Category Archives: California Rivers

Gurnsey Campground

bestcampgurnsey

Gurnsey Creek, Lassen Forests & Fishing

NFS Gurnsey Creek Campground: W of Chester, CA

CLOSED 2020-2022: Campground is undergoing some serious work with removal of hazardous trees and forest clean up. NOTE: DixieFire 2021 did not damage this portion of the forest highway (CA 36)

A developed USDA campground along forested Highway 36, near the junction of Chico’s Hwy 32. This stretch of 36  overlaps with north-south Lassen Hwy 89. Awesome fishing creek, meadows, hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby. Paved, level camp sites w/ easy access to Lassen Volcanic Park and the National Forest.NFSlogo

This is a popular camp just south of the Lassen National Park boundary and 5 miles east of Child’s Meadow Resort. Car camp, tent camping, some spaces for large motorhomes. Plenty fishing, hiking and mountain biking trails.

Gurnsey Creek begins in Childs Meadows, north on Hwy 36 – just outside of Lassen National Park 

gurnseycreek

Gurnsey Creek Campground, California

on Gurnsey Creek; Campground open May-October
(depending on snow)
gurnseysign

Lassen Creek Camping

52 camp sites on Gurnsey Creek @ 4700′ elevation; vault toilets, creek and piped water, bear boxes; first come, first serve camping – and reservations are also accepted

GURNSEY CREEK CAMPGROUND

Max Camper Length: no limitations
Shady forest camp sites w/ creek. Numerous fishing spots. Close to Lassen Volcanic National Park, Chester and Lake Almanor. Backpackers, day hikers and horseback riders will enjoy the PCT nearby. Pacific Crest Hiking Trail runs to the east side of this campround.pct

CHESTER, CA ranger
Rangers Office: 530-265-4531
Almanor Ranger DIstrict, Lassen NF

GROUP CAMP RESERVATIONS NFS

2 reservable Group Camps are available at this campground. Group Site 1 can accommodate up to 56 people; Group Site 2 can accommodate up to 112 people.

Free Camping nearby.
If you are seeking primitive camping in this Lassen area, look for dirt roads in the USDA National Forest lands, which surround the National Park boundary.

to the west – Lassen Road #14 – the Blue Ridge, north off of Hwy 89 @ Mineral.

to the south – Yellow Jacket Road #29N48 around Turner Mountain, which is south-southwest of Mill Creek.

to the east – Lassen Road #10 – head north off of Highway 89 in between Chester & Westwood.

see also – Lassen Lakes

lassen park mapHighly advised: a real map, a printed ‘hard copy’ shows both the National Park and the National Forest of Lassen on one map – with topographic features, all mountain peaks, creeks, lakes, trailheads, plus all dirt and paved roads.

Trailheads near Gurnsey Campground lead out to –

NEARBY TOWNS:


View Larger Map

Gurnsey overview
Mature forested, creek campground, close to the highway

California Aspens

AspenGroves

Aspen Groves are easy to recognize with their thick stands. White trunks with dark knots, slender, with oval shaped leaves. Growing in a network of roots, which are found lining creeks, alpine lakes, or spilling out from higher elevations, along  scenic canyons.

The unique round leaves which can turn spectacular colors in the fall season. The fluttering and flapping of the oval-shaped, thick, green leaf is a sure sign of summer. When breezes get cooler, Autumn is only a few weeks away and as quick as the cold comes in, what a short and special show they put on.

autumncabin
Green Creek historic cabin, on the Eastern Sierra

California Fall Colors

Aspen trees can be found at higher mountain elevations in California, usually above 4000′ – all the way up to about 10,000′ or higher, depending on the mountain range and local water flows. Groves have an extensive root systems underground, so they often withstand wildfires and can come back after the rest of the forest is gone.

Beavers build dams in creeks around aspen trees, fishermen and campers love to camp next to aspens, and lovers carve their initials into their white bark. These trees do indeed take a beating, from all angles, winter weather included… so stop from cutting them!

carvings

fishing creeks mountain biking stargaze Picnic Camp Hiking horseback back roads mountains

  • BIKE
  • CAMP
  • FISH
  • HIKE
  • KAYAK
  • PICNIC

summer and autumn

These deciduous trees are naked half the year, typically from November to April, as winter buries them in snow and ice. Time is of the essence, limited to Summer and Autumn – to enjoy their shade and the beauty of the groves. Scenic meadows and fishing creeks are just an added bonus for searching out the aspen.

Aspens can be found in hidden canyons, primarily along the Eastern Sierra US Hwy 395 and surrounding mountain lakes. Some Sierra Passes have decent displays of color as well – like Carson Pass Hwy 88 and Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Hwy 120.

Below is a list of Total Escape’s favorite aspen areas of California

ASPENDELL
BAKER CREEK (4×4)
BIG PINE CANYON – NORTH FORK TRAIL

BISHOP CREEK
BLUE LAKES, CARSON PASS
BLUE LAKE, MODOC

CONVICT LAKE, US 395
COTTONWOOD CREEK @ ANCIENT BRISTLECONES
COYOTE FLAT (4×4)

CROCKER @ LAKE DAVIS
CROWLEY LAKE, US 395

DUNDERBERG MEADOW

EAGLE LAKE @
ASPEN GROVE CAMPGROUND

GREEN CREEK ROAD, US 395
HASKINS VALLEY @ BUCKS LAKE
HILTON CREEK, US 395
HOPE VALLEY
JUNE LAKE LOOP

LAKE SABRINA
LAKE TAHOE
LAUREL LAKES ROAD, US 395
LEE VINING CANYON
LUNDY LAKE, US 395

MAMMOTH LAKES, US 395

MCCLOUD CREEK @ ALGOMA
MCGEE CREEK, US 395

MILL CREEK to MINERAL, CA
HWY 172 LOOP aspensofmineral1000

MODOC NF @ BLUE LAKE
NORTH LAKE, ASPENDELL @ BISHOP

ONION VALLEY @ INDEPENDENCE
PARKER LAKE RD @ JUNE LAKE LOOP
PINE CREEK ROAD, BISHOP

PLUMAS-EUREKA STATE PARK
@ UPPER JAMISON CREEK CAMPGROUND

PLUMAS EUREKA

QUAKING ASPEN CAMP, GIANT SEQUOIA

RED’S MEADOW, MAMMOTH
ROCK CREEK ROAD @ US HWY 395

ROSS CAMPGROUND, PLUMAS NF

SPALDING, CA @ EAGLE LAKE

TOM’S PLACE, US 395
TWIN LAKES @ BRIDGEPORT
VIRGINIA LAKES, US 395

WISHON RESERVOIR

aspentips
Aspen Tips @ Eagle Lake California

 

aspenwall
Green Creek Camping

Autumn Camping in California

 

amigoaspens
Laurel Lake Road @ 9000′ – Eastern Sierra, California

 

aspensplit

Camp Lassen

Lassen Campgrounds

Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peak
Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peaks (July 2011)

Feather River Camping, Lake Almanor Campgrounds, Hat Creek, River Fishing NorCal, Topo Maps, California Campground  Reservations, Lassen National Forest camp sites and all the outdoor recreation you can imagine.

Volcanic lands of Lassen National Park are surrounded by Lassen National Forest, which means if you cannot find camping inside the National Park – you can surely find it in the outlying regions – with rivers . The National Park Lassen Hwy 89 is often closed during winter months due to snow, as Diamond Peak & Reading Peak are around 8000′ elevation. In 2011 the south entrance did not open until late summer due to heavy snows.

Lassen Camping

A few Lassen campground sites may be reservable, more info with links below; the rest of the campgrounds in the green lists are on a first come, first serve basis.

