Austin C.
Los Angeles, CA
Joined May 2019
Amazing Wilderness Backpacking Camp by River

This is a trail camp in the Ventana Wilderness along the Carmel River Trail.  The trailhead and parking lot is at the Los Padres Dam.  The trail is pretty easy to follow, but crosses the river/creek extremely frequently.  I had to cross the river about 50 times in a weekend in an out & back trip.

This is backcountry backpacking, so:

  • So potable water - bring a filter
  • Pack in pack out trash
  • Fires may be restricted
  • No restrooms or other facilities
  • Lots of poison oak
  • Trail may be impassable at some points

I spent the first night of this trip at the Bluff camp just a bit north.  On the second night I hiked several miles south until the trail was impassable due to a fallen tree and turned back.  My car was up at the Los Padres Dam and I had to be out by noon of day 3 so the Carmel River camp allowed me to pack up and hike out to the car in just a couple of hours.

Here is the trail info:

http://www.ventanawild.org/trails/ventana-wilderness-trails/carmel-river-trail

Here is an interactive Map: http://bigsurtrailmap.net/interactivemap.html?latlon=36.0898,-121.5651&zoom=11&bkgmap=USGS+Quad+%2BWilderness&mode=trailmap&control=0

First to Review
Great Solo Backpacking Trip in Ventana Wilderness

This is a trail camp in the Ventana Wilderness along the Carmel River Trail.  The trailhead and parking lot is at the Los Padres Dam.  The trail is pretty easy to follow, but crosses the river/creek extremely frequently.  I had to cross the river about 50 times in a weekend in an out & back trip.

This is backcountry backpacking, so:

  • So potable water - bring a filter
  • Pack in pack out trash
  • Fires may be restricted
  • No restrooms or other facilities
  • Lots of poison oak
  • Trail may be impassable at some points

I got in Friday afternoon so could only hike a few miles before dark.  The Bluff camp was the first real trail camp along the trail, but there are several more further on

Here is the trail info:

http://www.ventanawild.org/trails/ventana-wilderness-trails/carmel-river-trail

Here is an interactive Map: http://bigsurtrailmap.net/interactivemap.html?latlon=36.0898,-121.5651&zoom=11&bkgmap=USGS+Quad+%2BWilderness&mode=trailmap&control=0

Convenient Dispersed Near Bryce & Red Canyon

Bryce Canyon campgrounds were full, as well as the nearby designated campsites at Red Canyon.   We showed up at the nearby forest ranger's office who directed us to some nearby dispersed camping on the edge of Dixie National Forest.

This is dispersed camping, so no:

  • Restrooms
  • Water
  • Trash
  • Hookups/dumps
  • Shops

Although since there is a designated campground just down the road, you can easily go there for water, restrooms, and trash.

This CG provided a good alternative to getting to Bryce Canyon without the mess of trying to get a reservation.  Red Canyon is also in between this site and the national park, which had some nice hikes and views of the hoodoos

Great Lake Access but no Shade

Wahweap CG was a great roadtrip stop with access to Lake Powell, but in the heat of the sun it was a bummer to not have really any shade at all.  Every campsite was a bit exposed and there is not much privacy between camps.  That said there were restrooms, water, and trash that were all convenient.

There was a nice convenience store and gift shop at the campground check-in location.

I would stay here again, but will probably try other Lake Powell campsites first

Great Campsite but Remote

We were heading to camp at Lake Mead last minute with no reservations and were nervous about getting a spot, but we showed up at Echo Bay on a weekend and there was practically NO ONE there…to this day I still have no idea why, maybe it was a bit early in the season.  Seems like it was pretty much just an overflow for those that did not get other sites, but it was totally fine to me.

Make sure to get a site under a tree with some shade.  All sites had restrooms, trash, and water nearby.

There is not a great place nearby to get groceries, so make sure to stock up beforehand.  There is a little convenience store at the site but pickings were very slim.

There's a boat ramp at the bottom of the road, and some nice places to walk/hike along the lake.

Only downside is that it is pretty remote and it was an hour drive to Hoover Dam and the main lake Mead recreation areas.

Perfect Camp for Capitol Reef Visit

This campsite is right at the entrance to Capitol Reef NP, so it is a perfect spot for those visiting.  All of the campsites are fairly close to each other and there is not much privacy between the sites, but that is made up for by the amazing surroundings.

You are right in the middle of the historical town of Fruita, with the CRNP visitor center nearby.  There is also a great picnic/day use area nearby.

We saw a family of deer all lounging right at the campground amphitheater after we took a walk down the Fremont River Trail.

If you come here, you MUST take the scenic drive to the end of the Capitol Reef Gorge, and stop for a pie on your way out

Riverside Camping Outside of Moab

This was a fantastic campsite down the Colorado river just 10 or 15 minutes south of Moab.  All sites were first come first served, and filled up in the early afternoon every day.  This campsite had water, restrooms, trash, and access to nearby hikes.

This was a great home base for visiting Moab, Canyonlands NP, and Arches NP.  Moab is close enough to go in for services, groceries, and supplies.  10 of the campsites are drive in, and a few of the sites are walk in.  Our site required a 50yd walk in or so to carry our gear, but that meant our sites was a bit more secluded at private.

I believe sites 1-10 were drive up, and 11-15 were walk in

First to Review
Desperate Dispersed Camping Outside of Moab

Got into Moab later than expected on a Friday night around spring break time, so there were no campsites available at the BLM sites along the Colorado river.  After looking around for an hour, we looped back up around the 128 to I-70 and got off at Thompson springs and got on BLM 144 which was a dirt road heading southwest.  We settled camp around 9pm.  In the morning we were able to pack camp and drive to highway 191 and go south into Moab and get a campsite first thing in the morning.

