Tag Archives: mountains

North Bloomfield

North Bloomfield

The remote town of North Bloomfield is part of Malakoff Diggins State Park, an old mining operation inside of a dense forest. Located in Northern Gold Country, North of Nevada City, CA – the Yuba River region attracts tourists and locals alike. Far enough off the beaten path, that many do not make the extra trek, more than a dozen miles off NB Highway 49. Save it for next time and decades will pass.

Autumn colors can start as early as September and last through October. Maple trees line the small Main Street, turning orange, then a brilliant red during fall.

Antique buildings w/ furnishings. A graveyard, schoolhouse, viewpoints w/ benches. Impressive trees and old shacks. Hiking trails throughout the park.

Ranger TourState Park w/ ranger lead tours, daily. Cabins, saloons, museums, a picnic park, a few private homes, and a campground, (reservations recommended).

Back Road NB

This region was a hydraulic mining camp from 1852 to 1884, until it was shut down by environmental laws… the first environmental law in California. The rocky debris and silt washing down river was so excessive, that orchards and towns down stream were being buried and many ruined.

A few full time residents still live in this tiny mountain community called North Bloomfield; please respect their privacy as their homes are located right on Main Street

North Bloomfield
is also known as Humbug City

elevation 3500′
Tahoe National Forest

Antique Buildings
Cabin Rentals
Campground (open May-November)
Museum
Picnic Park
Hiking Trails
Old Schoolhouse
Graveyard

NBschoolhouse

North Bloomfield Road (the long way) leaves Nevada City, paved and it winds through a neighborhood, then crosses the river at Edwards Crossing, hairy one lane bridge built before 1900. Road becomes dirt and steep, dusty in certain sections. Camper vans okay, but no camper trailer or RVs!

1 mile uphill, a BLM Campground for South Yuba River is a cheap, small campground w/ vault toilets. Left loop is ideal, but no campsites are located “on the river”. Near the river, but still a really steep hike.

The long dirt road of North Bloom Field continues northbound, past the campground up into the pine forest. Out to the meadows that used to be Lake City, then onward, veering right to the State Park boundary.

Hydraulic Mining Weapon

Tyler Foote Road (the paved way), also known as Tyler-Foote Crossing Road and Tyler-Foote Xing Rd. Leaving Nevada City on Highway 49, northbound many miles. Road is paved the whole way and required for those driving RVs or motorhomes.

Download PDF Map

nearby towns:
Alleghany, CA
Camptonville, CA
Downieville, CA
Graniteville, CA
Nevada City, CA
New Bullards Bar Reservoir
North San Juan, CA
Sierra City, CA
Washington Ridge

Virginia City Nevada

Virginia City Nevada

Virginia City, NV

Virginia City Nevada Mines, Mining Camp, Ghost Town
Storey County, Nevada

South of Reno, NV
NE of Carson City @ US 395

Virginia City Historic District
established 1859 The Comstock Lode

elevation: 6200′
population: 1000

Historic mining district with restored downtown; several mining camps, which are now residential communities. The 1859 mining boom of the Comstock Lode turned Virginia City into the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco. At its peak, this location had approximately 25,000 residents.

snow snow is common in winter

Ghost towns, mining camps and remote, almost abandon locations – always intrigue. Old historic towns that have too much commercialized backing are a big turn off. Any popular tourist mecca, I typically avoid.

Over the decades traveling the West coast, I had heard numerous stories about the legendary Virginia City, in the high desert mining hills of Nevada. The real, authentic, boomtown of silver & gold mining; East of  Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada. One day, maybe. Sounds larger than life. Bet it is crowded. Twenty years go by.

road side 342

Then low and behold, I found myself in the Eastern Sierra – trying to kill time, avoiding the fire smoke in California. Wildfire season was raging and as the weeks progressed, I could no longer find a smoke-free spot to camp. I finally ended up at a small, cute lodge in a desert mining district – Virginia City.

lawn mower

Wild horses graze in the backyard, the main street scene was only a few blocks away, and I had a refrigerator and an air conditioner in my room. I was set! After a long shower and a change of clothes, I hit the trail. Or shall I say sidewalk.

