Tag Archives: campgrounds

Lassen Camping

NFS ELAM
Elam Creek Campground, Hwy 32

Camping near Lassen Park

Lassen River CampMount Lassen is part of the Cascade Mountain Range, located north of the Sierra Nevada. The Lassen forest encompasses a large area of wilderness land, snowmelt creeks and an abundant dirt road system. Most of which is covered in deep snow about half the year, so plan accordingly.

Plenty of great dispersed camping along the old logging roads in this Lassen Forest area, surrounding the Volcanic National Park; in Northern California. Many dirt roads are graded annually to allow for passenger car access. You can make it way back there in a car – just watch for the mud and some boulders!

lassen maps

Camp fire permits required (see below). Pease try to choose a camp that has been used before and pack out your garbage.

HINT: a USDA Lassen National Forest Map is very helpful when camping these remote, Lassen back roads. Stay away from the crowds, avoid camp fees & really enjoy your vacation.

Camp right on a rushing river, alone. With no one in sight or sound. Have that secluded camping experience you’ve always dreamed about. Fishing, relaxing, maybe some hiking too. Or better, your mountain bike. Plenty forest roads to explore.mountains

Numerous waterfalls to discover, water flowing everywhere. Mount Lassen @ 10,457′ elevation, is often snow-capped year round. This Northern California region is covered with pine forests and volcanic history.

Cool Springs PGE
Cool Springs @ Butt Lake, California
(PG&E Campground)

CAMP LASSEN
is our guide to all camping and campgrounds
in Lassen Forest, Parks and nearby towns

camp

NFS

If you wanna find the nearest biker bar, head over to the rustic and forested Bambi Inn @ Butte Meadows. The place is popular all the time, especially on weekends. Scenic day drive from Chico, located near a nice river and bridge, plus they have cabin rentals too. Sometimes they have big events and it can get pretty crowded and loud w/ drinking and outdoor music.

BSA Camp Lassen is a boy scout camp located E of Chico, off Highway 32 near Butte Meadows, CA

Dispersed Camp sites in Lassen in Lake Almanor Area

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Alder Creek Campground 3900′ 6 pines vault creek March-Nov
Benner Creek Campground 5562′ 9 pines vault creek May-Nov
Black Rock Campground 2100′ 6 pines vault creek year round, fish
Echo Lake Campground 6440′ hike pines none lake May-Nov, no tables
Soldier Creek Campground 4890′ disp pines vault creek May-Nov, fall hunters
South Antelope Campground 2700′ 4 pines vault creek year round
Willow Lake Campground disp pines lake May-Nov, no tables

NORTH LASSEN

Free North Lassen
Free Camping Lassen

Northside of Mount LassenNFSlogo

Excellent back roads camping w/ dense forest and free firewood all over the place (bring hand saw). Dispersed, primitive, free camping, near creek, and highway close. Many forest dirt roads turn offs, all along Highway 44 (California SR 44) near junction w/ Hwy 89 @ Lassen National Park.

Big creeks, dense forests, graded dirt roads, dark night skies. PCT access, trailheads, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, all along Upper Hat Creek.

Campfire permits (shovel, bucket & water) are required when camping outside of a developed campground. Always check on current fire restrictions. Washed out bridges and landslides are common, which means road closed signs can be found on these remote backroads.

campfire

see also –

Hat Creek Campground
Honn Campground on Hat Creek, Hwy 89
Large Lupine Lassen
Large Lupine on Mill Creek

HatCreekCampgr

Lassen Area Maps –

Lassen Towns –

Creeks along Highway 32 - N of Chico, CA
Creeks along Highway 32 – N of Chico, CA
Lake Almanor, California
Lake Almanor, California
USFS Chester Ranger Station
USFS Chester Ranger Station

Lassen National Forest
Almanor Ranger District
900 E. Hwy 36 | PO Box 767
Chester, CA 96020
530-258-2141


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

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


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

Closed Indefinitely

UPDATE SEPT 20, 2021
California National Forests, most have re-opened.
See Sequoia Wildfires & Closures

pinetree

Twenty five years ago, when I began this outdoor web site for California, did I ever imagine ‘times like these’ – where we would be held up inside our homes during summer, as annual wildfires destroyed our vast and beautiful forests. Frightened to breathe the toxic, smokey air outside. Saddened by news of yet another town or historic structure burning to the ground. Checking the destruction daily online, in hopes of more containment, fresh photos or any good report.

