California: Golden RVing State

Published: Monday, July 23, 2007

Fondly called by many as the "Golden State" owing to its year-long sunny weather and to its historic gold discovery during the 1800s, California is constantly in the growing list of the more progressive US cities. It is considered by many as the center of world entertainment being home to Hollywood and Disneyland and is also highly involved in the manufacturing industry particularly of electronic products as evidenced by the many activities taking place at Silicon Valley, believed by many as the biggest manufacturing area in the entire United States.

There is one other side of California seldom mentioned by many people, but is nevertheless a potent force when properly managed. The natural attractions of California are many and diverse, much like the rich and distinct cultures that make it up, and this happens to be one significant Golden State aspect that has largely been overlooked owing to the tremendous progress that has come to characterize much of California.

The many natural wonders of the "Golden State", however, cannot simply be ignored, and in recent years, this has come to the attention of many outdoor lovers. As such, the natural forests and even the man-made parks of California have lately experienced an influx of visitors who want to see another face of the "Sunny State". Campers, in particular, are known to regularly visit several public and private campgrounds that are actually abundant in California and are scattered in its various awe-inspiring regions.

Exploring the Twelve Regions

RV campers have lately been observed making a trip or two to the different regions of California, exploring the many natural wonders that each region offers. There are actually twelve official regions in the "Golden State" and these include the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Coast, the Central Valley, the Desert, the Gold Country, the High Sierra, the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, the North Coast, Orange County, San Diego, and the Shasta Cascade.

The San Francisco Bay Area

Sometimes referred to as simply the Bay Area, this particular California region boasts of about a thousand restaurants along with numerous specialty stores, theaters, and nightclubs, all designed to satisfy one's cravings. However, for a different kind of rush, nothing can beat a walk across the historic Golden Gate Bridge. RV riders need only to stop and ogle at this enormous structure made of sweeping cables, magnificent towers, and a wide expanse to realize that it is among the most amazing structures worldwide.

For a glance of nature, one can try hiking in the midst of the vast Big Basin Redwoods State Park where nature trails cover more than 80 miles of pure park land. The public park is considered the oldest in California and features trails that surround a virtual forest of Redwood trees spiced up with oaks, chaparral, and conifers. Another area where hiking is quite popular is on San Bruno Mountain with its so-called Summit Loop Trail that is about three miles long. Reaching its zenith will afford hikers the opportunity to view the US East coast and the San Francisco Bay Area landscape from afar.

The biggest crowd-drawer in the region, though, will have to be the Napa Valley where Mount St. Helena is an imposing edifice. Standing over 4,000 feet along the northern Napa Valley region, Mount St. Helena continues to attract hikers from all around the globe with its rich collection of evergreens set against wide-open meadows. A typical hike will cover about ten miles usually starting at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. At the top, a great portion of the Bay Area will most likely be seen but on clear days, a view of Mount Shasta is highly probable.

The Central Coast

In the Central Coast region of California, rows of little towns are quite an attraction, complemented by many historic landmarks that have their origins during the Spanish times. One such monument, the Mission La Purisma, can be accessed via a scenic drive towards Lompoc where a massive row of beautifully blooming flowers awaits RV riders. Meanwhile, in Hollister, hiking trails abound amidst the volcanic remnants that surround the Pinnacles National Monument where variously shaped caves and awesome rock formations lie in wait for the typical hiker.

Another town worth seeing is Gilroy owing to its beautiful golf courses and world-renowned parks where ostensibly, RV-boarded tourists can stroll into. Additionally, being the only official world garlic center, Gilroy hosts the spectacular Garlic Festival held every July, an event that RV campers might want to try seeing.

Monterey County, though, should be a top priority for most campers intent on visiting the Central Coast region. This is because there are numerous campsites here, many of them protected by rugged headlands. In addition, nearby attractions like the underground ocean refuge Point Lobos State Reserve offer awesome views of various sea mammals. Ditto for the Monterey Bay Aquarium where over 6,500 varieties of marine animals are known to reside.

