Vacation time for working folks is limited and using the opportunity to experience as much as possible tends to become the overall goal before returning home. Starting the day at dawn, traveling from one point of interest to the next and participating in one unique activity after another in order to get the most bang for the buck certainly will create a great escape that will be fondly remembered for a lifetime. With a non-stop touring plan there will be exciting discoveries and awesome experiences every step of the way, but as everybody knows, a busy vacation plan rarely pans out as expected.
There are always unexpected delays and distractions along the way while attempting a condensed version of a long vacation and falling behind schedule is all too easy to do. This can create some awkward moments at the end of the day when the original accommodation plan has to be nixed and an alternate place to bed down must be found. Being faced with the dilemma of getting fleeced at a motel that charges triple rates during the tourist season or going on a wild goose chase to find an empty pad in a developed campground certainly is frustrating. With darkness setting in, the task becomes even more difficult, especially when in unfamiliar territory.
Instead of chasing dead ends at overpriced bed bug motels or wasting time at full campgrounds in unfamiliar territory, it pays to look for options in the nearby BLM Public Lands or a National Forest. Where there are mountains out west, there are forests and wildlife. Where there is wildlife there are hunters and where there are hunters, there are roadside places where they camp seasonally during the autumn tag season. By simply following the dirt roads toward the mountain forests in public lands, there nearly always will be some last resort roadside camping options to be found. All that a weary traveler has to do is find an existing clearing with a stone fire ring to make the campsite official. In fact, the roadside signage along the way might even signal a lesser known campground up ahead that does not readily appear on a map, which is always a nice bonus.
As can be seen in the photos, daylight was fading fast when I found myself getting way behind schedule while touring the Bishop, California region. Since I was driving a Jeep, getting off the paved road was an easy option, so I browsed the GPS for Inyo National Forest points of interest and found a lesser known campground at Taylor Springs less than 10 miles away. Fatigue was setting in and I settled for a roadside camping spot just shy of the Taylor Springs Campground, which actually turned out to be a cozy spot for the night. This site was right next to the spring fed creek, so Taylor Springs actually was not too far away.
After breaking camp well before dawn the following morning I drove a little further uphill through the canyon in the darkness to check out the Taylor Springs Campground, which turned out to be a primitive site with no facilities and only enough room for a few vehicles. It was evident that this little campground had very little annual visitation, so I did not wait for the sun to rise to photograph the site. Oddly enough, the roadside hunter's campsite actually turned out to be the better choice, which provided a little bit of satisfaction for starting the day.
The best part was the overnight roadside campsite location in the Inyo National Forest was perfect for exploring more of the Bishop region. I set out to do a long Jeep trail through the historic mining and ranching district near Benton at sunrise, which was quite memorable because the trail ended at Crowley Lake with the towering Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background. To sum it all up, the public lands certainly are a saving grace when seeking a spot to bed down, especially when all other options are exhausted!
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