Top Ten Los Angeles Adventures

Top 10 Los Angeles Area Campsites

Bizarre Los Angeles Factoid #1: The so-called "river" that flows through town is actually an open concrete tube that funnels treated water more than 50 miles from the San Fernando Valley to its dumping point in the Pacific.

I didn't know this when I first moved to L.A., and was thrilled to hear that the city—which I had expected to be entirely devoid of natural elements—had a body of water at all, much less the pristine waterway that the word "river" had conjured in my mind. On my first visit to the thick blue line that paralleled a freeway all the way across my map, I parked beside a chain-link fence and stared through the wires in disbelief. It smelled faintly chemical. Otherworldly mosses clung to the graffitied banks. And, to dispel all doubt, a sign hung across the way that read "Los Angeles River."

Hopes dashed, I considered packing up my car and leaving town. Fortunately, an already-paid college tuition forced me to stick around and give the area another chance. Which leads me to Bizarre Los Angeles Factoid #2: Despite the commonly held belief that the city is an all-encompassing monster that has devoured most of Southern California, the smog and traffic and other-variety ugliness miraculously taper off as you leave the city limits.

In fact, the nasty tangle of freeway that makes L.A. so unappealing to outdoor enthusiasts is exactly what makes the city so easy to escape. Drive a couple hours in any direction and you'll turn the city's building-to-tree ratio upside down. Crowds start to thin. So does the air. Before you know it, all signs of the metropolis have gone.

So pack the tent, hop in the car, and check out these campsites—they're some of the most satisfying escapes from Los Angeles.



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