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Author Topic: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!  (Read 37712 times)

MikeFisher

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Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« on: August 18, 2008, 11:36:39 AM »
Hi there, my name's Mike. I posted on the forum a couple of months ago looking for advice and tips and as the date for our trip looms just 2 weeks away i have a couple more questions for those in the know. This may be obvious or basic stuff but we're new to it all.

 i have looked thought the library and can't find anything which specifically details the restrictions in place regarding stopping the Rv and camping overnight away from a park (boondocking). Is this because you can park just about wherever you want an there's no issue or because its not the done thing? I know that if you parked a 25ft RV at a scenic spot by the coast here in the UK, you would soon have some nosey neighbour call the police or a 40 parking fine!

Initially i am looking at the Santa Cruz area (the hills to the north) and depending on the info i get back from this topic, i'll plan other places on our route. Can someone please tell me whether i can park up at a nice point overlooking Santa cruz and the ocean for a night without attracting any unwanted attention?

Thanks for any help you might have,

Mike

Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2008, 12:46:57 PM »
Be advised that many towns prohibit parking on public streets. California has a law prohibiting parking on the side of the road, i.e. that quiet place away from towns, apart from which it could be downright dangerous.

That inviting piece of land you might think of as a campground for the night will likely be private property, and you'd get a rude awakening if you camped there.

It's been many years since I went over the hill, but I don't recall anywhere in the Santa Cruz mountains where you can boondock with a view. There are, however, various campgrounds around Santa Cruz or nearby Monterey. The closest one to Santa Cruz is Moss Landing, but you'll have a nice view of the power station.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 12:50:42 PM by Tom »
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Carl L

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2008, 01:52:25 PM »
Both Tom and I live in CA -- he in the north and I in the south.   

Boondocking is, as the name implies, is largely confined to the boondocks -- areas beyond even rural.   In Southern California, the only legal boondocking that I know of is found in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  It is illegal on streets, and on highways.  Highway rest areas are posted against it as being just plain dangerous as well as being illegal.  On vacant private property without permission it is called trespassing.  I know of no legal boondocking near the beach areas and my knowledge is good.

For beach camping, your best bet is the California State Park System which has a website http://www.parks.ca.gov/.  All those campsites require fees and reservations.   There are some commercial CGs that are beach sited.  They are best discovered by a campground guidebook such as Trailer Life's or Woodall's.   For picturesque camping near Santa Cruz, I would recommend the redwood forests around Felton, CA.   Smithwoods is one such commercial CG.  http://www.smithwoodsrvpark.com/index.htm

Figure on camping in legal state and local parks or commericial parks.  There are plenty of those available.



Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2008, 02:00:38 PM »
It's definitely nice up in Felton, and the nearby Roaring Camp Railroad is worth a visit. But you won't have any vista of Santa Cruz, as you'll see by the density of trees in the photos on their web site. It's pretty much like that throughout the Santa Cruz mountains, especially on the coastal side.
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ArdraF

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2008, 02:32:38 PM »
Mike,

Being from the U.K., there's another related issue pertaining to boondocking that you might not know about.  California and the other western states have a lot of forest fires and this year has been particularly bad because of the drought.  Our firefighting resources have reached their limits and the fire season isn't over yet.  If you're boondocking somewhere and accidentally start a fire - well, you just wouldn't want to do that.  We call them "forest" fires, but really any area that has low-lying brush, even without trees, can have wildfires so "they" are really tough about not camping except in designated areas.  Wildfires endanger lives and property which is why throwing a cigarette out a car window in California is illegal.  If any in your group are smokers, please do us all a favor and alert them to be especially careful about extinguishing their smokes safely and properly.  By the way, most national and state parks have signs that say camping is allowed only in designated areas.  These days most are also prohibiting campfires and occasionally they close a park because the tinder is just too dangerous and they don't want to take a chance on having a fire burn out of control.

I agree with Tom.  In driving along the coast on California's route 1, there really aren't many places to pull off except designated areas.  There's lots of private property and, unlike in England, the public is not welcome to use trails across private land.  We were quite amazed in England when our friends took us on a short hike where the trail took us across private property.  Your land use laws are different in that respect.  Carl's suggestion about the State Park beaches is a good one.  They're in great settings.  Also Tom mentioned that camping alongside the road usually is illegal.  This applies to highway rest areas as well.  You're allowed to stop for a brief rest, but most have signs prohibiting overnight camping in rest areas.

