Tag Archives: winter

Bracebridge Dinner, Yosemite

Ahwahnee Dining Room

Bracebridge Dinner
at The Ahwahnee Hotel

Yosemite Valley, California

Celebrated annually since 1927, the Bracebridge Dinner transforms The Ahwahnee Dining Room into a Old English-era hall boasting Christmas cheer, beautiful music and a gourmet seven-course meal. The inspiration for this yuletide ceremony was Washington Irving’s Sketch Book that described Squire Bracebridge and English Christmas traditions of that period.

The Bracebridge Dinner is an elegant and artistic four-hour pageant of classic carols, Renaissance rituals and entertainment of the Middle Ages. More than 100 players create the roles of the Squire and his family, their servants, the Lord of Misrule, minstrels and other performers. The Ahwahnee Dining Room serves as the Great Hall and stage for the festivities and is decked with magnificent wreaths, an elaborate squire’s table, large banners and traditional Yuletide decorations.

Annual event, multiple nights: December

Yosemite National Park, CA

travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/specialty-events/holiday-events

 

Winter Wonderland. _DSC1280

Snow Goose Festival

BIRDERS unite under the Pacific Flyway

spillwaycrews

20+ years running, the Snow Goose Festival’s mission is to increase public awareness, understanding, appreciation and conservation of the diverse wildlife and unique habitats of the northern Sacramento Valley.

Workshops and field trips; advanced reservations online

Annual event; January
530-592-9092

CHICO CA

snowgoosefestival.org

CA Holiday

California Holiday Calendar

Annual calendar holidays & night skies for 2022

Carson Peak June Lake Loop

This list below is published by Total Escape, so you can easily plan your weekends away and your outdoor vacations, your fishing trips, your stargazing nights, your valuable three day weekends. ” Hey DanaMite, when is the next meteor shower?” Now you know!

holidays for 2022

JANUARY

  • Saturday, January 1   New Year’s Day
  • Sunday, January 2   (new moon)
  • Quadrantid Meteor Shower
  • Monday, January 17   Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (full moon)

FEBRUARY

  • Tuesday, February 1   (new moon)
  • Wednesday, February 2   Groundhog Day
  • Friday, February 14     Valentine’s Day (full moon)
  • Friday, February 16    (full moon)
  • Monday, February 21     President’s Day Weekend

MARCH

  • Tuesday, March 1   Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday
  • Wednesday, March 2    Ash Wednesday (new moon)
  • Sunday, March 13   Daylight Savings Time starts
  • Thursday, March 17   Saint Patrick’s Day
  • Friday, March 18  (full moon)
  • Sunday, March 20  Vernal Equinox (Spring)

APRIL

  • Friday, April 1   April Fools Day (new moon)
  • Wildflowers bloom begins statewide
  • Lyrid Meteor Shower
  • Sunday, April 10   Palm Sunday
  • Tuesday, April 15   Good Friday
  • Saturday, April 16   Passover (full moon)
  • Sunday, April 17   Easter Sunday
  • Friday, April 22   Earth Day
  • Friday, April 29 Arbor Day
  • Saturday, April 30  (new moon)

MAY

  • Thursday, May 5     Cinco de Mayo
  • Sunday, April 8   Mother’s Day
  • Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
  • Monday, May 16  (full moon)
  • Monday, May 30    Memorial Day  (new moon)

JUNE

  • Tuesday, June 14 Flag Day (full moon)
  • Sunday, June 19  Father’s Day
  • Tuesday, June 21 Summer Solstice
  • Tuesday, June 28 (new moon)

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

  • Monday, September 5   Labor Day
  • Saturday, September 10  (full moon)
  • Thursday, September 22  Autumnal Fall Equinox
  • Sunday, September 25  (new moon)

OCTOBER

  • Sunday, October 9  (full moon)
  • Monday, October 10     Columbus Day
  • Orionid Meteor Shower
  • Tuesday, October 25 (new moon)
  • Monday, October 31   Halloween

NOVEMBER

  • Sunday, November 6   Daylight Savings Time ends
  • Tuesday, November 8   Election Day (full moon)
  • Friday, November 11     Veterans Day
  • Leonid Meteor Shower
  • Wednesday, November 23 (new moon)
  • Thursday, November 24     Thanksgiving Day

DECEMBER

  • Wednesday, December 7 (full moon)
  • Wednesday, December 21    Winter Solstice
  • Friday, December 23  (new moon)
  • Geminid Meteor Shower
  • Saturday, December 24          Christmas Eve
  • Sunday, December 25     Christmas Day
  • Saturday, December 31     New Years Eve

Lighted Tractor Parade, Ferndale

John Deere Power!

