Some of the best campgrounds in California are on BLM land – Update Cali

If you spend enough time trying to snag one of the very limited camping spots in Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll eventually come across some helpful advice from a park ranger or fellow traveler: “Go BLM land.” That’s what the avid camper, hiker and LA Furniture maker Josh Jackson heard from a friend when he was trying to find a last-minute campsite for his family in 2015.

The BLM, or Bureau of Land Management, is a federal agency that oversees 245 million acres of public lands and 700 million acres of mineral lands. Unlike the National Park Service, BLM lands are managed for a variety of purposes, including mineral extraction, industrial leases, and energy production—but a substantial portion of the land is devoted to conservation and recreation.

Jackson found a place nearby Throne of Pinnacles, a series of towering tuff towers located south of the town of Trona in the Searles Valley, and after that first experience he was hooked. Over the next five years, as public lands came under increased threat, he immersed himself in the history of the office and the lands it manages. One of the most glaring vulnerabilities of BLM land, he felt, was that too few people knew how beautiful it could be.

So Jackson set out, logging 14,000 miles on his car and more than 300 on his boots to explore and document “basically every available acre of BLM land in California.” (There are more than 15 million acres in California alone.) While the end of this project is a book, Jackson also started an Instagram account Forgotten lands recording his journey, showcasing terrain that dazzles as much as any national park, and sharing beautiful hand-made maps and many books from his extensive outdoor reading list.

I spoke with Jackson about his project and some of his favorite BLM spots in California.

What does being in nature mean to you?

It means to slow down. Long, slow walks. Listening. He notices every single type of flora, the geological patterns, the way the earth bends, rises and falls. Remember that everything you need to see is all around you at any moment.

What place inspires you and why?

Public lands managed by BLM v Owens Peak Wilderness, where three large ecosystems collide in the southernmost part of the Sierra Nevada. This ecological transition zone is where the Mojave and Great Basin deserts meet the towering Sierra Nevada mountains, where creosote gives way to Joshua trees and finally Pinyon pine and Juniper. Between open meadows, meandering streams, boulder outcrops and an abundance of flora, this unique landscape has a great story to tell.

If you could change one thing about the way people think about nature, what would it be?

[We should] learning to see nature in our own backyard; in the camphors and live oaks lining the streets of our city; in the flowers blooming from the cracks in the pavement and along the abandoned hillsides; in a northern mockingbird singing from its perch on a telephone pole. We should all lean back William CrononWisdom: “If savagery can stop being (just) out there and start being (also) here, if it can start being humane as it is natural, then maybe we can continue the endless task of fighting for the right life. in the world—not just in the garden, not just in the wilderness, but in the house that includes them both.”

What’s your personal must-have item when you’re out and about?

Whether it could actually prevent damage or not, my wilderness whistle brings me a lot of comfort when I’m walking alone in the backwoods or desert. Water, lots of water. And downloaded offline topographic maps from onX.

What is your #1 tip for people who want to strengthen their relationship with nature?

Start looking for it where you live. A walk down the street or around the block or in the yard can be a wonderful experience with nature. Learn the names of the trees. Listen to the birds.

4 things to do

A coyote stands in the middle of dry grass on a hillside.

A coyote makes tracks in Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. Saturday’s interpretive hike in OC will look for animal tracks and scat.

(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

1. Look for tracks at Weir Canyon. Join rangers and naturalists on an easy five-mile hike Weir Canyon at Irvine Ranch Open Space in Orange County. Observation of animal tracks and scat will be introduced, and the group will keep their eyes on tracks along the way for signs of animal life. Free, to release. Minimum age 12 years. Registration in advance Required.

Two children in hats stand and hold hands in front of a glowing landscape.

Visitors learn about the ecology of primitive fire in the “Forest for Trees”.

(Juan Garcia-Quintero)

2. Look at the forest for the trees. Walk through the 28,000 square foot interactive art installation in downtown Los Angeles and reimagine your relationship with the nature around you. Directed by artist Glenn Kaino, “A forest for the trees” is a collaborative effort involving Atlantic journalists, environmental scientists and indigenous tribal leaders. The all-ages installation was due to close earlier this year, but has been extended to December 11. Tickets for adults are $33.50 or $37.

Outdoor train depot covered in Christmas lights.

Get ready for a holiday train ride at Griffith Park.

