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
Tom Harrison Ansel Adams Wilderness

NatGeo Yosemite Map: Ansel Adams Wilderness
NatGeo Mammoth Lakes & Mono Map

Inyo National Forest USDA Map
Ansel Adams Wilderness USDA Map

nearby towns w/ lodging:

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


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Crocker Campground

Davis Lake Free Camping

Crocker Camp Lake Davis

Crocker Campground
Crocker Guard Station

Plumas Forest Rd #24N06
Crocker Mountain Rd @ Beckwourth-Genesse Rd

Seldom used, but often loved. This old camp used to be a California Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, during the construction of Lake Davis in 1966. Situated next to a big meadow w/ ancient lava flows up hill, the small campground hugs a wooded hillside above the freshly paved Beckwourth-Genesse Road #111

Lake Davis Recreation Area

Plumas National Forest
Beckwourth Ranger District
530-836-2575

If choosing to enter camp from the lake side, take Crocker Mountain Rd. / Plumas Forest Rd #24N06, up from Grizzly Road #112. This area is a north turn off Hwy 89, in between Beckwourth and Portola, CA

Access from the paved (east) side is via Beckwourth-Genesse Road #111. Adventurous camper trucks trailers or small RVs may attempt this dirt hillside campground, but roots and rocks and erosion are abundant in the upper portion of the camp, so be warned.

The minimal aspen grove at nearby Crocker Guard Station makes for a nice back drop, but there are no aspens at camp. Please note: you cannot see Lake Davis from this side of the hill. This primitive campground is located on a forested, volcanic hillside facing east; Dirt road entry, vault toilet w/ minimal facilities. No paved campsite loop here!

Numerous unmarked foot trails lead out to the meadows edge, up lava ridges or into the forest behind the aspens. Crocker Guard Station is a very short walk; and now available for rent from the NFS w/ reservation link below.

Crocker Campground
• Elevation: 5600′
• Number of Sites: 10
• Vehicle Accessibility: Small RV
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May – November
• Trailheads: Crocker Meadow Loop

Crocker Campground

NFS CABIN RESERVATIONS

Crocker Guard Station

Set back off the main road, this historic, two story cabin with wood siding and small front porch has meadows and aspen groves surrounding it. Crocker Guard Station was built in 1912 as a home for Forest Service personnel, and was later staffed as a fire station until the 1980s.

lava campsites

Crocker Mountain is popular for deer hunting, mountain biking, as well as off-road travel.

Lake Davis is about 5 miles away from this small campground, to the west. From Crocker Camp to Lake Davis (the most direct way) is a one lane, graded dirt road – Plumas Forest Rd #24N06.

The paved way over to the lake will be triple the distance – and you’ll need to go back to the highway.

View East from Davis

Crocker Mountain @ Lake Davis, California

Gurnsey Campground

bestcampgurnsey

Lassen  Campground, Lassen Forests & Fishing

Gurnsey Creek Campground: W of Chester, CA

A developed campground along forested Highway 36, near the junction of Chico’s Hwy 32. Awesome fishing creek, meadows, hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby. Paved, level camp sites w/ easy access to Lassen Volcanic Park and the National Forest.

This is a popular camp just south of the Lassen National Park boundary and 5 miles east of Child’s Meadow Resort. Car camp, tent camping, some spaces for large motorhomes. Plenty fishing, hiking and mountain biking trails.

gurnseycreek

Gurnsey Creek Campground, California

on the Gurnsey Creek;
Campground open May-October
(depending on snow)

gurnseysign

Lassen Creek Camping

52 camp sites on Gurnsey Creek @ 4700′ elevation; vault toilets, creek and piped water, bear boxes; first come, first serve camping – and reservations are also accepted

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

GURNSEY CREEK CAMPGROUND

Max Camper Length: no limitations
Close to Lassen Volcanic National Park and numerous fishing spots.