  • BUTTE LAKE CAMPING
  • JUNIPER LAKE GROUP CAMP
  • MANZANITA LAKE CAMPRGOUND
  • SUMMIT LAKE CAMPGROUND
  • GURNSEY CREEK – CLOSED 2022
  • HAT CREEK CAMPGROUND
  • HOLE IN THE GROUNDCLOSED 2022

Lassen National Park Campgrounds NPS

Camp Lassen / Lassen Lakes

campground elevation spots veg toilet water info
Lake Fork Campground 6792′ 18 pines vault piped June-Oct
Southwest Walk-In 6700′ 21 pines flush piped CLOSED
Warner Valley 5650′ several pines vault piped CLOSED

Lassen National Forest Campgrounds NFS

HOLE IN THE GROUND CAMPGROUND – Mill Creek, CA
CLOSED due to DixieFire

Eagle Lake District

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Bogard Campground 5600′ 22 aspen, pines vault pump May-Oct
Butte Creek Campground 5600′ 20 oak, pines vault creek CLOSED
Crater Lake Campground 6800′ 17 mixed conifer vault pump dirt road, June-Oct
Goumaz Campground 5200′ 5 ponderosa vault creek dirt road
Roxie Peconom Campground 4800′ 10 ponderosa flush pump dirt road

Roxie Peconom

Hat Creek District

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Big Pine Campground 4500′ 19 pines vault pump April-Oct
Bridge Campground 4000′ 25 pines vault piped April-Oct, fish
Honn Campground 3400′ 6 pines vault no CLOSED
Rocky Campground 4000′ 8 pines vault creek CLOSED
Honn Campground
Hat Creek @ Honn Campground

Lake Almanor District

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Alder Creek Campground 3900′ 6 pines vault creek CLOSED
Benner Creek Campground 5562′ 9 pines vault creek May-Nov
Black Rock Campground 2100′ 6 pines vault creek year round, fish
Butte Meadows Campground 4600′ 13 pines vault piped June-Nov
Domingo Springs Campground 5060′ 18 pines vault piped CLOSED
Echo Lake Campground 6440′ disp pines lake CLOSED
Elam Campground 4400′ 15 pines vault piped CLOSED
High Bridge Campground 5200′ 12 pines vault piped CLOSED
Rocky Knoll Campground 6000′ 18 pines vault piped CLOSED
Silver Bowl Campground 6000′ 18 pines vault piped CLOSED
Soldier Meadows 4890′ 15 pines vault creek CLOSED
South Antelope Campground 2700′ 4 pines vault creek CLOSED
Warner Creek Campground 5040′ 13 pines vault creek CLOSED
West Branch Campground 5000′ 15 pines vault piped May-Nov
Willow Springs Campground 5100′ 14 pines vault creek May-Nov, fall hunters
Willow Lake Campground disp pines lake CLOSED

A few PG&E Campgrounds can be found near Lake Alamanor, which are managed by the utility company and not listed on National Forest or National Park web sites.

MOST ALL CAMPGROUNDS CLOSED, due to Dixie Fire damages

LAKE ALMANOR – PG&E Campgrounds
Southshore @ Canyondam, CA

LAST CHANCE CREEK – PG&E Camp, North of Lake Almanor

BUTT VALLEY Reservoir – PG&E Campgrounds
West of Lake Almanor, CA

Juniper Lake Table
Juniper Lake – Lassen NPS

Lassen National Park

Lassen National Forest

Northern California Topographic Maps

Lassen Area Maps & Books –

Lassen Towns –

Kings River Camping

Camping areas along Kings River, Sierra Nevada California

dirtroadskings

Kings is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada and very rugged and remote in most of the length. The Upper Kings is situated in the Wilderness and National Park at the highest of elevation. Granite alpine back country, with abundant small lakes, the Pacific Crest Trail and numerous Wilderness areas.

pct

The tallest peak, Mount Whitney, drains this way – down waterfalls and whitewater, westward to the San Joaquin Valley. Agriculture, farmlands and orchards of fruit.

The mid section of this mighty Kings River runs close to Hwy 180 inside the Kings Canyon National Park

fish

The Lower Kings is popular among campers, fishermen, kayakers and rafters, accessible most of the year. Upper Kings River is located inside the National Park boundaries.

hiker

Upper Kings River Headwaters

8000-10,000′ elevation
PCT trail camping, hiking trails lead 20+ miles from Cedar Grove, skirting the Joh Muir Wilderness

camp

NPS Campgrounds @ National Park
South Fork Kings River

Inside Kings Canyon National Park:
Cedar Grove Village @ end of Highway 180

elevation 4600′

may be closed during winter months.
reservations recommended.
NPS

roaring falls

Roaring River Falls

Sentinel Dome (9115′ elev)

hikes
Roads End Trailhead
Backpacking trails lead up river from the paved parking area.
NPS – wilderness permits required for overnight stays.
Camping, day hikes and horseback trails. Wildlife and wildflowers abundant in this Cedar Grove / South Fork canyon.

Kings Highcountry Topo Map

bridge kings

Camping near Lower Kings River

Open all year round. Outside the National Park boundary, westward in lower elevations, many more camping options are available.

NFS

NOTE: Sierra National Forest is located  on the north side, along the river shore in between Pine Flat Lake & Kings Canyon National Park. But Sequoia National Forest is located on the south side, so you may need more maps. Cell phone service is spotty or non-existent in this deep canyon.

Lower Kings is best accessed via the paved roads, up behind Pine Flat Lake, California

river
Trimmer Springs Road #11S12: a paved access road, that wraps around the northern shore of Pine Flat Reservoir. Very curvy and long, with 25 mph curves; this main route continues east into the massive Kings River Canyon.

Google Maps may have this road crossing the river, towards the end. Proper signage is questionable in the area, since local rednecks love to shoot up signs. Trimmer route quickly peters out to narrow dirt roads, anywhere past the Mill Flat Campground area.

Lower Kings is NOT easily reached via the National Park, nor Kings Canyon Highway 180. Dirt road travel is required on Road #12S01, which can be steep and rocky at best. The drive is a steep climb up to the highway, which may require 4 wheel drive in some sections, depending on weather and land slides. This road is rough, so you will need at least a high clearance rig and a good forest map. Winter brings some snow and abundant rains (NOV – APRIL).

LANDSLIDES and ROCK SLIDES are common with ROAD CLOSURES not always posted on the Sierra National Forest, NFS web site.

big river kings

 

poppy

Wildflowers are abundant in this region for springtime. (MARCH-MAY)

camp

(north shore)
Lower Kings River
elevation 1100′

Sierra National Forest fish

Kirch Flat Campground NFS (17 sites)

tables & toilets

both above camps are free camp spots: boondocking, dispersed camps, primitive car camping, tent camping, RV camping, river fishing, kayaking, rafting

Sierra Road #12S01 – primitive camping, few pit toilets; fishing access, some trailhead camps and RV spots along river. The northern most arm of this road is also referred to as Road# 12S001 Garnet Dike, on the NFS web site.

newbridge
Along paved routes, near bridges, some dispersed camping is also allowed. Campfire permits are required.

Sierra Road #9 is Big Creek Canyon a side route, graded dirt road worth exploring for primitive camping options. The farther you drive up, the more vegetation you will find. Campfire permits are required.

BlackRock Reservoir Road #11S12, another side route (paved) climbs steeply in elevation, along a cliff edge. This spot offers a small NFS campground near a lake, and is located along the North Fork of the river.

kingsflow2010
click to enlarge

(south shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1000′

Sierra National Forest

NFS

Lake View

boatramp

Pine Flat Reservoir

elevation 952′

rafterskings

Avocado Lake Park is down river and a perfect spot for a picnic or BBQ. A 210 acre day use park providing recreation that includes swimming, fishing and picnicking. The park has picnic tables, a group picnic area, BBQs, boat launching ramp and a playground. West of Pine Flat Reservoir, this grassy county park is only open during daylight and no overnight camping is allowed.

picnic

Next park down river is
Kings River Green Belt Park, which seems to be popular with joggers and dog walkers. Also run by the county, this place closes at sundown and no camping facility is offered.

