailers
Hidden Falls 6150′ 8 pit river Tule River no trailers
Shake Camp 6490′ 11 pit piped Golden Trout
Wilderness
backpack & horse trailhead
Hedrick Pond 6200′ 14 vault piped fishing pond RV ok; no hookups
Frazier Mill 6150′ 46 pit piped Sequoia Grove RV ok; no hookups
Balch Park 6000′ 71 flush piped fishing pond Tulare County Park

Frasier Mill Campground is spelled w/ a Z (like Frazier)on many printed maps and inside some camping books, but the proper spelling (on a sign at the campground) is actually Frasier w/ an S. This camp is located at the site of an old lumber mill. Meadows, trailheads, picnic areas, parking.

Decent signage leads to smaller, secluded campgrounds and hiking trail heads. Dirt road driving will be required. See BACKROADS (above heading) for tips on back road driving and night time arrivals.

Plenty of trails for horses back in these parts, most of them lead to Golden Trout Wilderness. Watch out for oncoming vehicles with horse trailers!

No primitive camping outside of developed campgrounds. Due to fire dangers around these majestic Sequoia trees. You must camp within the designated campground, or HOOF IT into the the wilderness for backpacking.

Mountain Home Hiking

hikerNumerous trails around each campground area will lead to the waters edge @ Tule River; into the Golden Trout Wilderness (for longer day hikes), along creeks w/ wildflowers, near lush meadows or through Giant Sequoia Groves.

Deer Ridge & Bogus Meadow Hike

Mountain Home Biking

Bikes are limited to existing paved and dirt roads; NO SINGLE TRACK trails for mountain bikers – due to the fragile, shallow roots of Sequoia groves, and the direct access to Wilderness.  NO bikes in the Golden Trout Wild!

coldriver
Cold Swimming Hole

mtnhomesign

Nearby towns:

Camp Nelson, CA
Ponderosa, CA
Porterville, CA
Springville, CA



American River California

american 1

American River, Central Sierra Nevada

Donner Pass – Gold Country California
El Dorado National Forest
Folsom Lake, Sacramento, CA

This is a major river in the Sierra Nevada landscape, as well as in the Gold Rush history of California. Many mining camps, railways, old abandon mines, dirt roads, hiking trails, mountain biking routes, waterfalls and even ancient artifacts can be found on the back roads. The native tribes once heavily populated these river canyons since the location is ideal, half way between the big mountains and the sunny warm valley.

snowNorth fork of American River drains most of the Donner Pass region, all along Interstate 80. Indian Creek is a feeder stream coming from Sugar Pine Reservoir. No large reservoirs exist along this American North Fork, although there is a wide section of the river, above Auburn, called the North Fork Lake.

Middle fork of American River comes down from the Granite Cheif Wilderness, next to Lake Tahoe; Foresthill (3225′ elev) is a small mountain community w/ a ranger station; French Meadows Reservoir is way back in there, toward the highest peaks @ 9000′ elevation.

South fork of American River parallels the State Highway 50, which connects Placerville to Lake Tahoe via the Kyburz Pass. Union Valley Reservoir and Ice House Reservoir make up this part of the drainage for abundant snow melt.

The north and middle flows of this river join in Auburn, near the freway @ I-80. The south fork joins the rest downhill in the Central Valley, at Folsom Lake, NW of Sacramento, CA

rapids: turbulent, fast moving water

canoe

River Rafting on the American River

This is a rapid moving river, with serious force. Not to be taken lightly. Wear life vest and stay alive; Don’t swim in dangerous conditions and spare your life!

Go whitewater river rafting with experienced leaders, who offer professional guide rafting tours. Toying around with an inflatable cheapie raft on a big river, can leads to all kinds of trouble.

rocky beaches

  • backpackfish
  • camp
  • fish
  • hike
  • kayak
  • mountain bike
  • museums
  • off-road
  • raft
  • swim

Camping & Campgrounds on the American River

hiker

 

americanriverabove

Auburn Lodging near the American River with numerous unique overnight options closeby. Colfax, the rail-town up the interstate, also has small motels and inns, most are freeway close. Foresthill is a residential area near the Middle Fork of the American River. Placerville, on the South Fork has more hotel choices.

 

riverbed

Towns along American River:

americanview


Alabama Hills, California

Eastern Sierra BLM – Alabama Hills


A nice surprise for visitors to Mount Whitney region when they happen upon the Alabama Hills. The cool boulder field lies at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range – next to the town of Lone Pine, on the way up to Whitney Portal.

The infamous area features a drive named “Movie Road” – with historical spots for filming old westerns & cowboy movies. Plenty of television commercials & videos have been filmed here as well. Relatively close to Los Angeles and SoCal.

high desert: elevation 5354′

 

From the Mojave desert, take Hwy.395 North to the small town of Lone Pine . At the only traffic light in town; turn left up Mt Whitney Portal Road; continue up to boulders. MOVIE ROAD, right turn to start exploring. Mant graded dirt roads and areas to park vehicles.

