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Campgrounds to Add to Your Bucketlist


Title Text: Shelter in the Greatest Place laid over a photo of a little orange tent, lit internally by headlamps, under a full moon somewhere in the desert of Nevada.

It is now day 51 of SIP in California, according to my quarantine journal, Quarantimes. I laugh now, looking back at how the first days felt as we hugged coworkers farewell and said, “See you in three weeks!” I was holding out hope, pissed off that I had to cancel my ski trip to Utah, and waited until the order was already being finalized to call off my flight (thanks always, Southwest, for your rad cancellation policies). Spring was going to be big for me: after Utah, I had planned the ultimate climbing road trip to LA and then on to Red Rock Canyon (and Vegas, duh), and then was going to visit the old country of Sicily with my family in May. Cancelled, cancelled, cancelled. I felt frustrated, but also incredibly and increasingly guilty as I started to get over myself.

For now, to continue as though nothing is wrong is selfish and irresponsible, particularly when you put others in danger and threaten the availability of resources in communities outside your current contagion bubble. We all want to go run around outside with our friends and family, take part in all the incredible activities Californians have at our fingertips, but frankly, now is not the time. I can’t wait to hit the open road again, hopefully sometime soon. For now, daydreaming, planning and reminiscing will have to do!

My coworkers and I compiled a bucket list of places we’ve been dreaming of, places we’ve been or always planned to go. I hope we emerge from the pandemic soon and can check them out. Without further ado:

Places we really want to visit when it’s safe (for everyone) to do so:

  • Deadfall Lake in Mt. Shasta Highly recommended by Presidio Marketer Rachel Leung! Read more about her camp adventure here. 
  • Kirby Cove: cute, small (5 camping spots) just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, super accessible but you need to enter the lottery to get a site (pro tip: easier to cop midweek spots). Primitive (no water), pit toilets, dope lil beach with views of the city but you can’t hear anything over the ocean (and sometimes the fog horns). 
  • Pumice Flat Campground near Mammoth Lakes. Hot spring excursions during the day and right next to Devil’s Post Pile.
  • Lost Coast: 25 miles of exactly what it sounds like. I believe you can do a big chunk of it in about 4 days and it’s super accessible for how remote you feel hiking along the shore. For more info, come into the Berkeley store (someday soon!) and ask for Aidan.
  • Pfeiffer Beach. Okay, you can’t camp here, but there’s lots of campsites nearby, all over the 1. Bonus, if it’s raining or you don’t really want to hang out at camp, bop over to the Big Sur Taphouse for a beer and a round of cards (BYO cards). 
  • Camp 4. I started dreaming about Yosemite (which, yes, I mispronounced as an East Coaster) in high school when I learned of John Muir’s existence. And then in college, seeing Valley Uprising (along with a newfound love of climbing) solidified my need to pay homage. I’ve been twice, never camped there, and still NEVER CLIMBED IN YOSEMITE. Yet. Maybe next year.
  • Pinnacles: She’s small, she’s young, she’s lovely. Just maybe avoid Pinnacles’ swampy spring tendencies. Climbers, maybe we’ll get to return this fall.
  • Death Valley: When people ask what my favorite park is, I’m always a little surprised to hear Death Valley–a place I was, frankly, scared of as a Vermonter–come out of my mouth. But nothing beats it in January. Find your way deep into Saline Valley, if you dare. Make sure you have a spare tire.
  • Castle Mountains, Mojave Desert: I’ve never been, but it came up in the What Parks to Visit quiz, and looks dope. Apparently it is 1) primarily a research area so you can’t really climb (BOO) but 2) camping is all first come, first serve and FREE. Anyway, let’s go.
  • Red Rock Canyon. One of the best climbing areas ever, in my opinion, especially for people new to climbing outdoors. There’s an official campsite just outside the park, and it’s 20 minutes driving from the Las Vegas Strip to boot.

If you didn’t know about freecampsites.net until now well, now you know. The keys to the dirtbag kingdom are now yours. Proceed with respect. Thanks for reading to the bottom, and happy camping!<?p>

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