The Central Valley Region

This is but one of the several California regions that most RV campers will most likely want to linger in for a long time. The opportunities for outdoor enjoyment are most abundant here. For example, in Bakersfield, the Kern River draws many adventurers to its whitewater rafting activities. Over at Buttonwillow, the Tule Elk State Reserve offers guided tours around its premises where a glimpse of the rare Tule Elk is always a possibility. Meanwhile, in Merced City, Grassland Wetlands is the ideal site for bird watching as there are about 200 different bird species known to fly by in these parts, notably migratory shore birds and waterfowls. The same thing goes in San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area although birds of prey are the usual migrants here apart from deer and other untamed animals.

Another Central Valley city worth an RV camper's time is Stockton where one can get an excellent glimpse of the California Delta, a unique waterway system covering about 1,000 miles where boat and shoreline fishing are popular activities. The nearby Suisun City, meanwhile, boasts of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area where outdoor sports like bicycling and hiking can be enjoyed aside from many photography sessions opportunities.

The Desert Region

Unlike other desert regions where a vast arid land characterized by extreme dryness is a typical appearance, that of California is full of activity, aided by a diverse variety of resorts, shops, and recreational centers that regularly sprout in key areas of the region.

There are actually several areas in this particular region that should interest a typical RV camper. One is the Indian Canyons of the Coachella Valley, a natural oasis considered as the largest worldwide where guided hikes are available. Setting camp in these parts will give one the opportunity to learn something about Indian life as experienced within the canyon and getting to view desert wildlife first-hand as well.

Imperial Valley, however, offers a more diverse set of opportunities for RV travelers. At Salton Sea, one can opt to go either fishing or boating but one should not disregard bird-watching since the area also gets regularly visited by various bird species. Meanwhile, at Lake Havasu, boating across the mighty Topock Gorge should prove to be exhilarating. Alternatively, one can try rock gathering along the Imperial Sand Dunes where unique and rare rocks are known to exist.

Gold Country

The Gold Country region is generally divided into two areas namely the Southern Mother Lode and the Northern Mother Lode. The former accurately pictures the evolution of the region primarily as a gold mining district, particularly during its early days when the fabled California gold rush was at its highest. These days, Southern Mother Lode still offers gold panning, but only as part of its tourist attraction with RV travelers welcome to engage in the activity in such towns as Jamestown and Columbia.

For nature lovers, though, Bass Lake has a resort area where water-based activities like fishing, waterskiing, and boating are highly popular. There is likewise Mammoth Pool located nearby where campers are a common sight and are regularly going on a hiking trip along the Mono Wind Nature Trail.

Guided tours, however, are considered as the most common activity in the Southern Mother Lode essentially because it is packed with numerous landmarks that carry great historic significance. For instance, the Mariposa County Museum and History Center in Mariposa town has a vast display of gold mining mementos. Ditto for the Tuolumne County Museum in Sonora county which features Western paintings and photographs and Amador County History Museum based in Jackson county where period antique items are displayed.

The Northern Mother Lode, meanwhile, is made up of towns and counties that feature various parks honoring the evolution of the Desert Country region as a gold mining area. These state parks are open for public viewing and RViers will likely see them as suitable visiting places. In northern Coloma, for instance, the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park displays an image model of Sutter's Mill where the first discovery of gold in California took place way back in 1848.

The High Sierra Region

If the Central Valley region of California comes as a highly recommended area for RV campers, the same thing can be said about the High Sierras. The area can be considered as the ultimate outdoor paradise as it is teeming with opportunities specially suitable for adventure-seekers highlighted by the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountain range with its many diverse zones, each one of which carries its own set of attractions. One of these is Mammoth Mountain found at the eastern tip of the range. It boasts of a downhill run covering over 30,000 feet that serves as ideal mountain biking venues during the hot summer months and as a good cross-country skiing area when winter comes along. Additionally, other outdoor opportunities like horseback riding, golfing, and fishing can be enjoyed in the areas near Mammoth Mountain. The latter activity is particularly enjoyable along the shores of Mammoth Lake.

For driving cruises, RViers will definitely want to take on Tioga Road where many scenic spots can be observed. The road trip is actually just one of many attractions that one can enjoy at Yosemite National Park, a highly renowned and deeply beloved state park that also features Curry Village where ice skating rinks are often visited, particularly during winter time. Additionally, there is Glacier Point to consider, with its many stunning views, and Yosemite Falls, whose grandeur has made it the biggest attraction of the Yosemite National Park.