  • hike

  • bike

  • camp

  • horseback

  • natural arches

  • rock climbing

  • stargaze

  • wildflowers


MT WHITNEY MAPS

Inyo National Forest next door offers the highest granite peaks, pinon pines to Ponderosa pines, Sierra lakes, fishing, hiking, horseback trails.

campfireNO CAMPFIRES (and no open dispersed camping on this BLM land)

Developed Campgrounds nearby:

bamahillcrew

blm

ALABAMA HILLS – BLM 

download BLM PDF map

US 395

 

Alabama Hills Recreational Area
760-876-4444

 

 

Mt. Whitney Information Center
760-876-6200

 

Eastern Sierra links & info

Alabama Hills Stewardship Group
BLM Alabama Hills Info
Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitors Center
Friends of the Inyo
Mt. Whitney Ranger Station USFS


Santa Ynez River California

riverbelow
Lake Cachuma views from Camino Cielo West

Santa Inez River, Santa Ynez, CA

One of the largest rivers on the Central Coast of California, close to 100 miles long. You can find this river name spelled with “I” as well as “Y” on various maps featuring Santa Barbara. The smaller river “Inez” begins w/ the upper reservoirs, deep in Los Padres National Forest. After leaving Lake Cachuma heading westward, the name turns into the bigger “Santa Ynez” river. Agricultural farmlands, wineries, horse pastures, all the way to Lompoc.

The Santa Barbara Mountains
Highway 154, San Marcos Pass
Lake Cachuma, Los Padres National Forest

Solvang Danish Village
Lompoc farmland
VAFB

Rancho Oso Campground
Rancho Oso Campground

San Ynez Mountains

Everyone knows this area as Lake Cachuma, in the mountains
behind Santa Barbara. This fire-prone mountain range  parallels the palm tree lined coastal villages, along the scenic coastline of California. North of Ventura, Ojai and Los Angeles.

Indian Creek and Mono Creek drain the Dick Smith Wilderness Area, from the east, in Los Padres National Forest. Jameson Lake (2224′ elev) is a small reservoir where this river starts to come together. Downstream Agua Caliente Hot Springs flows, west to join Gibraltar Reservoir (1399′ elev). Then another 10 miles or so to meet w/ larger Lake Cachuma.  The large river continues thru Santa Ynez Valley, on to Lompoc and empties into the sea around Vandenburg.umbrella

Ocean Beach Park, Lompoc, CA

Ocean Beach sits in pristine isolation steps from engaging and beautiful shoreline, where the Santa Ynez River meets the sea. Bird-watchers and nature photographers love this spot. Beach access is closed to the public annually, from March – September due to bird (snowy plover) nesting season. Fishing is not allowed. Also known as “Surf Beach” and a well known coast for shark attacks.

Hiking is a popular recreation around  this whole wine country region; Campgrounds are generally open all year long. Summers can be hot, winters are usually wet. Wildflowers bloom March-May.

outdoor recreation 

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • mountain biking
  • off-roadinhiker
  • picnicking
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers
  • wine tasting

 

hikingupperoso
Day hikes, horse trails, mountain bike and backpacking trailheads

Santa Ynez Recreation Area

Campgrounds near this River

Camps in this list are managed by Santa Barbara County, USFS and privately owned campgroundscamp

Gibraltar & Agua Caliente
(access road #5N15 closed due to landslide; hike-in access only)

River Canyon AreaRV

Lake Cachuma Area

campupperoso
Upper Oso Camp

Dry SoCal terrain means that this river may be ‘seasonal’ – down to a trickle in drought years, or free flowing and wide during a good winter. Spring and winter storms can bring dangerous conditions and high water flowing over the paved roadways is possible. Authorities may close roads at any time depending on rainfall and river height.  Check the weather forecast and know what to expect, cuz it’s a dead end canyon way back in here.

PARADISE ROAD: The is a main access road to numerous campgrounds, w/ hiking, biking and horseback trailheads and OHV routes all accessible. The canyon wide river bed is strewn will bowling ball sized boulders and wading pools may be found.

Off Roading OHV Trailheaddirtbikes

  • Buckhorn OHV, near Upper Oso
  • Indian Creek Camuesa OHV, near Mono Campground
  • Divided Peak OHV, on Camino Cielo East
  • Davy Brown OHV, Figueroa Mountain

 

mellowentry
Camino Cielo West

CAMINO CIELO
A popular paved, ridge route drive of Santa Barbara (coastline views) with junction at Highway 154.

Camino Cielo East (Rd#51N12), goes southeast to great viewpoints over the epic coast. Channel Islands usually seen on the ocean horizon. Road become dirt & sudden switchback into mountains is quite steep. SUV or high clearance vehicle may be needed; and possible 4×4 in wet weather.