Walking to town I immediately noticed that the entire townsite is built on a steep, dirt, mountain side. Terraced, high desert hills with minimal trees, and miles of mining tunnels located underneath the paved streets.

Numerous shops and restaurants line the main drag, which sit precipitously on a slope of Mount Davidson. Tourists stroll the sidewalks, eat frozen treats and kettle corn. Loud motorcycle engines reverb off the historic buildings and music can be heard on each passing block.

wooden sidewalks

Nevada Highway 341 is the main street, also known as “C” Street, and it runs the length of town and has most of the sidewalk businesses. Parallel side streets – either up hill (labeled A Street, B St) – or down hill (D St, E, F, G, H) span the arid mountain terrain. Residential homes (some historic) surround this historic village.

Nevada Highway 342 is the main (but steep) paved route thru the communities to the south of town. Occidental Grade is Hwy 341, which bypasses the mining camps (to the east side) and is the longer, official ‘truck route’ and preferred RV entrance to VC.

steep streets

Walk the whole town, twice, and get a work out hiking the steep hills.

Motorcycle rides, classic car shows, old west, cowboy tourists type of destination. Wooden sidewalks, historic buildings, great desert views. The town is home to Victorian buildings built during the 19th-century mining boom. Annual events and parades celebrate the history of this unique locale.

party town: this desert destination is well known for its drinking, local events and celebratory nature, as well as the historic interest

Several hotels and one RV campground cater to overnight travelers. But beware, there is no real grocery store or public laundromat in town. No big chain hotels, coffee shops, nor chain restaurants.

gasoline

Only one gas station – on the north end of town.

Amazing museums, plenty of saloons, antique stores, numerous curiosity shops, many restaurants, plus an authentic 1800’s cemetery. Historic, classic and not too busy for mid week, but weekends are typically crowded.

After the sun sets, the families go home and a different gang comes in for dinner and drinks. Live music – perhaps. Drinking establishments are usually open late here, so know that this small town can get rowdy at night. Sheriff Station is in the center of town!

check

MANY MUSEUMS IN TOWN –

firehouse museum

Virginia City was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1965. National Trust for Historic Preservation presented the Distinctive Destinations Award to the Storey County in 2009.

cemetery view
Silver Terrace Cemetery, Virginia City, NV

Desert scrub, sage brush and juniper pines make up the vegetation. Trees are few and far between. Apple trees, cottonwoods and juniper evergreens dress up the edges of town.

businesses include:

antiques
art center
costume photography
curiosity shops
gift shops
ice cream shop
lodging
opera house
outdoor cafesfood
restaurants
RV park
saloons
train tours

recreation:

high desert terrain
historic parks
horseback rides
horseback trails
mine tours
museums
off roading
OHV trails
picnic grounds
RV camping
saloons & gamblingtrain rides
shopping
train rides

Virginia City Train Tours:
Virginia & Truckee Railroad Co

camp

RVCamping Virginia City

Campground in Town is limited to only one RV Park, with limited, poor tent camping options, but they have a near 5 star rating on Google, so it must be decent for the motorhomes.

additional camping nearby –

Dayton State Park has day use areas, picnic tables and offers camping, down the hill @ US Hwy 50

Washoe Lake State Park Campground
N of Carson City, Nevada. Only 5 mi west of VC, but a 30 mi drive by paved road, via US Highway 50 & I-580

Ft Churchill State Historic Park, located 30 mi east (near Yerrington, NV) Fort Churchill Camping

picnic

neighboring communities:

  • Gold Hill
  • Devils Gate
  • Silver City
  • VC Highlands

nearby towns, down the hill:

  • Carson City, NV
  • Dayton, NV
  • Reno, NV

exterior

Virginia City Tourism Commission
86 South C Street
Virginia City, NV 89440
775-847-7500

Comstock Historic District Commission
20 North E Street
Virginia City, NV 89440
775-847-0281

star

Virginia City is NOT to be confused with –

Virginia Creek Settlement
Virginia Lakes California 
both locations along US 395 south of Bridgeport, CA

Virginiatown (1851) Placer County
West of Auburn, CA in West Sierra Nevada, Gold Country

