Sunday, November 3, 2019

New Navigation for 2019

Yes indeed, Total Escape is alive and well - and still online!

the redesign is finally here

2019 October marks the 23rd year of our presence on the world wide web. Site founder, DanaMite has been redesigning the site and making it easier to find everything - over 10,000 pages on just California. This particular overhaul has been years in the making and I needed to 'hire out' on certain skills in to accomplish it.

Big thanks goes to Jamison who helped me get CSS headers in order and looking great, and the new navigation launched last month on Total Escape.

Mobile users will be pointed to the main URL

Desktop users can still use the classic feel

Search Bar is located back on top, the Outside Blog now visually matches the rest of the site, and we have created some new sub-sections of the site, which include:

seen it all over the decades

Most outdoor blog creators "give up" after a few years of not getting rich on the web. The affiliate earnings don't pay what we thought they would, and getting consistent web traffic (followers) is harder than it looks. DanaMite posts here (to blogger) just to make sure the word is getting out there - about maps now available, new web site additions and of course, the unheard of places.

the escapees

Super serious appreciation goes everyone who keeps on using my web site, from travel planning, to campsite research, to lodging reservations, to books found on Amazon - and all the map purchases, I really appreciate all the clicks and referral commissions. It's the only thing keeping this site going!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Half Moon Campground

Los Padres NF: Half Moon Camp

2006 Day Fire wildfire burned most of the Sespe Wilderness

Piru Creek Camping
Lockwood Valley, Sespe Wilderness Trailheads

Late afternoon sun at uncrowded Half Moon campground
Los Padres National Forest

West of Frazier Park & north of Ojai Camping -
12 camp sites on creek @ 4700' elevation
vault toilet, creek, pine forest, Sespe Wilderness
first come, first served camping

Max Camper Length: 0
RV, motorhomes, camper trailers are not advised
Access by long dirt road with creek crossings, high clearance recommended.

Lockwood Ranger Station:

Backpacking, car camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, off-roading.

Piru Creek valley overlook on the way to Mutau Flat and Half Moon

From Ojai, California take Hwy 33. Turn right (east) on Lockwood Valley. Turn right (south) on Mutau Flat Road #7N03 and continue 9 miles to the campground at junction with #7N13.

From Frazier Park, head west of town and turn left on Lockwood Valley. Pass the ranger station a few miles, then turn left (south) on Mutau Flat Road #7N03 and continue 9 miles to the campground at junction with #7N13.

BACK ROAD: Dirt roads with rough spots and some possible stream crossings. OHV 4WD route called Piru Creek Trail #128 begins near the campground. The ever popular 4x4 Miller Jeep Trail is also nearby, but Alamo Mountain would be a better choice for a campground near the top (end) of the trail.

Los Padres Maps

WATER: Bordering on the verge of SoCal high desert this coastal mountain range sees seasonal creeks that dry up, so don't always expect water. This is not the Sierra Nevada. 

SESPE HOT SPRINGS: Half Moon Campground is the closest car camping area to the super remote Sespe Hot Springs - a long 7 mile hike (one way). Hike it round trip in one day, you won't be enjoying yourself. It's a good for an overnight backpack destination, but pretty tough for a day hike.


trailheads nearby -
Sespe Hot Springs [20W10]
Johnson Ridge [20W12]
Stonehouse Mutau Creek [20W35]
Piru Creek OHV Trail [128] 

Jefferey pines for a hammock!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Usal Beach Campground

Lost Coast Camping, NorCal

Usal Beach Campground near Shelter Cove

This prime yet primitive, hard-to-reach beach campground is tucked well away from the crowds along the coastal Hwy 1. The region is BLM King Range National Conservation Area, or better known as the Lost Coast of California... an infamous stretch of wilderness coast in between Mendocino and the Humboldt Redwoods. Forest located on the county line of Mendocino & Humboldt. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park is nearby.

Usal Camp is only place for drive-up car camping on the beach front. All other developed camps in the area are located further inland w/ forested surroundings, or backpacking, hike-in primitive campsites.  

