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
It’s a three mile drive up this fairly nice gravel road
At the three mile point we enter public land.
The final mile of the trip is down this rugged dirt road.
Halfway down the dirt road, the ruts were fairly substantial so we had to drive super slow the rest of the way.
The road dead ends on the top of a ridge with 100 ft. drop offs on three sides. The perfect campsite!
We spent the evening listening to music and stargazing…
… and woke up to a beautiful sunrise.
A picture of the happy campers on Sunday morning.
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.
November 6-8, 2015