Sierra National Forest

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About Sierra National Forest

The Sierra National Forest is more than 1.3 million acres of stunning mountains views, heavily wooded campgrounds, and flourishing wildlife. What better place to enjoy a lazy day by the lakeside, relax in hot springs, get your adrenaline pumping on a whitewater trip, and hike into some incredible vista points overlooking the mountains? There’s an endless amount to do and see in the Sierra!

Campgrounds in Sierra

Mono Hot Springs Campground

1. Mono Hot Springs Campground

100% Recommend (5 Responses)

Mono Hot Springs Campground sits in the High Sierra, on the South Fork of the San Joaquin River in an area known for, you guessed it, hot springs!...

Fresh Off
Fresh Off: Be sure to take the 1 mi hike to Doris Lake - it's a great place to swim - warmer than the river! - and there are lots of...
134 Saves
Kirch Flat Campground

2. Kirch Flat Campground

Kirch Flat Group Campground sits on a large, sandy flat on the banks of King’s River, popular for whitewater rafting and fishing. Watch for poison...

58 Saves
Marmot Rock Campground

3. Marmot Rock Campground

Marmot Rock Campground offers sapphire vistas of the Courtright Reservoir. Campsites have a timeless feel and are the perfect spot to get the fire...

Anne
Anne: The PG&E page for this campsite says it doesn't have drinking water or bear boxes, but it has both drinking water (centrally...
48 Saves
Dinkey Creek Campground

4. Dinkey Creek Campground

100% Recommend (9 Responses)

If the phrase “something for everyone” was ever 100% true, it would be used for Dinkey Creek Campground. Named for the creek it sits beside, there...

Jeff
Jeff: Pay showers are available just outside of the camp at the general store.Wasps (AKA meat bees) can be aggressive when water is...
34 Saves
Mono Creek Campground

5. Mono Creek Campground

Mono Creek Campground puts the “high” in the high Sierra. At 7,500 above sea level, this secluded site makes for the perfect base camp in the...

Scott
Scott: It takes a crazy, kind of scary drive along a single-lane, dirt, cliffside mountain road to get to Mono Creek, but it's worth...
16 Saves
McCabe Flat Campground

6. McCabe Flat Campground

A well-kept campground secret close to Yosemite National Park, McCabe Flat Campground offers quaint sites nestled alongside the Merced River. These...

16 Saves
Fresno Dome Campground

7. Fresno Dome Campground

When you first hear the name Fresno Dome Campground it sound a little intimidating (think sci-fi and apocalypse), but this mellow campground...

Mac
Mac: Oh my! There are quite a few hidden gems around this campsite. The dirt roads here have spotty signage, but with a bit of...
13 Saves
Lily Pad Campground

8. Lily Pad Campground

Looking for a lake view? You’re in luck! Lily Pad Campground is located on Wishon Reservoir, and all of its campsite have sapphire views of the...

12 Saves
Dry Gulch Campground

9. Dry Gulch Campground

Wave a friendly “hello” to whitewater rafters hollering on their way by your tent at Dry Gulch Campground. On the banks of the Merced River, this...

Roman
Roman: We had a great 4 night Easter weekend camp in 2016. The site is really nice, clean and well kept. The camp host Kelly was very...
10 Saves
Sample Meadow Campground

10. Sample Meadow Campground

Close to the jaw dropp’n beauty of the Kaiser and Ansel Adams Wilderness areas you will find the Sample Meadow Campground. Campsites are private...

Anne
Anne: Sites are generously sized for multiple tents, and spaced out such that you might not see other parties from your own site....
8 Saves
Wishon Point Campground

11. Wishon Point Campground

One of the more cushy, accommodating options in the area, Wishon Point Campground gives you brag-worthy access to Bass Lake in a shady and private...

8 Saves
Big Sandy Campground

12. Big Sandy Campground

If you’re looking for a big camping experience head to Big Sandy Campground located on a large flat adjacent to Big Creek. This campgrounds is...