RV

@ Highway 180

Riverbend RV Park
17604 E Kings Canyon Rd
Sanger, CA 93657
with seasoned organic firewood


Smith River Scenic Byway

Redwoods Highway 199
Smith River Scenic Byway

also known as – US Highway 199, US Route 199 or Redwoods Highway. Del Norte County, California 

33 miles designated scenic drive; 36 miles from the Oregon border to US Hwy 101 @ Crescent City, CA

Smith River, California

The Smith River

Redwood hikes, Redwood groves, Redwood trails
River trails, fishing spots, swimming holes, forest back roads, waterfalls, campgrounds

butterfly

Areas of interest along Redwoods Hwy 199
listed from north to south

Collier Tunnel
Collier Tunnel Rest Area
(rest area)
scenic forest highway stop w/ picnic tables, grassy lawn, trash cans, restrooms; always open

Monkey Ridge Fire Lookout
Griffin Creek
Oregon Mountain Road
Packsaddle Creek
Knopti Creek
Forest Road #18N07
Middle Fork Falls

hiker

CalTrans Maintenance Yard
Idlewild, CA
Idlewild Creek

Forest Road #18N08
Forest Road #17N27
Forest Road #17N05

fish

Monkey Creek
Patrick Creek
Patrick Creek Road 316

Patrick Creek Historic Lodge
(bar, restaurant, cabins & hotel rooms)
13950 US Highway 199

Patrick Creek Campground NFS
Kelly Creek
Grassy Flat Campground NFS

Darlingtonia Botanical Trailhead

camp

Panther Flat Campground
(open all year)
coin showers, close to town
Darlingtonia, CA

Old Gasquet Toll Road 311

ranger

Gasquet Ranger Station USFS
Smith River NRA Visitor Center
10600 US Highway 199
Gasquet, CA 95543
707-457-3131

Gasquet, CA
(no gasoline)

French Hill Road 411
Old Highway South Fork – OHV
Forest Road #17N49
Hardscrabble Creek

Forks River Access & Boat Ramp

boatramp

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Creek

Nels Christensen Memorial Bridge

Craig’s Creek Trailhead
South Fork Road 427
Douglas Park
Sheep Pen Creek

Wooden Covered Bridge

gasoline

Hiouchi, CA

Hiouchi Visitor Center & Store
1600 US Highway 199
nps.gov/places/hvcparkstore

Cedar Creek
Mill Creek

Stout Grove Trailhead
(redwoods hike)

camp

Jedediah Smith Campground
Redwoods State Park
(open all year)
bike or walk to town, park, trails, river

Rock Creek
Clarks Creek
Hiouchi Trailhead

Society Hole
(swimming hole) cliff jump & wildflowers

Templeman Grove
(redwoods hike)

hiker

Hatton Loop Trail

Simpson-Reed Trail

Walker Road Trail

Peterson Memorial Trail

Blueberry Hill Farms

Redwood Valley Farm
Kings Valley Road
Elk Valley Road

canoe

US Highway 101

Florence Keller Park
County Park & Campground

Crescent City, CA

califrepublic

Waterfront Days Old Sacramento

Sacramento Waterfront Days

Sacramento Gold Rush Days in Old Town is now
“Waterfront Days Old Sacramento”

3-day event takes place on Front Street, The Embarcadero, and the 1849 Scene all along the wonderful Sacramento River. The heritage celebration features a wide variety of crowd-favorite entertainment, all free to experience and enjoy.

Annual event: May

oldsacramento.com/event/waterfront-days

 

Old Sac Waterfront Days

Gold Rush Days

gold country grange

Gold Rush Days
California Gold Country

Numerous locations hold historic themed street fairs, parades and festivals in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

Gold Country Events

this list is only a partial list, and more will be added soon

Amador County Fair

Arnold Independence Day Parade

Calaveras County Fair

Calaveras Grape Stomp

Coloma Gold Rush Live

Coloma Lotus Celebration

Gold Country Fair

Grass Valley Cornish Christmas

Mark Twain Wild West Fest

Mariposa County Fair

Murphys Homecoming & Duck Races

Nevada City Constitution Day Parade

Old Auburn Country Christmas

Wagon Train Hangtown Days

NOTE: The Gold Rush Days in Old Town Sacramento is now called “Waterfront Days Old Sacramento

califrepublic

Gold Country Historic Parks

bluewagon

Gold Country Cities & Towns

58 counties
58 Counties in Calif

JB Ranch Water Wagon 1

Gold Rush Daze 6

Gold Country Rivers

listed alphabetically

Gold Country Forests

listed from north to south

Plumas National Forest
Tahoe National Forest
Eldorado National Forest
Stanislaus National Forest
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Sierra National Forest

Covered Wagon with 2 Horses 1

Mill Creek California

Lassen Camping for Free, Mill Creek @ 172
Lassen Camping for Free – on Mill Creek

Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peaks (July 2011)

Numerous Mill Creeks exist in the golden state of California. Here we will list most of them, some with campgrounds and others without. Waterfalls, big rivers and

driftwood

millcreekresort
Mill Creek Resort, California

LASSEN NF

The well-known Mill Creek, is the one south of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Certain areas could be closed to the public, due to the 2021 Dixie Fire

camp

MILL CREEK, CA

Small mountain resort in the forest near Mill Creek, with cabin rentals, RV camping and campgrounds nearby. A general store is open in summer months, and snow can be found in winter. Highway 172 makes a nice paved loop around this forested area and joins back to Hwy 36. Route may be closed due to snow in winter & spring. Free camping can be found along this creek, although a campfire permit is always required for camping outside of developed campgrounds.

Mill Creek Resort
40271 Highway 172, Mill Creek CA 96061
530-595 4449

Mill Creek Resort Campground

elevation = 4720′

  • 14 tent sites
  • 8 RV sites
  • reservations & fees
  • closed in winter
  • showers & flush toilets
  • picnic tables
  • camp fire rings

Mill Creek Indians: Described as a group of ‘renegade and outlaws’, from multiple tribes in NorCal. Mill Creek Indians took shelter in secluded Mill Creek gorge, located below the Mill Creek Rim, a volcanic ridge which extends from Mount Lassen to the Sacramento River Valley. See more on Ishi Wilderness.

see also – Hole in the Ground Campground in Lassen NF

Mill Creek Lassen
Mill Creek near Lassen (2015)

Camping Mill Creek
Camping Mill Creek – along Hwy 172

driftwood

MENDO NF

Fouts Springs is a popular off-road camping area on the far east side of Mendocino National Forest. Many miles off I-5, near Stonyford, CA. Numerous NFS campgrounds exist is this rugged canyon. One of them is called Mill Creek Campground and it has few pine tree and lots of chaparral, plus a decent little creek flowing nearby. OHV – off highway vehicle use is heavy in this region, so know when to go. At certain times of the year this remote canyon can be quiet and peaceful. Call the local rangers to find out.
ranger
Stonyford Workcenter
5171 Stonyford-Elk Creek Road
Stonyford, CA 95979
530-963-3128

NOTE:  RANCH FIRE, this whole Mendocino Forest was badly burned by recent wildfires.
Mendocino Complex Fire 2018

All of the Snow Mountain Wilderness was burnt and affected, including all the National Forest land surrounding it. Fouts Springs Campgrounds may have been spared, but the hills, trails and roads now lead to blackened forest.  Many routes could be closed; check with ranger station in advance of travel.

Mill Creek Camp @ Mendo
Mill Creek Camp @ Fouts Springs

driftwood

MODOC NF

south warner sign

Warner Mountains  hwy395

Mill Creek Waterfall is located on the western slopes of the Warner Range, near the South Warner Wilderness. On the headwaters to the Pit River; About 6 miles east of US Highway 395, near the town of Likely, south of Alturas, California

elevation = 5680′

mill creek falls
Modoc Mill Creek Falls in NE California

driftwood

KLAMATH NF

Mill Creek inside the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

  • Mill Creek Ponds Trailhead – Mill Creek Ponds Trail
  • Etna Mill Creek Trailhead – Etna Mill Creek Trail
    (Pacific Crest Trail access)

PCT

driftwood

PLUMAS NF

Mill Creek @ Bucks
Mill Creek @ Bucks

The Bucks Lake Wilderness region also has a developed NFS Mill Creek Campground. The camp location is well off the Bucks Lake Road, tucked deep in a tight canyon; northern most point and near a dam for the large NFSlogoBucks Lake.

elevation = 5200′

  • 10 camp sites
  • fee
  • closed in winter
  • 14 night camp limit
  • RV = 21′ max
  • pit toilets
  • picnic tables
  • camp fire rings

Bucklin Road (aka Bucklin Dam Rd and Road 33) #24N24 a paved road on the west end of Bucks Lake, connects to Road #24N88X which leads back to this smaller campground; camp sites are paved. Steep driveway down.

