Featuring two distinct parcels of land and multiple recreational activities for RV lovers of all ages to enjoy, Cedar Roughs Wilderness is the perfect Californian BLM getaway destination. Located in the Napa area and jointly managed by the California Department of Fishing and Game and the Bureau of Land Management, the Cedar Roughs Wilderness area encompasses 6,287 acres that are perfect for both adventuring and relaxing.
The history of the area dates back to when Native Americans used the land for hunting and living purposes until the arrival of Europeans in the mid-1880s. After two brothers (Jose and Sisto Berryessa) were designated the land formally known as the Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, it was used mostly for farming and grazing for around 90 years. This land was acquired in 1996 by the California Department of Fish and Game and was combined with the neighboring BLM property to form what is now known as the Cedar Roughs Wilderness.
In the Cedar Roughs Wilderness, there are many different environments for you to explore, including woodlands, grasslands, and canyons, and you will also be near Lake Berryessa. The lake is known to be the largest in Napa County and is the most popular recreation area near Cedar Roughs Wilderness. Here you will be able to go swimming, fishing, boating, and it's even popular with seaplanes. Birding, wildlife viewing, and hiking are also popular activities within the wilderness area.
Camping at Cedar Roughs Wilderness is allowed all year round. However, there are no developed camping areas for you to choose from. This means that you should be prepared for primitive camping if you plan to stay here, but a plus is that it is free camping since it is BLM land. Adventure awaits you at Cedar Roughs Wilderness, so pack your own or rented RV and check it out!
Driving to and from the Cedar Roughs Wilderness area is relatively easy compared to the majority of BLM land in California thanks to the maintained roads that will take you to this part of the state. There is one main road that will take you to Lake Berryessa, where the majority of visitors to the wilderness area usually go to. You can also access the wilderness area from the north of the wilderness area, thanks to the road that runs from north to south on the west side of the lake.
If you need any supplies or amenities before your trip, there are a few towns nearby that you can check out, including Yountville (around 28 miles away), Middletown (around 33 miles away), and Winters (around 34 miles away). The closest city to the wilderness is Napa, which is around 28 miles to the south.
While there is no main parking area once you get into the wilderness, you are free to park your RV in any area that isn't damaging the environment. There are also plenty of parking areas along the western banks of Lake Berryessa that is near Cedar Roughs Wilderness if you prefer to trek into the area instead of driving.
There are no public transportation options that will take you to Cedar Roughs Wilderness.
Like most wilderness areas, there are no camping amenities or services set up for you to use due to its isolation. For RV lovers who don't mind roughing it, you can go dry camping throughout the area. This is a place where you can enjoy some free camping on BLM land in California.
If you want a more traditional camping experience, you can head to the nearby Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. The park contains the Ritchey Campground, which has 23 sites suitable for small RVs up to 31 feet in length or trailers up to 24 feet. All of the sites are primitive with no electrical, water, or sewer hookups, but there is a picnic table, fire ring, and grill at each individual campsite. Other amenities within the campground include coin-operated showers, restrooms, and easy access to the park swimming pool.
Pets are allowed at the Ritchey Campground, and campground sites can be reserved online before arrival. The campground is open all year round.
For RV campers wanting to stay closer to the wilderness area but still be able to make use of amenities, there are a handful of private campgrounds in the area, including a private RV resort right near Cedar Roughs Wilderness.
Located at the south end of Lake Berryessa, there are 59 RV friendly sites for visitors to choose from. The amenities at each site are impressive with a picnic table, fire pit, and grill available at all of the sites, while some also come with full hookups. The campground also has water collection points, hand washing stations, and easy access to a boat ramp and swimming area. Pets are also allowed in the campground, and there is a pump-out dump station available if you aren't staying at a full hookup site.
This RV resort is open all year round, and reservations can be made in advance online or by calling the park.
It is quite uncommon for wilderness areas in California to have access to swimming, but if you visit Cedar Roughs Wilderness, you will get to do so thanks to the adjacent waters of Lake Berryessa. There are plenty of places to swim at the lake during the summertime thanks to the many different lake access points, including some that are near concession stands.
There are no lifeguards stationed in any areas of the lake, so make sure you swim to your ability and don't try to swim to the other side of the lake.
Lake Berryessa is also a great place to go boating for RV lovers who want to get out onto the water. The lake is home to two private full-service marinas that will take care of any rental needs you may have, along with having boat launches that you can use for a fee.
There are no boating restrictions of the lake besides near some swimming areas with jetskiing, kayaks, canoes, and waterskiers all regularly using its waters. You may also get lucky and see a seaplane make a landing on the lake!
Whether you are looking for a spot to throw out a rug or an area made for large gatherings, you will have plenty of options when visiting Cedar Roughs Wilderness. Picnics are popular in this area and you can find plenty of places within the main wilderness area that are away from the crowds.
For visitors wanting a more standard picnicking experience, you can check out the two day-use areas at Lake Berryessa where there are over 200 picnic sites with grills and a further six shelters perfect for larger groups. The shelters can be reserved online or used on a first-come, first-served basis if they aren't being used.
If you are a keen angler, you must pack your fishing gear before you start your journey to Cedar Roughs Wilderness. Lake Berryessa is a great spot to do some fishing due to its containing warm and cold-water fish species. There are plenty of spots along the shore that you can cast out a line, or you could head out in a boat to get to the harder to reach areas.
There are also plenty of different species for you to target, such as small and largemouth bass, sunfish, rainbow trout, and channel catfish. If you forget any supplies, you can head to one of the marinas, and they might have what you are looking for.
For visitors to Cedar Roughs Wilderness looking to learn more about the area or speak to park rangers, we recommend checking out Dufer Point Visitor Center. Open all year round, the visitor center also features local and traveling exhibits on Californian wildlife that are both informative and entertaining.
Staff at the center will be able to answer any questions you may have about the adjoining wilderness area, and they may even give you some tips on the best place to camp on the BLM land.
Since around 3,000 of the 6,287 acres of land within Cedar Roughs Wilderness is covered in Sargent's Cypress, there are no marked trails for visitors to explore. However, that doesn't mean you can't go exploring. You are free to walk through the wilderness area, but remember not to disturb the environment and come prepared with plenty of water.
If you would like to check out a marked trail, try the two and a half mile Smittle Creek trail on the western side of Lake Berryessa that connects the Oak Shores and Smittle Creek day-use areas together.