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



4S12 – Inyo NF


Rock Creek Road

Rock Creek Lake, Eastern Sierra, California

Inyo Forest Road #4S12
also known as Inyo Road 12, and also Rock Creek Rd.

Majestic mountain scenery. Popular paved route that leads from US 395 up to Rock Creek Lake, on the edge of granite wild lands; lake is situated above 9000′ elevation and the hiker trailheads are further up, beyond the lake at over 10,000 feet. Steep canyon, large canyon, rocky granite canyon, high elevation.

Super scenic drive, but open less than half the year, due to deep snow. Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Inyo National Forest

North of Bishop, CA
South of Mammoth, CA
SW of US Highway 395

hikes horse camp bike


A popular and favorite place for summer camping, fishing and hiking. Backpacking, horse trails, high elevation lakes, mountain passes, peaks, wilderness areas. RV campgrounds, tent camping, car camping. Mountain biking in vast canyon, near campgrounds and creek. No bikes in the Wilderness (up and above Rock Creek)

Autumn colors, aspen groves usually best in early October. Snow closure in winter months (Nov-May).


elevation 7072′ @ Tom’s Place, CA (US Hwy 395)
elevation 9682′ @ Rock Creek Lake
elevation 10,272′ @ Trailhead Parking (end of road)

One lane, paved route gets narrow, but keeps on climbing. Road #6S05 continues up – past Rock Creek Lake and ends at hiking trailheads, paved parking lot and a few picnic spots.

iris meadow

Iris Meadow Campground NFS

12 NFS Campgrounds in this region, starting with one at the highway, several along the way and the campgrounds at Rock Creek Lake.

No campfires are allowed in this canyon – outside of a developed campground. Not much in the way of primitive car camping options either, except for strapping on a backpack and heading into high elevation wilderness.


Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Campgrounds

Inyo National Forest
John Muir Wilderness

Trailheads along Rock Creek Road #4S12

  • Upper Hilton Lakes
  • Tamarack
  • Lakes Valley (Little Lakes)
  • JMT – John Muir Trail

Rock Creek NFS Hiking Trailheads (download PDF)

Eastern Sierra Maps:
Inyo National Forest Map USDA
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo
Mono Divide High Country Map


rock creek lake

Rock Creek Lake, first snowfall (Autumn)

looking for another place called ROCK CREEK in California? (we are working on that)

6S05 – Inyo NF


Paved, one-lane extension of #4S12, Rock Creek Road.
Up above Rock Creek Lake, East Sierra Nevada, California

High elevation 10,272′ at roads end and parking lot

Little Lakes Valley Trailhead
Mono Pass
Morgan Pass
John Muir Trail (JMT)
Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

Mosquito Flat Picnic Area

Restrooms, paved parking lot, nature trails, fishing creeks, horseback, wilderness trails.

hikes NFS camp horse camp

Mosquito Flat Walk-In Campground is intended for backpackers departing overnight into the backcountry the following day. Single night stay ONLY. Please camp down canyon if you plan to stay for more than one night. Bear lockers are provided at campgrounds for proper storage of food items, so use them!

No campfires are allowed outside of developed campgrounds. Day use does not require a permit. Wilderness permits are required for overnight trips into the John Muir Wilderness. Bear containers are required for backpackers. Permits for these trails are issued at Inyo National Forest ranger station in Mammoth, or the Eastern Sierra Visitors Center (ESIA) near Olancha.


John Muir Wilderness (JMT) trails, Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), epic scenery, alpine lakes, high elevation. Eastern Sierra

Rock Creek NFS Hiking Trailheads (download PDF)

Rock Creek Pack Station provides wilderness pack trips on horseback, and day rides too.

Road and canyon is CLOSED for winter snow approx. NOV-MAY


Peaks and passes surrounding Rock Creek Canyon, in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains –

Red Mountain 11,472′ (elevation)
Mount Morgan 13,748′
Morgan Pass
Mt Huntington 12,405′
Mono Rock 11,554′
Mono Pass
Mt Starr 12,835′
Mt Mills 13,451′
Mt Abbott 13,704′
Round Valley Peak 11,943′

Hike or horseback ride to these alpine lakes from Rock Creek Rd trailheads –

Davis Lake
Hilton Creek Lakes
Patricia Lake
Golden Lake
Pioneer Basin Lakes
Trail Lakes
Summit Lake
Ruby Lake
Mills Lake
Gem Lakes
Treasure Lakes
Dade Lake
Upper Morgan Lake
Lower Morgan Lake
Chickenfoot Lake
Little Lakes
Box Lake
Heart Lake
Marsh Lake
Serene Lake
Eastern Brook Lakes
Tamarack Lake
Buck Lake
Francis Lake
Dorothy Lake
Kenneth Lake

1S25A – Inyo NF


Parker Lake Road
Inyo Forest Road #1S25A

This dirt road is a side canyon route; access to a whole mess of aspens @ Parker Creek. Fish the creek. Day hikes and backpackers trails; Picnic in the aspen groves.

Parker Lake Rd turn off is signed @ Road #1N17. All this is north of Highway 158 @ Grant Lake, on the June Lake Loop #1S63.

Primitive camping options only. No facilities, No developed campgrounds back here. Minimal camp sites and clearings, so have a backup plan B in case these few canyons are already occupied.

MUD NOTE: Dirt roads here can turn to mud, especially near creek beds – anytime in between October and May. Region is also prone to summer thunderstorms; Maybe even flash floods. Weather changes for June Lake and Lee Vining can be sudden so keep tabs on the current forecast.

Inyo National Forest
Ansel Adams Wilderness

nearby towns:

June Lake, CA
Lee Vining, CA
Mammoth Lakes, CA


area maps:
Inyo National Forest USDA
Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo

Spicer Reservoir

spicer terrain

Spicer Meadow Reservoir

Spicer Meadows, Spicer Reservoir, Rd #7N01
Spicer Lake, Stanislaus National Forest

lake elevation 6418′
227 surface acres

public boat ramp
hiking trail around lake
more lakes nearby

Ebbetts Pass Sierra Hwy 4

Ancient volcanic peaks mix with Sierra Nevada granite rock, pine forests and fresh, clear, clean mountain water! California, of course.

Stanislaus Forest Road #7N01 leads down from Highway 4 to this popular series of alpine lakes and reservoirs. Camping, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, floating and fishing are also popular water activities.

Rules of the Reservoir:
10 mph speed limit on Western Arm.
No motorized boating in Eastern Arm.
Camp only in developed Campgrounds.

2 NFS Campgrounds at west end of lake:

  • Spicer Campground (60 sites)
  • Spicer Group Camp (75 people max)
  • Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible.

    Additionally, Stanislaus River Campground w/ only 8 sites, is located just off the main access road #7N01, right near the river.

    spicer lake shore

    Spicer #7N01

    Numerous smaller lakes in the region make this a hot spot for summer vacations. Union and Utica Reservoirs (both with dirt road access) are good for kayaking and canoes, while power or sail boats prefer the larger Spicer Lake. Summit Lake and Elephant Rock Lake are perfect for quite picnics and day hikes. Trails (many unmarked) connect the lakes to each other. Area gets buried with snow in winter, so these roads are generally only open half the year.

    More reservoirs and lakes nearby:
    Highland Lakes
    Mosquito Lakes
    Lake Alpine, CA
    (all along Hwy 4)

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA

    Nearby mountain towns:
    Lake Alpine, CA