Boondocking in the U.S. often implies shopping center parking lots like Wal Mart.  This company is RV friendly, but many communities are alarmed over the growing use - and abuse - of such boondocking sites.  As a result they have enacted city ordinances prohibiting overnight camping except in established campgrounds.  Be sure to look for signs indicating such ordinances.  It's always a good idea to ask permission of the store manager and do some shopping there to help them continue to want RVers.  The large RV organizations (Escapees, Family Motor Coach Assn.) have adopted an etiquette code for boondocking in an effort to stave off more anti-RV city codes.  Most are common sense such as no waste tank dumping in parking lots (yes people do that and I actually saw it happen once), don't put out awnings and slides, no BBQs, lawn chairs, etc.  In other words, don't set up a campsite.  You are merely parking there and don't want to make it appear like you're there to camp.

While many of us were attracted to RVing because of the ability to have a "wilderness" experience, the fact is the world has changed and people are more touchy these days about protecting many things and places.  Sad, but true.  Even with these boondocking restrictions I think you'll enjoy your RVing experience here.  They're not really as bad as it sounds.

ArdraF
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 02:35:20 PM by ArdraF »
ArdraF
:D :D

MikeFisher

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2008, 04:46:27 PM »
Thanks everyone,
Ok so its booking somewhere every night then i guess. Slightly more expensive than i first expected in that respect. I know a lot of the major RV parks require advanced booking for full hookups etc. what's the cheapest way to go i.e,  how are campsites about bringing an RV even if you don't require their hookup facilities? i don't feel its really necessary to pay for full hookup every single night am i right? we have booked a couple at the beginning, middle and end though already to recharge and drain the tanks etc.

Thanks

Mike

ArdraF

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2008, 05:03:27 PM »
Mike,

We seldom make campground reservations because we like the flexibility of being able to change directions if we choose.  If we want to stop for the night at a specific RV park we call an hour or two ahead to see what they have available.  We're seldom told they're full.  Also, campgrounds here often have full hookup sites as well as some that are water and electric only.  The full hookup pull-through sites generally are the highest priced.  The exception to our not making reservations is if it's a holiday weekend, if it's a very popular area (Disneyworld's Fort Wilderness comes to mind), or where we want to stay for some length of time such as when visiting family or attending a reunion.  The beach state parks in California might be another exception.  Also Yosemite, Yellowstone, and places like that.  You'll undoubtedly find less expensive and maybe even some free boondocking places, but I think we'd rather have you be prepared for paying and then be happy if you don't need to - rather than the other way around.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2008, 05:17:42 PM »
Quote
more expensive than i first expected

Wait while I get my towel out and cry boyo. The way the exchange rate is nowadays, you can go to Barclays, Lloyds, or Nat West with 100 quid and they'll give you a sackfull of $dollars.

There's certainly a range of prices when it come to campgrounds. If you can get into national forest campgrounds, state or regional parks, they'll be among the cheapest. Pick a few locations and we'll try to locate some campgrounds for you.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 05:22:11 PM by Tom »
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Wendy

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2008, 05:23:33 PM »
What about US Forest Service areas in California? Do any of them have dispersed camping?
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2008, 05:36:07 PM »
Wendy,

In California, yes. But, looking at the map on the recreation.gov web site, I don't see any USFS campgrounds anywhere near Santa Cruz.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 05:46:14 PM by Tom »
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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2008, 05:53:02 PM »
According to the BLM web site, dispersed camping on BLM land on the Monterey peninsula (south of Santa Cruz) is currently closed.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 06:04:02 PM by Tom »
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Wendy

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2008, 05:55:10 PM »
Around Santa Cruz, in a campground is probably the best place to be. But in other parts of California, there are campgrounds and dispersed camping places in the USFS. I don't which direction Mike's going, but he could stay in a campground (state or private) in Santa Cruz, then maybe boondock somewhere else in California, couldn't he?

Wendy

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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2008, 05:58:24 PM »
In an earlier message, Mike said he traveling the coast between San Francisco and LA (or vice versa). I believe that's one reason Ardra mentioned state beaches.

Mike, to ardra's point on forest fires, here's a message from Smokey the bear and friends. The message applies irrespective whether anyone is a smoker, but I want to scream when I see someone throw a cigarette butt out of a car window.

« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 06:00:15 PM by Tom »
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Carl L

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2008, 06:58:11 PM »
What about US Forest Service areas in California? Do any of them have dispersed camping?


