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Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

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Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby gmudd » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:53 pm

Hello,

A few buddies and I are thinking of taking a camping trip this weekend. I've been to the Sierras many times, but only camped in designated campgrounds. If possible, I'd like to try something a bit more remote this time around.

Here's what we're looking for - any advice would be much appreciated!

--Car camping - Looking for someplace we can drive to
--Somewhat close to Interstate 80 or Route 50 (we're coming from SF and don't want to spend too much time driving)
--Allows campfires (happy to get a permit)
--Ok for my dog

I'm thinking something in Tahoe or Eldorado National Forest would be good, but I'm fairly unfamiliar with both. For background, I've been camping for 20 years, backcountry and otherwise, and will certainly make sure to leave wherever we camp in very good shape.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.

Graham



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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby rlown » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:38 pm

So, You want to drive up and camp? Ok, I'll throw out silver lake on 88. Not really what we're about here, but..

For a more interesting place there's Leavitt Lk off 108, but it's not a very friendly road in, depending on what you drive.

None of these are off of 50 and 80 because, well, why?

You didn't say if you fish or have other outdoor hobbies so that's about as vague as i can be.
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby gmudd » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:52 pm

Sorry, I realize this isn't the type of camping this site is about, but appreciate the help.

Don't care if it's right off 50 or 80, just don't be driving for TOO long after a long week at work.

Silver Lake looks great. Can one camp outside of designated campgrounds?

As for hobbies, day hiking, fishing and rafting are at the top of the list.

Thanks again for the help.
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby rlown » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:00 pm

For Silver, i think you are in a campground. For Leavitt, It's wherever you desire. I'd vote for Leavitt.

Fishing is ok at both. smaller in Leavitt. If your vehicle can take a little punishment, I'd do Leavitt. Also a very pretty area. Wood will be an issue for fires. It's at 9560'.. You'd probably need a permit for a fire. Bring your own wood. truly a magical place.

If you are who i think you are, use google earth and take a look.. (that would mean tech savvy)
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby Timberline » Tue Aug 10, 2010 7:14 am

Howdy, Graham,

suggest you look into Crystal Basin in Eldorado NF. North (left turn) off Hwy 50 beyond Pollock Pines, take Ice House Road up into the basin. Car camping is available at Ice House and Wright's Lakes, or at Union Valley Reservoir, or even at Loon Lake further on. Campfires OK I think at all the designated campsites. Good day hike and fishing options, depending on what you're looking for and how equipped. Wright's Lake is my favorite as it's closest to the wilderness, w/one-lane paved road access, altho I go straight for the trailhead (I've never camped at the car-accessible sites) Offers west side entrances to Desolation Valley Wilderness, with self-issue day use permits.

Important to check w/Eldorado NF about campsite reservations and get fire permits. www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/ for more info.

Good luck! :thumbsup:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby huts » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:26 pm

Leavitt Lake is a wonderful place but the road is real challenging. Do not even attempt it without high clearance. A member of our group punctured an oil pan last weekend and the tow out cost 300.00. It can be cold and windy and unfortunately often populated by at least one group with an AK47 :snipe: and/or other lovely "toys" but I still love the place......
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby rlown » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:37 pm

huts wrote:Leavitt Lake is a wonderful place but the road is real challenging. Do not even attempt it without high clearance. A member of our group punctured an oil pan last weekend and the tow out cost 300.00. It can be cold and windy and unfortunately often populated by at least one group with an AK47 :snipe: and/or other lovely "toys" but I still love the place......


AK47 guy might have been me. :cool: but, i digress. On the flipside of that argument, i don't think they require bear cans.

I do know that mini-vans have been successful at getting in. I'm constantly surprised what smart people can actually drive into certain places. We always did the road in something 4x4 truck style. As with any area, it's how you pick the time to be there. Cold and windy is somewhat relative.

$300 is cheap considering when and where someone was going too fast and punctured their oil pan. :wink:


Some of the potential day-hikes there are great, and even some reasonable mountain biking options. PCT runs right through the middle, so you never know who you might meet.

Russ
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby dave54 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:40 pm

The Forest Service calls it dispersed camping. It is perfectly legal and acceptable anywhere except where specifically prohibited. The more popular areas are restricted to camping only in designated campgrounds. You generally are not allowed to camp within a 1/4 mile of a developed campground, but outside ot that 99% of NF land is open.

Check local fire restrictions, and note that in some places open fires are not allowed but gas or propane stoves are OK. The recently enacted travel restrictions limit how far you can travel off the road to set up camp.

If you don't mind exploring a bit, camp the first night at the first convenient spot even if not ideal. Drive the road system the next day to look for better spots. Dispersed camping is the only way we car camp anymore, and we have serendipitously found some outstanding campsites by just aimlessly wandering the forest road system.
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby balzaccom » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:32 pm

You will need a fire permit wherever you camp....and as noted before, some areas don't allow open fires at all.

Another area to explore would be off Highway 89 to the North of Truckee...a series of reservoirs and rivers there that offer fishing, primitive camping, and nice scenery. And they are VERY conveniently located---very quick to get there from Sacto, for example.
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby cahiker » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:57 pm

For dispersed camping you need a campfire permit to use a stove. You can pick one up at any National Forest ranger station in California. Sequoia National Forest conveniently lets you get one on-line after you pass a quiz (and it's good in all California National Forests until the end of the year).

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/passesp ... index.html
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:27 pm

I've been dispersed camping for decades and tend to avoid public campgrounds. Not so much due to cost but rather because I'm usually early to bed early to rise and rarely get a decent night's sleep at public campgrounds where late night campfire partying is the norm. The key to disperse camping is to buy a $9 to $10 USGS national forest maps for national forests you plan to do such at. The reason is national forests often map out non-disperse camping zones rather than use the above mentioned 1/4 mile from developed campgrounds rule.

http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/nationalforeststore/

Tahoe NF doesn't say anything about dispersed camping. Good areas to disperse camp at is on these map sections:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/forestvisitormaps/tahoe/13.php
http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/forestvisitormaps/tahoe/08.php

On state route 20 take forest road 18 north from Bear Valley and drive beyond the Fuller Lake reservoir areas.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe/recreatio ... mmer.shtml
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Re: Trip Advice: Non-Designated Car Camping

Postby TahoeJeff » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:40 am

Hey Huts, I followed that old Dodge tow truck pulling the white Chevy Astro van down from Leavitt last Sunday. Man it got cold rainy and windy up there!
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