Ferndale Tree Lighting

Ferndale’s Lighted Tractor Parade

Local farmers and ranchers parade fancifully decorated tractors and tractor-drawn wagons depicting holiday scenes down the Victorian Village’s historic Main Street. Sparkling country Christmas celebrations include the Tallest Living Tree Lighting, shopping and dining downtown. Romantic Christmas destination on the Northern California Redwood Coast!

Annual event: December
Ferndale, CA
707-786-4477

visitferndale.com/annual-events

 

Ferndale, CA 1998

Christmas: 2011

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

IMG_2257

Sawdust Winter Fantasy Art Festival
in Laguna Canyon

The Orange County beach haven known as Laguna Beach has long been known for their surf shops, gift shops and great art galleries.

starsLaguna Canyon Saw Dust festival grounds will be transformed into a winter wonderland where artists create, display and sell original creations over the course of five weekends. The Winter Fantasy is offers the most unique holiday shopping in all of Southern California. Art media includes jewelry, clothing, fused and blown glass, ceramics, woodwork, forged metals, painting, photography, sculpture, clothing and textiles.

Experience unique artwork from hundreds of artists, live holiday entertainment, outdoor cafes, art classes and demonstrations, petting zoo, plus Santa! With amazing art gifts, thousands of holiday decorations and picture-perfect moments.

Annual event; multiple weekends; December

Sawdust Art Festival
935 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA
949-494-3030

sawdustartfestival.org/festivals/winter-fantasy

Art Appreciation

Truckers Christmas Parade

North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District

Eureka’s Truckers Parade
Truckers Christmas Convoy
Truckers Christmas Parade

Eureka, Northern California

BIG RIGS: The 18-wheelers stretching as long as 60 feet, include some with special parade additions that might be tacked on: bandstand platforms, dancing reindeer, flying fish, you name it. Join in this Eureka tradition, and you’ll never think of Jingle Bells in quite the same way again. The parade starts at 6 pm at Redwood Acres and goes to about 8:30 pm.

Presented by Rex and Friends
707-599-4171

Eureka, CA

rexandfriendstruckersparade.com

a Corner Shoppe

Eureka California Old Town

Old Town Eureka, CA

Holiday Lights Train

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train

Holiday Lights Train Ride

Santa Cruz Holiday Train

Departs from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll through the streets of Santa Cruz as passengers lend their voices to holiday carols, sip hot spiced cider and listen to musical entertainment while Santa visits the little ones, or the young at heart! Continue the merriment with your choice of arcade games, mini-golf or laser tag at Santa’s Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Bring the whole family for festive fun.

Annual event: December
multiple days

Santa Cruz, CA

roaringcamp.com

 

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train

train at the Boardwalk

Cowboy Festival

Vaqueros, Vidaurri ranch, Laredo, 1910

Cowboy Festival, Monterey, California

Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival

Monterey Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival

Where the traditions and lifestyles of the vaqueros blend with traditions and lifestyles of cowboys who worked there way west from Texas, Arizona and Nevada. Live music, concerts, great food, wine and beer.

Annual event: November
Monterey, CA
831-649-5080

montereycowboy.org

Downtown Monterey

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.


Grover Hot Springs

Grover Drive

Grover Hot Springs Park

JULY 2021 State Park CLOSED due to the wildfire, Tamarack Fire.

California State Park
Sierra Hot Spring Camping Resort
open all year

California State Park RV Winter Camping State Park Winter Camping Hot Springs XC Ski Winter Camping Tahoe Ski Camping Tahoe Snow Camping

Meadow Entrance

South of Lake Tahoe, hidden in a forest meadow near the small town of Markleeville, sits this super scenic, year-round camping resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Popular place for senior travelers, RV campers, families, snow skiers, and tourists.

No lodging available, no cabins. Only Campground Camping – Reservations are recommended. This is a popular destination for the Eastern Sierra Tahoe region. May thru September are peak season. During mid-winter a portion of the campsites are closed and the remainder may be on a first come, first serve basis. State Park is located 4 miles west of Markleeville, at the end of Hot Springs Road.

camping
fishing
hiking
hot springs
cross country skiing
stargazing

RV Camping

grover springs in the sierra

Camping and Day Use
530-694-2248

Pool Information
530-694-2249

California State Park
California State Park

Piped water, flush toilets, showers, this is luxury camping by State Park standards. Hiking, fishing, stargazing. Quite an ideal spot, especially if you visit during a slow time. Surrounded by mountains that top 10,000′ elevation, expect to see some snow in the winter months.

