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Author Topic: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.  (Read 1573 times)

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Online Vulcanbill

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CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« on: April 24, 2019, 11:07:33 AM »
We're talking about doing the big trip this Christmas season.  We'll drag the camper across the country via the southern route and hit as many CA parks as we can in probably a week and a half or so.  We've done Yosemite so that's not a requirement on this trip tho we're not actively avoiding it.  Priorities will be Joshua Tree, Death Valley, King's Canyon, Sequoia and Redwood.  We'd love to bag Channel Island but that'll be pretty rough w/ the dog being an integral part of our journey. 

We prefer to stay outside the parks where National Forests and State Parks tend to be better for pet friendly and wallet friendly stays.  But now that we're in a newer, shorter rig, the parks aren't out of the question.  We'll probably have the bikes so I'll also be interested in areas to do some off road riding. 

Clearly, we'll be spending a great deal of time on 395.  Feel free to recommend any and all.  We have like 7 months of research.  Not much reason to not hit the good stuff.

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Online kendenton

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2019, 12:48:03 PM »
Many years ago we had a great camping experience at Oh Ridge campground at June Lake, just a few minutes south of Lee Vining and Tioga Pass.

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Online miles

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2019, 11:12:24 PM »
The trip to Avalon on Catalina via a ferry is tough for dogs simply because of the requirement that they be muzzled onboard the boat.  Other than that, it's no problem.

That said, it's difficult to see much of the Channel Islands outside of Avalon.  You really need your own boat to get anywhere but Avalon, and Catalina itself is severely restricted as far as vehicular traffic is concerned.  I don't know if any of the jeep tours allow dogs.  My guess would be no.

As far as your list of other parks, King's Canyon, Sequoia, Death Valley and Joshua Tree tree all fairly close to each other, but many hundreds of miles away from the Redwoods.

You mentioned Christmas time, though, and there's the big monkey wrench.  This year the Sierras (which include King's Canyon and Sequoia) got about eleventyhundred feet of snow.  This happens sometimes, and when it does it can be a no-go.  Christmas is early for much snow, but it can happen.

Personally, I really like Death Valley but the best stuff would be difficult to access towing a camper that you cared about.  Maybe consider detaching it at a campground and driving to Titus Canyon, Dante's View and the Racetrack without it?  If you plan on doing any offroading, you'd better have license plates on your bikes.  And big tanks.

Joshua Tree, for me, is only appealing if I want to climb rocks.  Otherwise, it's no more interesting than any other stretch of uninteresting desert. 

King's Canyon/Sequoia is well worth the effort if it's open.  Effing big trees, effing old trees and all that.

The Redwoods are amazing, too, but are 500 miles away from the other parks in your list.  I guess if you're traveling all the way from the wrong coast it is a relatively minor consideration, but it will take you a full day of travel to get there from any of the other places you mentioned.

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2019, 09:18:24 AM »
Thanks Miles.  I suspected the islands would be difficult.  The dog has historically made pretty much everything more difficult but it's our reality. 

Given that we are driving across the country, it isn't out of the question to do a long day to get to a point and we typically park the camper somewhere interesting and just daytrip it. 

Bikes are tagged and offroad in our world is more like interesting back country roads or forest service roads.  I'm game for a little more difficult but that will probably be a Kim and Hemi go hiking somewhere else kind of day.  It's an XT250 so difficult singletrack isn't really in the cards. 

I'm really interested in Death Valley as well and plan on researching heavily as we get closer.  There will be many many follow up questions.

Thanks for the warnings about the snow.  Need to learn about the topo of the area.  Wasn't thinking Sierras as much as just desert.  Good call.  Doesn't seem like that time of year will have us hunting for a place to stay so if we need to make some game day decisions about getting back to the warm, we'll probably have options in nearby BLM, State Park, Private campgrounds. 

And interesting or not, we're on a quest to bag as many Nat'l parks as possible.  We're down to a handful left in CONUS.  In fact, after a bit of research last night, after this trip, the truck will only be a few states away from conquering all 48 states at some level.  :)  Now we have a side mission. 

