Wednesday, April 14, 2021

China Ranch Date Farm

  The dirt road to China Ranch Date Farm winds through a narrow canyon with high walls composed of sediment deposited over thousands of years. This dry, hot land can support little life so when the Amargosa River, which usually runs underground, bubbles above the surface at the bottom of the canyon, a small wetlands, home to a variety of desert animals and over 225 species of birds, is created.
   The river also makes the date farm possible. The dates trees were planted in 1920 and each female tree yields between 100 to 300 pounds of dates a year.  The current owners of the farm have kept the China Ranch name which originated in the late 1800s when a Chinese man began growing  fruits and vegetables, and raising meat for the local mining camps. Look for the mine openings as you drive through the canyon.  The farm has a gift shop where visitors can buy dates, baked goods, candy, honey, jams, jelly, crafts, souvenirs, and date shakes.
There are six trails on the farm. We walked rolled a short distance on the Slot Canyon Trail until it became too difficult. We made it about 1/2 mile to the ruins of a stone building that dates back to the mining days.
The trails are not accessible but short distances are possible with assistance. The gift shop is accessible.

The road through the canyon is washboard, steep, and has a short section that’s only one lane but it’s navigable with any RV. The parking lot is large enough for any RV. This is a Harvest Host site. We wanted to stay overnight but due to coronavirus only one RV at a time is permitted and we didn’t make a reservation early enough. Farm  35.79958, -116.19514

Monday, April 12, 2021

Boondocking near Kelbaker Road–Mojave NP

  This is our second trip through Mohave National Preserve. When we visited in 2015, I thought that dispersed camping was not permitted in the preserve. I either read the information wrong or the rules have changed. Whichever it was, this trip of a scenic drive through the preserve was a good chance to try dispersed camping.

  My first choice was a dud. After bouncing down a dirt road for only 1/2 mile we came to deep wash that we didn’t want risk driving through. I didn’t have a second choice, just the recollection of seeing a scattering of sites on the preserve website. So off we went to try the next dirt road and there we found a beauty of a campsite – large, scenic, tolerably level, and with plenty of evidence that it was previously used, a requirement by preserve regulations.

  Scenes along Kelbaker Road from south to north. Dispersed Camping  35.24794, -115.89057

Thursday, April 8, 2021

American Mine Road Boondocking

  American Mine never amounted to much – just one shaft and no activity since 1940 but the road to the mine led us to a great boondocking spot. And a mystery – why is there a pile of taconite pellets in the Mojave Desert?
  This is another boondocking spot where it’s easy to accidentally end up on private land because of the blocks of private land in the middle of large swathes of BLM land. We may have gone just a bit too far south on a dirt road off of American Mine Road and crossed the BLM boundary.
  The network of dirt roads are too soft for wheelchairs but would be fine for hiking. Some traffic noise that dies down at night. BLM   34.44173, -115.74246

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

North of Joshua Tree BLM

  The campgrounds of Joshua Tree National Park fill fast so visitors often boondock on the BLM north and south of the park. The area to the north is a dry lake bed, barren and dusty, but quiet except on weekends when off-roaders arrive. The land to the west and south of the lake bed is private. Make sure that you are camped on public land.

  The second day of our stay was very windy but luckily we had parked close to the dried grass at the edge of the lake bed which kept the dust from blowing on us. If we stay here again we’ll probably park closer to the hills for protection from the wind and dust.

  Access is possible with any RV, however, the  roads have large potholes and are washboard. The lake bed itself is huge so there’s plenty of room to spread out.  Boondock  34.16776, -116.2218


Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

  Like most older zoos this one has exhibits that are in need of updating to provide the animals with larger and more stimulating spaces. The giraffe and wallaby enclosures are good but the some of the other enclosures, like the one for the zebras, have barren, rocky ground without a blade of grass.

 Besides the animals there are about 20 small gardens that showcase plants from different areas of North America and Africa. A large model railroad features over a dozen trains that glide past miniature towns and landscapes of the southwest.
  The zoo is partly accessible. The main paths are paved but the pavement ends before reaching the exhibits leaving a drop off and a sandy area to navigate through to get to the viewing areas. The main paths have slight up and down grades. The garden paths are sandy dirt. The nature trails are loose sand and not accessible. Visiting this zoo would be difficult for wheelchair users who do not have assistance through the rough patches.
  The parking lot is large. RVs can be parked across the spaces. Zoo  33.70044, -116.375


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Cahuilla Tewanet Vista Point

  At almost 4,000’ above the Coachella Valley, the vista point offers sweeping views of the mountains with a peek into the valley.

  The path is paved with slight up and downgrades.

  The parking lot is small. Large RVs may fit along the loop road.The road down to the valley is steep and twisty. Down shift!  Vista Point  33.58606, -116.42599

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Pinyon Flat Campground

  The campground loop features eighteen sites tucked among the pines. Most of the sites are very narrow and uneven but Site 3 is great - wide and easy to back into. It was in use when we visited and we found many of the other sites were very difficult to access even with our short RV. The loop road may be in rough shape so use caution with low clearance vehicles.
   All of the sites have accessible tables and high fire rings but most are not accessible because the parking pads are so narrow. Site 3 would work plus there is one site that is ADA compliant even though it isn’t designated as such. It has a paved parking pad that is wide enough to deploy a lift. A paved path provides access to the vault toilets and the picnic table. Paving extends under the table and grill. We did not use this site because it was shady and we wanted to be in the sun. Campground  33.58428, -116.45744

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park–Route S2

For the most part Route S2 follows the old Butterfield Stage Route along the western edge of the park. It’s about 35 miles long with many opportunities to hike or explore the intersecting dirt roads. We stayed on the paved road for a scenic drive through varying terrain with nice boondocking spots at the beginning and end.

  Dispersed camping is permitted along any dirt road but you must stay at least one vehicle length away from the road. Our first boondocking spot was off of a short, unmarked, dirt road that loops beside Route S2. Our campsite was close to the paved road but there are 4 or 5 sites on the edge of a cliff with great views of the Carrizo Badlands. Small RVs only!. The Badlands are composed of sandy and silty sediments deposited over millions of years by the Colorado River with fossils of extinct mammals, marine animals, and hundreds of plants buried in the many layers. Badlands  32.827, -116.16566

 Although we didn’t camp at Blair Valley we did stop to check out the free camping. Camping is restricted to an area close to the entrance and along the dirt roads on either side of the dry lake bed. No camping on the lake bed itself. We drove a short distance along the road by the base of the hills where the campsites were close to the road and busy. The road goes for a couple of miles so camping may be better farther in. The road is rough in spots. Blair Valley  33.03827, -116.40908

  Our last camping spot was in a large dirt parking lot for the Pacific Crest Trail. The north end of the lot has a nice little spur off of the main lot and is surrounded by desert plants. Pacific Crest Trailhead  33.10185, -116.47478