Now I fear Total Escape  may become photographic documentation of how beautiful California once was.

burnt forest

wildfire closures

Most California National Forest are currently closed!

Lassen Volcanic National Park is CLOSED due to damages from the Dixie Fire.

In case you missed it: 2020 was the worst year for wildland fires in California history, but 2021 is shaping up to be just as bad. Many forests, roads, trails, campgrounds and parks listed below have been closed to the public for the 2021 season, and possibly longer.

BIG SUR COAST
Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
Prewitt Ridge
Nacimiento Road
Lucia Restaurant
Tassajara Canyon

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Big Basin Redwoods SP
Butano Redwoods SP
Boulder Creek, CA

NORTHERN CALIF
Armstrong Redwoods SP
Austin Creek SRA
Mendocino National Forest
Lake Berryessa
Mad River / Ruth Lake
Forest Glen, CA
Salmon River
Six River National Forest
Snow Mountain Wilderness
Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Lassen National Forest
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Caribou Wilderness
Lake Almanor
Feather River (North Fork)
Susan River (near Caribou)
Trinity Alps Wilderness
Trinity River (W of Weaverville)

SIERRA NEVADA
Alta Sierra
Balch Park

Berry Creek, CA
Bucks Lake, CA
Butte Meadows
Caldor
Consumnes River
Dinkey Creek
Eldorado National Forest
Feather River (Middle Fork)
Huntington Lake, CA
Indian Valley
Greenville, CA
Mammoth Pool Reservoir
Mountain Home Sequoia
Plumas National Forest
Sequoia National Forest
Sierra National Forest
Shaver Lake, CA
Shirley Meadows
Silver Fork
Western Divide Highway
22N82 Forks of the Kern

aftermath
Camp Okizu

camp

Expect that campfire rules will be tighter in the future, overall. Campfires will likely be restricted to ‘only inside developed campgrounds’. Or only allowed during the wet season on the backroads or in the backcountry.

campfire

hazmat
My Front Yard (literally)

*Unfortunately, this is not a complete list of all the closures inside California parks and forests. I am adding more to this list, as more places burn. This page is a work in progress for autumn 2021

58 counties
58 Counties in Calif

Trail of 100 Giants Sequoia Grove

seqAmigos

The Western Divide Highway, at 6000 feet elevation, connects the Kern River Valley w/ granite peaks, dome rock, aspen groves & the Giant Sequoia trees! This is one of the southernmost Sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The easy hike is more of a nature trail, wheel chair accessible & approximately 1 mile long. Large Sequoia trees, picnic grounds, near campground.

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the Windy Fire

On busy weekends and holidays the rangers charge a “day use” parking fee, for those wishing to park in the paved parking lots. Avoid this fee by finding additional parking along the highway. Only a few good free parking spots along this busy 3 mile stretch of highway, and don’t forget to park all the way off the pavement.

SOUTHERN SIERRA: Great destination for camping families & sightseers traveling through the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

Western Divide Campgrounds

The USDA National Forest Campground across the road from the Trail of One Hundred Giants is called Redwood Meadow Campground. There is also a separate parking lot for the picnic grounds w/ a similar name.

Also nearby is Long Meadow, Long Meadow Group Camp, Peppermint Campground, Holey Meadow Group Camp and past Ponderosa. Quaking Aspen Campground and Quaking Aspen has a NFS Cabin Rental too.

Down near Camp Nelson, CA is the Coy Flat Campground.

Giant Sequoia National Monument has numerous dirt back roads for free, primitive, car camping. You’ll need a good topo map to find the best ones. Some roads may be muddy, overgrown or extremely rocky, depending on recent weather. Know you vehicles limitations. There is no tow truck service available way back here in the boonies.

Trail of 100 Giants Photos

All Redwood Groves in California

 

nearby towns –

Sequoia National Forest Map
Sequoia National Forest Map
Golden Trout Wilderness Trail Map
Golden Trout Wilderness Trail Map

Hidden Groves near Ponderosa CA

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

San Jacinto Camping

jacinto campground

Mt San Jacinto State Park & Idyllwild Campgrounds

San Jacinto State Park Headquarters
25905 Highway 243
Idyllwild, CA 92549

Rangers & Wilderness Permits
951-659-2607

Mount San Jacinto State Park is surrounded by Wilderness area, the village of Idyllwild & the Palm Springs Tram station. Tahquitz Peak close to Idyllwild, is a rock climbing favorite.

