Southern California Weekend Trip

Mike Jones

Feb 19, 2013
Me and a buddy of mine are looking to do a short day or two trip from southern california. Basically want to get in my Jeep wrangler and get away and relax in the desert or mountains.

Right now we are thinking Joshua tree possibly. I am new to southern california and am looking for suggestions. Basically Want to get in the jeep, go to a remote place and just camp.
Edit: nevermind, I re-read your post and my question is answered.
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Joshua Tree is better for hiking and rock climbing. Mojave National Preserve has lots of backcountry that you can take the Jeep into.
I'm a mountain guy and SoCal has lots of mountains that don't get too snowy in the winter. If I was further south, I'd be in the San Jacinto or San Gorgonio's often. Up here it's the San Rafael/Dick Smith/Matillija/Sespe/Chumash Wilderness areas that keep me busy October - May. There's also Silver Peak & Ventana Wilderness up on the Big Sur Coast.

One of my recent trips:
To many JT would be a remote place to just camp. Especially some of the sites away from Hidden Valley/Ryan campgrounds. Being a National Park there's the convenience of visitor centers, good maps, trailheads, etc.

The challenging backroads driving is lacking, thou. For that particular weekend warrior activity the remainder the Mojave seems to offer no shortage.
Anza-Borrego has lots of jeep trails and you can camp anywhere. It's not hard to get remote there. Go soon, it's getting pretty hot out there. When you come out of the desert get dinner at Jilberto's (on the main strip in Borrego).
Hey Mike. You never came back and told us about your GC trip! How'd it go? Photos?

It went great, sorry I never came back was really really busy with work right after. I will grab a link for my pictures and post it in trip reports soon.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far guys. I am not looking mostly for jeep trails. Really just want to use my jeep to get to a remote place away thats pretty. My jeep isn't super tricked out yet.

In joshua tree can I pretty much pull off a dirt road and camp anywhere? I just bought a national geographic map too, so if anyone has cool suggestion son places to drive to to spend a night or two let me know. I am not familiar with that area at all.
After looking at my JT national geographic map, it doesnt look like you can make camp any place off the road with the jeep. Looks like Mohave National preserve you can. Thoughts?
Thoughts? Well, Mojave NP is great for camping out of a Jeep. I've been there a couple of times, camping out of a mostly stock Jeep Wrangler (TJ). The roads there generally aren't too demanding, though I did get turned around once by a washout that maybe a really built up rig could have negotiated. Park Service rules allow you to camp out of a vehicle most anywhere that there is an established camp site (ie. a fire ring). I've camped off of Kelso Road, Pipeline Road, the Sunrise Rock camping area near Teutonia Peak and off of Wild Horse Road near Hole-in-the-Wall. There's tons of places to camp, some of the most accessible ones are shown on the Park Service, Tom Harrison and Trails Illustrated maps, many others are not. My first visit, December 2012, driving across Cima Dome and camping a second night near Sunrise Rock, there was snow on the ground and I was worried about getting snowed on while driving across Cima Dome through the wonderful Joshua Tree Forest that lives there. At that time, the Mid Hills area and pretty much everything east of there was inaccessible due to ice and snow. The point being that Mojave actually has some relatively high elevation areas. If I was going out there this time of year, I'd probably focus on the New York Mountains, Caruthers Canyon or maybe Castle Peaks areas in the higher, eastern half of the preserve. All of those are places I haven't been to yet- If you do go, please post a trip report!

Some photos of campsites:

Kelso Road, Kelso Dunes.

Considered camping here, on Cima Dome near Teutonia Peak

Near Sunrise Rock, Tuetonia Peak in back background.

Pipeline Road near Foshay Pass.

Off of Wild Horse Canyon Road