What with Google’s Earth and Maps and other resources, you can explore before you go from home. All you need is a decent I’net connection and a PC or tablet (screen size matters in viewing satellite pictures!) Dave Helgeson’s 26 Minute YouTube video include tips and techniques you can use to determine if a spot you find is suitable for an RV stayover.
Published on Oct 4, 2016
This is part three in a series: RV Boondocking expert Dave Helgeson presents his popular seminar “Boondocking Using Google Earth.” Even if you have boondocked for years, you’ll pick up some valuable tips here about how to find places to camp “in the middle of nowhere” before you even leave home! Dave will show you how to spot promising locations by using Google Earth, and then determine how to get there, and even to know if the terrain suitable — even level enough — for RVs. This should be a must-view for all RVers who like to camp away from the crowds using their on-board systems to sustain them for days or even weeks at a time. Nearly all the locations Dave shows you are on public lands, where the camping is free.
Google Earth will tell you the altitude as you traverse the pointer over a route. From that you can tell if the road has a significant grade or elevation change. Dave didn’t mention that Google maps will provide an altitude profile when you set the transportation mode to bicycle. So, if you can get maps to show you a route from, say, the highway to your campsite, you can see a graph of altitude along the route.
Others have used the satellite and road views to check out fuel stops as well as to look for camping areas. It’s virtual touring where you can see if an actual visit is feasible for your rig. One caveat though: things change. We had a gully wash out on the road to our Sweetwater Summit camping area that was almost enough to block getting through. That was due to recent rains and providing a reminder that surprises can happen, especially when you get off ‘official’ routes and roads where there isn’t much traffic. Take care. Be prepared.
Wheels and Doris Wheeler visited Bodie Days, an annual event put on by the Bodie Foundation, and share their pictures with us.
Folks had period costumes and there were activities and events to bring out the history of the Ghost Town from its heyday. See the photo gallery!
Here’s an ‘official campground’ between June Lakes and Mammoth
See the photo gallery!
ForestCamping.com says “The campground has the feel of dispersed camping along an amazingly organized maze of roadways. Many camp sites have a “circle-your-wagons” character – great family or group camping. Widely spaced among Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines and White fir with patches of grass, privacy is good at most camp sites. Because of the abundance of OHV trails, this is an excellent base camp for such enthusiasts; it can also get noisy. The campground is pack it in, pack it out.”
The NFS says “Located between June Mountain and Obsidian Dome, at an Elevation of 8400 feet, this campground has 25 campsites surrounded by pine forest with nearby access to the tributaries of the headwaters of Owens River.”
Sawmill Meadows is about 11 miles off CA 120 between Benton and Lee Vining.
It’s a dirt road off 120 to a camp area at nearly 9,000 feet in the pines. The camp area is a bit rough with limited room to maneuver. Coordinates 37.767960, -118.678055.
See the photo gallery!
There is a trail over to Glass Mountain and a lot of scenic vistas.
In 2015 the SNU moved down Glass Creek from Obsidian dome to just off U.S. 395. The Glass Creek campground started as just a place to park under the pines but popularity breeds civilization so now there is an effort to define roads and campsites.
It is a very large campground with minimal facilities and a donation request for fees. You’ll find full timers, people parked for a weekend with their ATV’s on the trails out to the backwoods, and a few just stopping for a while on their U.S. 395 journey. Maybe you’ll even encounter a rally gathering.
See the photo gallery!
From the other side of the country the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped takes note of Nearly Every USGS Topo Map Ever Made. For Free. from the USGS Map Locator and Downloader — “an incredible treasure trove for both map junkies and casual hikers alike.“
One important thing to note is that, in general, the most recent topo maps listed are markedly different from their predecessors. Part of the new US Topo Series, these maps have been created as PDFs with geospatial extensions (GeoPDF), which gives you the ability to turn on and off different layers (contour lines, place names, water features, etc.) for viewing, depending on what information you are interested in. Unfortunately, however, trails are not currently included as one of these layers—a significant drawback for hiking.
Lastly, and one of the single-most useful online tools I’ve discovered in recent years, is the ability to overlay every USGS topo map on top of Google Earth, another free (and extremely powerful) tool to add to your trip planning quiver.
