Kings River Camping

Camping areas along Kings River, Sierra Nevada California


Kings is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada and very rugged and remote in most of the length. The Upper Kings is situated in the highest of elevation, granite alpine back country, with abundant small lakes and numerous Wilderness areas.

Tallest peak, Mount Whitney, drains this way – down waterfalls and whitewater, westward to California into the San Joaquin Valley. Agriculture and orchards of citrus. The mid section of this mighty Kings River runs close to Hwy 180 inside the Kings Canyon National Park.

The Lower Kings is popular among campers, fishermen, kayakers and rafters, accessible most of the year. Upper Kings River is located inside the National Park boundaries.

NPS Campgrounds near Upper Kings River

Inside Kings Canyon National Park:
Cedar Grove Village @ end of Highway 180

elevation 4600′

may be closed during winter months.
reservations recommended.

Sheep Creek Campground (111 sites)
Sentinel Campground (82 sites)
Canyon View Campground (37 sites)
Moraine Campground (120 sites)

Roaring River Falls, Sentinel Dome (9115′ elev)

Roads End Trailhead
backpack camping, from paved parking area.
NPS – wilderness permits required for overnight stays.

Kings Highcountry Topo Map

bridge kings

Camping near Lower Kings River

Open all year round. Outside the National Park boundary, westward in lower elevations, many more camping options are available.


NOTE: Sierra National Forest is located  on the north side, along the river shore in between Pine Flat Lake & Kings Cyn National Park. But Sequoia National Forest is located on the south side!

Lower Kings is best accessed via the paved roads, up behind Pine Flat Lake, California

Trimmer Springs Road #11S12: a paved access route, wraps around the northern shore of Pine Flat Reservoir. Very winding and long, with 25 mph curves; this main route continues east into the massive Kings River Canyon.

Google Maps may have this road crossing the river, toward the end. Proper signage is questionable in the area, since local rednecks love to shoot up signs. Trimmer route quickly peters out to narrow dirt roads, anywhere past the Mill Flat Campground area.

Lower Kings is NOT easily reached via the National Park – Kings Canyon Highway 180. Dirt road travel is required on Road #12S01, which can be steep and rocky at best. The drivable climb up to the highway may require 4 wheel drive in some sections, depending on weather.

Winter brings some snow and abundant rains (NOV – APRIL).

LANDSLIDES and ROCK SLIDES are common with ROAD CLOSURES usually posted on the Sierra National Forest, NFS web site.


Wildflowers are abundant in this region for springtime. (MARCH-MAY)


(north shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1100′

Sierra National Forest

Kirch Flat Campground NFS (17 sites)

tables & toilets

both above are free camp spots: boondocking, primitive car camping, tent camping, RV camping, fishing, kayaking, rafting

Sierra Road #12S01 – primitive camping, few pit toilets; fishing access, some trailhead camps and RV spots along river. The northern most arm of this road is also referred to as Road# 12S001 Garnet Dike, on the NFS web site.

Along paved routes, near bridges, some dispersed camping is also allowed. Campfire permits are required.

Sierra Road #9 is Big Creek Canyon
a side route, graded dirt road worth exploring for primitive camping options. The farther you drive up, the more vegetation you will find. Campfire permits are required.

BlackRock Reservoir Road #11S12, another side route (paved) climbs steeply in elevation, along a cliff edge. This spot offers a small NFS campground near a lake, and is located along the North Fork of the river.


click to enlarge


(south shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1000′

Sequoia National Forest

Pine Flat Reservoir

elevation 952′

Lake View



Bear in California

California Black Bears

California Black Bears

Although the grizzly bear image graces the state flag, grizzlies were killed off during the gold rush days. Black bears are found in California mountains and foothills, down to lowest elevations in NorCal. California black bears come in more than one color –  light brown, cinnamon, dark brown, and of course, black. For the most part, bears usually stay away from people.