This is dispersed camping/boondocking, so no services or facilities whatsoever.  

Despite the setbacks, the sunrise in the morning was beautiful

Great First Come First Serve in a SEKI NP

Decided to come to Sequoia & Kings Canyon last minute and was able to luckily snag a first come first served spot going right into a summer weekend.  Azalea CG was a great home base for driving down into Kings Canyon, taking a day trip to Hume Lake, going down to see the Giant Sequoias, and walking to nearby big tree groves.

Would definitely stay here again.

12/10 if you can get a campsite

It's almost impossible to get a spot at the campsites in Yosemite Valley these days, but if you do you are lucky.  There are a ton of campsites here so it always seems overcrowded, but it does give off a good community vibes with lots of groups and families around.  If you bring a bike you can easily get to anywhere in the Yosemite Valley in minutes without having to worry about walking a couple miles or parking your car.  Several of the top hikes are within walking distance of the campsite

Amazing Alternative to Yosemite Valley

As expected, we could not get any spots at the campsites in the Yosemite Valley, but Crane Flat CG was an incredible surprise.  The campground was beautiful and not super crowded like the campsites in the valley.  It was a 30 or so minute drive into the valley, but also provided easier access to some sequoia groves and a drive up highway 120 Tioga Road.

Would absolutely stay here again and recommend to anyone else.

Beautiful Backpacking Trip

We did a one night backpacking trip here in Butano SP and it was great!  Had to get a permit to camp in the backcountry, and could only camp at designated sites but they were easy to find.  We got there early on a Saturday afternoon and got our first pick of campsite.  No fires allowed, and BYO water or bring a filter.

Would come back here again

Busy but nice beach camping

Stopped here on a one night stay on the way down to Big Sur.  Had campsite #1 which was decently sized and right in the middle of the camp.  The camp is a bit on the bluff and not directly on the beach, but you can get down there with a short walk.  There were a ton of families here so it was a bit loud, but not too bad.

Would stay here again

Redwoods, Prairies, Ferns & Beaches

This was a fantastic location in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP.  Not too far from the highway was great on a road trip.  We saw a family of elk before even getting into the park.  Our campsite #58 was a little small and pretty squeeze by our neighbors, but overall it was fine.  

I would highly, highly recommend taking the hike down through the redwoods to the beach and then back up through fern canyon.  Was one of the best hikes I've ever done.

Amazing Giant Redwoods Experience

This campsite is part of Humboldt State Park and is nestled right in the middle of a grove of giant redwoods.  We left our tent fly off so that we could look straight up and see the redwoods towering over us, and the stars were also amazing.  Within the state park you can go on several walks through famous redwood groves and see humorous trees such as the "Flat Iron Tree" and "Giant Tree" (lol).  This was a one night stop for us on the way to more of the redwoods north up the coast.

Would definitely stay here again

First to Review
Grueling but worthwile backpacking climb

This was one of the most beautiful backpacking hikes I've ever done, but also one of the more challenging ones to do in one day.

  • 11.1 miles from trail head to the summit
  • 5,600 ft. in elevation gain
  • Took 7.5 hours total (4.5 hours moving time)
  • Limited water on trail.  Saw some springs during the first half but none within miles of the top

Camping at the top was spectacular.  The sunset was one of the best I have ever seen.  There is an old outpost at the top that someone else was sleeping at to provide shelter for the wind (it was pretty vicious).  The hike down was much, much easier.

Obviously this is back country camping, so

  • No water supply
  • Pack in Pack out
  • Limited to no cell service
Good Coastal Beach Camping

Nice campsite within driving distance on the Bay area on a 1 night stop on the way down to Big Sur.  Only negative experience was our bear locker wouldn't close properly, and we suffered the consequences when we awoke to a family of raccoons raiding the box.

Amazing California Coastal Cliffs

This was a perfect spot on a roadtrip up PCH up the California Coast to the Redwoods.  Located in Patrick's Point SP it's not far from the highway.  Tons of sites here but we reserved in advance.  We had a campsite on top of the cliffs overlooking the beach, which was a bit foggy but beautiful.  Our campsite #99 was nestled in some trees so it provided some privacy from other camps.

Would definitely stay here again

Amazing Backcountry Backpacking

Came here from SF Bay for 2 nights on a weekend.  Obtained permit from the ranger station and had to pick a district I would camp in the first night (to limit amount of campers in a region per night).  Hiked about 8 miles southwest to a lake the first night and camped in my hammock by the lake.  Second day backpacked about 12 miles northeast to another lake and was able to grab a spot to set up my hammock next to some picnic tables and a restroom.  Saw plenty of wildlife (lizards, snakes, birds, fish).  It was fairly hot in mid-spring, and there is not much shade on the trails, especially the dirt roads.

First to Review
Beautiful Lakeside Campground

This campground was an absolute gem.  

  • Right on Huntington Lake, and only about 10 or so sites so there was not too much noise.  
  • Able to walk right down to the lakefront.
  • Marina nearby to rent fishing boats/poles.  We rented an aluminum boat for 4 hours one day for $60 and went out fishing on the lake.  We boated to the island in the middle to picnic and have some lunch
  • Shop nearby for any supplies
  • Hikes within a short drive
  • Check-in was not at the campsite, which was a slight inconvenience