The killer for us is being so "close" to Crater Lake.  Ugh.  That might be a fly and drive if we ever find a person we trust w/ the house and dog.  :(   :tinfoil:

We talked about the Redwoods and are still in negotiation about that one.  500 miles is an easy day but it's still a day and puts us a day farther away upon return unless we do it in the middle of the trip.  We'll see. 
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2019, 09:30:12 AM »
  It's an XT250 so difficult singletrack isn't really in the cards. 



I missed that memo.   ;D

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2019, 10:15:28 AM »
...shouldn't really be in the cards.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2019, 10:36:28 AM »
Do you have chains for truck and trailer? All the Sierra passes will close if there is early snow of any significance. This leaves you the high desert route... and I-80. Maybe 50. And chains will be required.

We live in Ventura County (Santa Paula) I would recommend a whale watching tour around the Channel Islands, rather than visiting an island. Note: Catalina is south of the Channel Islands. I'll check on the dog requirement.

If you need a cheap place to land in our area, let me know. We have a friend with 3 acres that is all flat. Hemi can run around too.

More input to come....
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2019, 11:55:04 AM »
Do you have chains for truck and trailer? All the Sierra passes will close if there is early snow of any significance. This leaves you the high desert route... and I-80. Maybe 50. And chains will be required.

We live in Ventura County (Santa Paula) I would recommend a whale watching tour around the Channel Islands, rather than visiting an island. Note: Catalina is south of the Channel Islands. I'll check on the dog requirement.

If you need a cheap place to land in our area, let me know. We have a friend with 3 acres that is all flat. Hemi can run around too.

More input to come....

You have my undivided attention on the 3 flat acres.  :)  Interested in a paying dog sitting gig?  :)

If there is any chance of real snow, I won't mess around w/ pulling a trailer.  Not in the mountains.  If we need to just day trip from Death Valley or something similar, that's not out of the question. 
If a person's primary concern is increasing freedom, they should prepare for a reduction in average lifespan.  ---  Misanthropist

If you say "Gullible" real slow, it sounds like "Orange"

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2019, 12:06:13 PM »
So am I correct in assuming that you don't come into Sequoia and King's Canyon from the east?  Both are entered from the West??
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2019, 12:42:47 PM »
So am I correct in assuming that you don't come into Sequoia and King's Canyon from the east?  Both are entered from the West??

Yes.

However. Some people ::cough:: have been known to go up Kern River Canyon to 190 and then use some back roads (e.g. Yokohl Valley Road) to 198 and stay in Three Rivers.

Also... check out Portuguese Pass road....

Dog sitting is quite possible. We have a fenced back yard and the neighbors have a dog he can play with. Our yard would be neutral territory.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2019, 01:21:53 PM »
Sherman Pass Road looks like a fun day on the bikes.  :)
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2019, 01:25:26 PM »
Sherman Pass Road looks like a fun day on the bikes.  :)

Why yes it is. We've done it in the other 3 seasons. Winter can be sketchy; it is not plowed or well maintained.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2019, 01:34:16 PM »
Yeah, I fear all this awesomeness I'm looking at will be off limits.  Mtns typically socked in before new years?
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2019, 02:29:37 PM »
Yeah, I fear all this awesomeness I'm looking at will be off limits.  Mtns typically socked in before new years?


Here's the historical data for some of the passes: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/clsdlst.htm
Here's where you can look up mountain highways in various regions: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/mtnhwys.htm
And here's where you can look up any state highway: http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi

Short answer: Yes. Historically we used to do a B4theSnowFlies Ride.... in October. After that, it would get sketchy with weather. Most of the passes are still not open... and they closed in late November this season.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 03:56:42 PM by viffergyrl »
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2019, 04:00:44 PM »
Channel Islands info....