Some areas are more prone to bear problems due in large part to the overpopulation of tourists and abundance of food provided by them. Certain California National Parks are particularly notorious for their brazen bear populations. Concentrated bear problems are sometimes posted so be very aware.

Bear Habitat

Follow some simple rules:

  • Keep a very clean campsite
  • Clean up all dirty dishes & beverage containers (especially before bedtime)
  • Keep clothing & sleeping bags free of food odors or heavy scents
  • Never leave any type of food garbage outside of a cabin or mountain home
  • Store garbage properly inside a locked, sturdy container inside garage or a shed
  • Stay away from bear cubs, there is sure to be a mother in close proximity
  • Try not to hike alone. Make noise & sing on trails to scare away any unwanted animals.
  • Bear storage canisters are available at sporting good stores & at stores in most National Parks.

Proper Food Storage Outdoors:

Bear Boxes @ Campground

Store food in closed up automobile, not visible. Store food correctly: in trunk of your car, or hidden from sight; in campground food lockers when available.

Lock all food, beverages and coolers in the provided metal bear boxes or bear lockers where available.

Toothpaste, deodorant & anything that has a scent should be thought of as food and stored accordingly.

Bears are so strong they can rip your car door open (in places like Yosemite, where bears are problem and you can get cited for not storing food items properly)

Bears are so strong they can break open a garage door to get to the smelly trash inside, so make sure you utilize the curbside pickup service available in some mountain communities or take a trip to the dump once per week.


during a picnic lunch, during a barbeque, or dinner at the campfire.
(Birds, dogs, squirrels and wild animals can move in quickly.)

Backpackers should hang food in nylon bag & drape over weak branch in high in tree: hang your food using the counterbalance method. Ranger who issues your wilderness permit can explain the hanging procedure;

2 stuff sacks (with drawstrings) for your food items, and 60 feet of medium weight cord. 2 carabiners make hanging much easier.

Bear Canisters

Bear Canisters

for your food
when exploring the wilderness

hikers tent campers mountains rivers picnic lakes

Bear Repellent / Bear Mace
Bear Pepper Spray


Additional Storage Tip

As for storing food inside cars:

When primitive car camping on a dirt road, which does not have campgrounds, nor bear lockers, it is possible to store food in the vehicle. BEST location is on the front floorboards with towel over it. With the car alarm set at bedtime, any ruckus should trigger a decent alarm. Any large animal trying to break in will get blasted with alarm siren & most likely will run away. The noise will wake you up as well, to deal with the intruder, if need be.

If a bear does get into your camp area:

  • Make as much noise as possible: yell, bang pots/pans, whistle, air horn and get your bear mace or pepper spray ready in hand
  • Raise your hands up to appear larger
  • Get your entire camp group together, join hands and spread out everyone at the camp should be outside the tents in order to be as effective as possible
  • Throw rocks & small objects
  • If possible, try to get to your car for protection & honk the horn
  • If a bear charges at you, drop to the ground and curl up in a tight ball. Cover your head, face and vital areas. Play dead.

If you encounter a bear on a hiking trail:

  • Make as much noise as possible while walking solo. Hum, sing, talk to the birds. Sing or talk to yourself – out loud.
  • Carry bear spray (mace or pepper) or a weapon for added protection
  • If a bear approaches: stand still, slowly retreat, say a few calming words in a friendly voice and never make eye contact
  • If a bear charges at you, drop to the ground and curl up in a tight ball. Cover your head, face and vital areas. Play dead.


Kirkwood Lake

Kirkwood Lake Campground

kirkwood granite

Central Sierra Nevada mountains
Kirkwood Lake is west of Kirkwood Ski Resort;
west of Silver Lake @ Carson Pass Hwy 88

Kirkwood, CA
El Dorado National Forest

Inside the granite maze of rock known as Caples Creek, you may find this small lake, just off the highway. Paved access camp ideal for quiet weekends – fish, hike, stargaze and relax. Snow is deep in these parts of the Sierra, so the campground closes annually for winter.

