First time Dispersed Camping in Mammoth Lakes? Here’s What You Need to Know

First time Dispersed Camping in Mammoth Lakes? Here’s What You Need to Know

At their core, most outdoor recreation options are simple. All you need is the right gear and a pretty place to do them, and you’re set. Except for the other key ingredient that is required to do just about anything outside.


It’s easy to find a pretty body of water in the Eastern Sierra and all the gear you need to fish, but if you don’t know where and how to cast then you’re probably not going to catch anything. The same is true for camping, and since Mammoth Bound’s core mission is to help people enjoy the natural beauty of Mammoth Lakes, we’ve written up a quick guide to dispersed camping here.

Check it out below, then make your trip a reality by using Mammoth Bound to find the best deals on rentals and gear in Mammoth Lakes!

Dispersed Camping Basics

For most people, camping means staying on a reserved spot within a developed campground. With dispersed camping though, camping can be anywhere you choose on public lands with a few caveats.

First off, by public lands we mean land owned by public organizations like the Bureau of Land Management or a national forest like the ones that surround Mammoth Lakes. Secondly, dispersed camping means camping away from developed campgrounds and facilities which requires experience and knowledge of the area before setting out for a camping trip. 

Lastly, dispersed camping doesn’t mean you no longer have to worry about rules and regulations that you might find in a developed campground. Although you can camp anywhere with no posted signage restricting camping, you must obey local restrictions such as fire safety rules for the area you’re camping in.

You also should follow the Leave No Trace Principles while dispersed camping just like you would anywhere else. That means-

  • Camping in areas where previous campsites have been established. For example, you’ll likely see areas that have either been cleared by previous campers or had their vegetation flattened. These are the places you should camp so that you alter the environment as little as possible while you’re camping in it.
  • Using fire rings for any campfires you make. Even when the fire danger is low, making a fire ring is the safest way to prevent any accidents while camping. Most established dispersed camping spots will already have fire rings built.
  • Placing distance between yourself and bodies of water. We don’t want anything from campgrounds and campers finding its way into the bodies of water on public ground, so it’s important that you camp at least 100 feet away from any water in your camping area.
  • Sticking to established trails and roads. leaving as little impact on the environment as possible is always the goal, and even though you’re free to roam while dispersed camping the best way to do so responsibly is by staying on established roads and trails.

The Best Places for Dispersed Camping in Mammoth Lakes 

Mammoth Lakes is fortunate to be surrounded by national forests where there are plenty of dispersed camping options.

Inyo National Forest and Sierra National Forest are the closest choices for immediate dispersed camping spaces, and thanks to their size they’re also great places for multi-day backpacking trips. If you’re planning a dispersed camping trip near Mammoth Lakes then remember to follow all local restrictions, especially during fire season. Don’t forget to have a plan for accessing and filtering water during you trip too!

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