While you might be able to take the digital copy down to a local printshop to get a large paper copy, buying the paper copy from the USGS store might get you a better copy at less cost. There’s just something about a big map with lots of detail that isn’t there with the same map viewed on a display. Each has its uses: one is great for virtual exploring with a big table and a good light. The other works for active navigation and map editing. It’s also a lot easier to carry around an extensive map library when it is in the form of digital storage rather than large sheets of paper.
Right now, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Equipped blog has posts on the status of the New England fall color and Railbikes. Looks like a good blog to watch, even if I’m getting back east anytime soon.
A big campground off US 395 between June Lakes and Mammoth was the substitute locale for the SNU Obsidian Dome get together.
See the photo gallery!
It is interesting that the campground was near full on arrival but thinned out for the weekend. The full timers and the weekend warriors with their toy haulers seem to enjoy this spot. It’s a lot like Hat Creek used to be with a big flat area under the pines adjacent to a creek. This one is getting somewhat civilized as roads and camp areas are being better delineated but many camp spots are large enough for several rigs and there is a lot of open space between them. While the SNU was there, the place was very quiet with little dust and traffic, despite the number of campers.
The rangers and the campground host both remarked on the abundance of aluminum that weekend.
Photo galleries and seminar notes are up at the rally page. Check it out!
Rally photo gallery 1 -|- Rally photo gallery 2 -|- Bird Banding
Off Grid Camping -|- Don’s Handouts -|- Solar Energy -|-
There are a few changes in the remaining SNU 2015 rally schedule.
* Thursday September 24 – Sunday 27 2015 the rally location has changed from Obsidian Dome to Glass Creek Campground. Glass Creek Campground is 4 miles further south of the the turn off to Obsidian on hwy 395. It is an NFS free, semi dispersed campground. It is more accessible than Obsidian, near Glass Creek and has access to hiking and off road trails. Here are some links to the Glass Creek area and campground.
* Thursday October 29, 2015 – Sunday November 1, 2015 are the dates for the SNU rally at Death Valley Mesquite campground. This Rally is hosted by Don and Gail and they have a lot of ideas for special activities.
* Saturday November 14, 2015 – the Luncheon will now be held at El Charro Avita in Carson City. The original site has new owners and the place is no longer suitable for an SNU luncheon.
Mark your calendar and plan to join us!
Fort Crook was an outpost in Northern California near Burney Falls in the Fall River Valley area. Now there is a museum near McArthur, CA.
Fort Crook was established on July 1, 1857, to protect travelers on the Shasta – Yreka Road and the Lockhart Ferries. Built by Company A, 1st Dragoons under the command of Captain John W. T. Gardner, the fort consisted of 25 – 30 log buildings enclosed by a pine-pole stockade 12 feet high.
About twenty years after the California post closed, another Fort Crook was established near Omaha, Nebraska, now Offutt Air Force Base.
Fort Crook (2) (1857-1869) – A U.S. Army post established in 1857 as Camp Hollenbush by Captain John W.T. Gardiner and troops from the 1st U.S. Dragoons and the 4th U.S. Infantry in Shasta County, California. Initially named for Assistant Surgeon Calvin G. Hollenbush and later renamed Fort Crook for 1st Lieutenant George Crook, 4th U.S. Infantry. Abandoned in 1869 and returned to the public domain in 1881. [Fort Wiki]
A visit to the museum was on the schedule for many at the SNU Rally held at the Lassen RV Resort. See the photo gallery of the museum tour! Lassen RV Resort is just a few miles east of McArthur and Fall River Mills. If you want a spot for your RV where you can feel like you are camping in the scrub oak yet have all the conveniences ready to hand, this place is a good choice. 50A hookups, pool, and varied settings for the RV.
See the photo gallery of the museum tour!
It is a reservoir built in 1915 to help assure water to the fields near Fallon. These days, after a few years of drought, there isn’t much water in the reservoir. Here’s a view from a few years ago:
The destination page for Lahontan State Park has links to the RV group’s photo galleries and other websites of interest — it needs to be updated as a number of the links to external websites suffer link rot. A web search for the title of the link.
The Nevada State Parks people haven’t sat still these last few years, either. Fort Churchill State Historic Park ties in the other end of some big plans:
“Nevada State Parks acquired 3,200 acres along the Carson River in 1994. The properties, known as the Carson River Ranches, connect Fort Churchill State Historic Park with Lahontan State Recreation Area. This river corridor, with its diverse plant and wildlife communities, is a popular area for campers, hikers, birdwatchers, canoeists, hunters and equestrians. While motorized travel on the ranches is not permitted, construction of public access parking areas and a scenic network of trails is ongoing.”