Casey
Casey: This price is incorrect. It is $26.22 a night, $28.22 on holidays, and you must have cash or check.
6 Saves
Forks Campground

13. Forks Campground

Ain't no fork in the road here folks! The best move you can make for your camping pleasure is undoubtedly Forks Campground on the scenic western...

Pierre
Pierre: Great place to camp, site 006 is huge! However we were disappointed to see how low the lake was, and also not...
6 Saves
Kelty Meadow Campground

14. Kelty Meadow Campground

Pines and cedars form a natural hotel for you and your horse at Kelty Meadow Campground, a tucked-away, lightly-traversed area near Bass Lake with...

6 Saves
Billy Creek, Lower Campground

15. Billy Creek, Lower Campground

Stunning lake views at your door. Tent opening. Same thing. Check out Billy Creek Lower Campground in the Sierra National Forest for lakefront...

5 Saves
West Kaiser Campground

16. West Kaiser Campground

Ahh… crowd free High Sierra Camping! That is what you will find at West Kaiser Campgrounds’ primitive sites. The campground is located on a...

5 Saves
Dirt Flat Campground

17. Dirt Flat Campground

Ladies and gentlemen, the name says it all! This campground is located on a flat of dirt! You in? Dirt Flat campground is nestled on the banks of...

heather
Heather: My secret spot in the Yosemite area! You used to not need a reservation but now you do... cheaper and higher availability than...
5 Saves
Nelder Grove Campground

18. Nelder Grove Campground

Nelder Grove is a place close to Yosemite where you might just have a forest of giant sequoias all to yourself. In the shadow of this forest lies...

Rob
Rob: A good source of info for this historic grove is at http://www.neldergrove.org. Go on weekends when the caretaker is there;...
5 Saves
Railroad Flat Campground

19. Railroad Flat Campground

On a last minute trip to Yosemite and looking for some camping? You might luck out at the first-come, first-served Railroad Flat Campground. These...

5 Saves
Whisky Falls Campground

20. Whisky Falls Campground

Whiskey Falls Campground. Oh yes, you read that right, need we say more? Yes, actually we should. Whiskey Falls is perhaps the most beautiful...

5 Saves
Chilkoot Campground

21. Chilkoot Campground

Chill at popular Chilkoot Campground, relaxing in a shady grove of cedars, firs and pines. With both tent and RV camping, access to a nearby creek,...

5 Saves
Willow Placer Campground

22. Willow Placer Campground

Willow Placer Campground is a first-come, first-served campground just outside of Yosemite National Park. The campground offers a great base for...

5 Saves
Dorabelle Campground

23. Dorabelle Campground

Why not spend the weekend on the lake? Grab your spouse and kids and head to Dorabelle Campground near Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest!...

5 Saves
Gigantea Campground

24. Gigantea Campground

Gigantic. Enormous. Colossal. Monumental. These are all words one is bound to use while staying at the aptly named Gigantea Campground just down...

Sarah
Sarah: We did not camp here, but we camped nearby at Swanson Meadows. We were going to camp at Gigantea if Swanson was full. We...
4 Saves
Smalley Cove Campground

25. Smalley Cove Campground

Close to the Kerchoff Reservoir is the quaint Smalley Cove Campground. As you nestle into groves of oak and pine you can listen to the birds chirp...

4 Saves
Kinnikinnick Campground

26. Kinnikinnick Campground

Go into a stay at Kinnikinnick Campground feeling harried and overwhelmed by a million things, and come out with a clear mind and wind-tousled hair...

Fresh Off
Fresh Off: A nicely wooded campground. Site #23 has tons of space so it's a great spot if you need to set up multiple tents.
4 Saves
Summerdale Campground

27. Summerdale Campground

Beat the heat at Summerdale Campground, a popular destination just a mile and a half from Yosemite, among beautiful wildflowers as well as firs,...

4 Saves
Ward Lake Campground

28. Ward Lake Campground

Get ready for some high elevation cabrewing (beer drinking and canoeing) at Ward Lake Campground! While this campground may be challenging to get...