The Inland Empire Region

This is another outdoor paradise for many RViers searching for a good California camping site. The region boasts of soaring mountains, pristine lakes, and fertile valleys that serve as backdrops to any given outdoor sport that campers can think of. At Big Bear Lake area alone, the community offers many recreational activities all year-round, including horseback riding, jet skiing, boating, fishing, hiking, and biking. There are also scenic drives along Barton Flats that RV riders can take on, eventually leading to the San Gorgonio Wilderness where they can have a nice quiet picnic. Afterwards, hiking should prove to be exciting at nearby San Bernardino Peak Loop Trail.

Down at the Riverside area, RViers will definitely want to extensively explore the many wonders of the place since there is the Rancho Jurapa Park to spend the night in. Situated along the shorelines of the Santa Ana river, the park boasts of being near several significant Riverside landmarks like the California Citrus State Historic Park where its history as the center of the American citrus industry is displayed. Another landmark worth driving to is the Riverside Municipal Museum which also presents the park history and the culture of early Native American settlers.

The Los Angeles Region

The region obviously features several areas that have extensive links to the exciting world of movies and many of these are actually good places to bring in the RV and begin a quiet exploration. One such place is Paramount Studios based in Hollywood. Guided tours in and around the studio premises should ably produce that unique feeling of excitement that only the movies can give. Add to that the tour of an equally famous Hollywood film outfit – Universal Studios – that carries a unique theme park setting. Visits can also be made on the set of several TV shows, specifically those found at the Burbank-based NBC Studios.

However, for those who want a more natural scenery, the region offers Griffith Park set along the Santa Monica Mountains foothills. The park features various recreational areas typically outdoor in setting and include golf courses, hiking paths, and an observatory scattered across an estimated 4,000 acres of land. There is likewise the beaches to go to highlighted by Malibu where famous stars are known to drop by every now and then. From here, Surf Riders State Beach should be the next stop, especially if one is fond of surfing, but if RViers prefer the low-key sites, they may take a pick from Zuma Beach and Paradise Cove, and for a really secluded spot, take the RV and drive off to Leo Carillo Beach.

The North Coast Region

The North Coast Region should be appropriately classified as the serene face of the "Golden State" and for RV tourists searching for the calmer side of California, this is where they should head off to. While there may be numerous activities happening in the nearby areas, these are contrasted by the tranquility of the nearby forests, the rolling hills, and the exquisite vineyards of the North Coast region, attractions that have become the trademark of this particular California region.

First stop is Napa County where picnic sites abound, specifically along Silverado Trail and Highway 29 where a guided visit of several wineries highlighted by free tasting is a highly anticipated event. Afterwards, Lake Berryessa is the logical next destination as it offers several camping sites. While here, engaging in one or two water sports activity ought to be interesting.

In northern Santa Rosa, the Russian River beckons with its canoeing opportunities. RV campers can park along the 50 or so wineries situated along the sides of the river and start their exploration of the place. An alternative, though, should be the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve just off Guerneville county where nature trails call out to interested hikers.

The Orange County Region

Orange County is regarded as the ideal family destination in California due to its numerous theme parks, recreational centers, and attractive beaches amidst a generally appealing climate. Leading all of these is Disneyland Park in Anaheim county where famous Walt Disney characters welcome visitors from all sides of the globe. Aboard an RV, explore the eight enchanted lands that make up the park that was created amidst rows and rows of orange groves.

Of course, to fully appreciate the many parks that line the Orange County landscape, a good camp site is needed wherein RVs can spend their nights in. There are actually several of these found within the region, with San Clemente leading off the pack. The area has been particularly cited for its state beaches where RV campers are most welcome to either stay or engage in any water sports activity.

The San Diego Region

The region takes pride in its sandy beaches that are believed to stretch for more than 70 miles, but to what RV travelers will most likely be attracted to is Sea World, considered as the biggest aquatic US park. Here, one can have a picnic, ride a bike, speed aboard a skateboard, or simply jog amidst grassy hills, after which one can decide to watch any of the fantastic marine animals perform tricks or do dramatic stunts.

Coronado Beach is one other area in the San Diego region where RV riders will want to spend the day in. A state-owned beach and among the biggest in the US, Coronado Beach is famous for its seashell collections, the gathering of which has become a favorite activity among beach lovers.

The Shasta Cascade

The Shasta Cascade is the outdoor wonderland of California where RV trekkers will get to experience unspoiled and natural outdoor fun without the hassles of noise and pollution that characterize urban living. City dwellers are known to camp out in several Shasta Cascade areas, particularly those situated along the lake shores.

