Camp Clean

Minimal Impact Camping

Camping Tread Lightly

Leave No Trace Camping

Camp Cleaning

  • No Soap in Streams, Creeks or Lakes: Even Biodegradable Soap is not good for the poor fish downstream.
  • Bring a bucket or wash tub – Wash dishes, clothes & yourself 100′ from streams & lakes
  • Food put away & dishes washed up before bed time. Keeping a clean camp will lessen the chances of wildlife or a bear visit
  • Use existing campsite or rock campfire ring to prevent impacting new areas
  • Pitch tent in cleared camp spots only (when primitive camping). No need to trample new spots.
  • Do not set a tent up in a meadow, next to a creek or on a lake shore. It’s too fragile an environment.
  • Bring extra trash bags (heavy duty lawn type is best) for cleaning any litter you might find at your selected camp site.
  • Sometimes you’ll need to shovel out the whole fire pit (full of glass and trash)  to start a fresh new campfire. Building your fire on top of somebody else’s mess means you’ll be inhaling all their left-over garbage.
Always leave a clean camp

always leave a clean camp

leave no trace

Camp Kitchen Outdoors

Try to keep all food, drinks and cooking to one area of the camp. If you plan to cook over the campfire, this choice will make much more sense. Setting up kitchen area in between the tent and the campfire is usually an excellent spot. Having the vehicle close by for proper food storage is also advised, or use bear boxes if available. If you choose to hang your food in the tree, bring adequate ropes and bags.

The last person still up around the campfire at night should double check the cleanlness camp before retiring for bed. Chances are there is a half-eaten snack or left over beverage that could attract the animals. Oh no, the GARBAGE!! Don’t forgot to put your garbage bag away at night, or dispose of it in a proper trash container. Double bag your garbage if you are concerned with it leaking or smelling up the vehicle.

Food Preparation

Potty Breaks in the Outdoors

shovel

  • Bathroom break in the bushes? Don’t leave your toilet paper trash. Dispose of in your vehicle with a plastic bag or back at camp.
  • For human waste – Bring a shovel, dig holes 8″ deep & pack out all toilet paper. Do not bury paper as animals will just dig it up.
  • Certain areas are so sensitive or overused that all solid waste must be packed out, check for the local regulations.

Camp Hygiene in the Outdoors

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.

carcampers

DO NOT LEAVE FOOD OUT, UNATTENDED, outdoors…
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.

bearcreek

Silver Lake @ Bucks

Silver Lake from Above

Silver Lake @ Bucks Lake Wilderness

(Plumas Co)

Plumas Road #24N29, off Bucks Lake Road
East of Bucks Lake, California.
a six mile, one lane, dirt road is the only vehicle access into this high elevation, dammed reservoir, tucked back against the wilderness. Secluded lake campsites await, you’ll just need to get a little dusty first. The turn off, at a small brown sign reading “Silver Lake”, one which is very easy to miss – due to the amount of homes, cabins, fencing and driveways in the vicinity.

bucks trailhead

Bucks Lake Wilderness
Plumas National Forest

All Bucks Lake Campgrounds

Kayaker @ Silver Lake

No swimming allowed at this Silver Lake, as it serves as a drinking water source for the neighborhoods below. Canoe & kayaking are allowed. Fishing is also popular at this location. Hiking trailheads at Silver Lake lead to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), Mount Pleasant, Spanish Peak and a small gem of a swimming hole, we call mini Gold Lake.

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map

FREE Campground @ Silver Lake, near Quincy, CA

This small campground is actually set downhill from the rock earthen dam, which is something to ponder before/during a big earthquake. With sites 1-5 in a shady forest area and the others a bit closer to the lake, no campsite is too close to another. These are all well-spaced-out sites, providing decent privacy and minimal noise from neighboring campers. No campsites are located at the lake edge, as the rocky dam is a long structure and quite complex with water control measures.