3 Saves
Lupine Cedar Bluff Campground

29. Lupine Cedar Bluff Campground

These are actually two campgrounds side-by-side, Lupine and Cedar Bluff. Both are a stone’s throw from Bass Lake. Lupine is the quieter of the two...

3 Saves
Jackass Meadow Campground

30. Jackass Meadow Campground

Looking for some sublime Sierra camping? Head to Jackass Campground where sapphire skies silhouette the craggy peaks of the John Muir Wilderness....

Susan
Susan: Actually, this campground does accept reservations. Check the forest service website.
3 Saves
Spring Cove Campground

31. Spring Cove Campground

Fan of America? Or at least our national symbol? Visit Spring Cove Campground and you might just be in for a pleasant surprise. Found right next to...

3 Saves
China Bar Camping Area

32. China Bar Camping Area

Got a boat? Want to do some epic camping on Mammoth Lake? Head to the boat-in only China Bar Campground. Rumor has it the fishing is something to...

3 Saves
Redinger Campground

33. Redinger Campground

Getting a bit too hot in Fresno? Come beat the heat at Redinger Campground on Redinger Lake. Campsites are primitive so bring what you’ll need and...

3 Saves
College Campground

34. College Campground

A rustic, low-traffic, tent-only site on Huntington Lake spanning open grassy areas and clumps of pines and firs, College Campground is a great...

2 Saves
Little Jackass Campground

35. Little Jackass Campground

When the world is being a big you know what, you can always escape to Little Jackass Campground. These remote campsites are nestled into Fish Creek...

2 Saves
Jerseydale Campground

36. Jerseydale Campground

Grab your stallions y’all cause we’re camping on horseback at Jerseydale Campground. The campground is located close to Yosemite National Park and...

2 Saves
Upper Chiquito Campground

37. Upper Chiquito Campground

Nestle into Upper Chiquito Campground located on the east fork of Chiquito Creek. Epic swimming holes in granite canyons are rumored to be close...

2 Saves
Swanson Campground

38. Swanson Campground

Swanson Campground sits in a forest of dense pine trees. Shaver Lake is a short hike or drive away, so you can get your swim on. Bring mosquito...

2 Saves
Whiskers Campground

39. Whiskers Campground

Whiskers campground is the perfect place to camp off the beaten path, enjoy starry skies, and partake in some amber colored whiskey! Campsites are...

2 Saves
Portal Forebay Campground

40. Portal Forebay Campground

Portal Forebay Campground is the perfect respite for your High Sierra adventures! Campsites are located along the shores of Portal Forebay Lake,...

2 Saves
Greys Mountain Campground

41. Greys Mountain Campground

Like the sound of diving into cold mountain streams and fishing for Bass in the Sierra Mountains? Head on over to Greys Mountain Campground located...

2 Saves
Trapper Springs Campground

42. Trapper Springs Campground

Grab the power bait, marshmallows, and some brew cause we’re going camping! Trapper Springs Campground offers tons of campsites located close to...

2 Saves
Soda Springs Campground

43. Soda Springs Campground

Looking for a long drive from almost anything? Head to Soda Springs Campground tucked in to the sweet vistas along Chiquito Creek. The waters are...

1 Save
Soquel Campground

44. Soquel Campground

"Grab a spot at in-demand Soquel Campground, a foresty little hideaway with opportunities to bask in the majesty of giant sequoias and break out...

Rob
Rob: Nice when not crowded; right on stream. Good fishing. Trail runs along creek to next campground. Nice dogwood, snowplants, corn...
1 Save
Black Rock Campground

45. Black Rock Campground

Black Rock Campground is shaded by cedar and pine and Black Rock Reservoir is nearby. There are great views of the canyon from the campground,...

1 Save
Rancheria Campground

46. Rancheria Campground

With camping options for land-lubbers and water enthusiasts alike, Rancheria Campground boasts more of a community feel than some of the other...

