Mono Lake California

The Great Basin meets California, at the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Navy Beach, Mono Lake

Mono Lake


elevation: 6383′
Eastern California
US Hwy 395 @ CA SR 120

East of Yosemite NP
Lee Vining, CA

Mono Lake

Rumor has it this lake basin could be the ancient super volcano of the region. MonoLake is located on the north end of the Long Valley Caldera, a volcanic ridge which stretches down to Bishop and parallels Mammoth Mountain & US 395.

Huge shallow lake with a very turbulent history. Signs and plaques throughout the lake shore give info on ancient history of the lake, the wildlife, and regional detail. Majestic views of the Sierra Mountains, with sparse vegetation, lunar type landscape. Eerie with storm clouds; Beware of bad weather. Kayakers love this lake too!

Sierra Nevada backdrop

Canoeing
Hiking
Hot Springs
Kayaking
Picnic
Primitive Hot Springs
Stargazing
Volcanic Landscape

Mono Lake Camping

Camping is closeby, but not located on the fragile lakeshore.
open camping
Dispersed camping (FREE) is allowed in Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, the region that surrounds the Tufa State Natural Reserve. Campfire permits are required. Contact the park listed below for all the details on the camping policy.

campgrounds
Camps include National Forest Campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon (8 miles), June Lake Loop (15 mi), Lundy Lake (12 mi). Private RV parks can be found in nearby Lee Vining and further south, at Lake Crowley.

[PDF download]
Camping In The Mono Basin
by LeeVining.com

Inyo National Forest USDA
Camping Mono Lake Ranger District

local links:

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
California State Park
760-647-6331

Mono County Tourism
MonoCounty.org

760-924-3699

Mono Lake Committee
MonoLake.org

Bookstore @ 3rd, Lee Vining
760-647-6595

Tufa Towers

nearby interests:

Yosemite National Park
Inyo National Forest
Toiyabe National Forest
Benton Hot Springs
Bodie Ghost Town
Convict Lake
Mono Craters – Panum Crater & Crater Mountain
Long Valley Caldera
Lundy Lake
California Aspen Groves
Autumn Colors Camping

Long Valley Craters Mono Lake

Long Valley Caldera Craters near Mono Lake

regional maps:

Tom Harrison Mono Lake Map

NatGeo Mammoth Lakes & Mono Map

Inyo National Forest USDA Map

Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps

nearby towns w/ lodging:

Benton Hot Springs
Bridgeport, CA
Lee Vining, CA
June Lake, CA
Mammoth Lakes, CA


View Larger Map

Camping for Thanksgiving

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Leftovers?

California Camping on Thanksgiving

If you’ve had it with the traditions, the big meal prep, or just sick of the family. Maybe you are a solo traveler, or a new transplant to California and need to explore more. Take a holiday away – for once this time.

Camping for turkey day? What a concept.

VWBus Death Valley
California is the perfect place for camping, all year long!

Stick to the lower elevations, look for canyons, and seek seclusion


California mountains often have snow during November. Avoid camping in snow @ 4000-5000′ elevation and above; Freezing temps above 3000-4000′ elevation.

Deserts, coastal regions and foothills are top choices for late Autumn car camping. Always check the weather ahead of departure, and have a plan B as an alternative. NorCal will be much wetter than the rest of the state.

MEALS: Prepare dinner meals ahead of trip departure. Bake turkey days before your trip and create meals based around that. Make mash potatoes at home and don’t forget to bring the butter. Pack pre-baked turkey for sandwiches, plus other quick snacks & meals for on-the-go travel.

seafood

Non Traditional: Seafood Feast

Desert Camping is premium at this time of year. Luckily the eastern half of Southern Cal is desert. The lower the elevation, the better the temps will be overnight. Be prepared for wind when the ‘storm fronts’ approach, the winds do get a cranking! Dirt roads can become flowing washes during a good rainstorm, so know the weather forecast.

Coastal campgrounds may need advanced reservations. Be prepared for wet weather, especially up north. The redwoods groves are gorgeous anytime of year.

