Dirt Road Conditions, California Backroads, Sierra Nevada Routes, Camp 4x4 Trails
animals camping leisure the sky snow water wheels road trips cali maps

Activities | Wheels | Backroads


Snow at higher elevations

finding current conditions
Road Conditions in California

road closures

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

Read all entrance signs & remember, "private roads" are most likely no entry. If you come to a closed but unlocked gate, pass cautiously & make sure you close it behind you. Cattle or livestock may be present. This is quite common practice when traveling among the ranch lands in Baja California. Driving rules that apply to state highways also apply to remote roads, so know that rangers can give traffic tickets.

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

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

Be aware of the Forest Service Signage & have a good map on hand. It is easy to get lost, especially without cell phone reception. You may end up driving for hours, just to get your bearings straight. Have multiple paper maps on hand.

Find Back Roads in California

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

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

anza back roads

Helpful items to always carry in your vehicle

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

Total Escape California Camping


California Weekends

Total Escape has been an AmazonAssociate for 20 years!
Earnings from purchases keeps this site alive.

Copyright © 1996-2024 Total Escape, totalescape.com / All Rights Reserved.

classic | lodge | recreation | destinations | journey | ads | sitemap | outside | maps | gear | mobile