Living in the city is like diving a coral reef. There is a fascinating array of color and movement, but at some point one must surface and decompress. Thankfully, Los Angeles is a city surrounded with fabulous options to escape. I get out often to exhale, gain perspective, and reconnect with the natural world.
Here are some of my favorite mini adventure destinations from Los Angeles:
1. Joshua Tree
This is the L.A. classic escape. Setting up in a popular campground like Jumbo Rocks allows for heaps of hiking and bouldering. However, when you're ready to level up, scan the maps for OHV roads, get yourself a 4x4 with survival gear, and camp backcountry. I've got a handful of secret backcountry spots in J-Tree, some recently discovered among the BLM land on the east side of the park.
2. The East Side of the Sierras
When Summer comes around in California I get super giddy about the Sierras. The deeper you can penetrate, the more exclusive it gets. Speaking of exclusive, the 395 side of the mountains has a fraction of the visitors who come in from the west.
3. Deep Creek
These hot springs have been on the nudist community's radar for over 30 years. Once a locals' secret spot, it's getting more traffic nowadays, but the long drive and moderate hike discourage many. Although it's technically illegal to camp at the springs, there is a perpetual clutch of regulars who risk the occasional ranger raid. Deep creek is special in that you can jump from the hot springs into a cold stream in an instant, and, if you like getting naked, go bananas... visitors have been thoroughly warned. Wearing clothing is the unusual maneuver.
4. The Mojave
The Mojave is the desert that California forgot about. Most people blow right past on their way to Vegas. If you stop to explore you'll find heaps of treasures: springs, ghost towns, abandoned mines, sand dunes, lava caves, and sweet isolation. Just remember that this isn't Disney Land. A couple bad judgements (especially regarding lack of water) could lead to your quick death. Here's a neat little video cut from some of our Road Less Traveled footage.
5. The Ruins of St. Francis Dam
This lush forest in the middle of the dry California chaparral is rooted in what was a giant lake. That lake was held in place by the magnum opus of Los Angeles' celebrity civil-engineer William Mulholland. Just after midnight on March 12, 1928 the dam collapsed sending Mulholland's reputation and over 500 bodies down the valley and out to the ocean on a 100+ foot wave. There are plans to do something official with the site, but for now it's off the beaten path. More information on this blogpost.