Tahoe National Forest, CALIFORNIA
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Great, quiet campground!

Small campground with 5 sites, fires and pets are allowed. You get a lot of day hikers and backpackers coming through, but it is fairly quiet and very friendly. Plenty of hiking trails! Campsites are also fairly large.

Perfect for the weekend getaway

Perfect campground to get away for the weekend. Almost every time I have been here we see lots of deer. Nice hiking trails, beautiful scenery.

Great for all sizes

Spots large enough for almost all size rigs. Tents too. Good bathroom amenities and swimming pool/spa. Playground. Walking distance to town. Great walking paths. Choose to camp under the shade of the pines on a dirt pad or in the clean, parking lot style section.

This place never lets us down.

Pleasant Campground Out of Yosemite

After a wildfire forced the closure of Highway 395, I ended up at Lower Lee Vining Campground for a night. Pleasant campground with clean pit toilets and a river toward the back side. Pay and put the envelope in the box. I got in late, but had lovely neighbors who invited me to sit by their campfire. They came up every year for the past couple of decades and said since the installation of bear boxes (which everyone uses), they had not seen any bears in camp. (The infamous "Yosemite bears" used to come down into camp apparently.) Cheap, nice, quiet and shady. I'd stay here again.

Nice enough

We were visiting friends in Manteca and this was the only campground not flooded! It was nice enough. There are a lot of long time residents.

Under the Trees

We had a sweet, short stay at this campground. We called day-of and were able to get a reservation. In late March for spring break, the 5,000 elevation of this camp meant there was still snow on the ground, but the road and camping spots were snow free. It also meant the bathrooms were also closed for the season.

The morning sunrise through the trees and the quick drive down the road to Calaveras Big Trees State Park made this a perfect spot to stop for the night. Great cell coverage on Verizon.

The little town of Arnold you drive through to get there reminded me of Tahoe or Mt. Hood. I wish we’d planned to have a meal at one of the cute restaurants and pubs in the area.

Nice amenities - try to get a spot overlooking Lake Mary

Beautiful area. Beautiful view. Nice restrooms. Good fishing and hiking in the area!

Nice campground , good fishing , and wonderful hiking !

I go to Rock Creek every year! Nice campground, good fishing, wonderful hiking! Stop by Pie In The Sky Cafe to get wonderful fresh fruit pie! Hike up to Heart Lake and Gem Lakes.

Great backpacking

Really nice place to backpack the lake is so nice and private. You’ll meet a lot of people hiking the pct or jmt our here. The lower vermillion camp has a full store with a bar and tv’s. Also a fair leaves from out to here

Methuselah mission

Nice and quiet campsites at over 8,000 ft elevation. Worth the drive up some windy roads to wake up close to the ancient bristle cone forest.

The best for off season.

This is our favorite campground to escape to in the off season. We are usually completely alone. And it’s close to home.

First to Review
Really nice group of campgrounds

Beautiful and serene campground with a good size creek running through it. Bear boxes and toilets available. Great spot with lots of privacy.

Nice, Quiet, Beautiful

Bring water, solar showers or lots of baby wipes. There is no water or showers on site. Campfires are allowed. Relatively small campground, get there early, then go exploring. Bring insect repellent, lots of flies live here.

Very quiet site, well laid out , on the road to White Mountain Peak and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Definitely visit the Forest and hike the Methusala op Trail.

Nicely Laid Out and QUIET
  • We stayed here before hiking up White Mountain Peak, past the weather research station.
  • Even at 8000 feet,asl, it was hot during the day and cooler at night. Beautiful scenery, but the flies were terrible. The restrooms were clean and well maintained, so that was not an issue. No showers, though.
  • Mostly, it was quiet and relaxing. Well worth the drive up here.
Very nice campground.

This campground is clean and quiet. There are spaces for travel trailers and motor homes with or without electricity and water and there are spaces for tent camping as well. The restrooms are clean and have showers,a small stream runs through the campground and fires are allowed. The campground is near a county park with a small lake . This is a great home base to explore the area, Toms place,Rock creek,Convict Lake, Mammoth and the June Lake loop are within 45 min. Definitely worth checking out we stay two times a year and we love it.