Usal Campground on Usal Creek, has several idyllic settings to pitch a tent. Choose from sites situated in dense, sheltered alder groves, some camp spots hidden in redwoods groves, or camp straight on the sandy beach next to the cliffs, but expect serious wind out there.

Northern California Coast Camping -
25 camp sites on Lost Coast @ 50' elevation
fee, vault toilet, picnic tables, Sinkyone Wilderness
first come, first served camping

Max Camper Length: 0
RV, motorhomes, camper trailers are not advised

Sinkyone Office: 707-986-7711

There are no major amenities but picnic tables are abundant. Spacious camp sites with access to beach, cliffs, forest, hiking trails. Some fire rings are provided. Good luck finding the toilet facilities, so bring your shovel for emergencies.

The only access route is a one lane dirt road that can be steep in certain spots. Trailers, RVs & motorhomes are not advised. Mendocino County Route #431 (dirt road) is max 25 mph, but the locals tend to drive it faster. A scenic, forested, narrow road that is not maintained during winter months. 4WD may be needed in wet months, but most of the time a passenger car can access.

Just north of Fort Bragg when Highway 1 peels away from the coast and heads east (to meet up w/ US 101); immediately at coastline curve towards inland, the left turn on to dirt comes up real quick. Slow down to expect it and try not to be driving over 50 mph. This back road parallels the coast on cliffs for a short while and the campground turn-off is about 5 miles north of this point. Campground is south of Shelter Cove and west of Leggett, CA. Garberville is also closeby.

Wild blackberries found in summer at Usal Campground.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Camping without a Campfire

Camping without a campfire sounds like swimming without water to some people. Half the reason to go camping is to sit around the group fire at night enjoying the gorgeous night air & good conversation.

Here in California we have many fire restrictions in place, especially in Southern California. With the expanding population moving in to the state, we now have less rural lands available than ever before.

Current ongoing drought conditions in much of California means tight restrictions on campfires - inside and outside of campgrounds.

You are responsible for knowing the campfire restrictions in the forest you are visiting, so make sure to find out ahead of time. NFS 

Late Summer to Autumn season campfire restrictions can apply to backpacking in the high country, back roads dispersed camping, and sometimes even regular campgrounds.

When wildfire danger is greatest no campfires are allowed anywhere in the forest, even inside developed campgrounds. Our over-managed forest lands, with drought, bark beetles infestation and rapid fire cycles, and limited fire crews - burn thousands of acres each year. When wilderness areas get closed off & dirt road routes get overgrown, no one can access them - not even fire trucks or emergency personnel. Half the forest easily can ignite like the 2006 Day Fire in Los Padres that lasted well over a month.

Many developed campgrounds are not even allowing campfires during the dry season. Can you blame them? We all know California is prone to wildfires. Learning to camp without a campfire can be a challenge, so we're here to help. What is there to do at night without a campfire?

1.) Stargaze
2.) Moonlight Hike
3.) Off Roading - Night Run!
4.) Listen to Music & Talk
5.) Play Musical Instrument & Sing
6.) Learn your GPS
7.) Mountain Bike w/ Light
8.) Read with a Candle or Flashlight
9.) Watch a DVD on Laptop (?)

Dome Land Wilderness wild fire burned (2000)

Lynn from Frazier Park captured this surreal shot looking north into the great Central Valley with the eerie smoke & sunlight during a frequent wild fire season.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Campground Reservations with Total Escape

Campground Reservations w/ Reserve America are back!

just in time for summer

No hurry, no worries, as you coast down the forested route to your premiere camping destination. A shady campground near an alpine lake or fishing creek is a favorite destination for many in California. Summer time is here and it seems everyone is on vacation; but alas, you have camping reservations at this perfect spot - a camp site held specifically for you.

Over the past two decades Total Escape has seen numerous affiliate programs disappear, hundreds of independent lodges go out of business and recreation outfitters close shop. About 5 years ago ReserveAmerica, the nationwide campground reservation system, was acquired by Soon after most of our campground links were null and void, so DanaMite updated them to something more relevant.

Well it has taken a several years but we finally got all the new camping reservation links back up, so you can now reserve a campground through Total Escape - again!

California State Parks, NPS, NFS, Regional & County Parks
All campgrounds listed by nearest town on the California A-Z page.