This Mill Creek intersects Bucks Lake at the campground, then connects to the PCT hiking trail, although the narrow dirt road #24N88X veers away from creek a few miles up.

driftwood

SEQUOIA / SIERRA National Forest

This Mill Creek is located on the south shore of the lower Kings River, above Pine Flat Reservoir. This is the boundary where Sequoia NF meets the big river, and on the other side of the water is the Sierra NF.

Mill Flat Campground (also known as Mill Creek Camp) is a shady, oak flat campground on a dirt road, located at a dead end canyon site, right on the rocky rivers edge.

kings river view

As usual – the further you drive, the more seclusion you will find. This observation holds true for this Mill Creek location. During peak summer months, there may be families enjoying this spot, but most of the year it is virtually empty and rarely used.

Oak foothills, canyons, granite rocks, wildflowers. Fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, kayaking.

No cell phone coverage back in this deep canyon.

free river camp sites

NFS Mill Flat Campground @ Lower Kings River

elevation = 1167′

  • 5 camp sites
  • free, no charge
  • open year round
  • 14 night camp limit
  • RV = 25′ max
  • pit toilets
  • picnic tables
  • camp fire rings

kings tables

campground mill creek

Mill Flat Kings River
Mill Flat Kings River


Vallecito – Anza Borrego

Vallecito Park, San Diego Desert

Anza Borrego Desert

Great Overland Stagecoach Route of 1849

East San Diego County Road S2 winds thru the lower passes & washes of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. On the edge of the State Park boundary Vallecito is a small campground & park, but it was a stage coach route in the 1800’s.

California Historic Marker #304

Vallecito

VALLECITO STAGE STOP – A 1934 reconstruction of Vallecito Stage Station (originally built in 1852) on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the high desert. A super important stop on the first official transcontinental route, serving ‘The Jackass Mail‘, the Butterfield Overland Stage Line, and the southern emigrant caravans.

backpacking, birdwatching, camping, cycling, hiking, mountain biking, off roading, stargazing, wildflowers

camp

 

Vallecito Campground
elev. 1555′
camp sites: 44
overnight fee
first come, first serve
reservations accepted
Campfire pits, picnic tables, bathrooms, & historic buildings; 22 sites are tents only. RV 40′ limit; Additional 8 equestrian campsites w/ corrals. No RV hookups, no dump station. No piped water. No gasoline, no store, no amenities. No firewood, no collecting of firewood. No shade trees, just tall desert brush. Arrive adequately prepared for real desert roughin it.

RV

Vallecito Stage Station County Park
760-765-1188
37349 Great Southern Overland Stage Route
County Road S2 @ mile marker 34.7
About 3.5 mi NW of Agua Caliente Hot Springs

Closed during the hottest months of summer: JUNE-AUG. Open seasonally: Labor Day weekend through the fall, winter and spring, up until the last week in May. 

camptruck

see also – Oriflamme Canyon / Mason Valley Truck Trail

muck to stagecoachA neighboring and very rural stage coach stop is further down a long wash, to the south east. Getting there usually requires 4×4, since you must ford a muddy desert wash w/ creek & deep holes. There are no signs out in this sandy desert wash, so you best have a good map and a compass.

The Old Carrizo Stage Station site is accessible by 4 different dirt roads (desert washes) way off the paved highway. None of these are well signed at the highway: Vallecito Creek, Willow Creek near Mountain Palm Springs, Carrizo Creek near Bow Willow, and Canyon sin Nombre.

Agua Caliente, Bow Willow Campground, Canebrake, Sweeney Pass,  the badlands overlook, mud caves and slot canyons are all located south of Vallecito. California SR 78 and Blair Valley are north of Vallecito.

Vallecito Creek

San Diego Desert MapVallecito is located at the apex of the gap in the Carrizo Badlands created by Carrizo Creek and its wash in its lower reach, to which Vallecito Creek is a tributary. Once a seasonal village of the native Kumeyaay people, on a trail across the desert from the Colorado River, this oasis, became a crucial stopping place for Spanish and then Mexican travelers to recover from the desert crossing between Sonora and New Mexico to California. The non native settlement of the site began in 1850, as a camp with a one room sod warehouse as the U.S. Army Depot Vallecito for the supply of Fort Yuma. It was later increased in size and became a store, a stage station, and a ranch house. read more on wiki

find maps for this desert region –

Anza Borrego Desert Map

San Diego Backcountry Map

Cleveland National Forest Atlas

dark skies anza

califrepublic

Another Vallecito, California?

Yep! Small community of about 400 folks in the western Sierra Nevada  foothills. Gold Rush Country, mining region. Up off the Historic 49 and it used to be called Murphy’s Old Diggings.

see Gold Country Maps

Hole in the Ground

mill creek days

Hole in the Ground, California

Hole-in-the-Ground Campground NFS NFSlogo
Lassen National Forest
dirt road access #28N06, off Hwy 172 @ Mill Creek, CA
South of Highway 36, near jct Hwy 89hiker

• Elevation: 4,300′
• Number of Sites: 13
• Vehicle Accessibility: No trailers
• Campsite Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: No
• Campsite Water: hand-pump well
• Toilet: vault
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: April – October
• Trailheads: Mill Creek Trail

Shady pines campground situated near the wild and raging Mill Creek, on the south side of Mount Lassen. Outside of the Lassen National Park, this NFS camp offers a real backwoods feel and more seclusion. Easy foot access to Mill Creek and also the Ishi Wilderness.

Picnic tables and metal campfire rings provided at these campsites. Summers can be busy, but mid week you may have the whole place to yourself. NOTE: 3 miles dirt road access Lassen Forest Road #28N06. Trailers and large RVs are not recommended on this dirt road.

campsite 8

holeinthegroundsign

campfire fish camp

nearby towns – 

Lassen National Forest NFS

Lassen National Park NPS

NFSNFS web link USDA

yet another?

Hole in the Ground, is also the name of a remote wilderness canyon deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Located on the Upper Kern River – in Grasshopper Flat near Hockett Peak (8551′ elev). All inside the Golden Trout Wilderness;  accessible only by horseback or hiking trail. Find it on foot @ Jerky Trailhead on National Forest Road# 22S82

driftwood

holes_in_rock
Hole in the Rock

holeinrockbackside
Backside Hole in the Wall, Mojave NP

Hole in the Wall, California

Similarly named, Hole in the Wall Campground is a popular spot in the Mojave National Preserve. Group facilities, horse corrals, developed campgrounds, centrally located, yet close to Interstate 40.

Stop by the “Hole in the Wall” Information Center (760) 252-6104, for more info and maps. The most popular hike, the Ring Trail, will leads thru rock face (above) to the campground on Black Canyon Road, on the other side of this huge rock wall.

Mid Hills Campground (nearby) has better choice on secluded camping, but rougher road to access. Mojave desert has abundant camping, so there is plenty space for everyone!

mojavehikes
Mojave Hikes @ Hole in the Wall


California Camping River

map river | hiking river | map gorge

California Rivers & River Topo Maps

Tent Camp Yosemite Valley

There are many gorgeous rivers in California that are perfect for camping and fishing, but none are located in Southern California. None! Yep, you read that right. If you think about it, the golden state is about half desert! The majority of our natural water in our state is coming from the north – so take this as a warning: you might need to drive a few hours to find your ideal river camp.

The easy-to-access waterways are found mostly along highways in the Sierra Nevada – or way up in NorCal. Deep granite gorges carved out by glaciers, surrounded by forested peaks is only half the appeal. High elevation lakes, waterfalls, big trees, abundant wildlife, and the alpine villages are all part of the Sierra Nevada experience.  Raft, kayak, fly fish, hike, bike or just camp out next to a big, rushing, flowing river. Our selection of California maps will get you narrowed down to a specific region, so you can find that perfect river campground, or explore and discover the back roads – for the most seclusion.