All the campsites have new bear boxes for food storage, cuz ‘wilderness’ usually means black bears are roaming about. Deer tend to frequent campsites 1 & 2.

silver camp 5

Silver Lake Campground NFS

campground

• Elevation: 5800′
• Number of Sites: 9
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
• Campsite Reservations: No
• Camp Fee: No
• Toilet: Vault
• Water: No piped/potable
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May – October
• Trailheads: PCT, Gold Lake, Rock Lake, Granite Gap, Bucks Lake Wilderness

silverbackdrop

As with most of the high elevation lakes in California, winter months can mean deep snow and dirt road closures. This campground is usually open through the end of October, but call head to the local rangers if in doubt.

Plumas National Forest
Mt. Hough Ranger District
39696 State Highway 70
Quincy, CA 95971
530-283-0555

See all Silver Lakes in California

California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald

Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

  • Alta Sierra
  • Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
  • Big Meadow Road #22S12, Dome Land
  • Big Meadows Road #14S11
  • Butte Meadows
  • Camp Nelson
  • Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Drakesbad Ranch, Warner Valley – Lassen NF
  • Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Rd
  • Eastern Sierra Canyons
  • Gold Lake
  • Green Creek Road
  • Holey Meadows Group Camp, Western Divide
  • Horse Meadow Campground, Road #22S12
  • Horseshoe Meadows Road
    w/ Cottonwood Lakes Campground (10,000′ elev)
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Jackass Meadow – way up behind North Fork
  • Kennedy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, Sonora Pass
  • Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Lakes Basin Recreation Area
  • Lake Tahoe CA
  • Lassen National Forest
  • Leland Meadow, Pinecrest, CA
  • Little Shasta Meadow Botanical Area, east of Yreka, CA
  • Long Meadow Campground, Sequoia NF
  • Mammoth Lakes
  • >Manter Meadows>, Dome Land
  • Meadow Valley rural btwn Quincy & Bucks Lake
  • Mendocino NF names these Glade, instead of meadow
  • Mill Potrero Highway, Pine Mountain CA
  • Mount Pinos Recreation
  • Monache Meadows
  • Mountain Home State Forest
  • Panther Meadows Campground, Mount Shasta
  • Plaskett Meadows Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Ponderosa, California
  • Red’s Meadow Campground, Mammoth Lakes
  • Red’s Meadow Resort & Pack Station
  • Redwood Meadow Campground, Giant Sequoia
  • Rock Creek Road: Iris Meadow & Big Meadow Campgrounds
  • Powell Meadow, Sequoia NF
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Shaver Lake
  • Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Thousand Lakes Wilderness
  • Toiyabe National Forest
  • Troy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Highcountry
  • Upper Summer Meadow Road, off Green Creek Rd
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Lupine Drive

    Rules of the Meadow

    Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

    No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

    Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires on the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading.

    Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas.

    When hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

    Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

    Snow Mobiling

    Mammoth Hot Springs

    Hot Springs Dirt Road

    Hot Springs near Mammoth

    Eastern Sierra Destination: June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, CA

    The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains run the length of US Highway 395, through most of the eastern side of California. Mammoth mountain is a volcano, so naturally hot springs come with the package. These hot tub destinations listed here are mostly part of the Long Valley Caldera, an ancient volcanic table land. North of Bishop and near the snow ski destination towns of June Lake and Mammoth, California in Mono County, California.

    (This region is not to be confused with Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, nor the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.)

    Backroads Camping is allowed throughout Inyo National Forest, but there is private ranch lands mixed in w/ public lands. Respect property boundaries, and speed limits around gates and intersections.

    Camp sites are not located next to the soaking tubs. A few may be within walking distance. Parking is often limited at these remote, public use hot pools. Total Escape TIP: Behind Lake Crowley: abundant, free camping – wide graded dirt roads (RV and passenger car suitable). Inyo National Forest Map is recommended.

