Back in the fall of 2020 I hatched a plan to head south the first of February in 2021.  The plan was to get away from the Pacific Northwest cold and wet weather.  I would drive south on I-5 to Bakersfield and then head eastward towards Death Valley and explore. Then covid hit California hard.  Driving through California didn’t seem responsible with the ICUs full and I didn’t want to drive down the east side of the sierras pulling a trailer with the potential of icy roads. Surprisingly, California started recovering from covid in February.  I made the decision to go south.  

I started driving from Seattle and it took me five days to get to what I thought of as the beginning of the trip – Red Rock Canyon, California. This included an extra day waiting on the north side of the Siskiyous for the road conditions to improve.  When I read the Oregon DOT site at 1:00 pm; it was 30 degrees at the pass, snowing hard, bumper to bumper traffic with a 60 minute delay. It was not a hard decision to check into the Valley of the Rogue Campground to wait the weather out.  The next day was much better.  

It was a long slog south, but I made it to Red Rock Canyon.  

Red Rock Canyon State Park, California
Camping at Red Rock

The Red Rock Canyon has gorgeous rocks and was a peaceful calm place to camp.  The campsites are located next to an escarpment giving every campsite an interesting view.  

The campground.  If you look closely you will see white camping vehicles.

The next stop was a visit to the Pinnacles, NE of Ridgecrest.  It was an interesting place to wander around.

Trona Pinnacles

I tried go see the Burro Schmidts tunnel but after driving on the worst road I have ever encountered, I gave up and turned around.  The road could be described as wavy or gigantic washboard.  About every 3-4 feet there was a 4”-8” dip in the road.  Terrible forward/backward and sideways motion resulting in 5 mph driving.  Five mph isn’t fun so I gave up on getting to the tunnel.  Below is where the terrible road was that I drove.

The red lines show the location of the the worst road I have ever encountered.

It was nice to be out exploring again.  After the first few days, the dogs and I were back into our camping routine.  We didn’t forget too many things at home – nothing that we can’t live without.  Next, onward to Panamint Valley.  

The Campgrounds I Used Heading South

  • Armitage County Park by Eugene.  Nice separation between sites.  I could hear background I-5 freeway noise reminding me that I hadn’t gotten away from “it all.”  Good for an overnight stop.  About half full.
  • Valley of the Rogue State Park.  Small sites crammed together.  And there was background freeway noise.  Good for an overnight stop.  The campground filled up the night I was there.  
  • Sycamore Grove USFS by Red Bluff.  A pleasant surprise.  Impressive, majestic oak trees with a walking path through the grove of trees.  The camping sites are close to each other, but with the campground only about 25% full, there was no one close to me.  If you are driving by and need to stretch your legs, I recommend stopping here.
  • Colonel Allensworth State Historical Park.  Another pleasant surprise.  A small campground that might feel cramp when full.  There were three of us there that night.  The ranger told me that it frequently fills up in the spring and fall during the snowbird migration (people, not birds).  The picture below explains a bit about the Colonel.  
The town of Allensworth. Now a state park.
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park.  Small sites are crammed together. Only a few sites can accommodate a long trailer. There is little privacy when full.   Each night is was about 20% full so it was enjoyable.  Also at the visitor center there is a red notebook full of information about everything within about 50 miles.  A gold mine of information.