Whether you’re looking for some quite solitude or one last camping trip before your kids head back to school, Mammoth Lakes has the campground you need over Labor Day weekend.
Even though people flock to the area for the holiday weekend, there are enough campgrounds for everyone, and if there isn’t, or you just want to get away from the crowds, then you can always find your own secluded campground on dispersed land. No matter what you choose to do, the ASO Mammoth team has combined the most important camping information here for you.
If you don’t have your Mammoth Lakes Labor Day plans set yet, check out our camping guide below!
Where Can You Camp?
The good news is that Mammoth Lakes is located within Inyo National Forest, and dispersed camping is allowed within National Forests and land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The bad news is that you can’t just set up camp anywhere you want.
There are several campgrounds, particularly in the most popular camping areas in Mammoth Lakes, where reservations and fees are required to camp. In some cases, these designated campgrounds are first come first serve, but that doesn’t mean you should rely on a spot being available. Always check ahead of time because there is always a good chance that developed campgrounds will be on a reservation system or just won’t be available for when you’re visiting. Some popular examples of these campgrounds are Lake Mary, Coldwater Campground, Twin Lakes, New Shady Rest Campgrounds and Old Shady Rest Campgrounds, Reds Meadow Campground, and Sherwin Creek Campground.
Although many of the most popular camping spots in the area are developed campgrounds, there is still plenty of land open for dispersed camping all over. In the area outside the town of Mammoth Lakes, just about everywhere, except along paved roads, is open to dispersed camping. An easy way to tell if you can camp somewhere is if there is a any developed features, such as trash removal, tables, or bathrooms.
Other than a wilderness permit, which you can get at Inyo National Forest Visitor Centers, you don’t need much else than the knowledge and equipment to stay safe in the wilderness. However, it is recommended that you get a map of the national forest you’re camping in so you can avoid restricted areas. For example, Horseshoe Meadow, Onion Valley, Big Pine Creek, Bishop Creek, Rock Creek, McGee Creek, Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Reds Meadow Valley, June Lakes Loop, Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Canyon, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, any research areas, and all along the Owens River are all restricted areas in Inyo National Forest. If you’re unfamiliar with those areas, then a map will help you stay out of trouble. Other than that, you’ll just need a campfire permit if you intend to build a campfire and should camp at least 100 feet away from lakes and streams to camp on dispersed land.
So Where Should You Camp?
Now that you know where you can camp, you may be asking where the best place to camp is. Although the right campground for you depends on what type of camping experience you’re looking for, one of the most popular areas in Mammoth Lakes is the Lakes Basin. You’ll find excellent developed campgrounds, beautiful lakes, and plenty of trails and bike paths that are perfect for a family get away. It gets better though, as there are several different campgrounds available for walk-ups and reservations.
However, all these things make the Lakes Basin popular among visitors, so if you’re planning on camping here then check availability well before hand so you don’t arrive with nowhere to set up camp!