On the first of December 2017 the Love Your RV! snowbirds entered the Mojave desert. The sunshine and the dry air felt good after a wet fall on the coast. We were looking forward to several months of RV boondocking in the southwest.
I was eager to try out a new dry camping area. One we had never been to before. I pulled up my Allstays Pro map on the laptop. Allstays Pro is one of my go-to desktop applications for researching possible boondocking sites. (Disclaimer: I’m an affiliate of Allstays Pro) You can find more on how I locate free and inexpensive southwest boondocking in a previous post.
We were leaving the Orange Grove RV Park in Bakersfield CA and wanted something only a few hours drive. Sawtooth Canyon BLM campground looked like a decent bet, that is if we could snag a spot. It was Friday afternoon, and the small first come first serve campground only has 16 sites. I decided to take a chance; we would still have an hour or two of daylight if we struck out. Our karma was good! We rolled in at 2:45 PM and grabbed the last site.
I was pleasantly surprised by how developed the campsite was being that it is run by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and FREE. Each camping site has a metal shelter over a picnic table and large concrete firepits. There are several vault toilets on the grounds. The roads are graded gravel and dirt with some washboard, just wide enough for two vehicles to squeeze past each other. There are no hookups, no water and no garbage, its pack it in pack it out camping.
The best part about camping at Sawtooth was the hiking. There are numerous trails and sandy washes to explore as they wind through the rock outcroppings and craggy canyon cliffs. We did a couple that got us up to the top of the canyon where we could look out into the next valley and beyond. The rocky trails were a somewhat tricky for us older folk with a few steeper parts, but the views at the end were stunning and made for terrific photos. I’d advise taking along a hiking pole for the trip back down. I even lent mine to a fellow coming up as we were almost down and he was grateful later.
Sawtooth is a mecca for rock climbing enthusiasts. In their realm its known as New Jack City. Since it was the weekend with the mild sunny weather, there were scads of them out scaling the cliffs like spidermen. I’m amazed how trusting they are of the anchor points and ropes. Sure looks like fun if your fit enough and brave enough for that sort of thing.
What’s the downside to Sawtooth? Being a small campground, many of the campsites are close to one another. Also, being it’s a free for all, I noticed campers letting their dogs roam off leash and not picking up after them. Finally, many of the weekend rock climbers will use campsites as parking areas taking them from people that want to camp.
Overall though we loved our brief 3-night stay, and you can’t beat the price! A cold front moving in with high winds saw us pack up early and leave, but we definitely will be back to enjoy and explore this beautiful high California desert area more.