[CLOSED DUE TO LANDSLIDE 2019] The dead-end route leads down to the Gibraltar Dam (#5N15), several camp sites and a remote hot springs (which may or may not be operational)

Camino Cielo West, turns northwest off the highway. Nice viewpoints over Lake Cachuma. Boulders and coves, a party spot for locals kids. Paved road quickly become dirt turns into steep mountains w/ off roading opportunities. OHV trails not well marked w/ signs, so drive slow until you know the terrain. 4×4 may be needed. Mountain bikers and hikers also use this route, so pass with caution.

Santa Ynez, California
Small town Santa Ynez, CA

Los Padres Forest Headquarters
Goleta CA
805/968-6640

Santa Barbara District
Santa Barbara CA
805/967-3481

San Lucia District
Santa Maria CA
805/925-9538

Los Padres National Forest

maps of the Los Padres region –USFS

windmill

towns nearby

 

streetview
Solvang (a tourist haven) can be a good lunch stop, freeway close.

in the vicinity, see also –

Gaviota Hot Springs
Jalama Beach County Park
Nojoqui Falls
Rock Front Ranch 4×4 Camping
Santa Barbara Camping
Santa Lucia Camping
Santa Ynez Park


San Joaquin River California

Light Rain on San Joaquin

San Joaquin River, Sierra Nevada

Edison Lake, Florence Lake, Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake
Kaiser Wilderness, Sierra National Forest

The San Joaquin watershed begins way up in the High Sierra, Ansel Adams Wilderness to be exact. Eastern Sierra ranges, up behind Mammoth Mountain peaks called The Minarets, the snow drains westward. Far from the San Joaquin Valley, way above Fresno, CA

Green Bridge San Joaquin
Green Metal Bridge @ San Joaquin River

Sierra National Forest Map USDA

  • backpack
  • camp
  • canoe
  • fish
  • hike
  • horseback
  • hot springs
  • kayak
  • mountain bike
  • off-road
  • picnic
  • snow-mobile
  • stargaze
  • waterfalls
  • wildflowers
Florence Lake
Florence Lake

Sierra Forest Road #80 is Kaiser Pass Rd. Starting next to China Peak Ski Resort (formerly Sierra Summit) Take the right turn, near Huntington Lake. Kaiser Pass Road is a paved back country road climbing steeply up into the high country.

Sierra Nevada / Central California

Forests along San Joaquin River:pinetree

Sierra National Forest
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
Kaiser Wilderness
Ansel Adams Wilderness
John Muir Wilderness

Lakes & Hot Springs along San Joaquin River:boatramp

Florence Lake
Ward Lake
Edison Lake
Mammoth Pool Reservoir
Mono Hot Springs
Redinger Lake
Kerckhoff Lake
Milleron Lake SRA

Campgrounds along San Joaquin River:camp

(Florence Lake)
Jackass Meadow Campground
Ward Lake Campground

Mono Hot Springs Campground

(Edison Lake)
Mono Creek Campground
Vermillion Campground

(Kerckhoff Lake)
Smalley Cove Campground

Mammoth Pool Campground
Sweetwater Campground
Rock Creek Campground
Fish Creek Campground
Redinger Campground

Milleron Lake State Recreation Area

Towns near San Joaquin River:ranger

Bass Lake, CA
Fresno, CA
Clovis, CA
North Fork, CA
Shaver Lake, CA
Huntington Lake, CA
Friant, CA
Auberry, CA
Prather, CA
Alder Springs, CA

USFS

Sierra National Forest Headquarters
1600 Tollhouse Road
Clovis, CA 93611
559-297-0706

snowtree2
Serious, big snow country

snowWINTER ACCESS: Kaiser Pass is one of the few areas to enjoy snowmobiling trails and hot spring soaking. The distance to the springs is about 25 miles, one way and requires either cross country skis, snow shoes or snow mobile to reach.

windshldview
Snow Mobile Trails (January-April)
Rentals @ Rancheria
Rentals @ Rancheria

snowmoSNO MO RENTALS: Snow depth is usually best after the first of the year and last through April. The round trip hot springs (self-guided) excursion can be done w/ a half day rental, but only if you follow some guidelines: Reserve machine @ Rancheria Enterprises, way ahead of time;  Pack a lunch and snacks. Arrive early, gear up, get instructions and have a topo map; Be on the trail and traveling, not stopping on side routes, or play in the meadow or sightsee.

Narrow route continues on passing the meadow and goes for many miles. Trail traverses some steep terrain, with curves and cliffs, especially coming down hill to the river & green metal bridge. Parking spot is before bridge on left side. Hike a short distance, across marshy hillside to reach the 2 primitive hot tubs.

pano5
Panoramic Views
pools
Hot tubs @ Mono Hot Springs, 2001
SJoaqriver
River, right next to hot springs.

hiker

Sierra National Forest Map USDA
Sierra National Forest Map USDA
john muir maps
John Muir Trail Maps
kaiser
Kaiser Wilderness Map