Kings River California

Kings River California
Sierra Nevada
Kings Canyon National Park

snow

Kings River is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada mountains, spanning a 70+ miles of terrain from edge of the Eastern Sierra to the western Sierra foothill reservoirs, and down to the agricultural San Joaquin Valley @ Fresno, CA

Classification/Mileage:
Wild — 65.5 miles
Recreational — 15.5 miles
Total — 81.0 miles

Parks & Forests along Kings River:

Kings Canyon National Park
Sequoia National Forest
Sierra National Forest

The 272-mile long Kings River drops sharply in elevation from its headwaters high in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on its way to the Central Valley, flowing just south-east of Fresno. The dramatic descent generates electric power for dams and the river also helps irrigate cropland and provides fresh water to Central Valley communities.

fish

Sierra Nevada / Central California

Kings is the mighty river of the whole Sierra Nevada mountain range. Deep granite gorge, wild and dangerous, longest running river with abundant waterfalls, tributaries and runs along side a giant cavern too. The giant, rocky canyon for this big river is so impressive, that the created a National Park around it. Hence the name, Kings Canyon!

The snow melt starts way up in the high elevation back country near the tiny alpine lakes at Kearsarge Pass and the tallest peaks of Mount Whitney. The Kings River passes thru Kings Canyon National Park and spills out into the large Pine Flat Reservoir, on the western edge of the wilderness. The river continues down to the great California Central Valley to sloughs & irrigation canals for the big agriculture crops, which feed the world.

Views of High Sierra Lakes

hiker

Kings River Recreation

  • backpacking

  • beaches

  • boating

  • canyons

  • car camping

  • creeks

  • forests

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • kayaking

  • rafting

  • reservoirs

  • RV camping

  • swimming

  • tubing

  • waterfalls

  • wildflowers

camp

Kings River Camping & Campgrounds

  • National Park Campgrounds
  • National Forest Campgrounds 
  • Dispersed Camping along Kings River
  • Pine Flat Lake Campgrounds
  • RV Parks near Kings River

Developed Campsite @ Kings River Recreation Area

Creeks & Lakes near Kings River:

Big Pine Creek / Sierra Road #9
Blackrock Reservoir
Black Rock Road #11S12
Courtright Lake
Gardiner Lakes (highcountry)
Pine Flat Reservoir (aka Sanger, CA and Trimmer Springs)
Wishon Lake

fish

see all Central Valley Reservoirs

Still Pond

Additional resources for Kings River:

Kings River Watershed

USDA Kings Wild and Scenic River

NPSplaque

Kings Canyon National Park:

Kings Canyon Visitor Center
(Grant Grove, on Highway 180)
559-565-4307

Cedar Grove Visitor Center
(summers only, end of Hwy 180)
559-565-3793

NFS Sequoia National Forest 
(south side of river)
Hume Lake Ranger District
559-338-2251

NFS Sierra National Forest
(north side of river)
High Sierra Ranger District
559-855-5355

ranger

towns along Kings River:

canoe

rivers.govKings River Online Topo Map

KINGS CANYON AREA MAPS:

 

Sequoia Kings Trail Map

Kings Canyon High Country Trail Map

Sequoia National Forest Map

Sierra National Forest Map

Pine Flat Reservoir

fish

Headwaters to the Kings:
features along the river, listed by fork

South Fork Kings River

South Fork is the most accessible part of the river inside the National Park. Well known and deepest part of the granite Kings Canyon, where Highway 180 dead ends

Although the South Fork waters begin as snow melt on top of the Inyo peaks of the High Sierra. About 20 miles NE of Cedar Grove (as the crow flies) and 33 miles by foot / trail

