From back country camping to hummus to improv comedy, I wrote about of lot of what’s great in Los Angeles for 2013.
If you’ve ever had even a passing interest in camping along California’s Central Coast, you’ve probably heard the rumors about Jalama Beach. The different gossipy variations tend to focus on one or more of the following: it’s a beach camping oasis, it’s the one of the last approachable strips of isolated beachfront in the region, it’s so packed with summertime campers that you can’t even scrounge up a site, it is seriously windy along the shore, and their camp store serves up one of the tastiest hamburgers you’ll find. And each one is absolutely true. Jalama Beach (that’s with a soft J, to be pronounced like an H) is all of those things, but it’s also so much greater than those limitations. More than anything, Jalama Beach is a fantastic weekend trip.
Looking west from the coast, it’s easy to spot the Channel Islands, a run of eight mostly rocky sanctuaries floating out there in the Pacific. Santa Catalina, known to summertime tourists and roughly 4,000 year-round residents as Catalina Island, is easily the most well-traveled of the group. Avalon, the civic heart of the island, boasts thousands of campers, hotel sleepers, and day trippers every year, making it a very approachable (if sometimes crowded) introduction to the island chain.
Beyond Catalina, the other Channel islands remain relatively pristine destinations unto themselves. While San Nicolas and San Clemente are operated exclusively by the U.S. Navy, the remaining five (Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Santa Barbara) make up the Channel Islands National Park. That means you can hike, camp, kayak, and swim along the nearly untouched coastlines that ring the five islands, all year round. Spring, with its rising temperatures, budding flora and migrating grey whales, offers the perfect opportunity to spend a few days among California’s most pristine landscapes. Here’s a quick guide to camping, hiking, and sightseeing throughout Channel Islands National Park.
So you’ve got the car all packed up, you’ve dusted off your sleeping bag and the gas tank is full. Now that spring is here, all your road maps are pointing you north to Yosemite, right? Well, not exactly. If you haven’t experienced the glacial-carved beauty of the Yosemite Valley since you were a kid, it’s quite possible that things have changed — including easily getting a campsite in the summertime. Open sites go on sale months in advance, and the most precious plots of spring and summer real estate are usually snapped up in seconds.
So, short of carrying bear mace for some backwoods Yosemite tent camping, trying your luck at a first-come campsite an hour outside of the valley floor or ponying up the cash for a cabin, what’s an intrepid forester to do? Drive to Kings Canyon National Park instead.