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VINE VOICEon June 14, 2009
Moon Outdoors is the publisher of two of the most popular guidebooks ever written. California Hiking is widely viewed as a hiker's bible and contains over 1,000 of the best trails in the state. The companion volume, California Camping is equally popular. The only problem with these two books is that they are bulky. When you are covering a state the size of California a thick size and small print are somewhat unavoidable side effects. The editors at Moon have tried to rectify that situation by publishing a new series of "Spotlight" guides which combine relevant chapters from the above two books into one substantially smaller guidebook describing a specific region of California. This volume deals with the California deserts.

Stretching from Death Valley in the North to Anza Borrego and the Salton Sea in the south, this little volume is far more comprehensive than its slim size would imply. It describes 94 campgrounds, including several of the increasingly rare "free" BLM campgrounds and 52 hikes. I've completed all but 8 of the hiking routes so I can warmly recommend them. The hikes in Joshua Tree are the best, with those in Anza Borrego coming in a close second. Steinstra's campground descriptions are hilarious. Many guidebooks list locations, number of sites, fees, etc, but where else will you discover that Texas Spring Campground has bathrooms that are on the National Historic Register? Who else would offer alternately condolences or congratulations for camping at Corn Springs south of Joshua Tree? In short, this is a useful book and a fun read.

By way of a minor criticism, it is worth noting that the hiking and camping portions of this guidebook do not completely overlap. Steinstra lists several campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest including some on Sawmill and Liebre Mountains near the Pacific Crest Trail. There are no hiking counterparts to those areas in the hiking portion of the book. But the larger question to be asked is, should you buy the "Spotlight" guides or should you buy the classic (and best selling) books noted above? Obviously buying all the Spotlight guides would be considerably more expensive than just purchasing the current editions of California Hiking and California Camping. But, if you are a desert rat wanna be, it would be hard to argue with owning this book. You will find literally years worth of recreation and exploration in a light 98 pages.
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on April 6, 2011
As with the other Moon books, I find this book easy to read and informative. No one book could be the end all but this one does a good, concise and thorough review of places to visit, conditions and surround areas to assist one in the planning and preparation for a trip to these locales. I feel more prepared and excited because of this book's approach and content.
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on April 6, 2016
I am very Pleased
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