Mount Prater
Split Mountain
PCT @ John Muir Wilderness
Cardinal Lake
Bench Lake
Vennacher Needle
Mount Ruskin
Mannon Peak
State Peak
Arrow Peak
Dougherty Peak
Kid Creek
Arrow Creek
Kid Peak
Gardiner Creek
Glacier Creek
Glacier Monument
Bubbs Creek
Avalanche Creek
Mist Falls
Buck Peak
Bailey Bridge (footbridge)
Kanawyers
Zumwalt Meadows Trailhead
Granite Creek
Paved Loop Parking Lot
Highway 180
Roaring River Falls
Cedar Grove  (NPS campgrounds)
Cedar Grove Overlook
Avalanch Peak
Hotel Creek
Lewis Creek
Deer Cove Creek
Grizzly Creek
Boulder Creek
Windy Gulch Cascade
Boyden Cavern
Lockwood Creek

>> JCT w/ MID FORK <<<<

Middle Fork Kings River

Middle Fork begins at the alpine levels near
Helen Lake the Pacific Crest Trail
Langille Peak
Meadows near Dusy Basin Trail junction
The Citadel
Palisade Creek
Rambaud Creek
Cartridge Creek
Great Cliffs
Goddard Creek
Horseshoe Creek
Simpson Meadow
Ranger Station (backcountry)
Dougherty Creek
Slide Creek
Dog Creek
Alpine Creek
Blue Canyon (4600′ elev)
Crystal Creek
Painted Rock
Gorge of Despiar
Tehipite Switchbacks
Silver Creek
Monacrch Wilderness
Wren Creek
Tombstone Creek
Brush Canyon
Deer Canyon

>> JCT w/ South Fork <<<<

kings canyon 1992
Kings Canyon 1992

Highway 180 has a paved viewpoint overlook for this impressive, deep granite gorge with rivers intersecting. At this confluence of the Middle & South fork, we pick up with notable spots heading west.

Tenmile Creek
Rough Creek
Garlic Meadow Creek
Kings River NRT
Spring Creek
Converse Creek
Fox Canyon 1500′ elev
Verplank Creek
Garnet Dike
Mill Flat Creek
Trimmer Springs Road
Mill Flat Campground

>> JCT w/ North Fork <<<<

Bailey Bridge (steel road bridge)
Black Road Road #11S12 (Fresno Vomac Rd)
Pine Flat Reservoir
Big Creek / Sierra NF. Road #9

North Fork Kings River

Helms Creek connects Courtright Reservoir to Wishon. However, the official North Fork of Kings River begins below Wishon Reservoir and its gigantic granite gorge.
Rancheria Creek
Teakettle Creek
Mule Creek
Black Rock Reservoir
Patterson Creek
Basin Creek
Dinkey Creek

boatramp

Snow Towns in California

snow towns california

People visit higher elevation towns & parks just to hang out in the snow. Ski resorts are plentiful, but not every snowy town has a ski lift. They may just have a great sledding hill. Elevations range from 4000′-9000′ above sea level.

Most California snow locations have a wide variety of outdoor recreation, lodging, restaurants, shops. Cute cabins to rent for that upcoming weekend get-away. Or that week-long fishing trip. But with millions people in the state you better make overnight reservations in advance.
snow
California Winters:
When does winter actually ‘set in’ for California?

eastern sierra: OCT- APR
western sierra: NOV- APR
high sierra: OCT- MAY
northern coast: OCT- MAY
northeast: OCT- APR

Winter Recreation in California

winter road conditions
California Road Conditions

CALIFORNIA SNO-PARKS: Locations listed below with California State Snow Parks nearby, are listed in bold.

SoCal Snow

While Southern California doesn’t receive nearly the amount of snow that the rest of the state gets, it does on occasion get some winter storm precipitation. Perhaps just a winter dusting, or maybe a few inches, but sledding families usually enjoy it. For real snow skiing opportunities, head to the Sierras!

Angeles National Forest
Angelus Oaks
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Cleveland National Forest
Fawnskin
Frazier Park
Idyllwild
Julian
Laguna Mountain
Lake Arrowhead
Los Padres National Forest
Palomar Mountain
Pine Cove
Pine Mountain
Ramona
Running Springs
San Bernardino National Forest
Sky Forest
Twin Peaks
Wrightwood

