El Dorado Camping

Primitive Camping in El Dorado County

Camping Rivers

More & more people are venturing off the beaten touristy path of Gold Country. Getting outta the developed campgrounds to discover the joys of dispersed back woods camping is a new adventure, not to be taken lightly.

With truck or SUV ownership come some great rewards! Order a good map & go find some dirt roads. Waterfalls, dense forests, secluded creekside camp sites & more await you. Obtaining a camp fire permit is mandatory for this style of camping.

Campfires are often banned in California, due to extreme wildfire danger. Since the gold mining foothills are usually oak and dry grass, with large steep river canyons, extra caution should be given. Always know the fire conditions before you build a campfire. Caldor Camping

Discover the hidden back roads: like Caldor Road off of Grizzly Flat Rd. – up above Placerville CA

Hey, now this is what we’re talking about. Plenty great dispersed camping down by the Cosumnes River & Consumnes Mine Rd. There are hundreds of miles of small roads to discover back behind this historic mining area. Rivers, waterfalls & decent fishing too. Make sure you clean up some litter. This is the only price you pay for the beauty, serenity, peace & quiet & no neighbor campers next to you.

Out exploring these parts, you may run into a dead end road that peters out at some Private Property, which is usually signed & fenced. Make nice with the old crazy miner dude & turn your ass around politely, everything will be okay as soon as you are not within gun shot of him. Yes, there still are plenty of small time mining experts tucked away back here in the hills.

river camping
Premium and secluded river side camp sites in El Dorado National Forest

Plenty creeks and rivers run throughout this central Sierra region, so you can fish all day – until your hearts desire. River rafting and river kayaking opportunities are also great reasons to get wet.

Several mountain reservoirs around offer camping and boating too. Eldorado lakes are listed below.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

  • Caples Lake @ Carson Pass
  • Ice House Reservoir
  • Jenkinson Lake – US Hwy 50
  • Kirkwood Lake
  • Lower Bear River Res. – South Shore Campground
  • Salt Springs Reservoir
  • Silver Lake @ Carson Pass
  • Union Valley Reservoir
  • nearby towns –

    El Dorado Forest Maps –

    Rock Creek California

    rockycreek

    Rock Creek, CA

    Due the nature of gravity, erosion and heavy rocks, creek beds tend to be rocky ravines near mountains – which collect rocks as they slide downhill. Creeks work as water drainage off the mountains. Inside California we have plenty of mountain ranges and plenty of movement, as the Pacific tectonic plate plows into North America.

    How many Rock Creeks are inside the golden state of California? Heck, I dunno. Let’s try to find them all.

    winterlodge

    Probably the best known, is the one near Mammoth Lakes, CA

    Rock Creek @ Mammoth

    Rock Creek Road, Eastern Sierra
    Inyo National Forest
    Road #4S12
    ROCK CREEK LAKE
    CAMPGROUND (9600? elev w/ 66 sites)
    GROUP CAMPGROUND (reservations required)
    RESORTS
    CABIN RENTALS
    Road #6S05
    WILDERNESS TRAILHEADS
    Toms Place, CA

    rockcreeklakeresort

    fallflames

    Eastern Sierra Rock Creek Rd

    Off Road Gold Country, Sierra foothills

    Rock Creek, Western Sierra
    Eldorado National Forest
    HIKING & HORSEBACK
    OHV TRAILS
    4×4 CAMPS
    Georgetown, CA
    RUBICON TRAIL @ LOON LAKE

    RockCreekOHV

    How can we forget the creek camping & trail access south of Shaver?

    bald mtn

    Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mountain, above Shaver Lake, CA

    Shaver Lake, Sierra National Forest

    Rock Creek Rd, Southern Sierra
    Dinkey Creek Area
    Sierra National Forest
    CAMPING
    4×4 TRAILS
    BALD MTN elev 7832′
    DINKEY DOME elev 7697′
    Shaver Lake, CA

    Northern Sierra
    Feather River Canyon

    Rock Creek, Highway 70
    North fork Feather River

    Large feeder creek from the north side on California SR 70, in Plumas National Forest. Located in the paved railroad canyon known as Feather River Canyon.

