Wednesday, November 20, 2013

California Meteor Shower

Vermilion Resort
Originally uploaded by danamight

meteor showers and comets

Fair weather means anytime is a good time to watch the sky.

The high Sierra Nevada is the place to really enjoy the show in summer camping out, but winter means snow is likely and a cabin rental might be a better choice, or grab a guest room at a rustic lodge like this one photographed above.

Meteor showers are best viewed after 2AM, so you first need to decide if you are "a stay up late", or "wake up early" kinda person. Partying and drinking in the early evening means the excitement will be worn off and you will be dozing after midnight, missing the entire possibility of seeing any grazers. Taking a nap in the early afternoon before might help your odd sleep schedule adjust but be prepared to kick up the caffeine when you want to take in the awesome night views.

Mount Pinos and Mount Abel are both popular SoCal spots for annual star parties - tent campers and motorhomes alike. Palomar Mountain is another fine alpine destination. Most all desert parks are excellent sites to view the night skies with minimal moisture the stars appear super brilliant. Mojave Preserve, Red Rock, Death Valley, Anza Borrego, Mecca Box Canyon, Joshua Tree, the list is endless.

campers tips - 
look for open sky at camp spots, few trees
meadow side camp sites, ridge lines
bring a sturdy cot & blankets
use red lens on flashlights
low light campfire (coals, no flames)

cabin rental tips -
lake cabins have open sky views
bring snow chains for the tires
dress warm, bring jackets, hats, gloves
take your portable lounge chairs
remember snacks and hot drinks
compare local motel prices (some have cottages)

You might need to drive inland for clear night skies. Deserts are best.
way outta of the city destinations
Alpine locations are excellent spots for star gazing, if it's not snowing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Romantic California

Romance for Camping
Couple Vacations in California

Why not keep the passion alive all year long. Take solo weekends away from one another and also vacation as a couple. All local, outdoors and on a budget. Kick your creativity into high gear and plan something totally spontaneous: Get a cabin or condo on the slopes for a few days. Book a lake view suite at a small resort, read, relax and fish all day long. Walk in the forest, bring a picnic and lay out to stargaze at night. Travel locally to enhance your love life, snuggle up close to a cozy fireplace, with a good bottle of wine. Hike, bike and enjoy the outdoors.

Holiday season road trips & Valentine weekend ideas

Local small towns in California is what Total Escape is all about. We have only small, independent lodges, but focus more on bed & breakfast inns, camping sites and cabin rentals. Discover more, stay local, spend less and enjoy your honey pie more often.

top romantic places in California

Big Sur
Bodega Bay
Borrego Springs
Camp Nelson
Crescent City
Death Valley
El Granada
Hope Valley
Huntington Lake
Joshua Tree
June Lake
Kings Canyon
La Jolla
La Porte
Laguna Beach
Lake Almanor
Lake Tahoe
Los Alamos
Los Olivos
Morro Bay
Muir Beach
Nevada City
Pacific Grove
Palm Springs
Panamint Springs
San Juan Bautista
Shelters Cove
Twain Harte
Twin Lakes
Yosemite Valley 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sardine Lake

Lake Sardine California

upper sardine, lower sardine lakes

One of the best camping lakes in California. Any lake near Gold Lake is prime pickens. This picturesque lake called Sardine Lake, or Sardine Lakes, is located within the Lakes Basin Recreation Area, north of Gold Country Highway 49 next to the peaks of Sierra Buttes and in between Tahoe National Forest and Plumas National Forest.

A two tiered water storage in granite basin bowls, with the larger upper lake situated up above at the base of the mighty granite spires of the Sierra Buttes. Very impressive views all around the Gold Lake highway.

Sardine Lake Campground, elevation 5,800'
developed NFS campground near lower lake w/ fee, 29 camp sites, piped water, vault toilets. 530-862-1368 Tahoe National Forest

nearest town: Sierra City California, on Historic Hwy 4. Frasier Falls, Gold Lake, Long Lake Trail, and Sierra Buttes are just a few of the area attractions.

more on Sardine Lake

Lake fishing, camping and hiking are the main recreation in warmer months. Snowmobiling is popular around here in deep snow winter conditions.

Sardine Lake Resort and Cabins is the only business on Sardine Lake. It is one of many small, independently owned rustic resorts in the Lakes Basin area. No chain hotels near here!