No motor boats
No RV or motorhomes
No horse trailers

Small Camping Lake

Kirkwood Campground

• Elevation: 7,600′
• Number of Sites: 12
• Vehicle Accessibility: No RVs
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Campsite Fee: Yes
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: June – October
• hiking trailheads, fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoe, rock climbing

Bears are active in this region, so use the metal bear boxes provided to store all food items.

Canoe Lakes

Extra precautions should be taken with human waste around fragile eco systems, like lakes and meadows. Use the new bathroom, instead of the bushes (or granite crack).

new toilets

new toilets

pipe drinking water

piped drinking water, a camp luxury

Frazier Park Camping

Mount Pinos Camping & Frazier Park Campgrounds
frazier park camping

Frazier Park and neighboring towns, like freeway-close Lebec and Gorman, is where the Los Angeles hills meet the Kern County mountains, next to the Mojave desert and the Antelope Valley. EXIT I-5 @ Tejon Pass (elev 4144′)

Wildflower hills, seasonal creeks, forested peaks, high desert canyons. Bike trails, hike trails, off road routes. High elevation backpacking, hang gliding, mountain biking and camping in every direction.

High desert washes, oak creeks, pinyon pine forests, mountain meadows and numerous peaks – Frazier Peak, Reyes Peak, Alamo Mountain, Mount Pinos, Mount Abel (Cerro Noroeste) and north facing San Emigdio ridge.


blue links lead to camp reservation services.

Mt. Pinos District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Aliso Park, Cuyama 3200′ 11 oak pit no Aliso Cyn Rd. (#10N04)
Ballinger OHV Camp 3000′ 20 pinyon vault no Rd# 9N10, Cuyama Valley
Camp-O Alto 8286′ 12 jefferey pit no ridge, Cerro Noroeste
Caballo Campground 5850′ 5 oaks pit no Rd# 9N27, Cerro Noroeste
Cherry Creek 4×4 5200′ 2 oak no spring 4WD trail, Cuddy Valley
Chuchapate Campgr 6000′ 30 pines vault piped Rd# 8N04, closed winter
Chula Vista Campgr 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in camps & RV lot
Cottonwood Campgr 4600′ 2 ctnwd no creek 4WD only trail, fish
Dome Springs Camp 4800′ 4 oak pit no Rd# 8N40, Lockwood
Dutchman Camp 6800′ 8 pines no no Rd# 7N01, 4WD trails
Half Moon Campgr 4700′ 10 pines pit no Rd #7N03, May-Oct
Kings Campground 4250′ 7 pinyon vault no near OHV & Piru Creek
Marian Campground 6600′ 5 pine pit no closed in winter
McGill Campground 7500′ 50+ pine vault seasonal mountain biking
Mount Pinos Campgr 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed winter
Nettle Springs Camp 4400′ 9 pinyon vault no Rd# 8N06, Apache Cyn
Ozena Campground 3660′ 12 cottnwd vault no Lockwood Rd
Pine Springs Camp 5800′ 12 pinyon pit no Road #7N03
Pleito Campsite 5000′ 2 mixed no no dirt rd access, dispersed
Rancho Nuevo 3550′ 2 mixed no no river crossing
Reyes Creek 4000′ 30 oaks vault yes creek camping
Reyes Peak Pine Mt 5200′ 6 pines none no ridge camping
Salt Creek 4×4 3000′ 2 mixed no no 4WD only
Sunset Campground 4300′ 2 cottonwd no no Lockwood / Piru Creek
Thorn Meadows 5000′ 5 pine pit no Rd# 7N03C, horse corral
Tinta Campground 3600′ 3 scrub pit no river crossing
Toad Springs Camp 5700′ 5 pinyon pit no Rd# 9N09, Quatal Cyn
Twin Pines Camp 6600′ 5 pine vault no Dry weather only
Valle Vista Camp 4800′ 7 mixed pit no condors, new toilet