    Sugar Loaf Mountain elev 3553′
    plus Tobin Ridge line each side of Rock Creek as it descends the mountain tops. The junction where the creek meets the big river is just south of Bucks Creek Power Station @ STORRIE, CA. Overall location is half way in between OROVILLE, CA and QUINCY, CA

    camp

    campfires

    primitive camp sites

    But wait, we have Campgrounds that are named Rock Creek too.

    Mammoth Reservoir

    Mammoth Pool Reservoir

    Rock Creek Campground – Mammoth Pool Reservoir, south of Yosemite National Park, behind Bass Lake, CA Sierra National Forest (18 camp sites)

    Rock Creek Campground – US Hwy 101 NorCal Redwood forests, north of Leggett, CA. Camp located on the Eel River, in the Standish Hickey State Recreation Area. (36 camp sites)

    Also ROCK LAKE is located inside Lakes Basin Recreation Area, northern Gold Country @ Yuba River headwaters. Hike-in access only.

    Rock Front OHV

    Similarly named ROCK FRONT RANCH is 4×4 trails & 4WD camping area. Off Highway 166, west of the city of Santa Maria on the Central Coast of Cali.

    Inyo Forest Roads

    Baker Creek

    Baker Creek, Inyo NF

    Eastern Sierra Nevada – Inyo Mountains
    Inyo Forest Back Roads – Mammoth Off Road

    Off Road near US Highway 395. Yep, Olancha has some OHV (off-road) areas near the dunes, but this web site is dedicated to the real deal, the scenery, the trail heads, the hot springs, great secluded camping & of course, back road exploring.

    You will need a Inyo National Forest map to discover these back roads. These are minimally traveled routes, un-maintained, sometimes washed out, eroded & maybe even creek crossings (without a bridge). Some gravel two-lane routes, some one lane roads leading deep into dead end canyons.

    A few popular routes are paved, but most of these listed are indeed dirt roads. Some may require high clearance vehicle, or even 4×4. Know your vehicles limitations & be prepared to turn back when the road worsens. Cuz more often than not, it’s a sign of what more difficult terrain is to come.

    coyote creek route

    Watch out for live stock – they are dumber than they look.

    Owenyo Rd – Wanna parallel the highway (395) on dirt; Sure, it’s a long bumpy route – from Hwy 136 @ Dolomite to Bend City @ Mazourka Cyn.

    Road# 13S05 – Mazourka Canyon Rd – leads up to some old mining camps & way behind Mazourka Peak (9410′) deep into the Inyo mountains. It’s all desert on this side, but these canyons have pinyons & more vegetation than you would imagine. Road# 9S15 & 9S14 circle Andrews Mountain (9460′) then join back up w/ Death Valley Rd (the North Pass into Saline Valley).

    Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest has some great dirt roads surrounding it. After you are finished with all the touristy sights & you don’t wanna spend the rest of the day in the visitors center or back at camp, try Cottonwood Canyon – full of aspens, camp sites & fishing, not cottonwood trees. 4×4 is required. Crooked Creek has boulders, boulders & more boulders. Plus some amazing camp sites with open sky views. Silver Canyon is for high clearance only, 2WD okay. This will lead you down to Laws Railroad Museum on Hwy 6, on the back side of Bishop, CA

    Benton Crossing Rd (green church @ 395)
    This wide road leads out to multiple dirt roads that peel off in every direction. Many Eastern Sierra Hot Springs can be found out here – on the east side of the highway. No hot spring resorts, no facilities, no clothing & very primitive.

    Bishop 4×4 route Coyote Flat
    Coyote Wash leads up to Coyote Flat & out to Coyote Lake. This a a spectacular high altitude plateau overlooks the Owens Valley & requires 4 wheel drive just to get up there. Pinyons, junipers, aspens, wildflower meadows, old mines, & yes, lakes at 11,000′ elevation. Views of the High Sierra & South Lake.