Given the current Condition-Red fire hazards, I suspect established campgrounds are it for camping in forest lands.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Carl L

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2008, 07:04:25 PM »
Thanks everyone,
Ok so its booking somewhere every night then i guess. Slightly more expensive than i first expected in that respect. I know a lot of the major RV parks require advanced booking for full hookups etc. what's the cheapest way to go i.e,  how are campsites about bringing an RV even if you don't require their hookup facilities? i don't feel its really necessary to pay for full hookup every single night am i right? we have booked a couple at the beginning, middle and end though already to recharge and drain the tanks etc.

Parks rent out campsites for short time use on the basis of the ulitities available at the particular site.   If it has sewer, water, and electric, you pay for them, use them or not.   That said all types of parks, public or commercial, can have sites with just water and electric or nothing at all for reduced prices.  Use a campground guide or make inquiry when you book.

Dumping intervals depend on tank size and personal use.  I find that a 40 gallon black tank goes for about 5 days with two adults.  Grey and fresh water are completely dependent on your habits.

Any rate do not sweat it.  As Tom says the exchange rate is the best for you that it has been since the start of the 20th century.  Furthermore, even the pricey California petrol is only  $1.06 per liter.

« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 07:09:18 PM by Carl L »
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Wendy

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2008, 07:05:52 PM »
Given the current Condition-Red fire hazards, I suspect established campgrounds are it for camping in forest lands.

Sorry, I forgot you guys are still burning....and it's not even Labor Day yet. Here's hoping you get some nice wet, non-lightning, storms to help put things out....maybe Fay could skip Florida and dump on California instead?

Wendy
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2008, 07:40:50 PM »
Quote
....maybe Fay could skip Florida and dump on California instead?

Is she camping in Florida? It's a long way from FL to CA just to dump  ???

We really could do with some rain. Many lakes and reservoirs were low going into this summer.
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Carl L

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2008, 08:09:55 PM »
Is she camping in Florida? It's a long way from FL to CA just to dump  ???

We really could do with some rain. Many lakes and reservoirs were low going into this summer.

With our luck we will get a Frasquita from the Sea of Cortez and get a dozen inches dumped on us for a rash of landslides and mudflows.   :(
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2008, 09:31:33 PM »
Carl,

Glad we live several hundred miles north of you. Be sure that you and that wonderful wife of yours stay safe and dry.
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Carl L

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2008, 12:52:43 AM »
Carl,

Glad we live several hundred miles north of you. Be sure that you and that wonderful wife of yours stay safe and dry.

The last Frasquita that we suffered was about 25 years ago -- at Lake Tahoe.  Lord, it rained.  We finally had to bail out of our tent trailer and into a motel.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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MikeFisher

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2008, 03:22:00 AM »
Wait while I get my towel out and cry boyo.

Very good on the sarcasm, you guys have it over there too?.

I find that a 40 gallon black tank goes for about 5 days with two adults.  Grey and fresh water are completely dependent on your habits.

Thats some handy info, thanks.


 $1.06 per liter!?  That'll do nicely! It hit 1.22 ($2.30) here a month ago.

Oh yeah, i was going to ask, roughly how far will you get in a Moturis R25 with a 210ltr Gas tank? i have no idea about the economy on these things.

Regarding the campsites, i'm perfectly happy to pay for whatever is needed, although i was hoping to 'rough it' perhaps a little more. No problem though, i think we'll do as suggested and just see what we find on the map as we go in between the stops we have already booked. i need to read up on the conditions around Big SUr to guage availability/access mid September.

Thanks for the advice

Mike

Barb

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2008, 06:43:32 AM »
Tom,Carl

What about over nighting at Walmarts  in CA? Or are there any Flying J's on his route?

Barb
Barb
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Tom

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2008, 09:08:13 AM »
Quote
Very good on the sarcasm, you guys have it over there too?.

Just a little Welsh humour.

Quote
how far will you get in a Moturis R25 with a 210ltr Gas tank?

Depends on how much fuel is in the tank when you start off. According to this rental company, fuel consumption on the Moturis would be around 7-10mpg. Those would be US gallons. If you do any boondocking, the generator will consume some additional fuel.

Reminds me I should mention that, when the fuel drops below a third or maybe a quarter of a tank, the generator will quit working (by design).
« Last Edit: August 22, 2008, 12:30:33 PM by Tom »
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2008, 10:19:16 AM »
Mike,

If I'm reading your message correctly you will be traveling during our "Labor Day" holiday.  I also live in California and that's a very busy camping time for us, so be sure and make reservations, at least for that specific weekend.  If you have never been to San Francisco or LA, I think you are going to be surprised at how crowded we are, especially at the "scenic" areas.   ;D

There are a great many places to pull over and take pictures, though; even stay a few hours.  If you are looking for an uncrowded campground on the beach, there is San Simeon Campground near Hearst Castle between San Francisco and LA.  I believe it's a first come/first serve campground.  It's in an uncrowded area.  The suggestion for using CA state campground is a good one.  You can view campsites; and make reservations at the State Website. 

