It’s very likely you’ve never even heard of the Domeland Wilderness. If you have, you’re way ahead of the curve. I’ve lived in California my entire life—growing up in the mountains in Northern California and later moving to Southern California—and before my husband mentioned this place he went backpacking as a teenager, I had never even heard of the place. He recounted visions of stunning rock formations, much like what you’ll see at Yosemite National Park, but without all the people. He talked it up so much that I had trouble believing it was as great as he recalled—after all, this trip he took was close to 20 years ago. But not only did Domeland wilderness live up to the hype, but it may have been better. This is an account of our four day backpacking trip into the beautiful untouched wilderness in the Southern Sierras that is commonly referred to as “Domelands”.
We decided to do our four day backpacking trip over Memorial Day weekend, which was still during the Covid-19 pandemic, and still while California had issued stay at home orders. But after feeling so antsy with no travel for months and no travel in the foreseeable future, we figured we would try something “off the grid” and get away from the people for a bit. It truly was the perfect decision.
Over the course of the four days that we hiked in, camped and hiked back out again, we saw less than 20 people the entire time. It was absolute heaven, and even on such a busy weekend like Memorial Day weekend, it still felt like we had the place to ourselves. That is one of the many beauties of Domelands.
Its beauty rivals that of Yosemite—towering rock formations extend as far as the eye can see, juxtaposed against beautiful Sequoias and wildflowers galore. You get all the beauty without the Disneyland-like crowds.
Where is Domeland Wilderness?
So where is this place exactly? Well, it’s location might have something to do with why we saw so few people there. Though geographically the Domeland Wilderness isn’t far from where I live in Ventura, California, getting there is the hardest part.
The Domeland Wilderness area is located in the Sequoia National Forest, 55 miles northeast of Bakersfield, California. This protected area is located in the southern tip of the Sierra Nevadas. Encompassing 130,000 acres, the Domeland Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area that is jointly managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This area protects the southern area of the Kern Plateau with the South Fork Kern River, which bisects the wilderness area down the middle from the north to the south. Because this is designated a “wilderness area” and not a national park, it has various disadvantages, as well as benefits.
First, because it’s not a national park, you will find a lot fewer amenities, such as well-defined campgrounds, restrooms, ranger stations, and mostly paved roads. However, I think the fact that it’s NOT a national park is what helps it stay in the same condition it’s been in for hundreds of years and keeps the crowds away. Most of this area is completely untouched, with a large majority of the roads been unpaved, and there are very few facilities. But in my opinion, that’s one of the many reasons this place is so great.