Gold County Reservoirs are prime areas for relaxing in nature, while everyone else is out shopping. Oak hills, rivers and canyons. RV campers love these large lakes; boating, fishing, mountain biking trails, kayak rentals, hiking near historic Gold Rush towns.

River Canyons of California are always beautiful destinations in the autumn months. Many campgrounds can be found at lower elevation, river access areas. California’s abundant Hot Springs are also top picks for holiday weekends.

Joshua Tree Campout

Joshua Tree National Park may be busy during this weekend. Instead try nearby Mecca: Box Canyon and Mecca Hills Wilderness, BLM desert lands near Interstate 10.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is always a nice, easy and relatively close get-away for any holiday. Open camping on the backroads (for free) makes it one of the most attractive camping options in all of SoCal. Many dirt roads are accessible for passenger cars, if extreme caution is used. Don’t plan on driving more than a few miles on dirt.

Masses of off roaders love to camp out, especially on Thanksgiving weekend. Wheel all day, eat, drink, bon fires every night and rumor has it ‘they roast their big bird outdoors – deep in a dirt pit’. Really? El Centro, Glamis, Imperial Dunes, Ocotillo Wells, Truckhaven Hills, Johnson Valley. All popular off roading areas in Southern California, so consider yourself warned.

Imperial Dunes

Mojave Desert, near US Hwy 395
Jawbone Canyon expect to see RVs, toy-boxes and families outside enjoying the weekend. OHV style. Often the group tries to create a round corral with their huge convoy of vehicles, to keep thru traffic to a minimum around “their camp”. Just stay well away from those gear-heads. In general, it is a very busy area around Mojave up to Hwy 178 during the holidays. Try high desert Horse Canyon instead.

Tent Camping

ghost towns
meteor showers
hot springs

Death Valley National Park is one of the best destinations for Thanksgiving, cuz Panamint Springs serves their free turkey dinner.

Did someone say FREE?

Leon at Mahogany

National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

NFSlogo
Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USDA guard station – hidden deep inside California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information. Dirt road access is common to reach these locations. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. A FEW are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Harvey West Cabin
4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

Loon Lake Chalet
6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin

6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Sly Guard Cabin
Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

Van Vleck Bunkhouse
6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Lassen National Forest USFS

McCarthy Point Lookout
overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness

ranger & info 530-258-2141

Plumas National Forest USFS

Crocker Guard Station
5700′ elev. near Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

Big Bear Lake 2002

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
SoCal Mountains, Big Bear Lake Area,
near Forest Falls, CA

Coon Creek Cabin
Group Camp Site
Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station

off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; in between Sequoia NP & Kings Cyn NP

Camp 4 and a half
1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River Cyn
near Hume Lake & Kings Canyon NP

Mountain Home Guard Station Cabin
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Oak Flat Lookout
Oak Flat Cabin Rental
4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella, CA

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round
4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide near Ponderosa, CA

Wishon Campground & Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round
4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

Forest Glen Guard Station
near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

Girard Ridge Lookout
Historic Fire Lookout Tower
4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
overlooking Shasta Lake, CA

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
Mt. Hoffman Rental
7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir


Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte
Cabin & Fire Lookout

elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
10600 Highway 199
Gasquet, CA 95543

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and the serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, Northern Gold Country California

lakes basin views

Cool Places to See in Cali

Cool Places in California

Off the Beaten Path
inside California

California Day Trips

 

Shopping Tourists
more tourist attractions and family vacations

Hearst Castle

Carlsbad Flower Fields
North county San Diego annual bloom event every Spring (March & April)

Hearst Castle
Central Coast rural and rugged coastline, south of Big Sur, California. Very touristy destination; Tickets for tours required.

Historical Re-Enactments @ Riley’s Farm
A real working apple orchard near Los Angeles; offering living history programs; re-enactments of scenes from the American Revolution, Civil War & Old West. Dinner, holiday shows, restaurant & tavern.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
This is the premier ocean museum and largest tanks on the California Coast.

Mystery Spot
Defy gravity, geological puzzling; Interstate 236 Santa Cruz coastal redwoods

Winchester Mystery House
6 acre, 160 room 45 million dollar Victorian mansion with bizarre architectural features