Panoche Hills – Boondocking with a Million Dollar View

We love camping on BLM land so we jumped at the chance to join some friends for a weekend at Panoche Hills. This is the biggest plot of BLM land near the bay area and we were eager to see the place.

We wanted to take a bunch of firewood and my motorcycle so we decided to pull the trailer behind the RV for the first time. We packed up Thursday night and hit the road Friday morning in the hopes of beating the crowds. After three hours of driving we pulled off of I5 and turned onto Little Panoche Road. Within minutes, all traces of civilization were far behind us. Little Panoche Road is literally out in the middle of nowhere. After 20 minutes we turned at the BLM sign

Panoche Hills

Panoche Hills BLM entrance

Panoche Hills BLM entrance.  Little Panoche Road heads off towards the mountains.

It’s a three mile drive up this fairly nice gravel road


At the three mile point we enter public land.

Brian Holle and Gianna Holle Entering public lands at Panoche Hills

The final mile of the trip is down this rugged dirt road.

Gianna Holle opening the gate to our Panoche Hills campsite

Halfway down the dirt road, the ruts were fairly substantial so we had to drive super slow the rest of the way.

Brian Holle and Gianna Holle travel down a dirt road to our campsite at Panoche Hills

The road dead ends on the top of a ridge with 100 ft. drop offs on three sides.  The perfect campsite!

Brian Holle and Gianna Holle camping on public land at Panoche Hills

We spent the evening listening to music and stargazing…

Brian Holle and Gianna Holle with a fire at Panoche Hills

… and woke up to a beautiful sunrise.


Saturday afternoon, Derek, Luke, and Jim arrived and the camp started to show some activity.Brian Holle and Gianna Holle camping with friends at Panoche Hills

Brian Holle and Gianna Holle eating breakfast with friends at Panoche Hills
Derek showed us some of his masterful campfire cooking skills. Everything turned out great except the eggs, one of which exploded on Jim.


A picture of the happy campers on Sunday morning.

Brian Holle and Gianna Holle with friends at Panoche Hills

What we learned

  • Panoche Hills is closed from April through October due to the high fire danger.  When it opens in early November there is a short window before the rain comes which makes the dirt roads impassable. For our next trip we will camp there right after opening day and we won’t go after the rain starts
  • This place is popular with target shooters so you will hear the occasional pop, pop, pop of distant gun fire. Since there’s so much open space, it was barely noticeable.
  • Motorcycles are not allowed in Panoche Hills.  Next time we are leaving the motorcycle at home.
  • If you know where to look, you can have a million dollar view at no cost.  Thanks BLM.

GPS Coordinates

36.712315, -120.862672

Dates visited

November 6-8, 2015


  1. Dan

    Looks like a great place. We r headed south again this winter but will probably miss the “access window” there. Will be boondocking somewhere, in part thanks to you 2……..We will let u know if we know we will be getting close to u.

    Thanks for travelog

    Dan (and Sandee)

  2. Rhonda

    Thanks for always sharing your adventures! Miss you both!


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