As it is a closed ecosystem, no pets are allowed on the islands. Service dogs need approval from the park superintendent. I've been to Anacapa and used these guys: https://islandpackers.com/

They also do whale watching and wildlife cruises around the island (no landings). I could not find any information on whether pets can come on a non-landing cruise; you might have to call or email them.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2019, 09:30:26 PM »
Bikes are tagged and offroad in our world is more like interesting back country roads or forest service roads.  I'm game for a little more difficult but that will probably be a Kim and Hemi go hiking somewhere else kind of day.  It's an XT250 so difficult singletrack isn't really in the cards. 

I'm really interested in Death Valley as well and plan on researching heavily as we get closer.  There will be many many follow up questions.

Death Valley off roading will be fire roads.  I've hit pretty much all of it on my street bikes, so an XT with a big tank (because it'll be a long way between gas stops) will do just fine.

 

The killer for us is being so "close" to Crater Lake.  Ugh.  That might be a fly and drive if we ever find a person we trust w/ the house and dog.  :(   :tinfoil:

Also at elevation, and subject to closure in the winter.  It is exceptionally beautiful, and well worth the trip, but besides looking and saying "Wow, will you look at that!" there's nothing else to do there.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2019, 04:54:57 AM »
My one trip out that way was in September (two weeks starting from Michigan on LDW) and it was already getting chilly on the interior side of the mountains.  I fear you may get snowed out of much of what you seek in late December.  I thought Crater Lake was awesome and the north end of the park interesting too.  The topography was way different than the mid-west.  Lassen and Lava Beds NPs were geologically interesting too. 


I'd love to spend a week exploring Death Valley on the season's edge before it gets blazing hot.
--Tom

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2019, 10:53:42 AM »
Around Christmas time Death Valley is definitely the opposite of blazing hot.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2020, 08:25:12 AM »
Thread revival. This is now going to be our 25th anniversary trip. The XTs are gone and I don't think it's worth taking the quad or bikes. That makes the trip easier. We will also be bagging the Christmas timeframe and going late August / early September.  All else remains. Just started making plans. Will be a brutal drive pulling the camper but we've done it before. That part is a known quantity at least. Assume all parks will be accessible if not on 🔥? 
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2020, 08:45:59 AM »
 Yep hottest part of the year out here. It was 100 on the patio yesterday, and I'm 10 miles from the beach.

 I would hope that we'll all be done with the lockdown BS by then, but this is Commiefornia. Might not be a whole lot of forest left to see. Non-burned areas could be crowded.

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2020, 01:46:46 PM »
One of my favorites is Bristlecone Pines - it's a high altitude pass with a short trail that leads to a "breathless" view of Mt Whitney - if you are driving between Death Valley and SoCal.  Surprised no one has mentioned it yet.  It's north on 395 from Sherman Pass, which goes through a stand of redwood forest.  Take time to stop and walk the trail.

Wherever you go, allow time to check out the state and local parks, and sites managed by BLM.  Some of these are every bit as interesting as the more well-know national parks and although smaller, far less crowded, for example Red Rock Canyon in SOCal or Painted Desert County Park near Winslow AZ.  There are so many it's hard to pick & choose and you've only got so much time, so we never go far out of our way, but don't overlook them if you are passing through and see a signpost.
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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2020, 10:40:04 AM »
Ancient BC Pine was a bonus during the 2003 IBR. One guy was taking the required photo of the ancient tree, turned around as saw his bike on fire (Ducati?). Kicked it over and started throwing sand on it to try and avoid burning down the very tree he'd come to photograph.

There are 2 NP stamps in close proximity to each other. If you've snagged the one for the Painted Desert, keep following that road (instead of turning around and going back to the main ones). On the other side is another stamp for the Petrified Forest. Sneaky tip is that I think they have both stamps at both visitor centers. If you're collecting stamps and not wandering around, ask and save some time.

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Re: CA Nat'l Park research begins - Recommendations requested.
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2020, 12:41:41 PM »
BC Pine is indeed a point on the map that should not be passed. Fun road up the hill, keep an eye on the tarsnakes there is one that is quite funny  :). Near the top is a nice dry camping spot and being sooooo far from any city lights combined with elevation makes for wonderful star gazing.
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