SwimSuits Required

The hot pool resort is open to the public for day soaking w/ a fee. Wheelchair accessible areas. The pool hours tend to fluctuate with the seasons, so be prepared for anything. Even a snow storm!

Grover Hot Spring Campground

• Elevation: 5800′
• Number of Sites: 75
• Vehicle Access: RV 27′ max
• Campsites Reservation: Yes
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Length of Stay: 10 Days
• Season: Open all year
• Trailheads: Carson River

GROVER HOT SPRINGS SP Winter Camping Hot Springs

pool hours

hot pools

meadow views

Boat Parade of Lights

tree boat parade

Parade of Lights
Holiday Boat Parade

Christmas Boat Parades in California

 

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:

San Diego Parade of Lights
San Diego Bay
San Diego, CA
619-224-2240
www.sdparadeoflights.org

OceansideParade of Lights
Oceanside CA
Oceanside Yacht Club
www.oceansideyc.net

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights
Dana Point, CA
949-923-2255
www.danapointharbor.com

Cruise of Lights Boat Parade
Huntington Beach, CA
www.cruiseoflights.org

Christmas Boat Parade & Fireworks
Newport Beach, CA
100 years running!
www.christmasboatparade.com

sailing xmas tree

Naples Christmas Boat Parade
Belmont Shores @ Naples Canals
South Long Beach, CA
www.naplesca.com

Long Beach Parade of 1000 Lights
Downtown Shoreline Marina
Shoreline Yacht Club
Long Beach, CA
www.shorelineyachtclub.com/event

LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade
Long Beach Area
San Pedro, CA
310-549-8111
www.portoflosangeles.org/community/calendar

Redondo Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Redondo Beach King Harbor @ Los Angeles
Redondo Beach, CA
King Harbor Yacht Club
310-376-2459
www.khyc.org

Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
West Los Angeles California
Marina del Rey, CA
www.mdrboatparade.org

Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade
West Los Angeles
Venice Beach, CA
310-809-8100
www.venicechristmasboatparade.com

Oxnard Parade of Lights
Marine Emporium Landing
Oxnard, CA
805-985-5828
www.marineemporiumlanding.com

Ventura Parade of Lights Boat Parade & Fireworks
Ventura Harbor Village
Ventura, CA
805-477-0470
www.venturaharborvillage.com

Santa Barbara Parade of Lights
Santa Barbara, CA
805-963-0611
www.santabarbaraca.gov

 

pine

 

CENTRAL COAST CALIFORNIA:

Morro Bay Christmas Boat Parade
Morro Bay Embarcadero
Morro Bay, CA
805-772-4467

 

botaparade

 

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA:

Bethel Island Lighted Boat Parade
San Joaquin Boat Parade @ the California Delta
Bethel Island, CA
San Joaquin Yacht Club
925-684-9985
www.sjyc.org

Fisherman’s Wharf Lights & Sights Boat Parade
Pier 39, Aquatic Park
San Francisco, CA
415-673-3530
www.visitfishermanswharf.com

Oakland Lighted Yacht Parade
Alemeda Estuary
Oakland, CA
925-413-3845
www.lightedyachtparade.com

Petaluma Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
Petaluma River Turning Basin
Petaluma, CA
707-769-0429
www.visitpetaluma.com

Santa Cruz Harbor Boat Parade
Santa Cruz Harbor
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz Yacht Club
831-425-0690
www.scyc.org

Sausalito Lighted Yacht Parade
Sausalito Yacht Club
Sausalito, CA
415.332-7400
www.sausalitoyachtclub.org

Delta Reflections Lighted Boat Parade
McCloud Lake @ Downtown Waterfront
Stockton, CA
Marine West Yacht Club
209-477-7653
www.mwyc.org

White Tank Campground

White Tank @ Joshua Tree

quiet camp

Joshua Tree National Park
White Tank Campground

desert hikers and rock climbers
love this small camp

hiker

whitetank

White Tank & Belle campgrounds are the smallest camps Joshua Tree National Park has to offer. On the east side of park both campgrounds are located half a mile from one another.

This Southern California desert lunar-scape National Park is more popular & crowded because of the proximity to major urban areas. The south east side of the park entrance station, Cottonwood, is the least busiest gate.