    Buttermilk Road – This dirt road is north turn off of Hwy 168, W of Bishop, CA. “The Buttermilks” are a popular spot among rock climbers. A great place for indian petroglyphs too!

    Road# 9S21 – Glacier Lodge Road – Paved road. Creek exploring & fishing. Plenty Campgrounds. W of Big Pine CA

    Horseshoe Meadows Rd – Paved route with great views over Owens dry lake bed; access via Lone Pine CA; A nice day trip to meadows & High Sierra scenery. Picnic & day hike!

    McMurray Meadows Rd – south off of Glacier Lodge Rd (#9S21) just W of Big Pine CA. You can find ancient cinder cone volcanoes & cave-like lava tubes in between this long dirt road & the highway.

    monacheMonache Meadows is a high elevation meadow that takes some time & determination to get to. This area is part of the Inyo National Forest, but can be accessed by either: backpacking thru the high Sierra’s or driving a high clearance vehicle thru Sequoia NF # 22S05 Sherman Pass Road, behind the Black Rock Ranger Station & Troy Meadows Campground. High clearance is needed, 4×4 maybe. Great camping sites near Olancha Peak trailhead. The area is surrounded by Golden Trout Wilderness & South Sierra Wilderness. From US Highway 395 to Kennedy Mdws & then Monache is a full day of exploring, so you may as well stay the night up there. But bring warm gear, a campfire permit & a capable vehicle.

    Manzanar Routes – Back behind Manzanar Camp there are miles of dirt roads to explore. Many creeks side camp sites can be found even with a passenger car. Small trees & sage brush. Secluded camping (for free) is possible in the Eastern Sierra.

    Mono Craters (Rd# 1N11) – the youngest mountain range on the continent. Just south of Mono Lake, this route skirts the pumice cones & climbs over the Aeolian Buttes, before it meets back up with Hwy 395.

    Walker Creek Rd #19S01 – Oaks & creek. South of Olancha CA, look for turn off & follow dirt road up into the tight canyon.

    Fish Slough Road (Rd #3V01) – open, high-desert area near volcanic tablelands. Find Indian Petroglyphs. N of Bishop, CA

    keough hot tubInyo Road# 6S16 – Pine Creek Road – Creek exploring & fishing. NW of Bishop behind Rovana, also known as Round Valley, CA

    Road# 4S02 – Owens Gorge Road – N of Bishop behind Lake Crowley. Camping w/ boulders & pines. Good open sky views for stargazing.

    Road# 4S86 (Inyo Rd #28E201) – Laurel Lakes Road – Camp in aspens @ Laurel lakes, high elevation; access to alpine lake trailheads; SE of Mammoth Lakes, CA

    Road# 2S05 – Deadman Creek – Creek fishing in forest. N of Mammoth

    Road# 2S07 – Owens River Road – Pine forest, near hot springs; no facilities. N of Mammoth

    Road# 1S63 – June Lake Loop is CA SR 158 (Hwy 158) paved main route, which is often closed for winter months, due to deep snow.

    Road# 1N17 North of June Lake Loop; dirt road access to Parker Lakes & Walker Lake trailheads; Side canyon routes offer (unmarked) picnic areas and fishing spots; few primitive camping options.

    Road# 1S25A Parker Lakes Road– Aspen & pine forest, near creeks; E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake

    Road# 1S23 Walker Lake Road – Pine forest route to Walker Lake; E of Grant Lake / N of June Lake

    Impressive Canyons

    Kirch Flat Campground

    Kirch Flat NFS
    Camp Kings River

    kirch flat

    Low elevation Western Sierra: a big river at the beginning of Kings Canyon. Fishing, biking and hiking. The Kings Cyn National Park is directly east, upriver.