Of course, the float trips on the Carson River depend upon decent winter snowfall so you might need to wait a couple of years for a good La Nina winter for that. Meanwhile, there are a number of well marked trails for walking to view the old fort and the river bottom areas.
Lloyd had a special way to remember his caravan experiences with his Monterey Bay friends
see the gallery!
Southern California – the eastern side
The SNU is always on the lookout for potential rally spots. Here’s one Randy and Vicki checked out in NE California. See the Lassen RV Park report.
The SNU October rally was in the cottonwoods down by the river:
See the photo gallery!
She says she is Looking for Detachment and the latest post is about a geologist’s First Trip into the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. The event was the 2nd Annual Great Basin Rendezvous of the Nevada Mineral Exploration Coalition.
If you want to see what you’ve been missing in North East Nevada complete with a bit of geology, take at look. Here’s an example:
“At this point, where a falling rock sign appears on the side of the road, the overall U-shaped nature of the glacially carved canyon can be seen. The main part of Lamoille Canyon forms the foreground right of the road and highway sign, and it continues to the far left where cliffs of brownish gneiss, marble, and granite abound. The Right Fork of Lamoille Creek shoots off to the right, into the U-shaped canyon where its eastern, sunlit slopes are covered by green, yellow, and orange aspen trees.”
there’s more … go see!
Go visit, too. Fall is time for color and sharp horizons in Nevada. As always, prepare for very cool mornings and beware of the potential for early storms.
Time to catch up on photo galleries and other additions to the web site.
First up is Eagle Lake. The gathering there in 2014 at Rocky Point East had wheels working CAP exercises so we got an aerial view.
There are several photo galleries of the event linked so go see!
Then there’s the Likely RV Park. This is in the northeast corner of California where the Astronomy club likes the dark skies.
See the photo gallery!
The park management has been soliciting business so Randy checked it out. Not only does it provide good opportunities for astronomers but it also has a golf course and other amenities … maybe a bit civilized for the SNU ?
The top pages for early rally photos have been updated, too. See Rallies of the 1950’s and 1960’s and Rallies 1970’s, 1980’s & 1990’s and Rallies 2000, 2001 & 2002. See what was and compare the scenery to what it is today.
Just off I80 near the California and Nevada Border are several NFS campgrounds on holding reservoirs for Truckee River water. As this is a drought year, the water levels are rather low.
The rally weekend also happened to be one where spring storms were working their way through so the wind chill was significant and the propane consumption rather high. The wind was perhaps a bit strong for Randy’s kites, too. See the photo gallery! —
A bit chilly in the fall but the leaves were turning, the winds were calm, and the comeraderie something else (along with the scenery).
see the photo gallery!
A no-fee camp area on between Frenchman’s and Davis Lakes. See Red Clover Valley Tour – first a in series of summer tours at Plumas County News for a bit of history on the area and the roads.
You may have heard the news about the political budget fracas. Did you know you are a pawn in the game? Warren Meyer runs a business you may have encountered at campgrounds. He has posted his Plea to Stop the White House From Closing Privately-Funded, Privately-Operated Parks. It is a letter to his Congressional representatives. In past shutdowns, he was left alone as his company hired people and fed money to the treasury. There is a difference this time.
“today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.”
If you plan to visit Washington D.C. to view the memorials and other sites, you might want to look into the saga of the WW II vets as well. Besides erecting barriers and increasing enforcement staff to block off a site never intended to close, people are being hired to protest the government ‘shutdown’ to try to counterbalance the veterans removing the barriers and visiting ‘their’ memorial. Apparently, spending government funds to close down tourist destinations is a critical government security issue, even if it is of the sort that generates funds for the government and jobs for part time RVers. Be aware of what actually is as it may not be what you are told.
The U.S. is one of the very few countries to make a monument out of an embarrassment without outside provocation. The park service says it is One Camp, Ten Thousand Lives; One Camp, Ten Thousand Stories. Manzanar National Historic Site is 9 miles north of Lone Pine, CA.
See the photo gallery!
Get a glimpse of the psyche of the American people just after the Pearl Harbor attack. Keep in mind that modern ideas of ethnicity, nationality, and race were a luxury back then. Think about things that don’t change about people and how it could happen again in a different form.