Trinity Lake is one such area, and campers are often known to converge in these parts, even renting houseboats for days and engaging in several rounds of fishing. In Lake Siskiyou, meanwhile, camping is likewise a common activity, with campers involved in either fishing or boating although attracting a growing following is wind surfing. Eastward, there is the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge where migrating birds are known to pass by, including snow geese and elegant swans.

Campgrounds can likewise be discovered in many other areas falling within the fold of the Shasta Cascade region, including Modoc county which plays host to the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. Here, spotting a deer, a waterfowl, or a pronghorn antelope is highly possible.

Visiting California by Cities

Many, if not all, of the cities found in California boast of unique attractions that can rival the best cities worldwide. More significantly, they offer several camping sites designed to answer the needs of travelers who are bringing in their own vehicles like RVs or are otherwise planning on staying in a particular California city for an extended period of time. In this regard, it is essential that one gets to know which city offers the best campgrounds in terms of attractions and features.

Monterey County

One of several counties belonging to the Central Coast region, Monterey is a highly historic California city, and this is reflected in its various state and county parks. One of these parks is Jack's Peak located approximately two and a half miles away from the eastern end of Monterey and covers about 525 acres.

Standing 1,068 feet tall, Jack's Peak is characterized by a rich forest land composed mainly of pine and oak trees, dense grasslands, and meadows filled with wildflowers. A hiking trail can lead travelers to excellent views of nearby attractions like Point Lobos and Carmel Bay. A good alternative to seeing these views is horseback riding, after which one can relax and have a hearty meal in any of the many picnic sites found inside the park.

Alpine County

Situated between two prominent California attractions namely Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, Alpine County has its own share of features that make it a favorite among campers. It is acknowledged as the official residence of the Grover Hot Springs State Park which, in turn, hosts the famed Grover Hot Springs, one of its popular attractions.

More and more people are finding the many wonders of Alpine County quite delightful especially these days when it has provisions for various outdoor events like hunting, fishing, white water rafting, and camping, with the latter enjoying increased popularity since the county presently covers about 76 acres of land devoted entirely to camping sites.

Napa County

Napa County, nestled within the North Coast region of California, boasts of various state parks where RV campers can get their share of weekend gatherings or extended outdoor vacation holidays. One such park, the Bothe Napa Valley State Park, sits on 2,000 acres of land occupied by about 50 camping sites, picnic areas, and hiking paths.

Another one, Kennedy Park, is quite popular owing to its ducks and geese residents that are natural attractions for many visitors. The park showcases a play area for little children, a baseball field, and a hiking trail that leads to nearby Napa River.

San Diego City

Resting inside the region that bears the same name, San Diego city offers a diverse set of attractions that include beaches, parks, recreation centers, and golfing areas. The parks are particularly interesting because they have several provisions for camp-outs which RV travelers will find suitable for their needs. One of these is Mission Bay Park, an artificial aquatic park considered as the biggest in the US and covers approximately 4,235 acres. Walk paths are available here but what should prove to be of great interest to many campers is the youth campground found on Fiesta Island situated inside the park. A full set of camping experience can be enjoyed in these parts although adults are not permitted to make use of the site as it is strictly limited to youth groups.

Another San Diego City park that ought to attract many RV campers is Mission Trails Regional Park standing on a little over 5,900 acres, making it among the biggest American urban parks. It welcomes overnight camping and features various recreational areas like hiking trails that are operated by the government of San Diego city.

Red Bluff City

One of the several cities falling under the jurisdiction of the Tehama county in the Shasta Cascade region, Red Bluff hosts what is perhaps the richest array of attractions in California where camping, including RV camping, can be enjoyed to the maximum. For starters, it is acknowledged as the official home of Lake Red Bluff where the famed Sacramento River is believed to eventually end up. Its 15-mile shoreline has been noted to be excellent grounds for camping, picnicking, and hiking and for several water-based activities, including boating and swimming.

Meanwhile, perched on the northeastern side of Red Bluff lies another landmark where camping is likewise known to be quite popular. The Lassen Volcanic National Park is made up of 106,000 acres of pure volcanic land that has become a common campground for many people due to its mysterious volcanic surroundings highlighted by several thermal springs and a largely uninhabited area of evergreens and spectacular meadows.

