Tucked between Tioga Pass, the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, and Mono Lake Tufa State Park, the tiny town of Lee Vining makes for a great base for outdoor adventurers, including hikers, climbers, and anglers. Nearby Mono Lake offers a surreal landscape of limestone tufas and an extreme environment, while other lakes in the region offer trout fishing and scenic beauty and the well-preserved ghost town of Bodie features hundreds of historic buildings. Several area lakes offer resorts and cabins, and Forest Service and national park campgrounds have plenty of space for tents and RVs.
Four Forest Service campgrounds near the Lee Vining Creek offer nearly 150 campsites for tents and RVs. Vault toilets are available at all four, and drinking water is available at the Big Bend and Aspen Grove campgrounds. Further along Tioga Road, enjoy trout fishing and high elevation camping near Tioga, Ellery, and Saddlebag lakes. For solitude and views, hike to the Sawmill hike-in campground.
Yosemite National Park
One of the most spectacular national parks in the country is right next door to Lee Vining. Five campgrounds can be found along Tioga Road, including Tuolumne Meadows Campground, the park’s largest. Several high Sierra camps offer the best of backpacking with no need to haul your gear. To be closest to the action, continue on to the heart of the park in Yosemite Valley, where four campgrounds can be found, with options for tent and RV sites and tent cabins.
Northern Eastern Sierras
North of Lee Vining, explore Lundy Falls, fish in Lundy Lake, then camp at Lundy Canyon Campground along Lundy Creek. Further north, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest offers several campground options near and around lakes and rivers, including Trumbull Lake, Twin Lakes, Robinson Creek, and the Walker River. Buckeye Campground is near natural hot springs, and in Stanislaus National Forest, nearly 10 campgrounds make it easy to explore the Stanislaus River.
Southern Eastern Sierras
Just south of Lee Vining, the June Lake Loop circles around four scenic lakes with six campgrounds. Further south, the resort town of Mammoth Lakes offers amenities and a dozen campgrounds surrounding it. Convict Lake has one very popular campground, while anglers flock to Crowley Lake and Rock Creek for excellent trout fishing and a dozen campgrounds. Further south, Bishop draws climbers for bouldering and nearby private Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) camping options.
Lee Vining is busiest in summer, when Tioga Pass to Yosemite is open and thunderstorms are common. Anglers flock to area lakes and streams in spring, when trout season opens. Fall brings worthy fall colors and continued trout fishing, especially along the June Lake Loop. In winter, ice climbing in Lee Vining Canyon is popular. Winter weather can make access difficult with mountain pass closures.