Are your plans to travel along the coast coming down to LA?  Or do you plan to head inland?

Marsha~



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Marsha/CA

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2008, 10:28:44 AM »
Mike,

Here is the website for San Simeon  Here

Hearst Castle is a unique touring spot, along with the "Elephant Seal" preserve.  Both are near the campground.

Marsha~
2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

Wendy

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2008, 10:31:00 AM »
San Simeon is on the reservation system, just not site-specific. I think most of the California parks are on the reservation system now. Looks like Labor Day weekend is pretty full up just about everywhere but the week after is wide open.

Wendy
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

Marsha/CA

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2008, 10:48:52 AM »
Wendy,

I've been doing some checking into the Calif State Park system as Tim and I are taking off right after Labor DAy.  WE are going to Bodega Bay then heading up the coast toward Oregon.  I've been noticing in the CA State park system some campgrounds have specific sites which are reserveable, with the other remaining sites being first come/first served.  I was surprised at that; but it does make sense.  Nice for those of us who like to reserve a spot.  Plus now they have put photos of the sites, which is really nice.

Marsha~
2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

Carl L

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2008, 12:22:03 PM »
Very good on the sarcasm, you guys have it over there too?.

Nope.  We have to import it.   Tom is our resident Taff.

Quote
$1.06 per liter!?  That'll do nicely! It hit 1.22 ($2.30) here a month ago.

I knew that would make you feel better.

Quote
Oh yeah, i was going to ask, roughly how far will you get in a Moturis R25 with a 210ltr Gas tank? i have no idea about the economy on these things.

Misnomer.  We do not use the word "economy" in connection with RVs, we use "mileage":  10 miles per gallon is  good planning estimate.  Could be as bad as 8, as good as 12.  The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away....   :(

Quote
Regarding the campsites, i'm perfectly happy to pay for whatever is needed, although i was hoping to 'rough it' perhaps a little more. No problem though, i think we'll do as suggested and just see what we find on the map as we go in between the stops we have already booked. i need to read up on the conditions around Big SUr to guage availability/access mid September.

When you land in the USA, get yourselves a copy of either the Trailer Life Campground Directory or Woodall's.  Use on of those books and a cell phone to call ahead.  Big Sur is a particular problem.  It was the site of a major forest fire in June this year -- call aheads are particularly recommended.
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

MikeFisher

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2008, 12:51:05 PM »
when the fuel drops below a third or maybe a quarter of a tank, the generator will quit working (by design).

I hope thats the sort of thing they tell you when you pick it up but either way, that sort of info should prevent a bit of panicking, thanks!

Marsha,
Thanks for the stuff on San Simeon.
Labor day is 1st September yes? we don't pick up the RV until the 9th after San Francisco so that week should be fairly clear then you think?

Our plan is:  San Francisco, Yosemite, Back to the coast at Santa Cruz, monterey bay area, down past Big Sur, Morro Bay/san simeon etc. head inland around san luis obispo for some winery! then we have a 2 day buffer to decide what to do. Probably kings Canyon national park or maybe stick by the coastal region and explore a bit before handing the RV back in LA on the 19th.

That book looks pretty comprehensive, if you think that getting it in the US won't be too late to book ahead then thats what i'll do although its only 11 from amazon here.....

Thanks again, any further advice much appreciated. the plan is coming together


Mike


Wendy

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Re: Boondocking restrictions? where can't i go in CA?!
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2008, 01:06:33 PM »
Marsha - We're thinking of spending a big part of the winter in California, going from one state park to another. Where are the pictures of campsites...on the CA parks page or reserveamerica? We spent a lot of time in state parks last year without making reservations but may do some on reservations this winter.

Mike - That's a pretty busy schedule for 10 days. It's doable but busy. You might skip Kings Canyon and move slower through the rest of California? Yosemite deserves a couple of days (well, really, it deserves a couple of weeks). Hearst Castle is well worth the price of the ticket. Touring the wineries around SLO is a fun day. If you find yourself near Buellton, and you like split pea soup, stop at Anderson's for lunch.

You might get enough info online to make your plans and book campsites rather than buying a big campbook that covers all of the US. You might instead think of joining the AAA (American Automobile Association) - I think it's $35/year and you can pick up some fabulous maps, TourBooks, and CampBooks for free as a member.

Wendy
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

 

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