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Red's Meadow Valley

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Red's Meadow Valley

Postby Hobbes » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:02 pm

Hi gang, we're taking off for our annual 395 car camping extravaganza in our (small) RV this weekend. As per our usual, other than Mono Vista in Lee Vining (which we've been going to for years due to their awesome shower facilities), we don't have any reservations; we wing it the entire time, which is just the way a cat likes to travel.

Actually, our itinerary requires winging it, because we're going to be staying @ Tuolumne and Red's Meadow valley for a few nights. While the Tuolumne meadows campground is 1/2 reservable, the other 1/2 is pure first-come, first-served. According to a host @ Upper pines in the Valley (can't get hold of anyone in TM since the phone lines are down), people show up by 8am to put their names down on a list, and then they figure out availability by the noon check-out.

Even more flighty are all the Inyo NF campsites, including Tioga, Ellery and the entire Red's Meadow valley area, which are 100% first-come, first-served. What makes the RMV even more challenging is you can't drive your vehicle down to the area unless you're camping. But if you can't reserve a camping spot, how do you know you can camp or not ie if anything is available?

Well, I hounded the poor folks at the Mammoth RS for some input, and this is what I got: you drive up to the kiosk @ Minaret vista, tell them you're camping, and they call down to the campground you'd like to go to to check on availability. Alternatively, the camp hosts periodically update them with availability so that they have a running total. Bottom line is, if they have space, you pay the $10 toll and proceed on your merry way. However, if they're sold out, you need to make a U-turn, since you can't drive down between 7am-7pm. (You can take the shuttle if you still want to go down for the day.)

Ok, so much for background. Since we're going to be up in that region during the early part of the week, and will be getting to each location by 7-8am each day, I don't think we'll have a problem actually getting a spot. But, I do have a question for Mammoth-philes:

There are 6 campgrounds in the RMV (actually, 5 since Agnew's is closed) from north to south. I've only been down there a few times, and never to camp, so I never paid attention to any specifics regarding each location:

1. Upper Soda springs
2. Pumice flat
3. Minaret falls
4. Devil's PP
5. Red's meadow

Question: what order of preference would you pick? That is, if I show up at the kiosk and I say I'd like to stay @ XYZ, and they reply that it's sold out, what order would you pick going down the line until you either got a spot, or found out the entire valley was sold out and you'd have to turn around and leave?

Marksor? Thoughts, opinions, suggestions?



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Re: Red's Meadow Valley

Postby MountainMinstrel » Tue Aug 12, 2014 3:58 pm

Hobbes wrote: According to a host @ Upper pines in the Valley (can't get hold of anyone in TM since the phone lines are down), people show up by 8am to put their names down on a list, and then they figure out availability by the noon check-out.



I can't really help you with any of this, but that camp host wouldn't be named Ken by chance?
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.
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Red's Meadow Valley - Recommendations

Postby Hobbes » Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:50 am

The I kid I spoke to was Craig; he was very helpful.

As might be imagined, the Valley during prime time is like the beach in summer. Interestingly - but not surprising - campground reservations in the Valley are now opening up (from prior cancellations), but not @ Tuolumne. Everyone knows to head to higher elevations as the heat rises.
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Re: Red's Meadow Valley

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:03 pm

I suppose you know about the RV camp as you drive into town, I think it's Shady Rest. Maybe a backup plan. Don't forget about the June Lake loop. Since you're self contained in an RV and want to wing things, there are forest roads north of town off 395 that would make a nice adventure if your "small" RV can handle them.
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Red's Meadow Valley - Suggestions

Postby Hobbes » Thu Aug 14, 2014 6:24 am

We always head to June lake first - it's a 6 hr drive from OC. From there, we either continue on to Tahoe, or head up to Tuolumne. Last year was Tahoe/Meeks bay, so this year is Yosemite/Tioga.

Shady rest or even the commercial RV sites in Mammoth are an option for a quick overnighter, but it would be nice to stay in Red's meadow valley. Either way, it's just a place to crash - our real objective is to head out of the Agnew Mdws TH to day hike to Garnet/TI lake. In that case, we could stay in town, then drive down before the kiosk opened @ 7am.

Having a river side camp spot would rock, because it would be nice to kick back, fish and have a few beers after a long day of hiking. I guess I'll just have to go on the advice of staff if something opens up.
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Re: Red's Meadow Valley

Postby RiseToADry » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:10 pm

Spend a week in mammoth area every year. The San Joaquin valley is awesome. I rank campgrounds like this: pumice, minaret/upper soda, post pile, reds meadow.

Make sure you fish the river from the post pile upstream to pumice. Tons of browns that love Chernobyl ants. Fish the undercut banks and under bushes. Nice fish in least likely spots.

I also love to fish the Dana fork and tuolumne proper, gaylor/granite lakes, and gardisky in the tioga region.

Have a great trip.
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Re: Red's Meadow Valley

Postby Hobbes » Fri Aug 15, 2014 3:07 pm

Thank you - just the intel I was looking for.

We're going to try and make it up Lyell to where the trail begins to climb before the bridge, but I'm going to bring my fly rod to fish during our break before we turn around and head back.

I too enjoy fishing the lakes on your list - and some others in the area I'm sure you know about. Here's the resulting fish fry from a few years ago with my brother & son:

Image
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