huntington lake

Sierra Nevada Snow

Arnold
Aspendell
Avery
Bear Valley
Blairsden
Blue Lakes
Bridgeport
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Camp Nelson
Cedarville
Convict Lake
Dorrington
El Dorado National Forest
Fish Camp
Hume Lake
Huntington Lake
Inyo National Forest
Kirkwood
June Lake
Lakeshore
Lake Tahoe
Mammoth Lakes
Markleeville
Norden
Pinecrest
Plumas National Forest
Rock Creek Canyon
Sequoia National Park
Shaver Lake
Sierra City
Sierra National Forest
Sierra Nevada Mountains
Stanislaus National Forest
Tahoe National Forest
Tahoe City
Tahoe Vista
Tahoma
Toiyabe National Forest
Truckee
Twain Harte
Twin Lakes
Yosemite
Yosemite National Park

sierrasnowbelt
Sierra Snowbelt

NorCal Snow

Blairsden
Burney
Butte Meadows
Chester
Etna
Fall River Mills
Fort Jones
Greenville
Happy Camp
Inskip
Klamath National Forest
McCloud
Mill Creek
Mineral
Mount Shasta
Shasta Trinity National Forest
Six Rivers National Forest
Soda Springs
South Lake Tahoe
Trinity Center
Trinity Lake
Westwood

Montgomery City

Montgomery Creek Canyon
Montgomery Mining Camp:
Mountain Queen Mine

Montgomery City, California

 

WHITE PEAK DISTRICT
As with many historic names inside California, this remote location cannot be classified as a ‘city’ in todays terms.  It may have been a notable location back in the early days of early settlement, but it did not last long. Notable producers of this region were the Phoenix Mine and Mountain Queen Mine.

 Desert

terrain: desert mountain peaks

elevation: 6450′

description:miner
Old mining camp near the Nevada state border

location:
Eastern California, on Nevada border
Mono County
NE of Bishop, & 40 mi. SE of Bodie, CA

East of US 395, up Highway 6 @ Benton, turn right / South towards the Benton dump w/ dirt road Inyo Forest Road #1S77 leading up Montgomery Canyon. 4×4 will be needed to drive the dirt access road. Hiking may be required to reach mining ruins.

hiker

Boundary Peak Hike
Boundary Peak Trailhead

area activities:

Inyo Mountains Map

When Mono County was still in its infancy, the town of Benton became a destination of miners seeking new strikes, and by 1865 was the county’s largest town.

Miners found ore where perpendicular cliffs of Montgomery Canyon opened onto the alluvial fan. Montgomery City and its mines didn’t thrive for very long and like most operations typical of this era, eventually became an abandoned site.

Circa 1863 and 1864, “some very rich rock was found in Montgomery Canyon, and a tremendous rush and excitement was the consequence. A lively little town of three or four thousand inhabitants at once sprung up, locations were made and mines opened out, and large shipments of rich ore made to San Francisco and other places. I have been told that some of the ore was worth from $2 to $3 a pound; but the ledges were broken on the surface, and apparently gave out, and the excitement soon subsided.”

Montgomery Peak – 13,441′ elev
Mount Dubois – 13,559′
White Mountain Peak – 14,246′

Stone walls can be found within the mining site, located within the drainage of Montgomery Creek. A few old stone cabins hold on to the brink of existence, far up this secluded high desert canyon.

Benton on US Hwy 6 was established as Benton Station in 1880 when the narrow gauge Carson & Colorado Railroad came through the area. Montgomery City is a true ghost town, in every sense of the phrase. Those who make the rough and steep journey to reach this remote location should  be rewarded with an enjoyable day trip.

InyoAtlasBackpackers, hikers and off-roaders who plan to explore this region in depth should follow the trailhead link above for GPS points and notes on this canyon. A topographic map of the area would also help in navigation.

4x4

towns nearby:

see also –

Benton Hot Springs

Laws Railroad Museum

Ancient Bristlecone Pines Forest

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
Oroville
Placerville
Reedley
Red Bluff
Susanville
Tehachapi
Truckee
Ukiah

maindrag
Weaverville, California

fish

Historic Courthouse
Historic Courthouse, Bridgeport, CA

dirtbikes
find rural counties inside Californiahorseback

Markleeville
Markleeville, CA

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.