1 Save
Sawmill Flat Campground

47. Sawmill Flat Campground

Sawmill Flat Campground sits in a shady forest of pine, cedar, Manzanita, and bear clover. This camping spot is popular with hunters, and 15 miles...

1 Save
Rock Creek Campground

48. Rock Creek Campground

Pitch your tent and take a dip! At Rock Creek Campground in the Sierra National Forest, one of the most exciting amenities are the numerous...

1 Save
Fish Creek Campground

49. Fish Creek Campground

Ready to snuggle up in the shadow of the Sierras, tucked away in your own little valley on the banks of Fish Creek? This primitive campground has...

1 Save
Bretz Mill Campground

50. Bretz Mill Campground

Bretz Mill Campground sits along Big Creek in a shady forest of pine and oak. You’re in bear country now, so make sure you store food properly!...

1 Save
Buck Meadow Campground

51. Buck Meadow Campground

Buck Meadow Campground in the Sierra National Forest offers sandy meadow camping at the confluence of Snow Corral and Deer Creeks. Fish for some...

1 Save
Mammoth Pool Campground

52. Mammoth Pool Campground

Escape to paradise in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where adventure and relaxation combine to create a way of life that is unobtainable anywhere...

1 Save
Catavee Campground

53. Catavee Campground

History buffs! Catavee Campground on Huntington Lake is your perfect spot. Not only can you spend your weekend amongst the dense fir and pines, you...

Guadalupe J
Guadalupe J: Cold at night - bring extra blankets, they have a bar and store for some essentials you might have forgotten. Tucked in the the...
Sweetwater Campground

54. Sweetwater Campground

The federal government got something right when they named this campground. At Sweetwater you’re surrounded by water that runs fast through the...

Bolsillo Campground

55. Bolsillo Campground

Located on the thrilling Kaiser Pass Road, Bolsillo Campground is the perfect spot to kick back and relax. Hang your hat in the Aspens, dip your...

Placer Campground

56. Placer Campground

Looking for a mammoth camping experience? Head to Placer Campground located near Mammoth Pool. At these popular sites you can hang out by the...

Badger Flat Campground

57. Badger Flat Campground

Take a spin out on Kaiser Pass Road and enjoy some high elevation camping at Badger Flats Campground. Once you’re there you can sun-bathe beside...

Granite Creek Campground

58. Granite Creek Campground

Picture laying on smooth granite in the summer sun and diving into the snow-melty pools of freshwater. You can do this at Granite Creek Campground....

Rebecca
Rebecca: I love Granite Creek CG and highly recommend it, but be advised, there is only one restroom, and it's located on the upper...
Lower Chiquito Campground

59. Lower Chiquito Campground

Lower Chiquito Campground offers cozy sites along Chiquito Creek. Nestle into the shade of cedar and pine, listen to the sound of a mountain...

Clover Meadow Campground

60. Clover Meadow Campground

Clover Meadow Campground offers quaint camping sites in an open meadow that is surrounded by the embrace of Lodge pole pine and Douglas fir. There...

Voyager Rock Camping Area

61. Voyager Rock Camping Area

Voyage Rock Camping Area is the OHV hotspot of the Sierra National Forest. Campsites are located on the Courtright Reservoir and right off of the...

Deer Creek Campground

62. Deer Creek Campground

Your backyard just got a whole lot bigger! Popular Deer Creek Campground, located on the rolling forested terrain of the Sierra National Forest...

Vermillion Campground

63. Vermillion Campground

Have you ever gazed upon an Ansel Adams photograph and thought, I’d like to see that one day? Well now you can! From Vermillion Campground in the...

Billy Creek, Upper Campground

64. Billy Creek, Upper Campground

In the heart of the Sierra Nevadas, between Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, lies this lakeside campground. Complete with idyllic views of the...

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29 Reviews

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Hipcamper Fresh Off

Be sure to take the 1 mi hike to Doris Lake - it's a great place to swim - warmer than the river! - and there are lots of places to jump off of rocks into the water (because who doesn't love to do that?!)

