Panoche Hills
Guide

Introduction

Got a California adventure on your mind? Consider a trip to Panoche Hills.

Panoche Hills, a Bureau of Land Management property, is located within Fresno County, California. The verdant green hills reach up to 2,500 feet in total elevation. From the pinnacle of the hilltops, families are treated to incredible views of both the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Experts assert that at one time Panoche Hills was covered by water. Over the years, many different fossil species have been discovered which support this claim. The property has seen many renovations in recent years and is now home to such amenities as a parking lot, a shade pavilion, picnic benches, a vault toilet, and an information kiosk.

Recreational opportunities abound at Panoche Hills. Some of the most popular activities include hunting, hiking, photography, and the viewing of wildlife that is indigenous to the region. The property rests directly next to a busy highway yet remains a quiet spot for families looking to enjoy some R&R.

Panoche Hills rests between the Panoche Valley and the Little Panoche Valley and is only an hour away from the San Francisco Bay region, affording families the opportunity to enjoy the serenity of rural living coupled with close proximity to the attractions of the big city.

The landscape at Panoche Hills is typical of badlands locales. The plant life common to the region includes desert tea and juniper.

During a relaxing vacation in the heart of the California desert, consider a visit to Panoche Hills. It's a fantastic place to spend a day on your next RV getaway.

RV Rentals in Panoche Hills

Transportation

Driving

The simplest route to Panoche Hills proceeds along I-5. Along the journey, travelers will know they are on the correct path when they pass the Little Panoche Dam. Once past the dam, the BLM sign denoting Panoche Hills becomes visible on the left-hand side. Take the left-hand turn, following along the gravel road which cuts through the property.

It is important to note that the gravel access road is closed to the public from April 15th through October 15th when it is typically forest fire season. Mercy Hot Springs Resort is located across the street from the entrance to the park.

During wet weather, the gravel roads make for dangerous driving conditions.

Parking

A parking lot is provided directly at the entrance to Panoche Hills.

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation available to Panoche Hills.

Campgrounds and parking in Panoche Hills

Campsites in Panoche Hills

Reservations camping

Condon Peak Recreation Area Campground

Condon Peak Recreation Area Campground is located in a beautiful wooded section of Clear Creek Management Area. An extremely popular camping facility during the summer months, there are lots of things to do here including photography, wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding, cycling, and hunting.

There are several campsites available on the grounds that are suited to both RV and tent camping. Other on-site amenities include fire pits, shade pavilions, picnic benches, and vault toilets.

14 days is the maximum stay permitted within a one month period.

Families must bring drinking water with them for their use.

Camping is not permitted within 200 yards of any area designated as a water source for wildlife.

Dogs are welcome but must be leashed.

First-come first-served

Griswold Hills Campground

Griswold Hills Campground is a Bureau of Land Management property that is located in Griswold Canyon. The property now houses a recreational area, picnic facilities, and vault toilets for families to use.

Dispersed camping is the name of the game at this campground. Families should bring drinking water with them for their own use.

All waste materials should be buried on the premises.

There are many activities to enjoy at this popular campground which include cycling, horseback riding, camping, photography, wildlife viewing, and hunting.

Dogs are welcome on the premises but must remain leashed.

A maximum stay of 14 days within a 28 day period is mandated.

Alternate camping

Panoche Hills

Panoche Hills offers dispersed camping on the grounds for families to enjoy. It is important to note that camping is not permitted within 200 yards of any area dedicated to providing a potable water source for wildlife indigenous to the region.

RVs are permitted on the grounds; however, they must be left within 15 feet of the highway to prevent any negative effects on the wildlife habitat in the region.

There is no garbage or waste disposal available on the grounds, so families must be prepared to bury their waste materials on the premises prior to their departure.

All stays are restricted to a maximum of 14 days per calendar month. Dogs may join their owners here but must remain leashed. There are no on-site amenities provided beyond vault toilets.

Seasonal activities in Panoche Hills

In-Season

Forestiere Underground Gardens

Forestiere Underground Gardens has become a popular tourist attraction. The gardens were the undertaking of a gentleman by the name of Mr. Baldassare Forestiere who spent his life cultivating them.

Baldassare immigrated to the United States from Sicily, settling in the Fresno County region in 1901. He immediately immersed himself in the design of his gardens through an intricate maze of patios, gardens, and hidden spaces beneath the earth.

The design progressed without any original concept in mind, with each new feature borne of inspiration of the moment. The finished gardens took 40 years to complete.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is an excellent place to visit during a trip to Panoche Hills. The zoo was originally a sanctuary for strays and abandoned pets. Little is known about the history of the property, and there are no recorded accounts from which to draw information. It is believed the shelter first opened its doors in 1908.

In time, an amphitheater was constructed on the grounds to accommodate more animals. In 1929, the property changed its purpose from an animal sanctuary to an official zoo. It was originally called the Roeding Park Zoo. The zoo continues to improve and grow and has recently included a section called the "African Adventure" area which allowed them to accommodate more elephants, cheetahs, and gorillas on the premises.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a destination hot spot for families visiting Panoche Hills. It is estimated that greater than three million people make the trek to this popular recreational area annually.

Yosemite National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The property spans a total of 747, 956 acres of naturally landscaped grounds. Among the most awe-inspiring topographical features are the immense cliff faces and crystal clear waterfalls.

For those who love to hike, Yosemite National Park will not disappoint. The property is home to over 800 miles of hiking trails that vary in both length and intensity.

Off-Season

Woodward Park

Another beautiful park families enjoy visiting during a trip to Panoche Hills is Woodward Park. Nestled along the banks of the San Joaquin River, this popular recreational facility has earned the distinction of being the biggest park of its kind in Fresno County. The park takes its name from Mr. Ralph Woodward, a gentleman who donated the land to the city in 1968.

Many cultural events occur on the park grounds throughout the year for the public to enjoy. The property is home to the CIF Cross Country State Championships and also hosts an annual Shakespeare festival.

Roeding Park

Roeding Park offers families the opportunity to experience outdoor recreation at its finest. The property consists of 90 acres in total, affording families the chance to explore an immense amount of beautifully landscaped grounds at their leisure.

Found on the premises is a large, crystal clear lake and a number of ponds. Each of these bodies of water are well-suited to a number of activities including swimming, boating, and fishing.

The Fresno Chafeee Zoo sits on the same grounds, making a trip to this park an opportunity for families to enjoy two fun places for the price of one.

There are several picnic areas throughout the property where families can enjoy a light lunch or snack.

China Peak Mountain Resort

Situated within a 65-mile drive of Fresno County, families will find China Peak Mountain Resort. The summit of the mountain found here reaches an elevation of 8,700 feet. China Peak Mountain Resort is a popular spot for families looking to practice their skiing or snowboarding skills.

Found throughout the region are many recreational areas which offers trails suited to the skill and activity level of every winter sports aficionado whether a beginner or a professional.

The resort places a high emphasis on safety and helps guide visitors to the trails that are bested suited to their level of experience.

Find the perfect campsite.