Boondocking is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of campgrounds. Those who prefer to keep things low-key and genuinely get out in nature love the simplicity that boondocking brings.
There are some fantastic boondocking locations out there that feel like a paradise. Unfortunately, not every boondocking spot is worth the effort.
Boondocking in California Is Great Until It Isn’t
California has a very diverse terrain. You can expect everything from sandy beaches to desert, rugged coastline to mountainous forests.
The climate is equally diverse in California. Boondocking can be plentiful, and regardless of your camping preferences, there’s something for virtually everyone in this massive state.
Though there are some fantastic boondocking opportunities, there are some terrible ones as well. Today, we’re warning you about a few boondocking spots that we think just don’t make the cut.
7 Awful Boondocking Spots in California
Just because a place has gotten a lot of attention doesn’t mean it’s great. This list of seven places is a mix of well-known and unknown locations.
We feel there are much better places to spend your time. Here are a few awful boondocking spots in California you should consider skipping.
1. Slab City
Slab City is a well-known boondocking area that’s a bit of a lawless city. Some call it the “Last Free Place.” While that might sound good in theory, it doesn’t lend itself to being a wholesome place.
Reviewers say that when leaving for a few hours to get supplies, they’ve returned to their RV to find they’ve been robbed. Others have witnessed people openly using drugs. Some report that there is little regard for cleanliness and that you’ll find trash everywhere.
If you still feel inclined to give this spot a chance, reviews state that it goes from not great to worse the farther in you venture.
2. Salton City Dry Camp Area
This area is essentially an old abandoned RV park. When considering staying here, you might first think about why this park was abandoned. The area has passed its prime and become a free dry camping spot.
Reviewers report a horrible smell and mud. The beach isn’t much of a beach as it simply turns to mud.
Others have said the bugs are bothersome and plentiful in the stagnant water, making it difficult to enjoy. Don’t assume you can take your RV down by the water as the ground quickly becomes soft, putting you at risk of getting stuck.
3. Joshua Tree North Dispersed Camping Area
Joshua Tree is a great place to visit, but the Joshua Tree North Dispersed Camping Area leaves a lot to be desired. Campers report an infestation of cockroaches in the area. Some reviews mention sand fleas here as well.
Others report a lot of noise from motorcycles and cars. ATVers also enjoy this spot, which isn’t a problem if they weren’t zooming around after midnight. This simply isn’t the right place for a quiet evening.
4. Christmas Tree Pass BLM
This spot is technically in Nevada but just a stone’s throw from the California border. If you’re in a tent with a capable vehicle, this spot might be doable. Those in RVs won’t find a place to camp here.
Campers report that you must stay on designated roads, but the few camping areas available are small and very unlevel. If you’re in anything more than a small van or tent, you’ll find yourself scrambling for another location.
5. Blue Oak Campground
This free campground has a lot going for it, but accessibility isn’t one of them. It doesn’t matter how large the sites are or how great the scenery is if you can’t get to them.
Some campers report that it took them more than an hour to transverse the rugged 10-mile road into the campground. Others have reported that they didn’t feel comfortable once they arrived due to suspicious activity and abandoned vehicles.
6. Lower Hunting Creek Campground
Sometimes a boondocking spot is awful because it’s inaccessible or unappealing or both. Lower Hunting Creek Campground is one of those times where it’s both.
Campers have reported the road being so rough that they didn’t even dare take their van on it, let alone a camper. Those who have braved the road have reported a dirty campground.
Sadly, the worst of the filth includes human feces. Not exactly a peaceful oasis. Some campers say you’ll find usable dispersed camping spots if you can continue past the actual campground, but this simply doesn’t seem worth the effort.
7. Plaster City East OHV Open Area
There seems to be a theme regarding noise and bad boondocking spots. This time the noise comes from both the ground and the air.
Campers report the ATV noise can carry on well into the night in this OHV area. While that’s not surprising in an OHV area, it can become bothersome when it’s time for bed.
There’s also a nearby military base, so planes and other aircraft pass overhead. Some campers have reported trash, including broken glass.
Avoid These California Boondocking Spots at All Costs
Choosing a great boondocking spot can make all of the difference. Avoid these spots, and you should have a great experience with boondocking in California.
Those who have experienced these locations, do you agree with us? Are there any other California boondocking spots that you would add to our list?
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