See Mount Pinos Recreation Campgrounds only

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Map of Los Padres NF –

Los Padres mountain towns –


Toad Springs Campground atop Quatal Canyon. Small camps located in Los Padres NF have no fees, and often no toilets – so bring the shovel

El Dorado Campgrounds

El Dorado Camping

Kirkwood Lake

Kirkwood Lake, California

El Dorado National Forest
Carson Pass Hwy 88, Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4, Gold Rush Country
Sierra Nevada Mountains, Alpine Lakes


campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Airport Flat Campground 5300′ 16 vault no Ice House Reservoir
Azalea Cove Campground 4900′ 10 vault lake Union Valley Reservoir
Big Meadows Campground 5300′ 54 pines flush piped handicap access
Blue Lake Lower Camp 8100′ 16 vault piped PG&E; fish, boat, camp
Blue Lake Dam Upper 8200′ 25 vault piped PG&E; fish, boat, camp
Caples Lake Campground 7800′ 35 pines vault piped fishing lake
Capps Crossing Campground 5200′ 12 pines vault piped gold panning
China Flat Campground 4800′ 25 vault piped Silver Fork Rd
Dru Barner Campground 3200′ 16 flush piped equestrian trails
Gerle Creek Campground 5300′ 50 pines vault piped handicap access
Fashoda Campground 4900′ 30 vault piped handicap access
Hell Hole Campground 5200′ 10 vault piped walk-in
Upper Hell Hole Campground 4600′ 15 vault lake Hell Hole Reservoir
Ice House Reservoir Camp 5500′ 83 vault lake handicap access
Jones Fork Campground 4900′ 10 vault lake Union Valley Reservoir
Kirkwood Campground 7600′ 12 pines vault piped narrow road; fishing
Lone Rock Campground 4800′ 5 vault lake Union Valley Reservoir
Loon Lake Campground 6500′ 62 pines vault piped equestrian; group site too
Lovers Leap Campground 5800′ 21 pines vault piped rock climbing
Lumberyard Campground 6500′ 5 pines vault RV access
Middle Creek Campground 8200′ 5 pines vault piped fishing creek
Middle Fork Cosumnes River 6780′ 5 vault crk PG&E, swim, fish
Mokelumne River Camp 3200′ 8 vault crk swim
Moore Creek Campground 3200′ 8 vault crk swim
Northshore Campground 6378′ 15 vault lake Loon Lake Campground
Northwind Campground 5500′ 9 vault lake Ice House Reservoir
Pardoes Point Campground 5900′ 10 pit no Bear River Reservoir Rd
Pipi Campground 3900′ 51 pit no handicap access
Sand Flat Campground 3900′ 29 pit no fishing
Silver Fork Campground 5500′ 35 vault piped fishing
Silver Lake Campground 7200′ 62 pines vault piped boating lake
South Fork Campground 5200′ 17 vault piped fishing
South Shore Campground 5900′ 22 vault piped Bear River Reservoir
Strawberry Point Camp 5500′ 10 vault lake Ice House Reservoir
Stumpy Meadows Campgr 4400′ 10 vault lake handicap access
Sugar Pine Campground 6000′ 10 vault no boating
Sunset Campground 4900′ 131 vault piped boating
Wench Creek Campground 4900′ 100 vault crk boating
Wentworth Springs Camp 6200′ 8 vault crk 4WD recommended
West Point Campground 4875′ 8 vault lake Union Valley Reservoir
White Azalea Campground 3500′ 6 vault crk Mokelumne River
Wolf Creek Campground 8200′ 42 vault piped boating, fishing
Woods Lake Campground 4900′ 25 vault pump handicap access
Yellowjacket Campground 4900′ 40 vault piped boating, fishing

see more about El Dorado National Forest


nearby towns –

El Dorado Forest Maps –