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Camping at South Lake TH

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Camping at South Lake TH

Postby scrotata » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:12 pm

Hello All,

I have a permit for a trip between 8/4 and 8/11 out of the South Lake TH. I am coming in from Northern CA and looking for my options for camping on Saturday night (8/3). I usually pick up my permit, sleep at the TH and then hit the trail early next morning. This is essentially what I want to do for this trip, plus I want to give myself a little time acclimate and sleeping at elevation without hitting the trail on the 3rd will help me accomplish this.

Questions:

1. Can I camp at South Lake TH? Sleep in car? Behind a bush or mound of dirt? Or is this frowned upon and subject to sanction?

2. Is Four Jeffry Campground the only campground that is close and reasonably priced, etc.?

Any guidance, authorized or not, would be appreciated.

Thanks.



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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:43 pm

Hi Scrotata,

Welcome to HST!
Your closest NF Campground is: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/rec ... 4&actid=29 Which is much better and intimate than the larger Four Jeffrey Campground.
I know you mention not wanting to hike in but within 2 miles you have Hurd Lake or
Lower Marie Louise Lakes all to yourself.
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby sparky » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:15 pm

I have never had a problem sleeping in my vehicle at trailheads or pullouts. Now a days I just plan on poaching a site in my vehicle unless I am feeling especially ritzy. O:)

Now poaching a site "behind a bush".....I have been busted for that and it is a bummer!
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:21 pm

Yeah but you have an SUV Sparky my Honda Civic doesn't make for a
very comfortable night.
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby kpeter » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:43 pm

I did exactly what you are proposing at 4 Jeffrey. It was OK, but at the time they had plague signs up and I remember wondering if I was setting up my tent in the dark in the middle of a prarie dog colony. Sad to say, I had just been reading about the Black Death, and fell asleep thinking of fleas.

The Willows campground looks a whole lot better but will probably fill up quickly and almost certainly will be full on a Saturday night. In fact, they all might be in danger of filling on a Saturday night in early August. I don't remember what, if anything, can be reserved. That would be the first question.
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby scrotata » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:59 pm

Thannks for the info. Is the Willows campground still in operation?

As for hiking in a few miles, I thinking about that, and I suppose that there is no 4 mile limit like in Yosemite, so I may consider.

Just trying to see what my options are and I really want to spend a night at elevation without hiking, since I am coming from sea level essentially.

I spoke with a ranger today out of Bishop and they basically said my best option was Four Jeffrey and there is was definitely no camping at the TH. I asked about sleeping in my car, and his reply was again, no camping at the TH.
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:04 pm

Scrotata wrote:
Is the Willows campground still in operation?


If your asking because of the "closed status" notice at the top of the page, that is
because the road/area is closed for the season(snowed in).
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:14 pm

Willow campground only has about 15 sites and will fill up by 1PM allot of days. There are campgrounds all down the road but the further you go the lower you go.

You should have asked them what the dispersed camping regulations are in that area since I don't know. There are many large turn out locations for all the people that fish in the area. If you just pulled into one of those and slept either in your car or on the ground next to it then it's highly unlikely you would be bothered. The National Forest locations are much more relaxed then National Park.
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby BrianF » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:38 pm

I have slept at South lake trailhead before and at North lake many times without a problem, although I sleep in my camper shell. If you are feeling rich (or worried) there is Parcher's Resort just down the road about a mile that has "hiker cabins" for just your purpose, I don't recall how much but they were not real cheap, I have never stayed there myself. I agree that it is unlikely to find a campground site on a Saturday night in August
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby Shawn » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:48 pm

I've slept in the car 3 or 4 times at the S. Lake TH parking lot. Never got hassled, looked as though pretty much everyone was doing the same.

(that's my green Xterra towards the back of the lot)
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby KathyW » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:45 pm

If your vehicle is comfortable to sleep in you shouldn't have any problem sleeping in it at the trailhead. I've done it many times. I've seen people sleeping on the ground next to their vehicle a number of times in the parking lot at South Lake, but I've never seen anyone set up a tent in or around the parking lot.

So, if you are going to sleep in your vehicle you should be fine. If you're going to sleep next to your vehicle without a tent and you don't bed down until late at night you should be okay too. If you want to set up a tent, you might be better off staying in one of the campsites. I like Four Jeffrey and there is almost always space in that campground.

Once when I was trying to sleep in the back of my truck in Yosemite, a ranger woke me up at about midnight and told me he better not find me there when he came back later. He also said: "Just drive outside the park and pull over in Inyo National Forest because they don't care where you sleep."
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Re: Camping at South Lake TH

Postby DavePloessel » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:39 am

As others have stated, you shouldn't have an issue sleeping in your car. If by chance a ranger does ask you to leave (I really doubt this will happen), there are plenty of pull outs along the road between bishop and the TH that will serve just as well.

I.M.E. it comes down to how big a production you make of your poach camping. If you are just snoozing in the car or maybe throwing down a bag/pad next to/under it, you tend to get overlooked. If you try and set up a tent/stove/full site behind a bush or mound of dirt, they tend to get testy...

Often it's worth it to just grab a bag and pad and hike in 1/4-1/2 mile and sleep.
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