Discover the 5 Most Remote Spots in California and How to Safely Get There
California is an adventure seekers paradise. While the state is famous for cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, it also offers some of the most unspoiled wild landscapes in the country. If you need a break from the hustle of daily life and want to escape into nature, these five most remote spots in California are calling your name! Here’s a guide on how to journey there safely and enjoy these hidden gems to the fullest.
1. The Lost Coast
Coordinates: 40.4401°N 124.4095°W
Located in Humboldt County, the Lost Coast is one of the most remote regions of California. This rugged stretch of coastline boasts towering cliffs, pristine beaches, and diverse native wildlife – including sea lions, deer, and black bears. The most popular way to explore the region is via the Lost Coast Trail, which stretches 24.6 miles from Mattole to Black Sands Beach. Travelers should allow at least three days to complete the hike.
To reach the trail, take U.S. Highway 101 to Garberville, then head west on Mattole Road. Once you reach the small town of Shelter Cove, the only way forward is on foot. Don’t forget to get the required permits beforehand. After that, you’re all set for a challenging and rewarding trek!
2. Santa Rosa Island
Coordinates: 33.9773° N, 120.0896° W
Santa Rosa Island is located about 26 miles off the coast of Southern California. Measuring 84 square miles, it’s the second largest island of California’s Channel Islands. Santa Rosa Island offers abundant hiking opportunities, from beginner-friendly coastal flat treks to the more strenuous Black Mountain Hike, which rewards hikers with scenic oak woodlands and clear views of the mainland (weather permitting). The island is also home to diverse flora and fauna, including shorebirds and several types of wildflowers.
Getting to Santa Rosa Island requires a three-hour boat ride from Ventura. Once you’ve landed, the first step to exploring the island is setting up a base at Water Canyon Camp, a beachside site offering showers, toilets, and wind shelters (a necessity on the island, where wind speeds can reach up to 30 knots!). Make sure to make reservations in advance, and enjoy your stay in one of the most remote spots in California!
3. Death Valley
Coordinates: 36.5323° N, 116.9325° W
Located in southeastern California, Death Valley is a land of extremes. Not only is it one of the most remote regions of California, but it’s also home to the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in North America. Despite its name, Death Valley is very ecologically diverse. The region’s landscapes range from snow-capped mountains to dunes and fields of wildflowers. Animals from coyotes to bats to bighorn sheep call Death Valley home.
To get to Death Valley National Park, travelers can drive from Las Vegas, Nevada, or major California cities like Los Angeles, and head toward the eastern entrance of the park via State Route 190. If you’re coming from the west, State Route 190 from the town of Lone Pine will lead you to the park’s western entrance. Make sure to plan your visit carefully, especially during the summer months, when temperatures regularly top 120 degrees!
4. Modoc National Forest
Coordinates: 41°35’9″N, 121°35’8″W
Modoc National Forest stretches over one and a half million acres in California’s northeast. This vast, unspoiled wilderness is easily one of the most remote spots in California. It’s home to diverse landscapes, from mountains and pine forests to wetlands and lava beds. Nestled inside Modoc is Devil’s Garden, the largest wild horse territory managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The forest also offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
To reach Modoc National Forest, you’ll pass through the tiny northern California town of McCloud. From there, take US Hwy 89 south for 16 miles until you hit Forest Service Road 15. Turn left and travel 4.4 miles to Forest Service Road 49/Medicine Lake Road. then follow the signs about 30 more miles to Medicine Lake. From there, you can follow the signs to your final campground destination.
5. The Lost Sierra
Coordinates: 39°44’17.2″N, 120°58’59.3″W
Nicknamed “the Lost Sierra,” the Sierra Buttes are located in the northern Sierra Nevada region in California. This expanse of forest encompasses mountain peaks over 8,000 feet tall, and no shortage of stunning alpine lakes. Many of the lakes offer water recreation opportunities ranging from boat rentals to waterskiing. There are also many hiking trails, including the challenging 178-step trek to Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout, where hikers are treated to stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including the famous Lassen Peak.
To get to the Lost Sierra, start your journey from one of the two most convenient entry points to the region – Reno, Nevada, or Sacramento, California. From Sacramento, you’ll take the scenic State Route 70 northward, traveling through the scenic Feather River Canyon. If you’re coming from Reno, head west on State Route 70, passing charming towns like Quincy and Graeagle along the way. Whatever route you take, the journey is sure to be almost as nice as the destination itself.