The middle third of California covers a lot of territory, with RV destinations you may have missed when headed for San Francisco and Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Check out these unique locations. Visit Good Sam Camping for nearby campgrounds.
- More than 30 miles of hiking trails wind through Pinnacles National Park, America’s newest national park. This property encompasses caves, dramatic rock formations, precipitous cliffs, meadows, ridges, a sycamore-shaded creek, reservoirs and one of the few places in California where you can see giant California condors. On Highway 25 south of Gilroy (East entrance) or Highway 146 East from Highway 101 south of Soledad. Note that there is no road connecting East and West entrances.
- Check out Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno. Sicilian immigrant, Baldassare Forestiere, spent 40 years sculpting a 10-acre underground compound in the early 1900’s. The retreat he created for himself includes a labyrinth of rooms, passageways, patios and courtyards—still fully intact—including plantings of fruit bearing trees and vines. Forestiere patterned the abundance of stonework and building techniques after Europe’s Roman catacombs and includes underground micro-climates with temperature variations of 10 to 30 degrees.
- The 11,249-acre Kern National Wildlife Refuge (off Hwy. 46 between I5 and US101) is an invaluable refuge for birds using the Pacific Flyway (best viewing October through March, but closed for waterfowl hunting Wednesdays and Saturdays, October thru January). A six-mile, all weather, gravel, road auto tour is open daily sunrise to sunset. Just Northeast of Kern NWR, the Pixley NWR is home to thousands of sandhill cranes from November through February, an impressive sight and sound experience as the huge cranes soar into the refuge at dusk all croaking their distinctive call.
- The cornerstone for Mission San Juan Baptista was laid in 1803 with the last interior floor tiles (imprinted with animal prints made while the tiles were left outside to dry in the sun) laid in 1817. A cat door carved into the blue side door in the Guadalupe Chapel allowed cats access at all times to catch mice, which were serious pests eating much of the harvest. The mission has the only original Spanish Plaza remaining in California. Two miles East of Hwy 101 on Hwy 156 near Hollister.
- Indian Grinding Rock SHP spreads across an open meadow scattered with valley oaks in the Gold Country town of Pine Grove eight miles east of historic Jackson in the Sierra foothills. A large population of Miwok lived here as evidenced by the 1,185 morteros, the largest collection in America, where the women ground corn and acorns to feed their families. Along with a museum of Sierra Indian artifacts, a reconstructed Miwok village includes a large roundhouse used for park programs and by local tribal members. Take State Route 88 from Jackson to Pine Grove, then left on Volcano Road.