    Eastside of Highway 395

    Casa Diablo Hot Springs near the Mammoth exit, is a location noted on most maps, but this seems to be the geothermal power plant for the region. If you are looking for hot springs tubs to soak in, you’ll need to get off the main drag for those beauties, way off the highway. On to dirt roads perhaps.

    Hot Creek

    Inyo Forest Road #3S45, Hot Creek Hatchery Road

    (near Mammoth Airport)
    Minimal dirt road driving. A very popular spot where hot springs are located within the big creek, so you can feel cold and hot water flowing by you. Scalding can occur near vents underwater, so use caution when wading. Large parking lot overlooks the soaking area and creek canyon. Swimsuits required.

    Little Hot Creek Hot Springs
    Latitude: 37.8902
    Longitude: 118.8425
    also known as – “Lil Hot Creek”

    sierraminipano

    Benton Crossing Rd

    Inyo Forest Road #2S84, Benton Crossing Road

    This rural intersection at US Hwy 395 is known for the little green church on the corner. Turn east off the highway on to this road> Pull over, get out and stretch. Look at your maps, get the GPS out and then start your exploring. FIrst timers might be able to find a soaking tub within half an hour, if you don’t get lost.

    Inyo Forest Road #2S07, Whitmore Hot Springs Rd

    Whitmore Tubs Road
    a major graded dirt road that leads north off of the paved road, becomes Owens River Road and connects back to US395 several miles to the north.

    Several primitive hot tubs can be found on dirt roads in this region, which lead off the main paved road. At night these remote pools can be hard to find with no signage, no street lights and pitch black darkness. Plus the mud blogs and grassy fields all around make the landscape difficult to navigate. If you plan a nighttime arrival, then plan to drive in slowly around the pools, have your GPS handy and look for steam in the air. Cut your headlights if you see other cars or people, and proceed slowly and be friendly.

    Hill Top Hot Springs
    Latitude: 37.6642
    Longitude: 118.7883
    Elevation: 6873′
    also known as – “Hilltop or Pulky’s Pool”

    Crab Cooker Hot Springs
    Latitude: 37.6633
    Longitude: 118.7995
    Elevation: 6857′
    also known as – “Fleur de Lys”

    Shepard Hot Springs
    Latitude: 37.6668
    Longitude: 118.8025
    Elevation: 6940′
    also known as – “Shepard Springs”

    The Tub Hot Springs
    Latitude: 37.6518
    Longitude: 118.8115
    Elevation: 6990′

    Whitmore Hot Springs
    904 Benton Crossing Road
    Mono County Park w/ large public swimming pool & day use fee
    Phone: 760-935-4222
    Latitude: 37.8902
    Longitude: 118.8425
    also known as – “Whitmore Tubs, Whitmore Springs”

    Wild Willie’s Hot Spring
    Latitude: 37.6591
    Longitude: 118.8425
    also known as – “Wild Willy’s, Crowly, Crowley Springs”

    Minarets at Mammoth

    Minarets at Mammoth

    The Backside

    Inyo Forest Road #3S11, Minaret Summit Rd

    This wilderness region is located the on the west side of Mammoth Mountain, accessible by the paved Minaret Summit Road, which closes due to deep snow and is generally only open during summer months.

    Red’s Meadow Hot Springs

    developed campground w/ wooden sheds for baths: showers & tubs.
    near Devil’s Postpile National Monument
    Latitude: 37.618
    Longitude: 119.074
    Elevation: 7000′
    also known as – “Red’s Meadow Hot Showers”

    Iva Bell Hot Springs
    remote, wilderness; hike-in hot springs.
    south of Mammoth & Rainbow Falls, via trail #2622
    Latitude: 37.532
    Longitude: 119.025
    Elevation: 7400′
    also known as – “Fish Creek Hot Springs”

    see more primitive hot springs in California

    see hot spring camps in California

    see resort hot springs in California