    Oak woodlands, steep granite canyons, waterfall hikes, rock beaches, river fishing, mountain biking and wildflowers. Day time temperatures get triple-digit in summer months, so best time to visit is the rest of the year. Small RV accessible, paved road, river close – and best of all, open all year long!

    flora west sierra

    Kirch Flat Campground

    Due EAST of Fresno, California in a large river canyon, Western Sierra Nevada
    Located 18 miles up Trimmer Springs Road (paved), 5 miles above Pine Flat Lake. Sierra National Forest; River rafting take-out spot for Middle Kings River.

    • Elevation: 1100′
    • Number of Sites: 17
    • Camp Fee: No
    • Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′ max
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: Open Year Round
    • Trailheads: Kings River

    lowerkings

    see also Kings River Camping

    nearby destinations –

    Big Creek Rd #9
    Blackrock Reservoir
    Dinkey Creek
    Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
    Fresno, CA
    Kings Canyon NP
    Monarch Wilderness
    Pine Flat Reservoir
    Reedley, CA
    Shaver Lake, CA
    Sierra National Forest
    Sequoia NP
    Wishon Reservoir

    Mill Creek California

    free river camp sites

    Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peaks (July 2011)

    Numerous Mill Creeks exist in the golden state of California. Here we will try to list the most well known ones, some with campgrounds and others without.

    LASSEN NF

    The well-known Mill Creek, is the one south of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

    MILL CREEK, CA

    Small mountain resort in the forest near Mill Creek, with cabin rentals and campgrounds nearby.

    Mill Creek Indians: Described as a group of ‘renegade and outlaws’, from multiple tribes in NorCal. Mill Creek Indians took shelter in the secluded the secluded Mill Creek gorge, located below the Mill Creek Rim, a volcanic ridge which extends from Mount Lassen to the Sacramento River Valley

    KLAMATH NF

    Mill Creek inside the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

    • Mill Creek Ponds Trailhead – Mill Creek Ponds Trail
    • Etna Mill Creek Trailhead – Etna Mill Creek Trail
      (Pacific Crest Trail access)

    PCT

    PLUMAS NF

    Mill Creek @ Bucks

    Mill Creek @ Bucks

    The Bucks Lake Wilderness region also has a developed NFS Mill Creek Campground. The camp location is well off the Bucks Lake Road, tucked deep in a tight canyon; northern most point and near a dam for the large Bucks Lake.

    elevation = 5200′

    • 10 camp sites
    • fee
    • closed in winter
    • 14 night camp limit
    • RV = 21′ max
    • pit toilets
    • picnic tables
    • camp fire rings

    Bucklin Road (aka Bucklin Dam Rd and Road 33) #24N24 a paved road on the west end of Bucks Lake, connects to Road #24N88X which leads back to this smaller campground; camp sites are paved. Steep driveway down.

    This Mill Creek intersects Bucks Lake at the campground, then connects to the PCT hiking trail, although the narrow dirt road #24N88X veers away from creek a few miles up.

    SIERRA NF

    SEQUOIA NF

    This Mill Creek is located on the south shore of the lower Kings River, above Pine Flat Reservoir. This is the boundary where Sequoia NF meets the big river, and on the other side of the water is the Sierra NF.

    Mill Flat Campground (also known as Mill Creek Camp) is a small campground on a dirt road, located right at the rocky rivers edge.

    kings river view

    As usual – the further you drive, the more seclusion you will find. This observation holds true for this Mill Creek location. During peak summer months, there may be families enjoying this spot, but most of the year it is virtually empty and rarely used.

    Oak foothills, canyons, granite rocks, wildflowers. Fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, kayaking.

    No cell phone coverage back in this deep canyon.

    NFS Mill Flat Campground @ Lower Kings River

    elevation = 1167′

    • 5 camp sites
    • free, no charge
    • open year round
    • 14 night camp limit
    • RV = 25′ max
    • pit toilets
    • picnic tables
    • camp fire rings

    kings tables

    campground mill creek

    Mill Flat Kings River

    Mill Flat Kings River