Great campsite right next to town

Tent camping and some RV sites available. Went at the very end of the season so cold at night but beautiful during the day! Various homes nearby. Lake was beautiful and the leaves were changing in time for winter. Very clean. Flushable toilets and running water. Walking distance from town.

Beautiful scenery, easy to get to

This camp ground is a great place to stay on your way to or from an adventure in the eastern Sierra. It’s easy to get to, has a small store, bathrooms/showers, and storage for your recreational vehicle if you want to leave it in a beautiful place during the off season :)

Overall a well maintained campground, but tight spaces.

Stayed here during peak season for Yosemite. It wasn’t completely full. The spot that I had was tiny, but unfortunately one of the last available. There is a river that runs adjacent to it on the east side. The campground was well maintained even with the heavy traffic. The spots for RVs were apparent and a bit larger than those that weren’t. Not bathroom just out houses. I believe that the fee was $14. There were a good amount of trees for hammocks near the river. They had fire rigs for most of the sights, but not all.

Recreational cornucopia!

Fantastic campground nestled along shores of Town Lakes and amid pine forest. Abundance of recreational activities. Fishing, kayaking, row boats, paddle boards. Hiking, Mountian Biking and when it snows - telemark skiing, snow showing. Well kept campground. Nice sites. Wonderful camp hosts.

Tiny slice of Heaven in Devils Postpile National Monumental

This is a small, well kept campground. It’s within walking distance to Lake Sotcher as well as Reds Meadow Pack station and trailheads for Rainbow Falls and Devils Postpile. For now they have bathrooms with running water and flush toilets. There are also water faucets located throughoutcampground. Sites are well maintained and spaced well apart for privacy.

Beautiful scenery, but crowded campsites

If you're camping here, you're going to see beautiful lakes and a giant waterfall that's just a short walk from any campsite. However, be prepared to be right on top of each other, without a lot of space.

The bathrooms have flushing toilets and running sinks, so they don't stink and aren't terrible to camp next to if you have to. (Site 11 was the only one left the second time I stayed here, but there was no bathroom smell).

This is a great campsite for backpackers getting to Mammoth lakes and acclimating to the altitude before setting off.

Big sites, decent privacy

Lots of sites strung along the road to Lundy Lake. Look for spots to turn off onto a dirt road parellel to the main road (Left if you’re going uphill). Sites are pretty well spaced and tucked in among the aspens. There are bear boxes and pit toilets. No reservations but I have always found a spot.

Now you're getting to the heart of backpacking

One of the great rewards of backpacking longer distances is the fact that the further you get away from the trailhead, the less people you encounter, and the more unspoied your surroundings.

Such it is when you reach Lake Virginia. A fairly flat area, the lake sprawls out in an uneven pattern amidst rocks that protrude from the ground in clumps. The trail itself jumps across these if the water is high, it is a picturesque lake, very lush in it's surroundings.

This was stop three on a 50 mile backpacking trip, where we were able to refuel our water and renew our spirits in one of the greatest lakes in the area. We also renewed our energy for the rest of the hike.

V-mart location is an area for a dispersed campsite, but the whole idea of dispersed campsites is to let areas that are overused regrow. So if it looks overused spread out into other areas and allow re-growth. Keeping in mind to try to camp on durable surfaces, rather than on top of growing plants.

lovely even in the smoke

Lake Mary is a very nice campground. Large open sites with pines surrounding you. Some have tremendous views of the lake or even the mountains. Our site was directly next to the bathrooms, which we were initially worried about but it wasn't an issue for smell or noise and quite nice at 3 in the morning. There is a very nice divided paved path that meanders thru the campground. We saw lots of bikers, walkers and runners pass by. The lake has a plethora of activity options and we would have enjoyed them if we'd had the time. We were simply there to acclimate for our trip on the JMT. The trolley system in Mammoth is extensive and extremely useful, not to mention, free. Learn about it and use it. For those looking to hike/backpack Duck Pass Trail/The JMT this site isn't the closest campground but with all others full it worked out well. It was a couple miles to the trailhead but when you're walking for days whats a few more miles.

Tranquil dispersed campsite along the PCT

This was a second stop along a 50 mile backpacking trip with my son when he was 11.

This is a broad area along the Pacific Crest Trail at the Deer Creek crossing. Fresh water to filter (always filter stream water), so you can resupply.

Even in August there are occasional thunderstorms and sudden downpours in the Sierras, regardless of the weather forecast. Be prepared just in case.

