Leslie R.
Los Angeles, CA
Joined August 2016
Wonderful camping near world-class climbing

This campground had great facilities and sites, especially for only$10 nightly. If you stay at the loop furthest from the highway, you feel like you’re deeper in wildness because you no longer see or hear the highway traffic. We camped here because it’s so close to the nearby world-class rock climbing. It did get pretty windy during or stay(gusts up to 30mph) but otherwise our stay in mid-August had comfortable temperatures. The bathrooms were pristine. Campsites has ample distance between each other and we had no issues with noisy neighbors.  Plenty of well-behaved dogs - dogs are allowed everywhere as long as they are leashed. Unfortunately the water hookup has been off for a couple seasons, so you need to drive 15 minutes away to get potable water. The scenery is beautiful during the day and night. We plan to stay here again!

Too expensive

Based on the other Dyrt reviews, we originally planned to camp here on August 7 during our cross-country road trip. However, the price just didn’t seem worth it to us. We drove around the campground loops and saw that the sites were pretty close together and it was buggy. There were nice facilities at least. There were a number of sites open despite arriving at 10pm, though it was Wednesday. The total price of$40+ included the site fee+ non-res fee+ motor vehicle fee+ state sales tax. We had just come from paying$20 for a state park campground in Oregon with similar facilities, so it seemed silly to pay so much. In the end we stayed at the close by RV park which added a late arrival fee, so we probably only saved$15. Both campgrounds are near a railroad and local airway, so there is a lot of noise. If we could have done it again, I think we would have just skipping camping in this general area and kept driving a little further.

Warm cabin to escape the wet cold

We arrived after a long day of traveling and it was wet and cold outside, so we were very happy to have a cabin waiting for us. We reserved it in May for a July trip. The staff were disorganized during check-in and gave us the keys to someone else’s cabin. They more than made it up to us though by preparing a new cabin while we ate dinner at the lodge, and then there was welcome basket with treats and games waiting for us in our cabin. Beautiful views in this area and just minutes from the park’s south entrance! It’s nice having the lodge right there, so even if you’re tent or RV camping, you can get a warm hearty meal ready when you want.

Listen to the sounds of highway cars and trains all night

We originally planned to camp at Three Island state park, based on the positive Dyrt reviews, but when we arrived there, the posted fee for sites was $34, which we found too expensive for our mere purpose of sleeping and then hitting the road again. We remembered a sign on the way to the park that read "Camping - RV + Tents. Less $$$ than state park." So we figured, heck, let's just go there. We read quickly online that the prices for tent sites are $15. Perfect! We arrive at 11pm, which yes, it's late, BUT the office sign was blinking "OPEN." So we thought no problem. We ring the camp host. He sounds grumpy but arrives a couple minutes later. He is definitely grumpy. He tells me they do accept credit card and it will be $25. I ask for clarification given the listed price online. He says "New policy as of 6 days ago. I'm sick of people arriving late at all hours." Fair enough…but turn off the "Open" sign. I agree to pay it, we're exhausted at this point, and at least the campground has showers.

Some pros: very close to highway

Some cons: very close to the highway and a train track.

The tenting experience: we listening all night to the sound of bug zappers, hourly train whistles, and speeding cars. See the video for reference. The tent sites were flat at least. A basic grill but no picnic table provided. It is probably convenient to have the wifi and laundry on-site, but we wouldn't know because we left as soon as we could after a near sleepless night.

Good option if main campground is full

Personally, I find having easier access to the facilities of the main campground worth $10 per night if you can find a spot. These dispersed campsites are a good free option if you can't find one though. Make sure that you camp at one of the designated spots, it is not a pick-you-spot-anywhere kind of experience: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd581855.pdf

Sites 1-4 are found shortly after the Nautilus parking lot, where you can find a single bathroom. These spots are also the closest to the trails that take you to the rock climbing routes.

Not for camping, but you can fill water here for nearby dispersed camping

This is not a campground. This is one of two places that offers potable water for nearby camping though (as of summer 2019). The gate is locked so you must walk in with your jugs to fill them up. The Abraham Lincoln Memorial rest area is the other nearby place for water, and the rest area is easier because you can drive right to the pump.

Great access to climbing, very basic camping

We found a set of campsites in the "Upper Blaire" climbing area.

How to get there from US-30 

  • *Refer map provided in campground website link
  • Approaching from the south: Take exit 329 for Vedauwoo Rd --> Turn left onto Vedauwoo Glen Rd --> Turn right onto Old US Hwy 30 E --> Drive 2.7 miles --> Turn right onto Blair-Wallis Rd / Forest Rd 705 --> Drive 3 miles --> Sharp right on Forest Rd 707 --> Drive 0.7 miles --> Turn right onto Forest Rd 707A then a few hundred feet turn right again onto Forest Rd 707AF --> drive to the end of the road a few hundred feet more and park.
  • Approaching from the north: Take exit 323 for WY-210 toward Happy Jack Rd --> Turn left onto WY-210 E / Happy Jack Rd then shortly thereafter turn left again to stay on WY-210 E --> Drive for 6 miles --> Turn right onto Headquarters Rd / Forest Rd 707 --> In 0.3 miles turn right to stay on 707 --> drive 2.7 mi --> Turn  left onto Forest Rd 707A --> Turn right in a few hundred feet onto Forest Rd 707AF--> drive to the end of the road a few hundred feet more and park.