  • bouldering
  • camping
  • hiking
  • stargazingawesome rocks

 

From the town of 29 Palms (on Highway 162) take National Park entrance South on Gold Park Rd. At intersection with Loop Rd. (do not turn right) Go straight through onto El Dorado Mine Rd. about two miles drive leads the 2 campgrounds.

camp

Joshua Tree National Park
760-367-5500
760-367-7511

breakfastclub

campground  elev. spots  veg toilet water fee
White Tank  3800′ 15 josh vault none no

joshes

chair4marc
In the years between 2000-2005  founder of Total Escape, DanaMite, lead several guided camping trips to Joshua Tree and liked this specific area the best.

desert

danarocks

22S05 – Sequoia NF

Sherman’s Pass Road: J41 Mojave to Kern River, Sequoia Forest Rd# 22S05

NFSlogo

Sequoia National Forest

sherman snows
Snow closes Sherman’s Pass Road annually

This paved Southern Sierra highway (aka J41, off US 395) is a paved route through the eastern portion of the Sequoia National Forest. A curvy mountain corridor which crosses over the forested plateau and also the South Fork of the Kern River. This road skirts the Domeland Wilderness & the South Sierra Wilderness. The PCT (Pacific Crest Trail runs across it as well, near Kennedy Meadows.

East side of Sequoia National Forest, the Kern Plateau meets the Mojave desert w/ BLM Camping & Inyo National Forest.

22s05 snowy
The Sherman route connects the Kern River, near Fairview to Kennedy Meadows & closes for snow in winter months. There are plenty seasonal creeks, meadows & forests in this region. Elevations range from 4000′ near the Kern River to 8000′ at Black Rock Station.

camp

BIG MEADOW
Horse Meadow Campground
Long Valley Campground
Chimney Creek Campground
Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway

Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is an excellent stop for sightseeing over Domeland Wilderness. Access it via dirt road# 22S77, access to tower is a rough and rocky, steep road which may require 4WD.

hiker

Steep Grades

ranger

USFS Ranger Stations:

  • Black Rock Station
    760-376-1666
  • Kernville Station
    760-376-3781

Snowy Springs

Campgrounds along Sherman’s Pass Road include –

  • Rincon Camp (primitive campsite) – just up from Brush Creek & Kern River; Rincon Trail #33E23 runs North/South near here.
  • Big Meadow / Horse Meadow Campground
  • Troy Meadows Campground
  • Fish Creek Campground
  • Kennedy Meadows Campground

westbound

mountains

nearby towns:

CALIFORNIA HOT SPRINGS
FAIRVIEW
KENNEDY MEADOWS
KERNVILLE
PONDEROSA
RIVERKERN

Snow Mountain Wilderness

Snow Mtn Wilderness

Mendocino Forest, Lake Pillsbury

North of Wine Country, east of US Hwy 101

2018 (Mendo Complex Wildfire) Ranch Fire
burnt most of this area

Located in the coastal mountain range north of Clear Lake and west of Stonyford, California; in between I-5 and US 101
On the southern half of the Mendocino National Forest.

snow mountains

60,076 acres
East Snow Mountain Peak – 7056′ elevation
West Snow Mountain Peak – 7038′ elevation
Lake Pillsbury – 1818′ elevation
Mendocino National Forest
Eel River
Elk Creek
Cold Creek
Anderson Creek
Corbin Creek
Sheet Iron State Game Refuge

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • hang gliding
  • horseback trails
  • off roading
  • paragliding
  • snowboarding
  • snow shoeing

Snow Mountains MapWilderness permits and campfire permits are required. Check local rangers for up to date weather conditions, road closures, parking and trail conditions.

Dirt Roads M10 and M3 are the major routes around this mountain area. Route M10 is also known as 43A on some older maps. Several 4×4 trails skirt the wilderness boundary near the tallest peaks, so you may see some OHV use in this region when hiking.

ranger stations
NFS

EAST SIDE

National Forest Office
Grindstone Ranger District
Willows, CA
530-934-3316

Stonyford Work Center
530-963-3128

WEST SIDE

Upper Lake Ranger
707-275-2361

Covelo Ranger District
707-983-6118

NFS campgrounds nearby
camping

EAST SIDE

    • North Fork Campground (Road# 18N03)
    • South Fork Campground (Road M10)
    • Fouts Campground (M10)

4x4 trails

  • Grey Pine Campground (M10)
  • Mill Creek Campground (M10)
  • Dixie Glade Campground (M10)

WEST SIDE

  • Lower Nye Campground (Road M3)
  • West Crockett Campground (M3)
  • Upper Nye Camp (M3)
  • Windy Point Campground (M3)

hiking trailheads
hiking

  • Bloody Rock (Road M6)
  • Crooked Tree (Road M3)
  • North Ridge (M3)
  • Windy Point (M3)
  • Upper Nye (M3)
  • Bear Wallow (Road# 18N06)
  • Trout Creek (@ Fouts Springs)
  • Dixie Glade (Road M10)
  • Summit Spring (M10)