NorCal Rivers:

Burney Falls
Burney Falls, is part of the Pit River

EEL RIVER
KLAMATH RIVER
Klamath NF Map
MAD RIVER – NFS Campground
MATTOLE RIVER
McCLOUD RIVER

NAPA RIVER
NAVARRO RIVER
NEW RIVER
NOYO RIVER
PIT RIVER
RUSSIAN RIVER
SACRAMENTO RIVER CAMPING
SALMON RIVER
6 RIVERS NATIONAL FOREST MAP
SMITH RIVER
TRINITY RIVER
VAN DUZEN RIVER

MiddleForkFeather
Middle Fork of Feather River, Berry Creek, CA

Sierra Nevada Rivers:

AMERICAN RIVER
AMERICAN RIVER – El Dorado NF Map
CONSUMNES RIVER – Stanislaus NF Map

FEATHER RIVER
FEATHER RIVER Recreation Map
FEATHER RIVER – Plumas NF Map

Kern River Hot Tub
Kern River Hot Tub

KAWEAH RIVER – Sequoia
KERN RIVER CAMPING
KERN RIVER – Sequoia
KINGS RIVER California
KINGS RIVER CAMPING
KINGS RIVER – Sequoia Kings Canyon Map
KINGS CANYON NP
MERCED RIVER – Sierra
MERCED RIVER – Yosemite Map
MOKELUMNE RIVER – El Dorado NF Map
OWENS RIVER – Inyo NF Map
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER – Sierra
SOUTH YUBA RIVER Recreation Map
STANISLAUS RIVER – Sonora Pass
STANISLAUS RIVER – Stanislaus NF Map
SUSAN RIVER – Lassen
TULE RIVER – Sequoia

YUBA RIVER – North Gold Country
YUBA RIVER – Tahoe NF Map

Central Coast Rivers:

BIG SUR RIVER
SALINAS RIVER

SoCal Rivers:

COLORADO RIVER CAMPING
Colorado River Jet Ski
LAKE HAVASU
LAKE MEAD (NV) Recreation Map
LAKE MOHAVE

SANTA YNEZ RIVER @ Lake Cachuma – Santa Barbara Mountains
SESPE RIVER – more creek than river, Los Padres NF & SESPE WILDERNESS

Colorado River California
Colorado River California

 

LOCAL TIPS
River Destinations in California

califrepublic

calmrivers
Lower Kern River – Calm but Dangerous

KERN RIVER: The Kern River is one of the most popular of all the Sierra rivers due to its proximity to SoCal. Hurried, stressed-out, Angelinos (LA) can be at this destination in under 3 hours – which makes it a very busy place most months.

So, let it be told, that summer is not the best time to enjoy the Kern. If you do plan a summer outting, make sure you head for the Upper Kern (10+ mi N of Kernville & Lake Isabella) or the North Fork of the Kern (out in Monache Meadows) where 4×4 is often needed.

The Lower Kern River has only 2 developed campgrounds: Hobo (closed for damage 2019) and Sandy Flat (open all year). Numerous primitive camp spots are available along Old Kern Canyon Rd, which parallels the Hwy 178 on the south side. None of which are located at the rivers edges. Remington Hot Springs is a popular spot for soaking. Fishing trails, mountain biking trails and hiking trails, all over. Fire danger is great in this area, so pay extra close attention to signs and fire restrictions.

Kern River above Lake Isabella and Kernville is a better choice for camping availability.

Beer at River

YOSEMITE RIVER: Yosemite National Park –
Merced River & Tuolumne River

NPSEverybody loves Yosemite! This is the most popular park in the whole state; maybe the whole nation.

The majority of campers want to stay “right on the river” when they visit Yosemite NP, but that is just plain old impossible, since reservations go fast and there is only so much room for everyone in this enclosed, narrow, precious valley.

This particular park has some major floods (1997 & 2005) that wiped out bridges, road ways; all the old wooden cabins (at Yosemite Lodge) are gone and only half of the campgrounds are still available. Yosemite has had 11 winter floods since 1916 that have caused substantial damage to property. That number is expected to increase, as winter precipitation is getting less predictable.

Reservations are taken for camping and cabins – far in advance; like one year. No joke!

3 Yosemite Campgrounds are located next to the Merced River (inside spectacular Yosemite Valley)

hikehike

Way up in the Yosemite high country, which is only open a few months outta the year, the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located next to lush meadows and the scenic Tuolumne River. All Yosemite campsites must be reserved well in advance, so visit links above – if you are serious about a Yosemite camping trip anytime soon.

check

Mokelumne

MOKELUMNE RIVER: Way up the road, deep in the western Sierra, Gold Country. Small NFS campgrounds, right on the river; Access is long, narrow paved, switch-back road, not suitable for RVs or trailers.

STANISLAUS RIVER: The Sonora Pass, the fishing is very decent way back in this granite gorge. Highway 108 is only open a few months outta the year, due to deep snow & rock slides – so time is of the essence. Summer time is prime vacation weather up here. Several campgrounds are located right on the river, or on the major feeder streams. Or you can opt for secluded primitive camping on the back roads. Find Sonora camping in Stanislaus National Forest.

YUBA RIVER: The biggest play time river in the northern Gold Country, this runs along Hwy 49 near Downieville and also has a major South Fork for the best swimming holes and primitive camping in this region. Tubing, rafting, kayaking, fishing, camping, gold panning, you name it, Yuba has it. Look for more on the South Yuba Recreation Map, or the USDA issued Tahoe National Forest Map

FEATHER RIVER: Top fishing river in the Lassen to Oroville area. Chester and Lake Almanor in the upper reaches. High Bridge Campground is nice paved-camp-site camping; a forested spot where you can fish 2 rivers on the same day. A Plumas NF or Lassen NF map would be quite helpful for this region. Lower down the mountain, lower Feather Rivers which include all 4 forks which feed Lake Oroville – West Fork (Paradise, CA), North Fork, Middle Fork Feather, (Berry Creek, CA) and the South Fork (Lumpkin). Lots of waterways and creeks worth exploring in between Chico and the mountain town of Quincy.

KINGS RIVER: This one particular river is the longest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, pulling snow melt from the upper reaches of the High Country and Mount Whitney. The river area just to the West of the National Park, over to Pine Flat Reservoir, is all prime for outdoor recreation. Several river rafting companies work this stretch of river.

CAMP FOUR & A HALF CABIN RENTAL
NFS KINGS RIVER
NFSrangers

hikehike

Kings River Rafters

River Beach Campground
Trinity River Camping, Douglas City, CA

riverrunsclear
Sierra Nevada Rivers are the dreams that Summers are made of.


14S11 – Sequoia NF

trails to meadow

Big Meadows Road: Sequoia Forest Rd# 14S11

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the KNP Complex Fire

GIANT SEQUOIA: in between Sequoia & Kings Canyon, inside Sequoia NF

Sequoia Meadows

This chunk of National Forest land is perfectly located in between 2 very popular National Parks – Kings Canyon and Sequoia. This primary paved road leads to some great camping, a perfect option for NOT camping inside the crowed National Parks.

Turn east off of Sequoia ‘Generals Highway’ 198, on to the well signed Big Meadow Rd. There is primitive camping all over this area & a few developed campgrounds along this route. Motorhomes be warned: the road narrows to one lane with no “turn outs” or U turn spots for the last 10 miles (on a steep cliff w/ large overhanging rocks)

SEE CAMPING PHOTOS

campIn the first few miles, the dispersed camp sites on the right side have great views & some situated on fairly flat granite slabs, perfect for astronomer campers or adventurous RVs. To the left side of the road is more primitive style campsites in wooded areas. The whole area is also a very popular cross country ski & snowmobiling spot for winter recreation. Hunters also like these camps during hunting season (in September).

horseback

There is a developed Horse Camp on the left side of the road for equestrian campers. This camp is located across from the biggest meadow and may be the first place you notice on this drive.


Buck Rock Campground
(7600′ elevation, 5 spots) & Big Meadows Campground (7600′ elevation, 25 spots) are both family style camps, perfect for those who want picnic tables, plus bathroom nearby. Sorry no flush toilets out here, only pit toilets.

 

Sequoia maps

Buck Rock Fire Lookout Tower @ 8500′ elevation – is located to the north on Forest Rd # 14S02. It’s a great spot for some impressive views – if you aren’t afraid of heights. To reach the tower you must climb several flights of steel steps. This place is worth a stop if planning a sightseeing day.

