Tips for First-Come, First-Serve Camping & List of Mammoth Campgrounds

ASO Mammoth’s Tips for First-Come, First-Serve Camping

Outdoor adventure is always nearby in Mammoth Lakes, which means you can turn your long weekend, or any weekend for that matter, into a last-minute camping trip with a visit to town! Camping is a great idea especially for Labor Day weekend, although it can get busy, here are some tips to find that perfect spot!

Depending on the season though, getting a reservation for a place to camp could be impossible if you don’t plan your trip weeks or even months in advance. If that happens, you’ll have to rely on first-come, first-serve campsites, but if you’re unfamiliar with how to get one of these sites then your trip may end before it even starts! The ASO Mammoth team has put together a short list of tips to help you get a first-come, first-serve campsite. Check it out below and stop by ASO Mammoth for all your camping and outdoor gear needs!

Know When Check Out Is and Arrive Early

The basics of first-come, first-serve campsites are that when someone leaves a campsite, it’s open until the next person claims it by setting up camp there.

Popular campsites like those near a lakeshore or with an excellent view will have people who are already camping nearby waiting to take them as soon as the current occupants leave, so if you’re not already at the campsite then you’re at a major disadvantage. For that reason, it’s best to know what time the campers are required to check out and arrive well before then to figure out where your best chance of securing a campsite is. Typically, this information can be found quickly online or by calling the campsite. 

Check for Physical Signs and Social Media Posts Before Entering a Campground

Getting a good campsite with no reservations takes a little luck sometimes, so give yourself the best chance possible by finding out which campgrounds are completely full before entering them.

In large parks there will be multiple campgrounds full of individual campsites. You should already know which campgrounds offer first-come, first-serve camping, but campsites will also put signs up outside of campground entrances that say the campground is full as well as on social media. If you look for these signs, then you’ll immediately know which campgrounds you should look in for empty campsites instead of having to check each one individually. 

Call the Campsite Ahead of Time for Information

Of course, a quick phone call to the campground’s management will also give you the inside track on if there are any open campsites and when others might open soon.

Campground management can’t make any guarantees for open campsites, but they can tell you where to start your search and when the best time to arrive is. Plus, if there are no open campsites then they can point you to other campgrounds that may be open.

Campgrounds  in Mammoth Lakes Basin

Campgrounds in the Town of Mammoth Lakes

Campgrounds Outside of Mammoth Lakes

Campgrounds in Reds Meadow – (Devils Postpile/Rainbow Falls area)


Divide and Conquer

If you’re camping in a group, then give yourself the best chance possible of finding a campsite by splitting up to search for open sites once you arrive at the campground. This strategy will efficiently cover the most ground possible during your search, but remember to respect campground rules and the privacy of other campers while looking.

Give Yourself the Best Chance By Visiting on Weekdays and in the Offseason

Last-minute camping trips don’t often come with the luxury of being on a weekday or in the off-season, but if you have a chance to camp during either of these times then you will have much better luck at finding a first-come, first-serve campsite!

Leave a Comment