These sites are primitive and have a nice secluded feeling. You cannot see or hear the highway from here. There was spotty cell service (we have T-mobile). There are no facilities here, but if you would like to access picnic tables or a vault toilet, the Blair Picnic Area is not far away:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbr/recarea/?recid=22894. Make sure to pack plenty of water, you can fill up at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial rest area.

If you want to do some rock climbing in the area, these sites are very convenient. 

Some words of caution: 

  • there are cows roaming free in this area. You might find them blocking the road or next to your tent when you wake up (!) 
  • a lot of broken glass at the sites near the parking area
  • there are many fell trees in the area, and it was very gusty when we were there, so make sure to check weather in advance to avoid strong winds that might bring trees down
Easy to find for basic camping

We found a set of campsites specifically on the forest road 705F, near the Hidden Valley picnic area. The sites are free, as they are primitive set-up with only a fire pit. Although there are not facilities immediately there, if you finding camping in this area you are close by to a bathroom at Summit Trailhead and potable water at either Hidden Valley or the Abraham Lincoln rest area. We found a whole list of forest roads that allow dispersed camping 100 feet off-road: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3841999.pdf

Camp underneath the tallest peak in the lower 48

The Whitney Zone has an other-worldly feel to it. You can start your adventures to this unique place in the High Sierras by camping at the end of the road, just before the trailhead. The elevation is high enough to make it substantially cooler than Lone Pine, and it also has plenty of shade. The drastic climate difference here should acclimate you for even colder weather and altitude, if you're hiking up into the Whitney Zone!

There are plenty of bearboxes, sufficient pit toilets, and it tends to be quiet. Most people who stay here use it as a launch pad to hike into the backcountry early in the day. So, in my experience, you won't run into boisterous parties, and the campground is fairly spread out.

Just a reminder to obtain permits before you head into the Whitney Portal!

Fantastic camping around granite domes

This section of the park, while not as popular as the Valley, is arguably just as beautiful, and is much easier to secure camping. This campground is MASSIVE. Reservations can be made in advance, but we didn't have any trouble finding a walkup site in the middle of June. The elevation here means that it gets fairly cold at night, even during the summer.

Groceries may be conveniently purchased a short drive down the road, but keep in mind that the markup is pretty substantial, so you probably only want to use it for last-minute essentials.

While there is running water, if you're looking to take a shower, you'll need to head down to the Valley.

One way to actually reserve camping in JTree, if you have a group

One of my complaints about JTree camping is usually that the sites all fill up so quickly and it's hard to be guaranteed a spot. That's what nicer about the group camp sites! Sheep Pass campground is one of three group sites in JTree (along with Cottonwood and Indian Cove), all of which can be reserved online ahead of time. You just have to have a group with a minimum of 10 people.

This campground has 6 individual sites, and host large groups pretty comfortably. It's great for our group climbing trips, when we actually make plans far enough in advance. See here for all rock climbing info for the immediate area.

FYI, this campground gets its name because there actually can be big horn sheep spotted in JTree! Though we have yet to see any on our trips…

As with all campgrounds in JTree, remember that there is no potable water available here. For large groups, that means you need to be packing A LOT of water for drinking/cooking for the duration of your stay.

relatively secluded camping oasis in Joshua Tree

When compared to Hidden Valley, Jumbo Rocks may often feel pretty isolated. It is roughly in between the northern and western entrances of the park, which means that it's essentially on the eastern edge of most of the rock climbing areas. If you drive towards the northern entrance, you will note the subtle differences in terrain between the Mojave desert (to the west), and the Sonoran desert (to the east), which many people often miss!

Many of the camping spots are tucked away in between rocky alcoves, which provides a great deal of privacy. Unfortunately, like other campgrounds in Joshua Tree, it suffers from a lack of shade and fills up very quickly during the fall, winter, and spring seasons.  

The facilities are fine - a simple pit toilet and trash are essentially all you get, so as always, be sure to bring your own water!

Dogs are allowed anywhere within 100 ft of the campground and the roads, but not on trails or in the backcountry.

Mecca of Yosemite climbing

This iconic campground, situated in the middle of Yosemite Valley, was once home to many of America's early rock climbing pioneers. It is so historic that it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places! While the campground is no longer home strictly to climbers, you'll still see many of them walking through, whether to find partners, or to project many of the classic boulders within the campground limits. It is the absolute best campground to stay in if you're climbing in the valley.

The facilities are top-notch (running water, toilets, trash bins, picnic tables, fire pits), as is the access to nearby climbing and hiking. It also happens to be one of the few campgrounds that doesn't take reservations in the park, so for these reasons, be sure to show up EARLY in the morning to snag a site. It is extremely popular. In June it's pretty hot, but fortunately there is ample shade.