(Rebecca Gustavson / GPRah Enterprise LLC and the Griffith Park Train Rides)

3. Ride the holiday train. The Griffith Park Holiday Festival of Lights Train is back! Starting Friday, the mile-long Griffith Park & ​​Southern Railroad will be transformed into a winter wonderland with holiday scenes and thousands of lights. This year there will also be a number of outdoor photo booths and a gift kiosk in the area. Tickets are $7 per person and can be purchased online. The holiday train runs almost every night until January 6th, although it will be closed on December 24th, 25th and 31st and in case of rain or high winds.

Close-up of six hands holding or wearing handmade bracelets and rings.

Cords of narrow-leaved milkweed.

(National Park Service)

4. Get together for a milkweed workshop. You may have heard of milkweed and its association with monarch butterflies (and hopefully heard that monarchs need native milkweed), but our local narrow-leaved milkweed is also important to humans. Join volunteers at Rancho Sierra Vista on Saturday at 10 a.m. to learn about the importance of milkweed to the Chumash, Tongva and Tataviam peoples. Stay for a rope-making workshop led by Chumash jewelry designer Lea Valenzuela. Free, to release. Reservation required.

Required reading

People stand on a paved area between mountain peaks.

City dwellers should be able to escape the crowds while in Yosemite National Park.

(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

Authorization? We don’t need no stinkin’ permits! But… maybe so? I told you a few weeks ago that it was Arches National Park the summer entry permit pilot program ends and will soon announce plans for 2023. Yosemite National Park has used a similar reservation system for the past three summers due to construction and COVID-19 precautions, but cancellation of traffic control for summer 2023. Entry permits are a tricky business. On the one hand, they make visiting the parks more difficult, especially for people who can’t sit on a website, tap update, and wait for a permit to open. On the other hand, they help reduce the often overwhelming pedestrian and car traffic that threatens the very places we love. Park officials have announced that they will be seeking input on a possible new system in December, so stay tuned. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are currently in an open comment period on visitor experience also.

Check out ‘The Times’ podcast for breaking news and more.

In this day and age, waking up to current events can be daunting. If you’re looking for a more balanced news diet, ‘The Times’ podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse group of reporters from the award-winning LA Times editorial staff, brings you the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe to your podcasts from anywhere.

Red flag

A man stands on top of a mountain, arms outstretched above his head, overlooking a bank of clouds.

Guide Andrew Mafie offers a prayer of gratitude at the 19,341-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

(Jack Dolan/Los Angeles Times)

Times investigative reporter Jack Dolan always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. He finally got his chance this year, but as is often the case, the reality didn’t quite match his idealized vision. Dolan’s piece of long shape is a beautiful look at the complex issues surrounding mountain tourism, as well as the changes that rising temperatures and new weather patterns have wrought on the image Kili had when he first started summiting.

Great stuff

One smiles as he rides a small vehicle with continuous tracks instead of wheels.

A person moves along specially designed tracks in a track chair.

(Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

Ever since I laced up my first pair of hiking boots in 2005 (yes, I was a late starter!), it’s been truly inspiring to watch the outdoor community welcome more people—and more people of different abilities. Some of the final and potentially most challenging barriers are those faced by people with mobility issues, but there are several agencies and programs that are making exciting progress. In the Washington Post, Andrea Sachs and Natalie B. Compton take a look at the state and federal agencies around the country that are helping everyone get out with rugged, off-road wheelchairs on specially prepared trails.

Wild thing

A woman in a bucket kneels on the ground next to a large turtle.

Naturalist Lisa LaVelle examines a desert tortoise at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area in California City.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

I’ve spent a lot of time in the California deserts, but I’ve never seen a Mojave desert tortoise. Just 80 years ago, the Mojave supported hundreds of tortoises per square mile, but today, most regions outside of protected recovery areas have only two to three adults per square mile—not enough to ensure population survival.. Times writer Louis Sahagun effort details groups take to protect ours the official state reptileincluding deterring predatory ravens with lasers and petitioning to list the turtle under California’s Endangered Species Act.


Says the logo "Next Gen Trail Leader 2023."

Become an American Hiking Society NextGen Trail Leader.

(American Tourist Association)

Do you want to start a career in nature? The American Hiking Society is accepting applications for its NextGen Trail Leaders 2023 program, a year-long boot camp for people who want to gain real-world experience in public lands advocacy. Participants will receive a stipend, training and support, an equipment stipend, and the opportunity to meet with national leaders and legislators about trail and public lands issues. The application deadline is December 4th, so get down to it!

For more insider tips on Southern California beaches, trails and parks, check out past issues of The Wild. And to view this newsletter in your browser, click here.


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