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Great October stay here. Scenic spot nestled in the woods and yet conveniently close to town. It’s a big campground though and many of the sites seem to be tightly spaced. Seems the outer rim sites are more spacious than inner. Suspect our experience would have felt differently on that inner rim.
Access to the lake is convenient and super scenic to mention nothing of canoeing and kayaking and swimming opportunities.
Be careful!!! Almost got stuck in the sand while trying to find a spot level enough to park. Many people had dug out around their trailer to get the slides out. Several people used construction generators to power their rigs. Stayed for a weekend. Had a hard time leaving the trailer due to sand in the wind flying at high rates of speed. No hook ups, they do have a dump station and community water faucets. Vault toilets in many locations, no designated camping spaces. Just find a spot where you fit.
To get to French Meadows you have to take some winding roads along the mountain side. I went during all the fires, and it was very smoky, which made it seem like I was driving out there at dusk. It was a little unnerving on some parts! But once I got to there, it was definitely worth the drive! There was not a lot of people there, which made it seem like a very private campground. The site I stayed was pretty big with lots of options for setting up the tent. It was easy to get to the water from my site. The downside for me, was that my site was by the toilets, and people could not figure how to not slam the door in the middle of the night. The camp host was good, he stopped by each day to do a check in and kept me updated on weather (lightening storms!), fire conditions and possible evacuations.
I stayed in a tent cabin at Lake Alpine. There were beds in the cabin, but the mattress wasn't that comfy. If you're not staying at one of the regular cabins I would say to just get a campsite and stay in your own tent. The area was really pretty. It was a popular campground so there were a lot of people, but the way the cabins were set up it didn't feel crowded. There was a trail that went around the whole lake that didn't have a lot of traffic, which made it nice for getting out and exploring. The lodge had a restaurant with a full bar. There was a small store attached to the lodge, stocked with all the things you may need. You could rent kayaks or paddle boards there as well. The bathroom had pay showers and flush toilets, but it wasn't really that clean.
This is a really nice looking campground. I was lucky it wasn’t too crowed and the people staying were all respectful. There is a cool lake right there on site just a short walk to it. They have bathrooms and showers. No cell service, but close to a main road where service can be found.
Any boat will do. Kayak, canoe, blow up row boat, SUP. The reason you need a floating vessel of some kind (no motors allowed) is because it’s impossible to get a car camping spot anymore. It used to be impossible to get a developed campsite but only somewhat difficult to get on of the (way way better) dispersed sites in the gravel road past the campgrounds. But with Covid, forget about it. Instead, load up your boat(s) with gear and paddle out to pretty much any stretch of shoreline to find a camping site. Even on 4th of July weekend, you can get a fabulous, scenic, private spot of you boat in. And no fees! You can paddle back to the campground for use of the OOT toilet if you want. Or just use nature :)
Please please don’t trash this place! People just don’t understand LNT rules. And if you’re reading this and have no idea, look up Leave No Trace and follow ALL of their rules for recreating in the wilderness. Pack it in, pack it out.
Utica is divine. Sublime. Perfection. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the Stanislaus, El Dorado or Tahoe National Forests. Or anywhere else that I can find.
It was packed over Labor Day weekend, but the spots are spread out enough. Get a spot closer to the water since there is more shade and the river can drown out some of the noise of the highway. I don't recall any showers, and the bathrooms are pretty basic pit toilets. You're just down the street from groceries and Truckee though.
Be sure to bring tubes or something to float down the river! The water was cool and the best way to beat the heat.
Really neat sites run next to the Truckee River. The sites are clean and well kept. Bathrooms do not have sinks, showers or any running water, only port-a-potties. We went in October 2020 and the early mornings can be quite cold. The temp dropped down into the 30’s between 4-9am, so be prepared, however it warms up quite quick, by 11am it was around 70 degrees. The traffic off the freeway is pretty loud, but the river drowns it out.
The site volunteer manager “Steve” was not very friendly, so be sure to check for updated information on the message board when you arrive, because he will call the rangers on you.