Rangers Office: 530-265-4531

Free Camping nearby.
If you are seeking primitive camping in this Lassen area, look for dirt roads in the USDA National Forest lands, which surround the National Park boundary.

to the west – Lassen Road #14 – the Blue Ridge, north off of Hwy 89 @ Mineral.

to the south – Yellow Jacket Road #29N48 around Turner Mountain, which is south-southwest of Mill Creek.

to the east – Lassen Road #10 – head north off of Highway 89 in between Chester & Westwood.

Highly advised: a real map, a printed ‘hard copy’ shows both the National Park and the National Forest of Lassen on one map – with topographic features, all mountain peaks, creeks, lakes, trailheads, plus all dirt and paved roads.

Trailheads from Gurnsey Campground lead out to –

 

NEARBY TOWNS:


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Lassen Lakes

Lassen Lakes in California

Lassen Volcanic Park is surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes, some inside the National Park boundary, but most outside. Lassen National Forest, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, Lake Almanor, Hat Creek and Burney Falls encompass this pristine water wonderland of NorCal recreation. Backpack camps, campground camps, day hikes, off-road and lake side camp sites, we have it all listed on Total Escape.

Backpacking, day hiking, camping, fishing all over this region. Mountain bike, kayak, or relax all day in the hammock – in a shady spot with a view. Water flows freely and annual snow melt is abundant in this part of California.

( ^ lakes with campgrounds & elevation)

  Lakes inside Lassen National Park:

(lakes located on Lassen Hwy 89)

Lake Helen

Summit Lake ^
Summit Lake Campgrounds – Summit Lake North & Summit Lake South & Horse Corral Camp

Manzanita Lake ^ 5847′
Manzanita Lake Camping – Manzanita Lake Campground & Manzanita Lake Cabins & Group Camp Site

(lakes via dirt backroads)

Juniper Lake ^ 6792′
Juniper Lake Campgrounds – Juniper Lake Group Site & Horse Corral Camp

Butte Lake ^ 6043′
Butte Lake Campgrounds – Butte Lake Campground & Butte Lake Group Camp & Horse Corral Camp

(lakes on the trail)
Crumberg Lake
Twin Lakes
Jakey Lake
Snag Lake 6076′
Horseshoe Lake
Willow Creek
Long Lake

 Lassen National Forest lakes: fishing lakes

Wilson Lake 5267′
Crater Lake ^ 6800′
Widow Lake
Star Lake 6362′
Rising River Lake
Baum Lake
Murken Lake
Haynes Reservoir
Heart Lake
McGowan Lake
Willow Lake

lassen camps

  Caribou Wilderness:

Echo Lake ^
Caribou Lake ^
Silver Lake ^
Triangle Lake

Thousand Lake Wilderness:

North Battle Creek Lake ^ 5571′
Logan Lake
Buckhorn Lake 4776′
Lake Eiler
Terry Lake

NorCal Recreation Lakes nearby:

Lake Britton @ Burney Falls ^ 2732′
Eagle Lake ^ 5100′
Butt Valley Reservoir ^ 4142′
Lake Almanor ^ 4500′

Northern California towns nearby:

BURNEY
FALL RIVER MILLS
OLD STATION
SUSANVILLE
WESTWOOD
CHESTER
MINERAL
MILL CREEK

 

Saline Valley Hot Springs

Saline Valley Hot Springs
Saline Valley Warm Springs

NORTH Death Valley National Park, in a super remote desert valley located in the vast mountains in between Big Pine CA Route 168 & Death Valley (west) Highway 190.

Inyo National Forest: Inyo mountains are a towering range of high elevation desert peaks running in between Owens Valley and Saline Valley.

desert wilderness access: 4 dirt road routes lead into Saline Valley – 2 backcountry 4×4 trails from the upper reaches of the park and 2 main dirt roads. All routes require a high elevation pass, so snow is likely in winter months (Nov-May).

