Where Can I Camp in the Mammoth Lakes Area?

More than 800 campsites are scattered throughout the Mammoth Lakes area. Many of the designated spots are located by alpine lakes, although some are in forest settings. But if you prefer a more rustic experience, you may want to consider what’s referred to as dispersed camping, which means pitching camp where you won’t have the convenience of bathrooms, trash cans, running water, or campfire rings. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can camp “anywhere,” but it does give you more camping options in Mammoth Lakes. The friendly team from Mammoth Bound, your top choice for Mammoth clothing, logo wear, and lifestyle merch, explain what you need to know about camping in the Mammoth Lakes area.

Camping Is Usually Allowed on Publicly Owned Land

Much of the land around the Mammoth Lakes area is publicly owned, and this is where you can camp in areas designated for dispersed camping. Visit the U.S. Forest Service’s Mammoth Ranger District Information page for a list of all forest campgrounds in the area to get a better idea of what areas are accessible for camping. The Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership also has a camping section with a map of all the areas in the region where camping is allowed.

Be Cautious about Managed Areas

Some lands in the area are managed by various organizations. In this case, whether or not camping is allowed depends on what the land managers or owners permit. Be on the lookout for any posted signs if you’re in areas that may not be public land.

Campground Camping vs. Dispersed Camping

There’s something to be said for the added comforts you get in official campgrounds. These usually include access to showers and bathroom facilities. Some of these spots also have electricity hookups and other amenities like Wi-Fi access. 

Be Respectful and Clean Up

“Leave no trace” is the basic rule of thumb to follow if you prefer to camp on public land in Mammoth Lakes. Dispersed camping tends to be more enjoyable if you’re a more experienced camper. The main thing to keep in mind is to respect the area and clean up everything when you’re ready to leave. Also, only drive and park on established dirt roads, and don’t block traffic or vehicle access.

Do Some Pre-Trip Planning First

If you have plans for a more rustic camping experience in Mammoth Lakes, start by having a general idea of where you want to set things up. If you plan to camp overnight while you’re here for a weekend or a bit longer, you can always arrange to stay at a hotel in the area. This is worth considering if you want camping to be only part of your experience here. Otherwise, be prepared and bring everything you’ll need, including:

• Basic camping supplies
• Water to drink and put out any campfires
• Portable battery chargers if you don’t want to completely rough it
• Your camping gear (e.g., tents, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, etc.)
• A mix of clothing, since temperatures can dip significantly at night, even in the summer

With food, you can always pick some things up locally. If you plan to fish as you camp, get your permit before you come here, since all anglers 16 and older are required to have them. Lastly, if you set up camp in a dispersed camping area, you’ll also need a campfire permit, which you can obtain from the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. 

No matter where you choose to camp at Mammoth lakes, you’ll find a ton of fun things for the whole family to enjoy. While you’re here, stop by and see the friendly folks at Mammoth Bound. If you want to pick up some trendy clothing during your stay, from logo t-shirts to cool Mammoth headwear, you can rely on the team at Mammoth Bound for exceptional service. Drop by our shop or contact us at [email protected].

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