Dispersed camping, spread out to minimize your impact on the area.

Beautiful and serene, this is the beginning of the deeper backcountry of the Sierras, so press on!

Over the Pass to the JMT we go!

There are several ways to enter onto the John Muir Trail and one of the most scenic ways is via Duck Pass Trail our of Mammoth Lakes. It's about 6 miles up and over the pass to the JMT and a great way to work on acclimation. Since we were doing just that we did the short mileage and though we were travelling SOBO the closest camp spots were about 100 yards northbound. The signage when we entered onto the JMT was almost non existent. We actually started heading SOBO until we realized were had entered onto the trail and turned around for a quick switchback decent to the camp spots. They were not easily found as well so when you're heading down you'll see a meadow coming up on your right and Duck Creek in front of you and then heading to your left. The camp spots with fire ring are on the left up a small incline. Your view is of the meadow and though you can't really see the creek it's about 25 yards in front of you. The site is lacking in flat surface so it fits one person perfectly and then after that you start to spread out. We ended up with two by the fire ring and then three others went up a short trail to another semi sloped but clear surface (as seen in the pics). The site overall wasn't ideal but it had water and a bit of a view so it worked. If you didn't care to go quite as far I'd suggest stopping about a mile prior on the Duck Pass Trail and staying at the end of Duck Lake where there were abundant views and crystal clear lake to enjoy.

Nothing special but sufficient

After starting the morning at Silver Pass Lake we descended SOBO into the land of giants for about 2000 feet. Finding Bear Creek and following it and it's gurgling cascades to about 8600 feet. It was another long day at around 11 miles and we weren't to picky on a campsite. The area is fairly clear along the stream so there are several places to camp. We found a spot for our group of 2 tents and 3 tarp tents and set up for the night. Pine needle floor was nice after you moved all the cones away from your site. Creek was great for cleaning off and refilling water. A nice sound to head to bed to. No views being so low, and frankly it was chillier then being higher up in the mountains because the sun took longer to appear. It's a nice rest from the higher altitude but it also means you'll be heading back up on your way to Selden Pass.

High Altitude, not easy to get to

Silver Pass Lake, on mile 80.5 of the southbound trek of the John Muir Trail, sits at 10,350 feet. It is located about 1/2 a mile below Silver Pass which is at 10,900 feet. As you descend the pass you see two lakes, one on each side of the trail. The one to the left is closer but much smaller and not the one you want. Continue on down and to the right Silver Pass Lake will open up to you. The trail takes you closer to the first lake and honestly there's not a great way to just walk over to Silver Pass, you have to go off trail but it's over grassy, rocky meadow so it's not difficult and with no trees there's nothing blocking your view of were you need to go. You will find that once you're by the lake there are flat areas of gravely rock with which to pitch your tent, tarp, pad, etc. Most spots have several medium sized rocks lying around which make for great tent holders if you go ultralight with no stakes. These gravely sites are located all along the trail side of the lake and if you prefer privacy and there are others present just keep walking down the lake. The area is surrounded by mountains so the sun sets early and it is cooler at the higher elevation but if you're like us and hiking from Duck Pass that day you don't care. It's an exhausting trip up and over the pass. The lake is crystal clear, cold and filled with beautiful lake trout. There are no fires at this elevation so prepare to boil water, cook, etc with your backpacking stove. The water is drinkable with a filter. The area is open so you have to walk a bit to find privacy for digging your bathroom hole. We enjoyed this camp spot under clear skies and were rewarded with stunning starry skies and a bit of aurora.

Breathtaking Beauty!

RANGER REVIEW: Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce at Gladys Lake Backcountry Campsites, Ansel Adams Wilderness, CA

CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Gladys Lake Backcountry Campsite, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Backcountry camping often offers great hiking, epic scenery, serene solitude and otherwise missed sights. Depending on location, backcountry campsite locations can offer their own challenges, whether through the permitting process, preparation of gear and meals, logistics, or difficult terrain…but the trade offs can pay out big dividends.

Leaving behind the din of packed campgrounds…getting unplugged from electronic encumbrances…relaxing beside an untouched alpine lake where the only sound you hear is the whir of dragonfly wings as they dart about.

Only a set number of backcountry permits are issued daily, so crowds and impact remain minimal to nonexistent.

