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Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east side

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Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east side

Postby jdogrunner » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:44 am

I'm driving down 395 to go backpacking out of the North Lake TH. I'm car camping a few nights before backpacking. The day before hitting the trailhead I'll be driving from southern Oregon to the Bishop area. I live at sea level and would appreciate some suggestions for a relatively high car-campsite between Mammoth and Bishop. Dirt roads and primitive camping are fine-- I don't need a developed site-- but I do want to sleep at 8 or 9k if possible prior to heading over Piute into Humphrey's. I was thinking of Saddlebag Lake but thought it might be crowded this time of year and I don't want to drive up there and get turned back if it's full. I'll be arriving during the week, not on a weekend. Thanks for any advice!



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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby Sierra Miguel » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:28 am

Mammoth Lakes (the lakes, not the town)
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby Jimr » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:42 am

There are several car camping sites along Bishop Creek as well as the North Lake campsite. I've never had a problem securing a spot mid-week (Friday excepted).
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:51 am

Hi Jdogrunner,

Your requirement of being at 8000 to 9000 ft makes it a little difficult, there are some dispersed campsite I use on BLM land, but they are not at those elevations. Here is a listing of campsite, including the requirements to camping outside any organized campsite: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/inyo/re ... ing-cabins
When you get the time, an intro would be appreciated: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9329
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:07 pm

Pine Grove and East Fork campgrounds at Rock Lake are about 9000 feet. North Lake is 9200. Many campground along road to South Lake 8000-9000 feet range. I am not sure if dispersed camping is allowed along these roads. FS campgrounds are about $20 - $24 a night. Three campgrounds at Lake Mary (above Mammoth Lakes) at about 9000 feet.
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:11 pm

I assumed you are coming from Tioga Pass. If coming down 395 from Bridgeport, Trumbull CG (9700) by Virginia Lakes is really nice. From Conway summit take the Virginia Lakes road. There is also a pull out just a mile from Conway Summit on Virginia Creek at 8300 (free).
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby jdogrunner » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:42 pm

Thanks. Those are super helpful suggestions. I'm looking for something north of Bishop because before heading out I need to pick up my permit and empty the vehicle into a storage unit. Mammoth Lakes or Trumbull would work great. On a Sunday or Monday night how busy would the campgrounds at Mammoth be?
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby LMBSGV » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:04 pm

Coldwater, Twin Lakes, and Lake Mary in Mammoth all take reservations if you want to go that route.
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:31 pm

Almost all Eastern Sierra paved road trailheads in those areas do not allow dispersed camping although modest numbers of people do so on the sly sleeping inside vehicles because enforcement is modest and at most people would just be told to drive off. Generally that is because those roads also have infrastructure and public campgrounds. Those tossing sleeping bags beside cars or tenting right at trailheads are the only ones likely to be rousted. These maps show where dispersed camping is not allowed:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/inyo/maps-pubs

Here is the Inyo NF road camping page:

https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUME ... 838957.pdf

At 10150 feet is the free public USNF walk-in campground, Mosquito Flat, your best choice.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.43529,-118.74639&z=15&t=T

An issue is there are just 10 camp spots and the intent is this is for backpacking arrival use for just one night. So even mid-week might be filled. A bit lower down the road at 9600 is the pricy Rock Creek campground.

If coming down US395, below is your best choice though is north of Mammoth. At 9500 feet you won't find anything higher that is free dispersed camping. mapper.acme.com has the very useful feature of cross hairs at the center of topo screen views.

At Conway Summit take the paved spur road towards Virginia Lakes. Before reaching those areas take the gravel spur Dunderberg Meadow road a short ways then pull over somewhere beside that road in these forest areas at cross hairs:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=38.07170,-119.23520&z=15&t=T
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby jdogrunner » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:21 pm

Awesome! Thanks for the info. That gives me many options!
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby coff20 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:42 pm

What kind of vehicle do you have? Laurel Lake is at almost 10k, but you need a vehicle with good clearance to get there.
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Re: Suggestions for high(ish) elevation car camping on east

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:57 pm

Well, maybe we should back up a bit. Is the purpose of your high car camping to acclimate? If you have two days to acclimate, and start from sea level, the "theory" says it is better not to go more than 5,000 feet in one day. I think it would depend on your history of acclimation. If you have previously felt fine at 10,000 feet on the first night, then OK. Otherwise, it may actually be better to camp at 6-7,000 feet, do a bit of easy day hiking, and on the second day move to 10,000 feet and do some easy day hiking. If the first night from sea level is at 10,000 feet, and as a result you cannot eat or sleep well, I think you have defeated the purpose. There also is the old climber's saying "climb high, sleep low". So maybe camp at 7,000 feet and do a slow paced day-hike from a higher trailhead (for example, stay at a campground around Mammoth Lakes at about 7,000 feet and drive up to George Lake and hike up to Duck Lake Pass and back, and then sleep again at 7000. ) Just a thought.
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