Primitive Camping Inyo National Forest – Eastern Sierra Car Camping
The Inyo Mountain range sits @ 11,000′ to the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Major elevations but little vegetation, when compared to it’s neighboring Sierra range. The Inyos lay in the rain shadow of the taller western mountains – but still get snow. Plenty of primitive SUV camping on the dirt roads throughout this desert area north of Death Valley.
A more forested part of the Inyo National Forest is the Eastern Sierra region. Encompassing Mount Whitney & Mammoth Mountain area, plus the entire Hwy 395 corridor. This side of the Inyo National Forest is quite different that the desert range of Inyo.
Eastern Sierra back roads lead all over the place & may require 4WD. A high clearance 2WD can still get you to some awesome viewpoints & scenery. No picnic tables or toilets are available out in the boonies, but plenty of seclusion & vast open space wilderness. INYO Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. There are many dirt roads for dispersed primitive camping w/ no fees. See the Camping Checklist to make sure you’ll have what you need.
Open (free) Camping along Hwy 395
Monache Meadows – This south Sierra Meadow is accessible by 4WD truck or SUV. Near Kennedy Meadows CA
Walker Creek Rd – quick camp / in route camping near oaks & creek. South of Olancha CA, look for turn off & follow dirt road up into the tight canyon. No RVs.
Fish Slough Road – open desert camping near Indian Petroglyphs. N of Bishop
Road# 6S16 – Pine Creek Road - Camp on creek, no facilities. NW of Bishop behind Rovana
Road# 4S02 – Owens Gorge Road - N of Bishop behind Lake Crowley. Free RV camping w/ boulders & pines
Road# 4S86 – Laurel Lakes Road - Camp in aspens @ small lakes, high elevation; no facilities. SE of Mammoth
Road# 2S05 – Deadman Creek - Camp in pine forest on creek; no facilities. N of Mammoth
Road# 2S07 – Owens River Road - Camp in pine forest, near hot springs; no facilities. N of Mammoth
Parker Lake Road - Camp in pine forest, near creeks; no facilities. E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake
Coyote Flat 4×4 Bishop – just west of Bishop CA is a 4 wheel drive paradise, Coyote Creek – This steep dirt road is quite a climb. A true off-roaders dream of open space, great views, large meadows, & alpine lakes. Great primitive camping along creeks, in pine or aspen forest or near small secluded lakes. Real remote Sierra high country, usually only reached by backpackers, is accessible to those who dare to venture off the beaten path of Highway 395.
At the golf course keep your eyes peeled — from the highway take Schober Ln. / Underwood Ln. due west through a residential neighborhood to the backside of the town. Find the electrical power station to the left at the base of the hills. Veer onto the slightly paved /dirt road to the right of the station & continue straight up the sandy wash. 4×4 is recommended, since the lowest gears are needed for the careful climb. The road will begin to get steep & gain in elevation fast. The area up here changes with the mileage: passing pinyon pines on cliffs, topping off to high meadows & aspen lined creeks, finally reaching large towering pines & small alpine lakes with snow melt still visible. Basically TREE LINE. This region is most likely open only half the year, due to its high elevation of 8000′+ and winter snow.