Convenient access for rock climbing

This camping area is at the end of dirt road Route 21S69, there is a sign for Dome Rock. It's very close to Ponderosa, a small town(?) with a general store and lodges, so that makes it super convenient if you need to buy some standard supplies.

At the end of the dirt road there is a parking area. You can camping anywhere in this area, no fee. Just make sure to apply for a fire permit ahead of time. There are NO facilities at this campground - no bathrooms or trash even. That said, it is a beautiful area, especially if you want to rock climb or hike with great views, including The Needles. Rock climbing info for the area can be found here.

Keep in mind that this location is at ~7,000ft elevation, so the temperatures will be cooler here, and you should plan accordingly.

Good facilities, but less scenic and shady than other nearby options

This campground has better facilities than Brush Creek or Limestone campgrounds, but we found it to be less scenic because it has fewer trees throughout the campground. The camping experience seems to be variable depending on which site area you get - the ones by the river are larger and feel more private, because there is more space between sites.

Upsides are that this site has a campground host (who was very friendly) and running water. There are vault toilets - cleanest we found in the surrounding areas. Both trash and recycling collection bins are available (not the case for nearby day use areas or dispersed camping). Each site has its own campfire ring and picnic table.Single sites are $28/night, doubles sites are $56/night. This campground is very close to a store for supplies and to McNally's Lodge and Hamburger Restaurant. Dogs are allowed everywhere as long as they are on a leash.

Activities in the area:

  • hike the 7 teacups trail or go canyoneering
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • White water tubing/rafting/kayaking
Good backup option for when campgrounds are full

This backcountry camping is the easiest to get to from the West entrance. You can't just backcountry camp anywhere in Joshua Tree, because you must first register at one of the backcountry boards. This trailhead has one of the approximately dozen backcountry boards in the park. Rules for backcountry camping in Joshua Tree:

  • Register at a backcountry board and park your car in that parking lot
  • Hike in at least 1 mile from any roads
  • Set up camp at least 500 feet from any trails and water sources
  • Not fires permitted

Pros:

  • free
  • guaranteed camping during busy weekends

Cons:

  • No facilities along the trail (just the bathroom in the parking lot)
Great wilderness camping near the Kern River

Beautiful campground for $24/night. It is popular during the summer months, so if you want to reserve a site for the weekend, make sure to reserve online well in advance. Sites are pretty nicely spaced out and almost all sites have shade. The lsites are not as close to the river as Brush Creek campground, but still closer than Fairview, which is down the road.

Facilities. There are vault toilets. Both trash and recycling collection bins are available (not the case for nearby day use areas or dispersed camping). Each site has its own campfire ring and picnic table.

Dogs allowed throughout the forest as long as they are on leash.

Activities in the area:

  • hike the 7 teacups trail or go canyoneering
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • White water tubing/rafting/kayaking
Free, beautiful, stream-side camping

This is our favorite campground in the Sequoia National Forest, of the four we've stayed in. As long as you are 25 feet away from the river you can camp anywhere you want, so definitely not restricted to the parking lot area. There are some beautiful spots high up on a bank overlooking the stream. A quick walk down to the stream allows for quick refreshing dips whenever you want. The sound of the stream makes for wonderful white noise at night.

Facilities. There are vault toilets. During the summer season there are also trash bins provided. Unfortunately this campground does not have separate recycling bins nor running water. But hey, it's free! Just make sure to apply for your fire permit online ahead of time to be allowed to set up campfires or use camp stoves.

Dogs allowed throughout the forest as long as they are on leash.

Activities in the area:

  • This campground is the closest to the trailhead for 7 teacups hiking or canyoneering
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • White water tubing/rafting/kayaking
Lake Jabu in Desolation Wilderness

Camping here is magical! The 5-stars are not for facilities or accessibility, as this dispersed camping experience is really in the wilderness. You can hike in for 6 miles each way (12 miles round trip) via the Echo Lakes trail, or park and take the water taxi ($12) to cut off 2.5 miles of the hike each way. You must obtain an overnight wilderness permit, year round. The permits have quotas enforced April through September. Permits cost $5 per person per night for first night, or $10.00 per person for 2+ nights (14 day max). Campfires are prohibited, so bring a camp stove. They are serious about no trace here, to conserve the amazing beautiful of the area. So pack out your trash, and bury your poop deep!

A little hot in summer

As is with most of the camping in the area, summer months are pretty hot and dusty, and this campground does not offer much shade unfortunately. Very popular with RV campers. All sites are first-come, first serve. There are vault toilets, and water is available March 1st to October 31st. In terms of scenery, the view of the eastern Sierras is stunning! Dogs are welcome throughout the area as long as they are leashed. Depending on the weather, the wind can get pretty intense here, so if you have flexibility for your camping dates, check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Sites are pretty well spaced out, so you can expect a pretty quiet and private camping experience.