Wilderness routes road conditions can change often, seasonally with winter snows, mud and summer thunderstorms. The most popular access are the main routes (both long dirt roads, subject to snow and closure at any time) – the North Pass (Big Pine) and the South Pass (Panamint). Detailed directions on those further below. Both backcountry roads Steele Pass and Lippincott Road, originate from the northern, desolate areas of the National Park and both require 4 wheel drive, with a recommended locking differential.

No developed campground facilities. Clothing optional my ass — nudity is the norm here.

Since the challenging drive in to this remote desert valley is so grueling and time consuming, plan to spend a minimum of 4 nights. Anything less is way too rushed to totally enjoy the experience.  Best way to enjoy this place is a full week off of work, and as much firewood, food and ice as you can haul. Some folks spend weeks camping here. The NPS limits your camping stay to 30 days! If you plan on driving out to Lone Pine for camping supplies and returning the same day, you best leave at dawn – cuz the entire round trip ‘beer run’ will take 6 hours or more.

High clearance vehicle a must & 4 wheel drive is highly recommended in all this region. All wheel drive wagons and passenger cars have been known to bottom out, break down and pop tires out here in the harsh conditions, so a first challenge may be to obtain a dependable and capable off-road vehicle.

Topographic GPS & decent back road maps are highly advised. One way drive is easily 4 hours, from any paved highway. Pack like you’re gonna live out here, if need be. Warning: this is a very long off-road journey for any average camping trip. This isn’t a weekend kinda place. First timers beware – it’s a full day journey to travel here!

Air Strip? The fly in option is a dirt landing strip called ‘Chicken Strip’, but National Park Service has yet to closed it.

NORTH PASS to Saline Valley Road:

from Big Pine, take Hwy 168 N from Hwy 395, turn right onto Death Valley Road (some maps may have this one listed as Waucoba Springs Road or just Waucoba Road). Proceed on the main route to the hard to read entrance sign marking the Saline Valley Road, past a few old structures and down to the main valley. Winter snow can be deep, so carry chains. 4×4 is best to access this remote valley, AWD high clearance might make it and normal passenger cars, 2WD SUVs should be warned about weather and access to the real world. Many times all mountain passes are snowed in – people do get trapped at Saline and cannot get out for weeks. So take that into account when requesting days off of work for this epic journey.

SOUTH PASS to Saline Valley Road:

from Olancha, take Highway 190 E, turn N off Hwy. 190 to Saline Valley Rd. Rugged 50+ mi. of hard core dirt roads. 4×4 and high clearance a must. Winter months expect snow, springtime rock slides and summers torrential downpours cause overflowing creeks w/ impassable washouts. Grapevine Canyon can be a challenging drive, but with patience and skill you can be down on the main valley floor in about an hour and a half (if you’re lucky). Did I mention the dozen or more miles of heavy washboard road conditions, at the base of the alluvial fan of mountain rock? Newbies and first timers should attempt the North Pass.

———————-

Near the marsh, when you finally reach the sand dunes area, you know the turn off is close-by, so slow down and stop to read the landscape. Know that the hot springs are located above the sand dunes to the east slope of the red volcanic mountains. When you see the metal bat sign and the mass of palm trees in the lower grove, you know you’ve arrived.

You’ve only truly arrived, when your whole body is immersed in hot water looking up at the stars and you learn to relax again. Breathe the deepest you have all year.

CAUTION: Stopping for those vehicles distressed on the side of the road is also a common practice. Many people break down on this route, Jeeps slide off cliffs. Harsh landscapes, plus weather are unforgiving and people die, so realize that this camping trip is no walk in the park.

Saline Valley Road Conditions & discussions can be found on
Saline Valley Talk, the Saline Valley Message Board
forum.salinepreservation.org

Saline Preservation Association
salinepreservation.org

Trip Review from Student Reader
studentreader.com/saline-valley

natural hot springs

nearby desert destinations –


View Death Valley National Park in a larger map