Stone Creek Campground is located in the forest, along Highway 243. Elevation 5900′ w/ 50 camp sites & max RV = 24′

Idyllwild Campground is walking distance from town. North end of Idyllwild, CA. 33 camp sites & max RV = 24′

San Jacinto State Park
takes campground reservations!

For more Idylwild Camping options see –

San Bernardino Campgrounds & Yellow Post Sites

Topo trail maps, wilderness hiking maps –

nearby towns:

Ross Campground

Ross Camp
Ross Campground

Plumas National Forest

Located 3 miles above Plumas Eureka State Park and historic Johnsville, CA

Adjacent to Lakes Basin Recreation Area – accessible by dirt road or hiking, or by paved road (back to the highway)

Jamison Creek Canyon:
the small stream flows all year long

ross camp

4x4Small Sierra Nevada camp on Upper Jamison Creek in a granite canyon, within a gorgeous red fir forests, wildflowers and fresh mountain air.

high clearance vehicle recommended

Gravel (rocky) road access, and here we use the word “road” loosely:
Plumas County Road #507
Plumas Forest Route 507

also known as Johnsville Road; Johnsville McRea Road (misspelled McCrea on Google Maps)

johnsville3

plumas

Ross Campground NFS
• Elevation: 6,070′
• Number of Sites: 5
• Vehicle Accessibility: High clearance; No RVs or trailers
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: No
• Toilet: Vault
• Water: Creek only
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May–October
• Trailhead: McRea Ridge & PCT

camp

granite canyon

private spot
PLUMAS_map

  • camping
  • dirt roads
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • swimming holes
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers

entrance

RUSTIC CAMP: No Picnic Tables!

4 camp sites are located at this turnoff @ driveway. Another single camp spot is located half mile up road, next to 2 nice swimming holes. Although the National Forest web site states that this place has 3 sites, it does indeed have 5 camp fire rings. All are available on a first come basis.

No OHV off-road riding in camp.snow

Snow is possible at this elevation, between October-April. Thunderstorms are common in summer in the Sierra Nevada mountains. 4×4 will be needed to access this area, if winter weather sets in.

Across Jamison Creek from Ross Camp
is Mount Fillmore @ 7715′ elev.
Up canyon is Mc Rae Ridge
PCT trailhead
Mt Etna @ 7063′
Blue Nose Mtn @ 7290′

camp fees

USFS  just started charging a fee for this remote creekside camp. It used to be free, but no more.

Lakes Basin California

nearest towns:

ceremony site
This particular large camp spot is shady, level and has bench seats. A perfect little ceremony camp setting.

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

Santa Lucia Camping

Sierra Madre Mountains, California

mountains

Miranda Pines – Camping Los Padres Back Roads & 4×4 Camps, Hwy 41 & Hwy 166 Camping – Santa Lucia District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Baja Campground 1400′ 2 oaks pit no Rock Front
Barrel Spring Campground 1000′ 6 oaks vault no seasonal
Bates Canyon Camp 2900′ 6 pines vault no Cottonwood Cyn Rd
Brookshire Campground 1500′ 2 pit no
Buck Spring Campground 1500′ 1 pit no OHV area
Cerro Alto Campground 1000′ 22 trees vault piped on Hwy 41
Colson Canyon Campground 2000′ 5 pit no Colson Canyon Rd
Davy Brown Campground 2100 13 mixed vault creek Sunset Valley Rd
Figueroa Campground 3500′ 33 oaks pit yes San Rafeal Wilderness
Friis Campground 2200′ 3 pit no Rd# 29S02
Hi Mountain Campground 2400′ 11 vault no Pozo-Hi Mountain Rd
Horseshoe Campground 1600′ 3 vault no Colson Canyon Rd
La Panza Campground 2400′ 15 vault no Pozo Road
Lazy Campground 1400′ 2 vault no Rd# 30W29
Miranda Pines Campground 4000′ 3 vault no Sierra Madre Ridge
Navajo Campground 1900′ 2 pit no Rd #29S02
Nira Campground 1000′ 11 vault creek Manzana Creek
Wagon Flat Campground 1400′ 3 pit no Colson Canyon Rd

Most of these camps are free; No reservations needed!

camp

see also – Rock Front Ranch for 4WD trails & camping

Rock Front OHV
Rock Front OHV

Los Padres National Forest

maps of the Los Padres region –

dscn5110

Davy Brown Campground has lush terrain and a small creek.