California’s population has declined for the first time in its history.  Population increased from 1800 up until 2017, but most recently has seen a decline, referred to as ‘CalExodus’

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

The California counties listed below may have growing populations, yet most still have available land for small farms, orchards and livestock. Home prices will be higher in areas in close proximity to cities. When planning to relocate outside of a city, abundant water should be a top priority. Wells can dry up during drought years, so check this 2015 map for prior affected regions.

More California  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 not easily affordable.

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. Be prepared to build shade structures.

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

rural california

purples are rural
oranges semi-rural

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. Land excavation is quite expensive, so you might need to consider buying your own earth moving machine.

Looking for a rural property with a well and/or a creek will ensure a good water source for years to come, but only 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.

CA population density 2020

 

pinetree

WILD FIRES in California 

wildfire aftermath
Aftermath of Wildfire 2020

Wildfire is a common threat in rural areas, due to the amount of vegetation and the remote location. Preparation (years in advance), can go a long way to saving your structures from catching fire.

Harden your home to stand alone, without any expectations of firefighters coming to fight the fire or save your house.

Be physically fit, disciplined and capable of ‘brush clearance’ on your own land, every year. What used to be a 30 foot perimeter clearance around structures, has turned into a 100 foot requirement.

But with recent erratic fire seasons, more aggressive and  lasting longer – authorities are now considering a 300 foot clearance mandatory, allowing for tree removal well into neighboring properties.

Be prepared to pay for tree removal and brush clearance, if you cannot do it yourself. Your life and property LITERALLY rely on proper brush clearance around your home.

TREE REMOVAL + BRUSH CLEARING

Since many wildland fires are spread with the dramatic wind events, originating from the east, special consideration should be paid to the east side of buildings.

Geography plays a big part on this. Sometimes winds come from the northeast. Know the unique landscape, hazard potentials and the pattern of weather for the region you reside in.

California Population Growth Rate by County
California Population Growth Rate by County

 

snow

WEATHER

California has it’s own share of weather related crises’ – from seasonal flooding to landslides, rock slides to avalanches, heatwaves to snow storms, winds events (up to 70 mph) and of course, dry lightning strikes with abundant wild land fires.

Too cold, too hot, too much snow. Research historical weather records for any place you plan to live, and expect those normals to change (maybe drastically) with future predictions.

Over the decades, Total Escape has found the NWS, which is the National Weather Service, forecasts to be more accurate than most of the other weather related web sites. Be ready for any type of weather, from serious downpours to droughts.

pinetree

ELEVATION

California has extreme elevation, with below-sea-level desert basins to the tallest granite, mountain peaks. It is much easier to grow food crops at lower elevations in California, than in the mountains or foothills. Livestock and apple & citrus orchards prefer the sunny mountain foothills, while rice and grains will typically grow only in the low lands. Know what terrain is best for the type of farm or homestead you want to create. Snow is possible, but not very common, down to 1000′ elevation. Snow depth can be an issue for any type of year-round growing above 4000′ elevation.

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.

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As Americans, our ancestors come from the natives, the rebels, the adventurers – and the dreamers, many of who migrated westward to create a better life. 

snow

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 most 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.

grow a food garden

DISTRACTED

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 listed by Population

California towns & cities by Zip Code

California Regional Map

 

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recreate

ideas

forestmaps

 

dogJess Valley

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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).

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Edwards Crossing Bridge, built 1898

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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

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

Cool Small Towns Near Yosemite

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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′)

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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

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. Always wear a life vest in the water. Toying around with an inflatable cheap raft on a big river, can leads to all kinds of trouble.

rafting

American River south fork James W. Marshall discovered gold in January of 1848 on the South Fork of the American River

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

Numerous feeder creeks and rivers drain into American River:

  • Indian Creek
  • Owl Creek
  • Pilot Creek
  • Rubicon River
  • Secret Ravine
  • Silver Creek (flows to south fork)
  • Silver Fork of the American River (flows to north fork)

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Camping & Campgrounds on the American River

south fork (CA Hwy 49 & US Hwy 50)

middle fork (CA Hwy 49)

north fork (CA Hwy 49 & I-80)

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. See more on Historic Gold Country

 

rafters

Towns along American River:

kayaking