Big Meadows Guard Station @ 7500′ elevation (also known as Big Meadows Cabin), is located next to the BIG MEADOW and is available for rent on a weekend basis from the NFS. Hiking Jennie Lakes Wilderness and fly fishing Big Meadows Creek are favorite activities to be enjoyed.

Big Meadows Road is long & narrow – 12+ miles. RVs are not recommended beyond the Big Meadow Campground, as the road is one lane in some spots & it skirts a cliff edge. The views are incredible the farther you go & many creeks feed the region.

The narrow, long paved road eventually forks off into several smaller dirt roads back near Horse Corral Meadow. Way back here, the dirt roads lead out to trail heads for backpacking, horse packing or day hiking in Jennie Lakes & Monarch Wilderness. Backcountry access to either Sequoia or Kings Canyon National Park! Have a good map if you plan to venture out this far. Pay attention & don’t get lost.

GPS would be helpful in this area. Some of the smaller of the dirt roads are not even on the NFS maps. Make sure to GPS way-point your favorite camp site, so you can find in next time…. in the dark.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

nearby services:

Sequoia Groves

see all – Big Meadows in California 

Marvin Pass Trailhead

22S82 – Sequoia NF

Forks of the Kern: Forest Rd# 22S82 – Lloyds Meadow Road
Jerky Meadow Trailhead, Sequoia National Forest

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the Windy Fire

Driving north on Sierra Hwy N of Kernville, California; Passing Fairview & the Johnsondale bridge; After the R Ranch @ Johnsondale, take the right fork off the main highway, which goes deep into Kern River Gorge. This narrow & winding paved road skirts the Upper Kern River Gorge & the impressive Rincon Fault. Numerous primitive camp site can be found on dirt roads off this paved route. The pavement dead ends at Jerky Meadow trail head, which accesses the Golden Trout Wilderness & the Great Western Divide. Backpackers can get to the high country Sierra Nevada & Mineral King in Sequoia National Park from these trails.

Forks of the Kern

Boy Scout Camp Whitsett is one of the first places you pass, near Sentinel Peak.

The Western Divide Hwy runs parallel to road 22S82; way up above it @ 7000′ elevation – with destinations like Dome Rock & the Needles (2 very cool granite features) that overlook this Kern Gorge. The small community of Ponderosa, CA is also up there, along with the quaking aspen groves & the Trail of 100 Giants. Forest Rd# 22S02 connects paved route 22S82 to the Giant Sequoia highway above.

There are many primitive camp areas way above Kern River Gorge – all located on the right side of this road 22S82. Look for small signs for CAMP AREA #1-6. Camps 1-3 are great for RV campers with creeks & dense forests. Long Meadow Creek is one of the first of many streams, you will cross as driving this paved, winding, canyon route. Camp areas #4, 5, & 6 are the best bet for seclusion, plus awesome hiking trails to falls, granite pools & the impressive Kern gorge. Swimming holes are plentiful. Fishing can be decent at times. Many waterfalls can be found in this region as the tributary streams fall towards the deep granite gorge in the Sierra Nevada range. All roads off of 22S82 are dirt roads & most are passenger car accessible. Wetter months could be challenging. Some routes back here are considered to be 4×4 routes tho, so know your vehicles limitations. High clearance is needed to reach some camp sites. Summers can be busy.

This area was burnt from recent wildfires in 2002-2005, but the primitive, dispersed campsites near the streams are full of vegetation & making a nice comeback. Alder Creek runs down from the Sequoias, into Dry Meadow Creek nearby.

Lower Peppermint Campground @ 5300′ elevation, on the west side of the road, is the only developed camp ground on this main forest road. Lower Peppermint has 17 spots, piped water, & picnic tables. Peppermint Meadows & Peppermint Creek are adjacent to the camp area.

Lloyd Meadows @ Sequoia Forest Road# 20S67 – is the Forks of the Kern Trailhead & the dirt road that accesses it, is very popular among equestrian campers. Freeman Creek joins Lloyd Meadows Creek near Pyles Camp. There is a small developed campground called “Forks of the Kern”. Steep trail leads down to the granite gorge where Little Kern River meets the main Kern River; Rattlesnake Creek & Ninemile Creek also join the Kern River in this 10 mile stretch. Kern Hot Springs requires a backpacking trip.

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

GOLDEN TROUT Wilderness MAP USDA
GOLDEN TROUT MAP (Tom Harrison)

Closest small towns are:

Kern River Camping

relaxing at kern

Kern River California

Kern River is a top recreation destination for the lower half of the state, since it is the only big Sierra river within easy reach of Southern California.

Lower mountain elevations 2000-4000′ means camping all year is possible on the Kern. With only a few inches of rainfall, plus an average high temperature of 60 degrees in December & January, Kernville has become a year-round recreation destination for the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Kern Canyon and most surrounding mountains are managed by USDA: Sequoia National Forest, which extends south to the Tehachapi range!

Sierra Nevada ROAD CLOSURES during winter restricts that Kern Canyon is only accessible via the Hwy 178 route. Both the Western Divide Highway (to the north) and Sherman’s Pass Road (to the east) close for many months, due to snow. (typically, NOV-APRIL closure)

Snowy Springs

 

Popular Kern Recreation – backpacking, camping, fishing, hiking, river rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, off-roading & floating (inner tubing).

Kern Tube Ready

Kern River can be divided into 5 different & distinct regions:

kern gorge
Granite gorge, Kern River, South of Whitney

Kern River High Country

headwaters of the Kern River.
High Sierra, Golden Trout Wilderness, Kern Hot Springs, Mount Whitney snowmelt, Kern Gorge. foot access only, wilderness backcountry. fishing, day hikes, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, horse packs.

fencedmeadow

Upper Kern Plateau

Southern Fork of the Kern River
Golden Trout Wilderness
Monache Meadows (Inyo NF)
Troy Meadows
Kennedy Meadows
Horse Meadow Campground
Big Meadow
Long Valley Campground
Chimney Creek Campground
Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway

johnsondale bridge @ KERN

Forks of the Kern

(areas north of Johnsondale)

Johnsondale Bridge
backpackers & fishing trailheads
Big parking lot at the bridge. trails travel rivers edge into a tight canyon, impressive rock gorge continues up to the tallest mountain peaks in the High Sierra.

rincon
Shermans Pass Road hard right, up hill, turn-off
the main (paved) route that connects Kern River to Mojave desert.

RINCON CAMP – The Rincon Fault (an earthquake fault line) runs in a north-south direction, on the east side of Kern River. Popular and rugged RINCON, a dirt bike and mountain bike trail runs this ridge as well. An overgrown hunters camp (which has been almost destroyed) is located up hill from Brush Creek falls; but accessible via unmaintained dirt road – unsigned pull out, just off Shermans’ Pass Road. High clearance vehicle is needed to reach this spot.

Johnsondale Cabins: R Ranch

johnsondale
Johnsondale under Fire 2002

Sequoia #22S82 – Forks of the Kern Road

>> recently burnt in wildfire Windy Fire 2021
Boy Scout Camp Whitsett
Lloyds Meadow
Kern River Gorge
Lower Peppermint Campground
Primitive camps – Camp 1, Camp 2, Camp 3, Camp 4, Camp 5
Jerky Meadows Trailhead to Golden Trout Wilderness

kern flat camping

Upper Kern River

Kern River north of Kernville, CANFS

BUSY: This part of the Kern River sees much of the action, with kayakers, river rafters, fishermen, RVs, motorcycles, mountain bikers, backpackers and car campers, seeking easy river access, hiking trailheads or just a good picnic spot.

Numerous small lodges between Kernville & Johnsondale

Brush Creek: awesome waterfalls & pools on Brush Creek, only accessible by hiking trail.

Rincon Trail runs above the river on the east side, via the Rincon earthquake fault. This is right where Brush Creek comes down the steep mountain. RINCON is favorite mountain biking trail, that is also open to dirt bikes (OHV) & equestrian, so share the trail and play nice. Rincon Camp is rugged, may be overgrown and unmaintained. Long dirt road might require high clearance vehicle or possible 4×4, if weather is wet.

kern fishing

Lake Isabella

Huge recreational reservoir in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Dry and high desert terrain. Canyons have more vegetation. East part of lake is a wildlife refuge w/ abundant cottonwood trees, which turn golden yellow in Autumn.