Sierra Madre Mountains
Sierra Madre Ridge Road (views to south)

Blue Lakes California

Blue Lakes
Hwy 88 @ Carson Pass
South of Tahoe

Blue Lake California
ADA Camping (Americans with Disabilities) Handicap accessible camp sites at Blue Lakes, near Hope Valley, CA

Blue Lake Campgrounds

highest lake campgrounds in the vicinity

Eldorado National Forest in Amador Ranger District; a forest south of Lake Tahoe in the central portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This set of scenic, alpine lakes sits in between both Eldorado, Toiyabe National Forests and the Mokelumne Wilderness. But please take note that the Blue Lake facilities are owned and operated by utility company PG&E

No Reservations.
most camp sites are available first-come, first-serve

RV limitations: 30 feet

69 miles east of Jackson, CA on Highway 88 and then another 12 miles south on Blue Lakes Road. This area is close to Hope Valley, south of Lake Tahoe, CA

Blue Lakes consist of several developed campgrounds. Blue Lakes Rd# 13 is a well signed, paved road off Hwy 88, just east of Carson Pass (8560′ elev). The route is closed during winter snow, while it serves as a winter recreation area. The main paved road becomes dirt near the campgrounds. A dirt road continues past the lakes and south to Deer Creek and meets w/ Hwy 4 near Ebbett’s Pass.

RVblue lakes eldorado

RV campers, fishing folks, hikers, kayakers and disabled travelers like this lake camp area due to the easy access, paved parking and campground amenities. Handicapped camp sites are also prime lake front locations.

Group Campgrounds are reservable. Picnic Areas, Group Sites and campfire rings. Piped water, bear boxes and vault toilets. No RV hookups, no dump station, no showers. Unimproved boat ramps are available at Upper and Lower Blue Lakes.

Lower Blue Lake Campground
elev. 8055′
camp sites: 16

Blue Lake Dam
camp sites: 25

Middle Creek Campground
camp sites: 5

Upper Blue Lake Campground
elev. 8136′
camp sites: 32

Overflow Camp
camp sites: 34

hikesBackpackers and day hikers: Sierra trailheads out here lead south into the Mokelumne Wilderness Area. The infamous Pacific Crest Trail also passes thru this high elevation region: PCT access @ Carson Pass, Upper Lake & Tamarack Lake

recreation –PCT

  • backpacking
  • boating (non-motorized)
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • kayaking

local topographic maps:

nearby townsLower Blue Lake

 

Tahoe Back Roads

driftwood

another blue lake?

Yep, there is more than one Blue Lake in California

Blue Lake Modoc
Blue Lake Modoc NF

Modoc Blue Lake

BLUE LAKE CAMPGROUND
NorCal region of the South Warner Wilderness in Modoc National Forest. That’s way out near Alturas. Likely, CA is the turn off US 395. Northeast California, real seclusion.

EASTBOUND Paved Road #64 is Jess Valley, which leads along the Pit River, cool volcanic cliffs, and up to forested Blue Lake Campground, elevation 6051′

Wild Blue Lake
Wildlife viewing @ Blue Lake Modoc

hiker

Donner Blue Lake

DONNER PASS – Sierra Nevada
Interstate 80

BLUE LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, near Truckee, CA; a PGE Campground w/ 4×4 access and hike-in only. First come, first serve. No tables or restrooms, elevation 5900′

fish

camp

Lake County – Blue Lakes

THE LODGE AT BLUE LAKES
Mendocino Lake Country

Highway 20, East of US101

Lake side resort w/ boat rentals and fishing, near Upper Lake, CA
elevation 1357′

A small resort w/ hotel suites and a lakeside setting w/ abundant nature. Two small lakes, kinda close to the highway. Non motorized boats only, kayaks, paddle boards, canoe, swimming, birdwatching, bike paths and fishing.  Wedding venue next to lake. Wineries, restaurants, and a casino nearby.

canoe

Humboldt County: Blue Lake, CA

Blue Lake, California  95525
Historic lumber town, located East of Arcata along the Mad River. Accessible via Highway 299

foggytown
Coastal fog is common in this neck of the woods.

pinetree

Free RV Camping

Free RV Campsites / RV Campsite California

picnicThe best free camping in California for RVs & motorhomes is NOT the WalMart parking lot in some random town, but the gems that you find here on Total Escape.

The California back roads is where it’s at. Star filled skies, fresh cedar scents & tall pines, plus the awesome views. Primitive camping at it’s best, with your kitchen sink. No hook-ups, no fees, no problem.

the back roadscamptruck

So, if you are one of those that are terrified of driving your big luxury camper on dirt roads, these may not suit your taste. But if you crave the back country camps with your RV, then you might enjoy the list below.