2017: a large landslide has closed the dirt road route in between Lake Pillsbury & Alder Springs, CA. Road M6 closed indefinitely.

off road routes nearby


View Larger Map

 

Youtube

Mono Hot Springs

High Sierra Nevada
Mono Hot Springs

Sierra Snowmobile Destination

Mono Hot Pools @ San Joaquin River
Sierra National Forest

Best of both worlds, way back in the boonies – two primitive tubs soaking perched on a soggy hill next to a big river, developed campground below, and a small resort w/ cabins, camping, restaurant and private soaking areas on the other side of the river.

Sierra hot springs15 mi. NE of Huntington Lake off Kaiser Pass Rd. Huntington Lake & Hwy. 168

Two squared cement tubs overlooking the San Joaquin River, deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The coolest thing about this primitive hot springs is that it is a great destination for a one day snowmobile adventure. Rentals are in the nearby community of Lakeshore & the plowed paths are fairly easy to follow. If you plan on visiting the springs, you must not play around in the meadow much, there is plenty great Sierra scenery to be had. The snomo trip is a good 5 hours round trip with a lunch break & dip at mineral spring tubs.

  • backpacking
  • boating
  • camping
  • cross country skiing
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • mountaineering
  • snow mobiling
  • stargazing
  • swimming
Sierra Snow-Mobiling
Sierra Snow-Mobilin’

snomo sierra hot springs

Kasier Pass WildernessWinter: road is closed half the year due to heavy snow. Summer: snow is gone and the road is open.

KAISER PASS ROAD
Large motorhomes, RVs are not allowed on this long, steep, narrow paved route.

Max vehicle length: 25 feet

Take Hwy.168, turn right on Kaiser Pass Rd, just past the big ski resort. Pass the large meadow & follow signs to Mono Springs & Lake Edison. Make sure not to miss the left turn or you may end up at Florence Lake.

Parking near the green bridge over the San Joaquin River & hike over to the tubs on the hillsides. If there are other vehicles parked here, expect to see naked people nearby; Soaking should never be rushed. Clothing is optional – in California.

Green Bridge at San Joaquin Headwaters
camp

Mono Hot Springs Campground NFS

• Elevation: 6700′
• Number of Sites: 30
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 25′
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: Yes
• Toilet: Vault
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – September
• Trailheads: Ansel Adams & John Muir Wilderness

NOTE: This USFS Campground, should not to be confused with the neighboring business, a privately run camp called –

Mono Hot Springs Cafe w/ Cabin Resort

Mono Springs Sign

closest forest, lakes, & destinations:NFS

topo maps for this region:

Parking Spot

Gold Lake California

lilgoldlake
Hike-in only Gold Lake, Bucks Lake Wilderness.

California has more than one Gold Lake!

goldsign

Gold Lake, CA

(Sierra Co)
6409′ elev.

The biggest Gold Lake, California is the well-known one, along the Gold Lake Highway in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Plumas meets Tahoe National Forest. North of Gold Country Hwy 49, Downieville & the Yuba River. Right where the Sierra Nevada granite meets the volcanic lava rock of NorCal.

Packer Lake

Lakes Wilderness Map

Impressive jagged spires known as The Sierra Buttes (8591′) tower above the stunning lake scenery. This big Gold Lake is surrounded by a dozen smaller alpine lakes which make up the popular region called Lakes Basin. Easy access paved highway, which closes in winter for deep snow and winter recreation. The Gold Lake Highway is also referred to as Plumas County Road #S620

sierra buttes
the sierra buttes

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout lodgeranger rentals
NFS fire tower – no more overnight rentals!
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and the serene Lakes Basin, Yuba River, Northern Gold Country California

see CalPine Lookout near Sierraville, CA

driftwood

USFS

LAKES BASIN RECREATION AREA
Cabins, camping, lake fishing, backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, off-roading, snow-mobiling.

lakesbasinhikers

snowmo

California Lakes

mini gold lake

Mini Gold Lake

(Plumas Co)
6000′ elev.

Another smaller Gold Lake exist on the granite slopes in Bucks Lake Wilderness – E of Oroville & W of Quincy, CA.

gold lake trailheadThis hidden gem is a hike-in only lake – and well worth the effort. A somewhat short hike, great ridge line views to the east, although the last half mile of this route is a doozie (moderately strenuous).

