Saturday, March 11, 2017

Best Free Camp Spot Ever!

We left San Luis Obispo on March 2. We looked for a place that was on our way to the bay area, but was close to Pinnacles National Park. We looked at staying at the NP, but it was kind of expensive and we would be in a site packed in with other RV's. We also were not able to get a site for Saturday night. We found a BLM campground that is just about 30 miles south of the park and is free. How good could it be good, if it was free. I read reviews and all were positive. The only problem is they only have 5 sites and they do not take reservations. We were coming in on a Thursday, so we felt like we had a good chance of getting a site. I looked at the profile of the drive on Google Maps and decided to take the long way to get there through the inner valley and the town of Coalinga. It is a very uninhabited part of California. We saw more grape vines and then miles and miles of pistachio trees. I guess that is where the grow them. We then got on a twisty winding road for about 30 miles. The road surface was not very good, but we just took it slow.

When we arrived at Laguna Mountain, we were amazed. We had the place all to ourselves for the first night and had our pick of sites. When I saw site 4, I knew that was it. It is a huge site with a nice shelter and an amazing view of the valley below. Here are a few shots:

That is the view from our awesome site. 
There was nothing to fill out or anything. It is just a free campground provided by the BLM. There are multiple hiking trails that lead right out of the campground. One that goes to a waterfall and the other to the top of Laguna Mountain. We had zero cell signal and no OTA TV. Our solar worked well and we never had to fire up a generator. We have had some awesome free campsites while we have been in the western US, but this is clearly our favorite. We settled in for some reading and I started planning some hikes.

To my motorcycle friends, we drove right by the SRMC ranch. This is the Salinas Ramblers Motorcycle Club. They have been in existence for over 80 years. They host national level events at the ranch including the Quicksilver Enduro. I planned to make a visit to their ranch later in our stay.

On March 3, I decided to hike to the waterfall. This place, like much of California, has seen some significant rain. Much of the trails had been wet, but were now dry. I did see plenty of evidence of damage caused by flooding and mud slides on the trail.

That is Laguna Mountain in the distance
I walked down a nice trail for about 2 miles and down some steep switchbacks. I made it to the creek, but the waterfall was further downstream and flooding had wiped out the trail. Oh well, it was still a pretty spot.

I ended up hiking about 4 miles and got a great workout with the significant elevation change.

Laguna Mountain was so nice and very quiet. It is a stark contrast to where we are now. We are within a few miles of downtown Oakland, California. We are ready to head into San Franciso to meet up with our Daughter Shannon and SIL Brian along with our youngest grandchild, Amelia. This should be an interesting day.

In our next entry, I will write about our visit to Pinnacles National Park and some serious weather issues that significantly changed the look of our campground.


  1. Replies
    1. It really is a special place. I am not sure you would want to bring your MH up that road, but it really is a great place.