Still many dispersed, primitive FREE camp sites to be found – but you’re not gonna find them on those big web sites, that everyone goes to.

check

no hookups, no paved stalls, no dump station

These are camping areas, that you can pull into anytime of the night or day & find a flat spot. Some places may have picnic tables or campfire rings, but not all. No OHV parks, no large developed campgrounds, just dispersed FREE camp sites on the back roads of Cali.

Camping National Forest
Somewhere out near Dinkey Creek in Sierra NF

Dispersed Camping for RVers in California:

camp

SoCal Areas & Deserts

campersatcalkin
Calkins Flat on Kern River

Southern Sierra Nevada California

Eastern Sierra California

uticasummer

Central Sierra Nevada California

RV

Rd #54 Tahoe
Rd #54 – South of Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Free North Lassen
Lassen Rd #32N12D, 1 mile past Twin Bridges

Northern California

LassenWestRd17
Lassen Forest Road 17 @ Hwy 44

vanlifenorcal
Van Life, on McCloud Creek @ Algoma

 

Yellow Post Campsites

yellowpost

 

Yellow Post Camping

Yellow Stake Camp Sites / Back Roads Camping NFS
near Cajon Pass, Big Bear & Idyllwild CA

YELLOW POST CAMPS are dispersed camping sites on the back roads in Southern California, where fire danger is greatest. Forest authorities have designated certain spots as ‘fire safe’ for remote, open camping options around Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin and the Idyllwild mountain area.

If you prefer to stay out of the developed campgrounds, you will be the minority. But you must know how to read a map well to reach these beauties.

Map Big Bear

camping

SoCal camping doesn’t have to mean crowded campgrounds. Seek your seclusion on the dirt back roads, where there are no fees, minimal noises & a private site waiting just for you. These are usually on a first come, first serve basis. A high clearance vehicle (SUV, truck or 4×4) may be needed to reach some of the premium camp spots, but there are also sites accessible by passenger cars. And, of course, a fire permit is required.

HeartBar14

In the San Bernardino National Forest there are several back woods ‘fire safe’ camping spots, that are noted with a single yellow post & some may require reservations in busy summer months. You can find out more on reserving from the Big Bear Discovery Center, 909-382-2790

campfires bannedExtra caution should be used when winds are high, camp fires are often banned due to wildfire danger. Check with local rangers for up to date conditions and always get your campfire permit.

No restrooms, no water, no facilities. Just a dirt road, a fire ring & a single picnic table. Hopefully your table will not be shot up, by the local rednecks who ‘get off’ doing stupid stuff like this. Pick up any litter & leave the place better than your found it.

Yellow Post Camps

These backroad camps are perfect for the 4×4 group, stressed out social club, church group w/ rugged van, or the city SUVer who wants to get away from the crowds. The most sought after camp spots are nearest to the lake or a site accessible by RVs and horse trailers, but there are many more excellent camp sites to be discovered. USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised to reach these remote, dirt road camp areas. Rugged, steep, one lane dirt roads that lead to some of these spots. A passenger car is sometimes not suitable for all dirt roads. Rutted and steep means turn around. Wet weather changes dirt roads. Often routes close for winter w/ locked gates.

Big Bear Back Roads Camping

download PDF maps
on Big Bear Yellow Post Sites

Campsite7

Big Lots

Cajon Pass Camping near I-15

Idyllwild Dispersed Camping

thomas camp
Topo maps, Wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

Mount Pinos Recreation

Mount Pinos Camping

Mt Pinos Campgrounds – Los Padres Camping

A little bit of high altitude, alpine forests in Southern Cal. Mount Pinos campgrounds are the ones on the way up to Mt Pinos 8831′ on the paved route to the top parking lot, Mount Pinos Road. Only 2 campgrounds take reservations & can be busy in summer months. Chula Vista Camp (at the top parking lot, short walk on trail) has an amazing wildflower meadow w/ group camp area. Drum circles are common on summer weekends.

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • sledding & snow play
  • stargazing

Drum Circle Camp

Mount Pinos parking lot is well known among RVers, astronomers & cross country skiers. If the 2 snow gates are open, you’ll find RVs camping out here until winter officially starts. The peak to peak trail from Mt Pinos to Mt Abel 8243′ starts at this parking area & trail head. Cool ski hut that no Forest Personnel every seems to be operating. Portable toilets available.