The main trailhead departs from Silver Lake and climbs a ridge line that heads over to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). An off-shoot trail goes another mile to the miniature Gold Lake, a granite bowl of sheer beauty. A great day hike for those wishing to see the backcountry. Pack your picnic lunch, camera, and make a whole darn day of it!

Swimming & skinning dipping seem quite natural at this alpine lake, since it is a pretty remote location (without a lot of visitors) and there is absolutely no swimming allowed at neighboring Silver Lake.

bucks trailhead

The steep, overgrown, rocky shoreline leads one to bush whack through old trails, only to be met by a rock slide. Many dead ends and obstacles to climb around, or over. Some way… maybe, or maybe not!

Boulder and rock scrambling is the key phrase to remember, once you reach this lake. Knees may be sore from climbing, up and over the boulder ledge surrounding the lake bowl.

goldshore

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map

A few primitive camp sites are scattered about on the edge of the lake for those backpacking in, but be warned – they can be very difficult to reach. Much more suitable campsites can be found scattered throughout the area.

Warning: there are no flat, lush meadows to lounge in up at the lake, so pick yourself a side route (on the walk in) to find real seclusion and privacy.

view to Quincy

This mile-long-ridge hiking trail to mini Gold Lake has some amazing views down to the east side – Jacks Meadow right below; then Meadow Valley & Quincy off in the distant hills. RURAL CALIFORNIA – Plumas County from above.

jacks meadow
jacks meadow, way below

Sierra Nevada Lakes

High Sierra Gold Lakes in California

hike-in only lakes

hike

Golden Bear Lake
(Tulare Co)
12,000′ elev

High Sierra – Kings Canyon National Park
Center Basin / Center Peak 12,760′
PCT – Pacific Crest Trail
North of Mount Whitney
Eastern Sierra, Independence, CA

hike

Golden Trout Lake
(Inyo Co)
11,500′ elev

Trail #3306 from Onion Valley Campground
North of Mount Whitney
Eastern Sierra, Independence, CA

goldentroutlakecanyon
onion valley trail views
Eastern Sierra Lakes
Alpine Lake above Onion Valley, Eastern Sierra

California Elevations

conradkid
High Sierra hiking @ 12,000 feet above sea level

elevation

high altitude towns    well above sea level

The majority of California cities are located near sea level, with low lying farmlands and populated coastlines common throughout world geography. California has super diversity w/ the population, as well as the elevation and the terrain. Vast rugged deserts bordering Nevada, from high deserts (8000′ @ Bodie ghost town) to low deserts (below sea level for Mecca) near the Salton Sea. Towering granite peaks with minimal vegetation, to fern canyons and redwood groves at the coast, California has quite the unique landscape.

The beautiful golden state is also home to the highest and lowest point within the lower 48 states; and those points are only about 100 miles apart – Death Valley  (-282′ elev) and  Mount Whitney  (14,494′ elev).

I-80 Donner PassMTN TOWN: upper elevation mountain towns w/ forests and flowing water, are primarily located in the Sierra Nevada range which runs the backbone of California in a north-south direction,  separating the Pacific Ocean from the Great Basin. High altitudes are abundant in California, especially in the Eastern Sierra – but most are only accessible by foot.

Mountain communities in Southern California includes places like Mount Laguna, Palomar, Big Bear, Arrowhead, Idyllwild and Mount Pinos.

The coastal mountain range and the Sierra Nevada  encompasses most of Central California. The rest of the space is dedicated to large cities, farmlands and farming towns – which are most lower elevation. Orchards and vineyards can be found in the foothills (200′-2000′ elevation)

Northern California has more mountains and rivers, generally higher elevations and plenty more space to explore. Secluded forests, rivers, creeks, lakes, and reservoirs can be found above 2000′ elevation, north of Sacramento. The bigger mountains in the far north part of the state are part of the Cacade Range, which is volcanic in nature. (Mt. Lassen & Mt. Shasta). More water, more trees and more land – NorCal is very different than the lower half of the golden state.

hwy33overlook
North of Ojai, CA – Highway 33 winds up to Los Padres NF

California Elevation Breakdown

  • Alpine lakes, streams, forests, mountain peaks, granite scenery is abundant above 6000′ elev.
  • Pine forests, junipers, sage chaparral, manzanita, joshua trees can be found between 3000-6000′
  • Hot Springs, creek canyons and cottonwoods are usually discovered above 2000′ elev.
  • Oak hills, ghost pines, creek beds, river canyons  and most agriculture range from 1000-3000′
  • Under 1000′ elevation is the majority of the populated cities and towns within California; coastline, urban areas, foothills, farmland and a few reservoirs
Mecca Hills
Mecca Hills, below sea level

