It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to camping in Mammoth Lakes, but when you’re trying to camp during a pandemic and an unprecedented wildfire season it gets much easier.
Still, that didn’t stop a few members of the ASO Mammoth team from heading out into the wilderness for a much needed camping trip before the temperatures, leaves, and snow begin to fall. We learned a lot during our trip, so we thought we would share a few tips here with you to help plan your visit to Mammoth Lakes. Check it out below and don’t forget to stop by the ASO Mammoth shop for any last-minute camping gear or questions about the area!
Check the Air Quality Early and Often
Just about everyone in California has been affected by threatening wildfire smoke in one way or another this year, and the good people in Mammoth Lakes are certainly no different. Although the Creek Fire is not currently threatening enough to cause evacuation orders, it is close enough to cover the town in haze and smoke.
However, just how bad the smoke is depends on the weather. As long as there is fire near Mammoth Lakes there will likely be smoke in the area, but how bad that smoke is depends on where the wind is blowing. One day could have healthy air quality and clear blue skies, and the next could have hazardous smoke that sharply decreases visibility.
Unfortunately, winds are difficult to predict even though weather forecasts are helpful. The best way to see what the air quality is like in Mammoth Lakes or the surrounding area is by checking sites like Airnow.gov and purpleair.com. You may get different or even contradictory AQI readings from the sites, but if you check a few then you can generally get a good idea of if the air is healthy where you want to visit.
Spread Out Where You Want to Visit
One of the best parts of camping in the Eastern Sierra is that there is so much land to see and enjoy that you really can’t see it all. When there is threatening wildfire smoke in the area, this fact becomes incredibly important as some areas may have hazardous air while others within driving distance could have great air quality. For example, air in Mammoth Lakes may be hazardous, but air near Lee Vining or Yosemite may be clear and vice versa.
For this reason, if you know there is going to be wildfire smoke in the area then spread out the places you want to visit while on your trip. Even if you don’t get to see them all, having a plan for several different locations will help you avoid wildfire smoke.
Be Flexible with Your Plans
Unless you’re lucky, then it’s inevitable that wildfire smoke will affect your trip. When this happens, it’s important that you stay flexible and open to alternative attractions. For example, if your campsite or area you plan to camp in is covered in smoke then you’ll need to be willing to find another option in order to keep your trip going.
Health and safety always come first, so make your plans revolve around them by staying flexible with where you stay and when.
Support Local Businesses
Even when an area is covered in wildfire smoke, you can still support local businesses. In fact, that’s likely when they need your patronage the most. Whether you’re in Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, or anywhere in the Eastern Sierra, make a point to support local businesses to help them until the stream of visitors picks up again!