The earthen dam is on the south westside. California State Route 178 (Hwy 178), which connects Mojave desert w/ Bako. This major east-west Sierra route is a four-laner (freeway) cutting thru the valley. EXIT#  intersects w/ CA 155 to reach Alta Sierra, Wofford Heights, Kernville and all place north of there.

Breckenridge is a Mountain to the south of Isabella and Lower Kern. Tall pines with an empty campground awaits!

Isabella Lake

Lower Kern River

(river access / camping, southwest of Lake Isabella)

Historic Kern – Keyesville OHV
Off-Road Camping

hobo camping
Hobo Camp has a fishing trail along the river.

Old Kern Canyon Road

Minimal to modest campsites in the lower canyon. Most seclusion for overnight spots, can be found along the empty stretches of the Old Kern Canyon Road. Many curvy mountain miles, one lane, paved, several flat spots for easy road-side camping. Caution for cattle in roadway. Speed limit is generally under 40 mph for this historic route which parallels the 178, in between Lake Isabella and Bako.

Kern River Hot Tub
Local Hot Springs

32S13 – Los Padres NF

Sierra Madre Road
Sierra Madre Ridge, San Rafael Wilderness

Los Padres National Forest
Forest Road #32S13

off of Cuyama Valley Hwy 166

32S13 Sierra Madre Road

East of Santa Maria, CA – along Highway 166 (on the south side of the pavement) are several dirt roads that lead up to the main ridge road that access this part of Los Padres National Forest.

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • dirt bike trails
  • dirt roads
  • hiking
  • horse camping
  • mountain biking
  • off road routes
  • petroglyhs
  • wildflowers

4WD not required, but high clearance is helpful. Open almost all year. Rainy season gate closures (at hwy) during winter months.

4x4

dirtbikes

cruiseronridge

Sierra Madre Mountains

Miranda Pine Mountain (elev. 4120′)
Timber Peak (elev. 4754′)
Peak Mountain (elev. 5843′)
McPherson Peak (elev. 5749′)
Samon Peak (elev. 6221′)

Sierra Madre Ridge is forest road #32S13, which parallels Hwy 166 (Cuyama River) for over 50 miles on the Sierra Madre Ridge at approx. 5000 feet elevation.

NOTE: A good stretch of this dirt road is closed to vehicle traffic. Although it connects to Santa Barbara Canyon near Ventucopa, you cannot drive it. Only hike or mountain bike!

Hog Pen Sign

NFS Gate locked at the HOG PEN trailhead, and from there you can bike or walk all the way the other end at Santa Barbara Canyon near Cuayama Fire Lookout @ Dick Smith Wilderness

Still Standing

camp

Small campgrounds in the region:

off Highway 166
Miranda Pine Campground (on 32S13 @ 11N03)
Bates Canyon Campground (via Cottonwood Canyon Rd)
also known as White Oaks Campground
Aliso Canyon Campground (via Aliso Canyon Road)
not accessible by vehicle, from dirt road 32S13; only by trail

in the backcountry
Painted Rock Camp (hike-in)
Sycamore Camp (hike-in)

high clearance, off road accessible
Horseshoe Springs (11N04)
Lazy Campground (11N04)
Wagon Flat Campground (11N03)
Barrel Springs (10N06)
Colson Canyon (11N04)

wildflower

coastridges

Highway 166 Cuyama River Valley
EAST San Luis Obispo County

Wildflowers Bloom: APRIL-MAY

mayflowers

redflora

San Rafael Wilderness

Sisquoc River
Native Rock Art
Sierra Madre Mountains

Rock Art Sign

MAPS of the Area:

hiker

Los Padres USFS MAP
Los Padres Topo Atlas
Los Padres West NatGeo Map
Dick Smith Wilderness Map

sisquocriver6nearby destinations: 

Cuyama Peak Fire Lookout
New Cuyama, CA

Rock Front Ranch 4×4
Santa Maria, CA
Ventucopa, CA

Oak Bottom Campground

Oakbottom Campground

Whiskeytown Recreation Area:
Oak Bottom Campground

Carr Fire 2018: some portions of this lake, shore, roads and trails may be closed due to the recent wildfire

The large, level, paved campground is right on the north shore of Whiskeytown Lake, on Hwy 299 – E of Redding CA

hiker

101 walk-in campsites
22 RV sites
elevation 1200′

  • boating
  • camping
  • hiking trails
  • kayaking
  • marina
  • mountain biking trails

Campground Reservation on NRA

Camp Sites near Water

Group Camping can be reserved at
Whiskey Creek Group Picnic Area
3 group camping sites with excellent views of the lake and mountains, on the northeastern shore of Whiskeytown Lake.

nearby towns:

Views Westward

canoe

Lake Sunset Whiskeytown

And by golly, there is another

OAK BOTTOM CAMP in Northern California,
way over west near Marble Mountain Wilderness

camp

Salmon River @ Somes Bar:
Oak Bottom Campground NFS

elevation 700′
26 sites
No electricity, water or sewer hookups

Six Rivers National Forest – Oak Bottom Campground loops around a forested hillside with large trees providing ample shading for multiple sites within the campground. A variety of wildlife makes its home in the area.

Located off the main highway, on a side road, with the epic Salmon River! This NFS campground is popular with whitewater enthusiasts in the spring. Rafters, kayakers. Many challenging rapids ranging from Class 3 to 5 are available. Swimming is also popular in the summer and numerous river access areas are a short drive or walk from the campground.

23S16 – Sequoia NF

Sugarloaf Ridge, Greenhorn Mts
Alta Sierra, Kern River Canyon

sugarloafrd
Sugarloaf Road, above Kern River Canyon

SOUTH SIERRA: This route is located in between the Western Divide Highway and the cedar community of Alta Sierra, CA

Sequoia Camping

Sugarloaf Ridge: Forest Rd# 23S16 – Thompson Camp Spring, The Den @ Sequoia National Forest

Driving north on Sierra Hwy N of Kernville, California; Passing Fairview & the Johnsondale bridge; After the R Ranch @ Johnsondale, take the left fork on the main highway; After you climb in elevation, look for brown signs on right side of road & turn left on Forest Service Rd# 23S16. Primitive camp sites are located throughout this area along Packsaddle Creek. Do not turn left up Sugarloaf Rd. There are no good camp sites up that way (unless you wanna make one).

RV campers are very common at Thompson Camp Spring, as this road is paved up to this point. The paved road is windy & narrows after this point. It is not advised for trailers or long motorhomes past Thompson.

For the more adventurous, Bear Meadow & Packsaddle Mdw are located up the dirt road a bit on #23S64.

Vsugar

Paved Sequoia route# 23S16 continues to climb, which leads to the Speas Meadow, the Greenhorn Mountains & you best have a real good map if you are heading up this way. 20 miles of awesome open meadows, small streams, dense forest, wildflowers, some primitive camp sites & great viewpoints overlooking the Kern Canyon. All passenger car accessible! Elevations between 6000-7000′. Sugarloaf Peak has cross country skiing.

Side route #23S05 will take you to White River Campground w/ 12 spots. The paved road winds west down the mountain to Posey & eventually Glennville on Hwy 155.

Instead, to easily reach Hwy 155 – you’ll need to get on dirt for a few miles. While on 23S16, look for the Panorama Campground (@ 7400′ elevation w/ 10 sites). Take dirt road #24S15 to get back to civilization @ Alta Sierra, California.