Helpful 5
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Hipcamper Anne

The PG&E page for this campsite says it doesn't have drinking water or bear boxes, but it has both drinking water (centrally located) and swivel-clasp-secured cabinets (one per campsite). Firewood is available for purchase from the hosts at Trapper Springs.

Helpful 3
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Hipcamper Jeff

Pay showers are available just outside of the camp at the general store.Wasps (AKA meat bees) can be aggressive when water is scarce.

Helpful 2
Helpful 2
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Hipcamper Anne

Crowded on the weekends, so I recommend arriving mid-week or early-ish on Friday to secure a spot. If you prefer peace and quiet at your campsite, might be best to avoid weekends altogether.

Helpful 2
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Hipcamper Roman

We had a great 4 night Easter weekend camp in 2016. The site is really nice, clean and well kept. The camp host Kelly was very friendly and helpful. We read the reviews on Yelp. Did not have Mosquito problems (maybe to early in the year;end of March) or other issues. The sites 1 and 4 are very secluded. Far enough from other campers. 3&4 are kind of together but with enough room in between. The camp sites are right next to Merced River so you have the white water noise all the time. The street to Yosemite is on the other side of the river, due to the white water sounds we did not really hear cars. We where not disturbed. Worst case bring ear plugs if you want to avoid nature sounds. Will come again.
Other
-Clean vault toilets
-Water spigot

Helpful 2
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Hipcamper A
A

Mammoth Pool is absolutely gorgeous, perfect for swimming, fishing, and boating; fun in all seasons.

Helpful 1
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Hipcamper Fresh Off

A nicely wooded campground. Site #23 has tons of space so it's a great spot if you need to set up multiple tents.

Helpful 1
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Hipcamper Rob

Nice when not crowded; right on stream. Good fishing. Trail runs along creek to next campground. Nice dogwood, snowplants, corn flowers and azalea in the spring. An osprey hunts in the stream right near camp.

Helpful 1
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Hipcamper Sarah

We did not camp here, but we camped nearby at Swanson Meadows. We were going to camp at Gigantea if Swanson was full. We still visited Gigantea to check it out. It is far back on McKinley Road which is great for privacy and quiet. From Swanson, we could hear light traffic from Dinkey Creek Road. However, Gigantea is far away from everything, so less road traffic noise is great. The campground is VERY dense with trees-more dense than I've seen at any campground. I thought that was cool but wouldn't fit our family well with children who want to run. This campground is also pretty far from Shaver Lake-45 min, so if you're wanting Shaver fun, I would stay someone closer. Gigantea was not full on Labor Day Weekend. There's always a spot!

Hipcamper Anne

Sites are generously sized for multiple tents, and spaced out such that you might not see other parties from your own site. That said, don't be surprised if you see some of the local cattle trundling through the campground.

Hipcamper Scott

It takes a crazy, kind of scary drive along a single-lane, dirt, cliffside mountain road to get to Mono Creek, but it's worth it. The seclusion is incredible. The campgrounds are good quality, and the nearby creek is beautiful. There are so many cool trails around, but I recommend the hike to Devil's Tub. It's a gorgeous High Sierra Lake, surrounded by a cirque of mountain peaks. We made a quick stop at Mono Hot Springs on our way out, it was alright. Only one of the tubs we found was actually hot. I'd focus more time on hiking & exploring the Sierra next time.

Hipcamper Michelle

This was by far one of my favorite site. We camped at site 8. It kept us pretty secluded and away from the noise of the campground. The sites are so close together that you want something on the outside if your looking for a peaceful camping trip. I had small children so the rock slides were pretty dangerous. However there is a nice little swimming pond behind site 3 if you take the little hike back.

Hipcamper A
A

See a list of some incredible spots, like the Arch Rock, Nelder Grove, and of course, Mono Hot Springs!

