|Castle Mountains, David Lamfrom, wikimedia.org|
California lays claim to having its own "close encounter" with the three, because all of them are located in the Golden State, and all of them received their designation in February when President Obama granted status to Castle Mountains National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Sand to Snow National Monument. RVers may be very much interested in these three new monuments – and what recreational opportunities they provide – and will yet provide in the future.
There's a lot of ground to cover with three monuments, so in this first installment, we'll cover the northern-most tract of land, Castle Mountains National Monument
Don't mistake Castle Mountains with a national park, where paved roads and visitor centers are standard features. The only roads in the monument are dirt, and they're of the kind that would like to eat your rig when the rains turn the surface into mud, so plan your trip carefully. There is a visitor center, however, that reaches deep into the natural and human history of the monument, near Essex at 90942 Kelso Cima Road. Spot it on your map 18 miles north of Interstate 40 and some 34 miles south of Baker.
The other campground is Mid Hills Campground. At a much higher elevation, this little tiny spot offers cooler nights, but monument officials suggest you don't try accessing it with a motorhome or travel trailer. Could be great for truck camper enthusiasts, but we recommend other RVers scout it out with the toad car before trying to take a rig up.
And one more caveat – don't trust your GPS, at least not for showing you reliable roadways. Monument staff say that many GPS databases are NOT up-to-date with the existing road and trail system, and while you'll know where you are in terms of latitude and longitude, the order of the day could be, "You can't get here from there." Carry those old fashioned paper maps to be sure.