Permits are necessary for all backcountry overnight stays in the Inyo National Forest.

Whenever backcountry hiking/camping in California, do yourself a service and go online and take the California Campfire Permit test to acquire your certificate and possess it when in the backcountry.

Several ways to get to Gladys Lake exist…

1. John Muir Trail (JMT) thru-hike permits NOBO or SOBO

2. John Muir Trail section hike permits

3. Wilderness Permits Day hike permits

You could enter from Reds Meadows and follow the JMT north to Gladys Lake…or better from Agnew Meadows and follow the Shadow Creek Trail ( ) up and around Shadow Lake and then south on the JMT past Rosalie Lake to Gladys Lake. Each access trail has a daily quota…such as Shadow Creek, which has a daily quota of 30…18 secured through reservation and 12 walk-ups. So if you are choosing to walk-up, have some flexibility of starting days.

We had a JMT SOBO permit acquired six months in advance through the NPS permit lottery. But next visit, I will likely enter through Agnew Meadows via day permit.

Most hikers will stop and camp at Rosalie Lake, which is a wonderful option and a much larger lake. Some would suggest a more picturesque lake than Gladys Lake…but that is all in the eye of the beholder.

August of 2018 saw little precipitation and the winter snowfall was below expectations, so lake water levels were lower and surrounding shoreline not marshy or soggy. Which made for dry and mosquito free conditions.

The effects of local forest fires did cover surrounding mountain views during certain times of the day, and brought with it a bit of lung burning and eye stinging. Early morning and late evening hours brought clearer skies.

Be forewarned that seemingly every backcountry campsite brings with it a steep uphill slog, but worth it. Gladys Lake is at 9600 ft elevation.

I believe there was one other camper at Gladys Lake the night we stayed…but we neither heard nor saw them. It was a perfectly peaceful evening!

Amenities? Well, no showers…no toilets…no water spigots…no electricity…no picnic tables…one lonely stone fire ring but open fires are not permitted. No cell service or WiFi…no general store or local grocery store. However, Gladys Lake water was refreshing both to wade and drink (filtered). You are surrounded by fragrant conifers that buffer sound. A perfectly peaceful location to relax and dream.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Mountain House Spaghetti With Meat Sauce

As a frequent user of Mountain House freezes dried dinners, and being a creature of habit, I often settle into a couple favorite meals and don’t deviate to new offerings. Mundane and boring?…perhaps.

But…after winning $100 worth of Mountain House meals through an early season contest… and with my daughter as my hiking buddy, I selected several different meals to avoid mutiny.

One of these meal pouches was Mountain House’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.

I admit, I was a little suspect as to how freeze-dried spaghetti with meat sauce would taste, but we were both very pleased with the sauce flavors, seasoning and the amount of meat in the sauce. The only thing I would add is a couple slices of toasted garlic bread.

If the next rotation of Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce was easily located in our bear canisters, we would’ve likely had a second helping…but sadly, it was not.

In pairing down weight before our backcountry hike, I removed the contents from Mountain House’s original packaging and utilized a commercial vacuum sealer to make smaller, lighter meal packs as 11 days of food needed to fit in a bear canister. It worked, but the distinct drawback was not being able to prepare the meal in the resealable pouch. A pot was necessary to allow the freeze-dried contents to soak in the boiling water. So clean up was more extensive than it would’ve been by using the Mountain House resealable pouch. It was a trade off and we made it work.

If you are new to Mountain House freeze dried meals, directions are printed plain and simple on the pouch.

•Measure out the prescribed amount of water

•boil water

•open meal pouch and remove moisture packet

•pour boiling water in pouch and stir contents thoroughly

•seal pouch for prescribed time

•open pouch and stir contents

•serve and enjoy

It doesn’t get any easier.

Tragic area where campers died. But I still stayed here

There's not a lot a Horseshoe Lake. It's a small 16 acre pond with a sordid history of leaking CO2 and smothering sleepers into eternal slumber. The trees are dead in a ring around the lake, where tragically a cross country skiier was killed when he encountered a nearly 70% concentration. Don't let that scare you though, he was in an ice cave in the winter. You'll be fine.

If you want solitude, you'll find it here. The lake is tranquil, kayakers like it, and the 1 mile loop around the lake is nice.

First come first serve on the campsites.