Pinos Star Party
Pinos Star Party

In the mid-winter, snow is almost guaranteed up here. Families & sledders flock to this region for snow play causing major traffic jams & parking problems. On the busiest of weekends w/ a recent snow storm, you may find several miles of vehicles, backed up from Pinos to the freeway (causing 10 miles of traffic jam in the mountains). It is not uncommon to see CHP managing traffic flow on the weekend. Snow play areas are located at the top on Pinos, if the gates are open.

deepsnowhwy
Mil Potreo Highway, on a good winter 2005

If not the “Y” – where Cuddy Valley meets Mil Potrero Hwy. is the main snow-play destination. This is a very busy intersection at all times of the year, as it is the main route entering Pine Mountain Club, located 5 miles to the west. Be considerate! Do not litter and please park OFF THE PAVEMENT; keep kiddies, sleds & BBQs out of the road ways.

PMC 2005 snow
PMC 2005 epic snow

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Chula Vista Campground 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in sites & RV lot
McGill Campground 7500′ 50 pines vault seasonal closed in winter
Mount Pinos Campground 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed in winter

Trails on Pinos
Trails on Pinos

The pinyon pine forests surrounding Mount Pinos Recreation Area is Los Padres National Forest, where there is every kinda camping imaginable.

Outdoor resort communities such as Pine Mountain Club & Lockwood Valley Road are close by and surround the highest mountain peak in Kern County. Mil Potrero Campground, developed NFS Campground, open during summer only.

Rugged backpacking, or back road motorcycle 4×4 camps – with maybe one camp fire ring (still intact). Windwolves Preserve, Quatal Canyon, Cerro Noroeste, Valle Vista, Lockwood & Cuyama Valley.

NFSlogo

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Winter Snows
Winter Snows – Gates Close

map of the regions –

Sierras from Pinos
Sierra Nevada Mountains, as seen from Pinos Road

nearby towns –

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Balch Park

Balch Park / Sequoia Park

Balch Park Campground

BALCH PARK campground is on a first come basis; no campground reservations needed.

2021 – THIS CAMPGROUND IS CLOSED indefinitely,
due to the Castle Fire 2020

Balch Park open May to October
Park info # 559 539-3896

Hedrick Pond lined w/ Sequoia trees

Balch County Park is right in the middle of Mountain Home State Forest, which is within the bigger Sequoia National Forest (aka Giant Sequoia National Monument). But don’t let all the bureaucracy mislead you, this is an ideal park and location, well worth your trip. The campground is the most developed one within the area – with paved roads, RV spaces, flush toilets and a fee to go along with all that. Even gotta fishing pond.

  • Bears are a big deal in these neck of the woods. Please store all your food properly to avoid a un-welcomed visitor
  • A Sequoia Grove is nearby with plenty of creeks & meadows.
  • Trailers not recommended due to the long curvy road leading up the mountain.

Balch Park & Campground NOT TO BE CONFUSED with utility company residences of BALCH CAMP between Pine Flat & Blackrock Reservoirs


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Helpful Maps:

Nearby cities & towns:

campground elev. spots veg toilet water fee
Balch Park
559-539-3896
6500′ 71 pines flush piped yes no reservations
first come basis

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Trailhead CA

bike  mountain biking
hike  hiking trailhead
bkrd  4×4 trailheads
horse equestrian trails

Rock climbing, backpacking, fly fishing creeks, snowmobiling, you name it. No matter what kind of trail you seek in California, we have the maps to get you out there, this weekend. If you seek a week long adventure in the Sierra high country, or a weekend getaway destination you’ve never heard of, or a quick after work hike near your home town, we just might have it listed. And we probably have the waterproof, topographical map too.

tentcabinyosemite

DOGS & BIKES on TRAILS:

Dog friendly trails include almost anything within the CA National Forests. Remember that most National Parks & State Parks literally forbid dogs on hiking trails. Mountain bikes can access only certain trails in parks, but in the National Forests nearly every trail or dirt road is up for grabs.

OHV ROUTES:

snomoiMotorized vehicles, such as quads, ATVs, dirt bikes, Jeeps & 4x4s must stick to designated routes signed specifically for OHV (off highway vehicle) & you won’t be finding many of those inside National Parks & State Parks, so it’s best to look for BLM or NF lands. Many regular, forest, back roads close in winter due to heavy snow pack & thus become cross country ski, snowshoe or even snowmobiling trails. The best ones can be found in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Explore a decent selection of random trail heads within Cali.

hiking in Forest

And if you ever get bored with “reading” text about trails, you can always search the visual database of amazing Cali scenery over at DanaMite’s flickr site

California Fire Road