2016-2017 Updated Trip

I just spent a few nights up at Colter Bay in early January. It is definitely warmer on clouded nights. The last night it dipped to 15 below with clear skies. There is a little pay box at the visitor center at the very western end of the parking lot. Even with 6' snow drifts the lot was cleared and the bathrooms were open. I recommend not lingering long after sunrise because the Rangers kick on the two large diesel generators at sunrise which makes the experience less peaceful. The road is open all the way up to Flagg Ranch from Colter Bay. We had to wait out a few road closures for visibility. All and all it was one of the most magical trips I have taken!

It's best to go in the spring, early in the AM during a new moon!

Doud Creek makes a winding gully through the sand in the spring, and there is usually a hidden waterfall at the upper end of the beach.

I always miss the Bighorn Sheep on this one!

Hiking the dunes is far more difficult than you can imagine. The more weight you carry, the more you will feel it on slipping sand. Start slow, and find ridges of compacted sand. The sunsets are mind blowing!

The beach is way more dramatic at high tide! At low tide, you can walk along the rocks and giant piles of kelp, looking for shells. It's one of the better places in SoCal for a sunset!

The water levels have been pretty low. I usually go early in the morning, and catch the sun at noon on the way back down. The cool air feels great on hot summer days.

This place is PACKED on the weekends. I try to get in early on a weekday and explore before the tide comes in.

This is a great place to camp and explore while doing a coastal trek from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo! Watch some of the roads up here, they are very narrow, and don't always have a shoulder. Use your headlights!

Avoid the traffic, and find a good summer weekday to make the drive!

This is great from the morning to the early afternoon in the summer. I'm always out by 6:30 as the fog starts to roll in.

Make sure to leave before nightfall. We had a rough encounter with a local gang when heading out toward the 101.

Take the road slow to avoid punctures and kicking up dust. I brought spare water for both the daytime heat and the radiator. Don't leave the road without basic repair tools, as cell reception does not exist, and it's a hot, dry walk to the nearest road. When you get hungry, swing through Ridgecrest, and stop by Casey's Steaks & BBQ. It's not divey, so it won't be packed with angry soldiers off the base. Get their trip-tip special as a treat at the end of a long day in the dry heat!