View Larger Map

2013 NEWS: sardine industry collapse in Canada

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dirt Biking Trails

California has the most amazing and diverse terrain you can imagine. Ancient lava beds to dense forests, giant boulder rock outcroppings to sand dunes. Off road motorcycles, otherwise known as 'dirt bikes' can find riding trails near home or across the state, in far away locations.

dirt bike routes
dirt bike camping
dirt bike trails

Dirt biking off road trails can be found outside of nearly any urban city in California. In National Forests, on BLM lands, all across the many deserts and in a good portion of the mountains. The Sierra Nevada mountains located in the middle of the state has many high elevation OHV routes to small alpine lakes and primitive camp sites. SoCal has the winter prime-time desert warmth, Central Cal has coastal dunes, steep canyons, and rugged foothills, plus the giant Mojave desert which stretches from Joshua Tree area to Vegas. NorCal has the endless forests, solitude and rivers you seek.

SoCal Off Road Areas

Imperial Sand Dunes
Heber Dunes SVRA
Plaster City
Superstition Mountain
Glamis Desert
Devil’s Canyon BLM
Lark Canyon OHV
Mecca Box Canyon BLM
Anza Borrego Desert
Ocotillo Wells
Idyllwild OHV Trails
Big Bear Trails
San Bernardino National Forest
Juniper Flats 
Johnson Valley OHV
Barstow BLM
Angeles National Forest
Los Padres National Forest

Mojave Dirt Bike Trails

Mojave Trail
Mojave Desert BLM
El Mirage
Barstow Trails
Dumont Dunes 
Randsburg Ghost Town
Rasor OHV
Ord Mountain
Stoddard Valley OHV
Trona Pinnacles
Panamint Valley
Death Valley National Park
Dove Springs OHV
Jawbone Canyon

Central California Routes

Carnegie SVRA Alameda
Clay Pit SVRA Oroville
Hungry Valley Gorman
Hollister Hills 
Oceano Dunes Pismo
Prairie City Sacramento
Rock Front Ranch
Quatal Canyon Cuyama

Sierra Nevada OHV Trails

Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway
Kern Plateau & Kern River
Kennedy Meadows
Monache Meadows
Kern River BLM
Keysville - Kernville
Sequoia National Forest
Bishop Back Roads
The Buttermilks
Eastern Sierra Bishop BLM
Mammoth Lakes Trails
Sonora Pass Stanislaus NF
Niagra OHV
Eldorado National Forest
Rubicon Trail

NorCal Off-Road OHV Areas

Redding Chappie Shasta OHV
Cow Mountain Mendocino
Ukiah California
Samoa Dunes Humboldt
Lassen National Forest
Fort Sage Susanville

Modoc National Forest
Alturas California

Friday, November 8, 2013

Campsites in Southern California

lake cachuma camping

Camping sites in Southern California

While camping in California is an amazing experience overall with thousands of picture perfect settings to pitch your tent, camping in SoCal definitely has it's limitations. The primary reasons are....

Camping in SoCal is -

1. crowded (half the population is located in the lower third of the state)
2. dry terrain (minimal rivers, dry seasonal streams, few waterfalls)
3. wildfire prone (with average rainfall of only 10")
4. costly (all developed campgrounds charge fees)
5. not secluded (with suburbia spread into foothills, busy roads nearby)

With the California population nearing 40 million, you will need to do your research in order to find a good, secluded, scenic camping area.

Coastal camp sites are the most popular on the list and you should seek advanced reservation w/ the State Park system. City camping is mostly RV parks and a few county parks. Beyond the neighborhoods, countryside camping in the coastal foothills are limited to a few county parks and State Parks. All these areas mentioned above are also heavily populated, suburban sprawl and highway dense.

So as you can see, this leaves us with the mountains and the deserts. These are the two regions to concentrate your outdoor vacation searches for SoCal. Below are some of Total Escape favorite destinations for camping in the lower portion of the state. Some may be developed campgrounds with fees, some are primitive camps without fees and a few are free camping area.

agua dulce meadow camp, laguna mountains


The snow is minimal, water is scarce, wildfire danger is high, so campfires are usually limited to developed campgrounds only. Mountain locations in southern California range in elevation from 3000' above sea level to towering 11,500' at San Gorgonio Peak, which is the tallest peak in the region.


best desert camping SocalVast miles of tree-less lands in eastern California are considered desert terrain, which sees less than 10 inches of precipitation per year. High deserts (over 2000' elevation) as well as low desserts (under 1000' elevation) with awesome geological formations, open sandy washes, mud caves, slot canyons, indian petroglyphs, giant boulders and wildflowers are just a few of the sites to be seen. Snow is possible in California deserts starting around 4000' elevation. Off road vehicles, 4x4, quad, dirt bike, ATV riding spots are commonly referred to as OHV (off highway vehicle) use areas are plentiful in desert regions.

If you seek free tent camping, private creeks, plenty water, seclusion on dirt back roads with spectacular scenery, alpine lakes with granite mountain peaks - then you must drive north several hours from Southern California - to reach the much more desirable Sierra Nevada range or NorCal mountains.