Trona Pinnacles – Unearthly Wild Camping
We were in Bakersfield, CA visiting family and we had a couple weeks to kill before our next obligation. The Sierra’s were covered in snow so visiting Sequoia National Park (or the National Forest) wasn’t an option. We considered heading southwest through Ojai and ending on the beach in Ventura, but our next life will be all beach towns and ocean views. Then I saw a little dot a couple of hours east called Trona Pinnacles.
The name sounded interesting and the images on Google looked amazing! Plus, we won’t likely see much desert while we’re sailing around later this year…so we packed up the RV, kissed the family goodbye and convinced a couple friends, John & Peter (The RV Geeks), to come along on the adventure.
We came out with a plan to get some work done on the computers and hike as much as possible. “We’re not going to shoot a video here; we just won’t have the time to edit it” we kept saying. Well, this place was way too beautiful not to share…we simply couldn’t help ourselves.
What did you think? I thought it wasn’t half bad for our first drone video and Trona turned out to be the perfect location to fly.
Camping and Hiking
There is a huge parking area near the pit toilet and what we might refer to as the ‘entrance’ to the pinnacles. We camped here with Peter and John the first few nights because it was easy. Once we explored we ended up moving to the location in the video. All-in-all I think we saw a total of 5 or 6 campers the entire 14 days, so needless to say there were plenty of places to park in solitude (especially if you have 4wd).
We hiked almost every day. We’d point to a pinnacle in the distance and just start walking. Within our 14 days I think we visited all the main areas where the pinnacles are visible. It’s lots of scrambling so if you plan to hike make sure you have sturdy hiking boots.
Seriously each sunset was completely different than the evening before. Some days we’d scramble up on top of a hill, and others we’d stay down in the valleys. There’s no better way to end a day than watching a kaleidoscope of colors fill the sky while sippin’ on a sundowner.
Trona City & Night Life
One evening after 12 days of being out in the wild we decided to clean up and head into town. “There’s gotta be a watering hole where we can have a drink with some locals.” we said. Turns out we only saw 2 restaurants total in the entire Searles Valley. So we went back to our tufa for stargazing and a hand crafted old fashioned. Plus, we just couldn’t get enough of this incredible night sky. Even when the clouds would roll in they couldn’t hide the stars out here.
Our Quad-Copter Debut
If you’re wondering why we chose this location as our quad-copter debut, here’s the story and our little case of FOMO.
As we were driving in toward the BLM Peter pulls over and says “I gotta get this on the drone!” He hops out of the Motorhome and proceeds to flaunt his new found quad-copter prowess by capturing a “follow-me orbit” with his drone.
Throughout our few days with the RV Geeks they eagerly flew their drone all over the place. At one point I remember saying on a few of the flights “He’s CRAZY!” Their eagerness to fly gave me the courage to pull out our drone, charge the batteries, download the updates and get it in the air too. Here is the video the RV Geeks put together in Trona…and yes we were there just before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens so we were a little giddy with excitement.
Check out their Trona Pinnacles post here: http://thervgeeks.com/trip-tips/trona-pinnacles/
After 14 days in the wild we were running pretty low on everything…including clean underwear. So, we headed for Ridgecrest and the Desert Empire Fairgrounds. It wasn’t pretty but it only takes us one day to do all of our laundry, dump and fill the tanks and pick up a few groceries.
Roads – If you’ve read elsewhere the road is horrendous, for us that wasn’t the case. I wouldn’t call it a great road but it didn’t destroy our RV or knock dishes out of the cabinets. We took it slow and the 5.5 mile trip from the highway to our campsite took about 45 minutes.
GPS Coordinates – 35.615585, -117.369662
Cell Phone – Rock Solid Verizon 4g, we were able to stream video, upload, etc.
BLM Website – http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/trona.html
Weather – Summer is hotter than Hades. Spring, Fall and Winter can go from warm and sunny to chilly, windy, and even super crazy windy (you may have noticed a bunch of debris at the end of the video within the sunset timelapse). It even rained two of the days we were there, I think we might have broken the precipitation record for the day!
Fuel – Fuel was cheapest in Bakersfield at the Costco, and this particular Costco had Gas, Diesel and Propane…so fill her up!
Dates Visited – 12/6/2015 – 12/20/2015
What did you think of the drone videos? Have you visited the East Side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains? How about Trona? Share your favorite southern California wild camping stories in the comments below. If you have any questions ask away, we’ll do our best to direct you in a proper direction.