GoogleMaps – groundbreaking tool for trip planning and checking out trailheads, camps and dirt roads from overhead

USGS Viewer – topographic overlays for altitude estimates, and various imagery

California Elevations Map

shaverMS

snowflakeSnow is always a factor in mid to high altitude towns with road conditions being unpredictable with each mountain range and each micro-climate. Winter months range from late October to May, so be warned. Above 3000′ elevation usually gets some snow. Serious snow above 5000′. Some High Sierra Passesdon’t open until JULY (Yosemite Hwy 120 & Sonora Hwy 108). Carry tire chains or have 4×4 to travel safely on snowy roads. Guard rails are seldom around every curve.

list of California towns
by elevation

 

Rainbow Lodge California

bishopbelow
Above Owens Valley (US 395) at sunset, as seen from the Sierra side (8000′ elev)

Winter Wheelin

winterwheelin

Winter wet weather doesn’t need to put a damper on your outdoor exploring, if you can get your hands on a 4×4 vehicle. Almost any SUV or truck with 4 wheel drive is capable of driving through some snow or mud. Just how deep is the mud (underneath the snow) is usually the big question. Many National Forests and State Parks close certain dirt roads due to over-use, or to control soil erosion and prevent the deep muddy ruts which are costly to re-grade come springtime. Call ahead to the rangers to find which back road routes are indeed open, or bring your printed topo map and wing it.

California Road Trips

The California destinations listed below are popular winter spots for off roading enthusiasts. Some places may be busier than others. The dirt roads surrounding these spots are real treasures, so try to plan an all-day loop trip if possible. Camping w/ a campfire permit is an option on many back roads. Plenty lodging in nearby small towns if winter camping is not your thing.

ghost towns

Bodie State Park
Randsburg Mining District
Calico Ghost Town
Ballarat in Panamint Valley
Skidoo @ Death Valley NP
Barker Ranch, Goler Wash @ Death Valley NP
Panamint City @ Surprise Canyon
Cerro Gordo – 4×4 Inyo
Oatman, Arizona

California Road Trips

hot springs:

primitive tubs
hot springs resorts
hot spring campgrounds

fishing spots

Green Creek Road
Walker River
North June Lake Loop
Trinity River

California Road Trips

California Mountains, Viewpoints & Fire Lookout Towers

Bald Mountain, Shaver Lake
Cuyama Lookout, Santa Barbara Canyon, Ventucopa, CA
Coyote Flat, Bishop, CA
Los Padres National Forest
Mount Pacifico, Angeles Forest Highway
Upper Lytlle Creek, Wrightwood, CA

see – NFS Cabins Rentals & California Fire Lookouts

California Road Trips

Indian Casinos

Tribal lands are mostly located in rural regions which always have plenty of dirt roads to explore. Get a good back roads map for the public lands nearby, parks, BLM, National Forest. If the overnight camping is dropping into the twenties or teens, then know the forecast. A good rule of thumb for California hotel stays: If the low temps overnight are below the cost of a hotel room at the nearby casino, the comfy lodge might be well worth considering.

Avi Casino
@ California – Arizona border.
The Laughlin casino in the middle of nowhere, right on the Colorado River. Jet ski rentals, swimming pools and spas, restaurants, RV park. The historic Mojave Trail, aka Mojave Road, starts next to the property.

Gold Country Casino
@ Lake Oroville, California
Sierra Nevada mountains Northern California. Conveniently located near Feather River (all 4 forks) and Plumas National Forest, with Berry Creek and Bucks Lake Wilderness to explore. Snow often closes the highest elevations.

Viejas Casino
@ Pine Valley, East County San Diego
Great bouldered mountains with back road exploring, hiking, mountain biking trails, all easy access from Southern California. Get a Cleveland National Forest map and expect some road closures near Laguna Mountain Sunrise Highway, especially when it snows.

Diamond Mountain Casino
Susanville, Northern California
Located in between US Highway 395 and Mount Lassen, the scenic Susan River region has lots to offer for the outdoor enthusiasts. Plenty of roads to explore, some big lakes too. Many Forest roads could be closed due to snow, so be warned and call ahead to the ranger.

Native Californians

Indian Rock Art
Petroglyphs are found in numerous locations throughout the deserts of the SouthWestern US. Inscription Canyon Mojave. See more on Native American rock art or explore photos.