NFSlogo

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

Sequoia Forest Topo Atlas

 

nearby small towns are:

Vbeardrive

Best Paved Roads in the Sierra Nevada

Pine Canyon Road
Inyo National Forest Rd # 6S17
Bishop, CA

Western Divide Highway
Giant Sequoia NM
Ponderosa, CA
(LIMITED ACCESS 2021, due to wildfire damage)

Forks of the Kern: Sequoia National Forest
Forest Rd# 22S82
(CLOSED 2021, due to wildfire damage)

23N16 Motorcylce Ride: Pashnit
pashnit.com/ca-forest-road-23s16

kernwildflowers
Kern River Wildflowers (April) w/ Sugarloaf Mountains

Creek Campground

Creek Campground California

creek camps California

Car campers in Southern California dream of the perfect setting: an uncrowded campsite, in a lush forest, with tall trees & flowing stream of crystal clear water. A swimming hole nearby, plus a place for the hammock. They also want it less than a 2 hours drive from their home. Unlikely.

The real California rivers & mountains are in the northern half of the state, while the lower is more like a desert. You will need to drive hours to reach these kinda spots. The Sierra Nevada mountains are the closest bet for finding a creek side camp. Lassen is next, for exploring numerous dirt roads that lead to secluded spots. Northern California, above Redding usually has water flowing and decent fishing, even in the driest years.

camp

Read more on specific California camping techniques:

Steamside Camping

Biodegradable Camp Soaps

Environmental Camping

Creek Maps

camp groundsDeveloped campgrounds located next to rivers, creeks, or streams can be found on the back roads of California. Below is just a sample of small towns that have creek campgrounds nearby:

primitive campsMany of the best creek camp spots are located outside of developed Campgrounds. Most we suggest on this site are located on dirt roads. Some routes may require a 4×4 vehicle, or high clearance 2WD.

stream campingNOTE: you will need a good map. Topographic or National Forest maps

thin blue lines – You’ll know a decent road when you see it. But when you are starting out at home, you need to concentrate of what dirt roads are along what water sources. And will these streams be flowing at this time of year? Many are seasonal creeks & can dry up in late summer. The most likely place to find great water flow is to look for the streams flowing directly into a major river or Lake/ Reservoir.

cabin campingAnd if you are really not into to roughing it, but wanna find a CABIN on RIVER or CREEK, check out our extensive list of all vacation cabins here, California Cabin Rentals

holeinthegroundsign
Lassen Camping near a creek in Northern California

Baker Creek
Upper Baker Creek, Inyo NF – 4×4 Camp

vanlifenorcal
Van Life, on McCloud Creek @ Algoma

Matilija Wilderness

Upper Matilija Fall

Matilija Wilderness
Matilija Falls

Matilija Canyon
North of Ojai, California

Los Padres National Forest Map

Established 1992 by the Los Padres Condor Range & River Protection Act.

29,600 acres
Ojai, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Ojai Ranger District
805-646-4348

USDA web link – Matilija Wilderness

hikelospadres.com/matilija-wilderness

The coastal mountain range wilderness located approximately 12 miles north of Ojai, CA. Drive 5 miles N on Highway 33; left at the Matilija Canyon Road turn off.

Chaparral is the prevalent vegetation with poppies plentiful in springtime. Cottonwood, alder and maple trees dominate the canyon. One trail has trail campsites along it and follows 9 miles of the North Fork, gaining about 3,400′ feet in elevation as it makes a north-south journey, and leaving the Wilderness at a parking area on Cherry Creek Road. This road is open seasonally from Aug. 1 to Dec. 15

small water fall

This whole area burnt in a recent wildfire and much of it may be closed off to the public.

Matilija Canyon Trails & Trailheads

Landowner closes popular trail to Matilija Falls (2010)


View Larger Map

aaron climbing

Matilija Creek Bed

Fishing Maps California

owensfishing

California Fishing Maps & Destinations

California fishing recreation ranges from sport-fishing, an open sea adventure, to solo casting in deep river canyons. Big Sierra Reservoirs near Gold Rush Country to High Country Alpine Lakes, the golden state has the water – and the outdoor recreation you crave.

Below is an alphabetical list of popular fishing destinations within California. Mountains to coastline, there are many maps to choose from.

American River, California

gonzagadusk

Baja California Maps
Surf, Camp, Fish, Kayak, Dive
Sea of Cortez, Baja CA Mexico

Big Bear Trail Map
San Berdoo Mountains Map
San Bernardino National Forest Map USDA
San Bernardino National Forest
Big Bear Lake, Arrowhead & Idyllwild
SoCal Mountains

Lake Berryessa California
Wine Country Reservoir

Bishop Creek Eastern Sierra

Bishop Pass Trail Map
North Lake, Sabrina, South Lake
Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map
Bucks Lake Wilderness, Quincy CA
Bucks Lake Campgrounds
North Sierra Mountains

California Delta Maps

Carson Pass, Sierra Highway 88
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map
Central Sierra Nevada Lakes & Rivers

Casitas Lake, Ventura County

Clear Lake, Wine Country California

Crystal Basin Sierra Nevada

Crystal Basin / Silver Fork Map
Central Sierra Nevada Mountains
Eldorado National Forest

El Dorado National Forest Map
Mokelumne, American River

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Map
Tom Harrison Map
Sierra Hikes, Dinkey Creek

Golden Trout Wilderness Map
Upper Kern River, Southern Sierra

Green Creek Road
creek fishing, trailhead campgrounds
Bridgeport, CA Eastern Sierra

Hat Creek California 
Headwaters to the Pit River

Lake Havasu, California 

Hoover Wilderness Map
Hoover Wilderness
Bridgeport, CA Eastern Sierra

Hot Creek @ Mammoth Lakes, Eastern Sierra

Inyo National Forest Map
Mount Whitney, Owens River, High Sierra Lakes
Bishop, Crowley, Mammoth & June
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Kearsarge Pass Topo

Kearsarge Pass Trail Map
Rae Lakes Loop, High Sierra
Onion Valley, Eastern Sierra

Kings Canyon High Country Map
Kings Cyn National Park
Trails, Peaks, hike-in only Lakes

Klamath National Forest Map
Klamath River, NorCal
Hwy 96, Happy Camp, Hupa/Hoopa

Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Lakes Basin Map USDA
over a dozen small lakes, w/ trails, fishing
Gold Lake California
Sierra Buttes, North of Gold Country

Lake Isabella, Kern River

Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Lake Tahoe Map

Lake Tahoe Basin Map NatGeo

Tahoe Eastshore

Lassen Forest Map
Lassen National Forest &
Lassen National Park
Feather River, Lassen Lakes

Mammoth Map

Mammoth Lakes Map NatGeo
Mammoth Lakes CA
Mono Divide, High Sierra
June Lake, Eastern Sierra Recreation

Rush Creek

Lake Mead, Nevada

NatGeo Lake Mead Map

Lake Mohave, Nevada

Merced River Recreation Map NatGeo
Merced River & Tuolumne River
Yosemite Camping & Fishing
Gold Country, Western Sierra Rivers

Millerton Reservoir, West Sierra
Fresno, CA

Mineral King Trail Map
Southern Sequoia National Park
day hike to wilderness lakes

Owens River, Eastern Sierra

Plumas National Forest Map
Lake Almanor, Lake Oroville
Feather River (all 4 forks)

Piru Lake, California

Pit River Fishing Map 

Sacramento River, North State

Sequoia National Forest Map
Kern River, Lake Isabella
Kern Plateau, Kennedy Mdws

Shasta National Forest Map
Sacramento River, Lake Shasta
NorCal fishing, Mount Shasta

Sierra National Forest Map
San Joaquin River, Dinkey Creek
Dinkey Lakes Map
Kings River, Pine Flat Reservoir
Lake Edison, Florence
Shaver Lake Map, Huntington Lake
BlackRock, Courtright, Wishon

Stanislaus National Forest Map
Stanislaus National Forest
Sonora Pass, Dardalelle
Stanislaus River, Gold Country

sierra buttes

Tahoe National Forest:

Tahoe Sierra Buttes Map NatGeo
Sierra Buttes / Donner Pass
Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Tahoe Yuba Map NatGeo
American River, Yuba River
Gold Country California

Toiyabe National Forest:
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mts

Toiyabe Carson Map
Carson River, Markleeville
Eastern Sierra, South of Tahoe

Toiyabe Bridgeport Map
Walker River, Twin Lakes
Eastern Sierra, Yosemite East

walker river California
Walker River California

Walker River Fly Fishing Map

lakes

let’s not forget the ever expanding…

California Lake List

rocklakefishing