State Attractions

With a state as large as California that is divided into twelve different regions, tourist destinations can range from the most natural to the more architecturally advanced. Nevertheless, some popular California tourist attractions are worth noting for their uniqueness and accessibility to most RV campers.

Disneyland Park

Sometimes referred to as the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Park in Orange County is perhaps the most famous of all California state attractions both for adults and children. Established in 1955, the Walt Disney creation is the official home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, Goofy, and all those wonderful animated characters that we have all grown up with. It boasts of 60 exciting rides aside from several live entertainment shows spread out across eight enchanted lands.

Joshua Tree National Park

Technically considered as a park, the Joshua Tree National Park is actually a wildlife sanctuary stretching for about 850 miles of pure desert land where a diverse and amazing collection of flora and fauna are kept protected. The opportunities available in this particular sanctuary are practically endless although these are generally suited only for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

Situated in the Desert Region of California, the Joshua Tree National Park is a land full of mystery and discovery. There are absolutely no park lodging areas here although campers can stay in various campgrounds situated in various locations. Half of the enjoyment that campers often get from staying here comes from the many incredible stories that surround the place like that of the so-called Carey's Castle, considered by many as real but which very few have gone on to discover.

The Best Time for A Visit

Since California state is known to exhibit generally sunny weather all through the year, thus earning the tag the "Golden State", paying it a visit aboard an RV and exploring its many camp sites can be done at practically any given time. However, in certain regions, there are periods when it is not advisable to see particular California cities essentially because of extreme weather conditions. This usually happens in a place like California where there are coastal areas that are naturally prone to experiencing storms and hurricanes because of their nearness to the ocean.

As a rule, the more extreme southern and eastern parts of California get more sunshine than the average. Essentially, therefore, visiting time for California is most excellent anytime from May to October as this is usually summertime, a period when severe weather disturbances like tornadoes are not likely to develop. Late April may also be considered since the California wet or rainy season is almost through by this time.

The mountain areas of California, though, may not be the right places to explore during summer because of the possibility of thunderstorms eventually occurring. This is not something that campers, hikers, and outdoor lovers will want to encounter.

In Orange County, home of Disneyland Park, holiday seasons like summer vacations, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are considered peak periods so riding into the fabled kingdom aboard an RV during these periods may not be advisable because of the multitude of people trying to get into the kingdom. September should be ideal since summer should be almost over, with the weather getting to be cooler and Disneyland Park is usually open up to midnight, especially on weekends.

Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging

Situated only a few kilometers away from the celebrated Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Pines RV Resort stands on 30 acres of fully landscaped lands and features such facilities as a laundry room, a retail store, a swimming pool, a picnic site, a barbecue grill area, and a meeting room, among others.

Hikers and bikers are just two of the popular personages often encountered at the park but visitors need not necessarily hike or bike since they can avail of other recreational services being offered here like organized games, story-telling sessions, and campfire setting during the night. There are cabin rentals, pull-through sites and secluded camping places for those who want a more private atmosphere set inside this particular park that is powered by electrical services ranging from 20-50 amps.

Located near Groveland county, approximately 45 miles from the western end of Big Oak Flat Entrance, the Yosemite Pines RV Park affords easy and convenient access to Yosemite Valley and the nearby Yosemite National Park, an area of sprawling landscape surrounded by lush scenery, including thundering waterfalls. The park boasts of 198 RV sites and has been placed at eighth spot among the top RV parks according to the Travel Channel.

Terrace Village RV Park

Offering 53 roomy and fully paved RV sites, the Terrace Village RV Park prides itself in being located near some very famous California attractions like Disneyland Park, Knott's Berry Farm, the Route 66 Event, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park, and many others. Quite significantly, it also happens to be situated near the V.A. and La Loma Hospitals where travelers can rush to in case of any medical emergency.

The park claims to be fully hooked-up. powered by a 20-50 amp electrical service, and offers modern amenities like restrooms with hot shower, cable TV, Internet access in WiFi fashion, and pay phones. A plateau-based park centered between the hills of La Loma and Blue Mountain, Terrace Village RV Park is accessible via Grand Terrace, approximately eight miles away from the southern edge of San Bernardino. Various shopping, concert, and skiing areas are known to be situated near the park as well.

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