California Road Trips

California Beaches
Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach
Lost Coast, Northern Cal Redwoods
Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove (open to foot traffic only)

California Deserts

Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Box Canyon @ Mecca Hills
Mojave National Preserve
Canebrake Road, Kern Mojave
Black Canyon, Barstow, CA
Panamint Valley, near DVNP
Death Valley National Park
Bodie State Historic Park

California Off Road Parks

These are parks that specifically offer trails and obstacles for off-roaders. Entrance fees and camping fees are usually charged at the entry gate.

Off Highway Vehicle Areas (OHV)
State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRA)

Other Off Roading Options

The whole Carson City area in Nevada has some excellent dirt roads to explore. Old mines, caves, many miles of pinyon forests. Lake Tahoe is nearby with luxury resorts, casinos and snow skiing.

If you just can’t stand the cold and snow, then warmer climates lie to the south. Baja California is a tourist/traveler and off-roader haven in the wintertime.

Holiday Wheeling
Jawbone Canyon for Thanksgiving weekend will get dirt bikes by the thousands and big families. Christmas is busy around the Palm Spring desert destinations – like Joshua Tree. Easter weekend is popular w/ wildflowers and campers in Anza Borrego Desert.

RV camping
Occasionally, wide graded dirt roads lead to secondary routes, so overnighting it with a motorhome on the back roads is very possible (if deep mud is not present). RV camping is quite the tradition for Southern Californians. Desert off roaders in tow, all over the Mojave. Steer clear of busy family groups. Pick a lesser known area to camp and explore. Get your real topo maps out and choose easy access from pavement, but wide graded dirt roads are best. Plenty roads like this in the Eastern Sierra, on the east side of US Hwy 395. RV campers that follow Total Escape might very well be interested in testing the limits of their recreational vehicle, slowly.

AWD Sportwagons
Before AWD got marketed as 4WD, Total Escape was way out there exploring in a 2 wheel drive and posting it online for you. All wheel drive station wagons should stick to the paved and plowed roads. If you plan to do a lotta dirt road driving in the old Subaru, keep the rock crawling to a minimum. If not, you may want to invest in a skid plate for the oil pan. Nothing beats first hand experience and learning ahead of time how your car will behave before you loose control on icy dark steep roads. Go practice with the emergency break and get the vehicle in a wide open snow plowed area if possible, just avoid the temptations to get wild. Don’t get the doughnut urge and plant yourself in a tree. Remember, it’s not like the commercial showed us, those are closed roads they are filming on.

Snow Chains
If you plan to be off roading in snow or mud at all you might want to consider some important safety items: tire chains for snow, a tow strap and tire plugs for flats. If you own a high clearance 2WD SUV, you could benefit from running chains on all four tires when snow is present. How deep the snow gets and how steep the hills are, determines how far you can go without a real 4 wheel drive. Some choose to rent a 4WD for the weekend road trip.

Snow Plow - the first pass
Snow Plow First Pass

Carry these items when traveling in winter conditions:
tools, jumper cables, tow strap, emergency gear, first aid kit, real boots, extra clothes, blankets, flashlights, food, drinking water, cell phone, maps


California Reference
California Road Conditions
California Weather
Sierra Highway Conditions

and just imagine when you can’t get past the deepest snow, it is time to try California Snowmobiling

28E201 – Inyo NF

trailsdown

Road #28E201 – Inyo National Forest
also known as Inyo Road #4S86

Laurel Lakes Road
Inyo National Forest
Eastern Sierra, California

Southeast of Mammoth Lakes, CA
West of Crowley Lake, CA

Steep, rocky, gravel road, way up above (and behind) Convict Lake. 4WD may be needed during wet or snowy weather. High clearance is always advised. Locked GATE at the bottom means the NFS rangers have closed the route (seasonally) for deep snow, rock slides, avalanches, or other erosion hazards.

Laurel Canyon, US Hwy 395
Laurel Creek
Laurel Lakes

amigoaspens
Laurel Lake Road, Eastern Sierra

Find more INYO BACK ROADS

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • lakes
  • mountaineering

GenevieveLake

Trailhead to Lake Genevieve (pictured above), hike lake loop, snowy peaks.
NOTE: No easy access to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)

Laurel Mountain (elev 11,818′)
Bloody Mtn. (12,544′)

oldestrocks

gnarlyrocks
CLICK TO ENLARGE

Geologic:

Oldest, exposed rock in the Sierra Nevada mountains range. Buckling granite w/ volcanic rocks. Evidence of glacial activity including, terminal, lateral, and recessional moraines, glacial striations and polish, erratic boulders, and of course the numerous lakes. see more

Volcanic Eastern Sierra
Volcanic hikes in the Eastern Sierra