Hipcamper A
A

Definitely do the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, a four hour road trip through the forest with panoramic incredible views!

Hipcamper Fresh Off

There are a handful of natural hot springs near the campground. Cross the San Joaquin using the log bridge and head up the hill - there are a few small concrete tubs, or there is a larger, natural bottomed spring about a mile away. The resort store has a map.

Hipcamper Auntie

Nice campground a short walk to the creek and a 10 min drive from mono hot springs with vault toilets, fire rings and picnic tables. Byo water. Site 10 is nice and more private.

Hipcamper Auntie

Nice campground a short walk to the creek and a 10 min drive from mono hot springs with vault toilets, fire rings and picnic tables. Byo water. Site 10 is nice and more private.

Hipcamper Rob

A good source of info for this historic grove is at http://www.neldergrove.org. Go on weekends when the caretaker is there; their family has been here for decades. Excellent redwood hikes out of camp. Walkin sites; steep very narrow road in.

Hipcamper Susan

Actually, this campground does accept reservations. Check the forest service website.

Hipcamper Pierre

Great place to camp, site 006 is huge! However we were disappointed to see how low the lake was, and also not swimming-friendly: so much mud...

Hipcamper Mac

Oh my! There are quite a few hidden gems around this campsite.

The dirt roads here have spotty signage, but with a bit of navigation skill and some luck you'll find beautiful meadows, epic vista points, and awesome trails.

Drive up 6S10 just a little while further beyond the campsite to the Fresno Dome trail head to hike to the top of the dome for a view that you will not forget.

Hipcamper Anne

As of mid-September 2015, Kaiser Creek was still running enough to provide water for filtering.

Hipcamper Anne

The track from Kaiser Pass Road down to the campground is mostly unpaved and rough at times. Vehicles with low ground clearance not recommended; similarly for 2WD vehicles in wet weather.

Hipcamper Rebecca

I love Granite Creek CG and highly recommend it, but be advised, there is only one restroom, and it's located on the upper Loop. The sites in the lower loop are probably about a 10 to 20 minute walk to the restrooms, so be prepared to dig some holes.

Hipcamper Mayme

Very nice and quiet campground just above a beautiful river. Has clean toilets, and fire pits, but bring your own water! The drive in is incredibly long and a little scary (single lane, bumpy, cliff side road), but also a little fun :) You pass some beautiful spots along the way. Site is also very close to Vermillion Valley Resort, where there is a shop, cafe, bar and is also a stopping point for those hiking the PCT. You can grab a drink and hear amazing stories from those hikers!

Hipcamper Guadalupe J

Cold at night - bring extra blankets, they have a bar and store for some essentials you might have forgotten. Tucked in the the redwoods feels amazing.

Hipcamper heather

My secret spot in the Yosemite area! You used to not need a reservation but now you do... cheaper and higher availability than the traditional Yosemite sites. You can even take the bus into the park from there :)

Hipcamper Casey

This price is incorrect. It is $26.22 a night, $28.22 on holidays, and you must have cash or check.

Hipcamper Kasey

Great backpacking around Dinkey Lakes

History of Sierra National Forest

This was the second National Forest created in California and the largest at the time. It covered over six million acres (24,000 km2) of the Sierra Nevada and was about four times the average area of typical California National Forests. Originally it embraced parts of eight counties from Tuolumne on the north to Kern on the south and Mono and Inyo on the east. Initially its name was descriptive, but later when the Sierra was divided into different units this was no longer the case.
President Harrison proclaimed the Sierra Forest Reserve on February 14, 1893. Four years later the south half became a separate unit and was named Sierra South during the "forest reserves" era. This designation was dropped after the administrative transition to the National Forests on March 4, 1907. the Sequoia National Forest on July 1, 1908 Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks were established from this south portion of Sierra National Forest. Eastern portions of Sierra NF were used for the Inyo and Toiyabe National Forests; northern portions were used for the Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.
The first timber sale on a California National Forest took place in the Sierra NF by the General Land Office in 1899.