Wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the foothills. Streams and rivers are swelling from snow melt creating spectacular cascades. It’s time to dust off the camping gear and plan a getaway. Here’s where to go spring camping in the Sierra.
Know Before You Go
The 2022/23 winter has been one for the records. Before traveling for any spring camping we recommend reaching out to the responsibly agency managing the campground (USFS, BLM, NPS, etc) to check current status of it as well as the roads that access them. Many local roads are still under FEET of snow and many have had extensive damage due to flooding. For example, as of March 1st, 2023, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks entrances are closed and are expected to remain closed through at least April 15 and likely much later.
Pleasant Valley Pit Campground
While visiting Bishop and its big backyard, any season is enjoyable, but spring is especially magical. By March, the Owens Valley is beginning to warm and highs average in the 60s, and by April, the 70s are the makings for a spring camping getaway. In early spring, a good option is the Pleasant Valley Pit Campground. For only $5 per site without requiring reservations, the P.V. Pit Campground is the perfect spot to access world-class fishing, bouldering, and enjoying the views of the Tablelands area.
While visiting national parks in the summer is a time-honored tradition, it’s also the most popular time for everyone else. With Sequoia National Park’s elevation ranging between 1,500 feet to more than 14,000 feet, spring is THE time to visit the foothills area. This is when the rolling terrain is clothed in an array of wildflowers, featuring some of the best winter hikes in the Sierra. The most popular trails include Marble Falls, Middle Fork, and North Fork.
You can access all this and more by camping at the Potwisha or South Fork campgrounds.
Another great choice in the foothills is Lake Camanche. Spanning over 7,700 acres and featuring nearly 54 miles of shoreline, this body is water is an excellent fishery for crappie, rainbow trout, and catfish. But what it’s known for is being one of the best bass fishing lakes in the state with monstrous proportions. In addition to on-the-hook (pun intended) fishing, this lake is home to excellent boating, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and even equestrian specific trails. Featuring hundreds of tent camping sites, RV stalls, cottages, and equestrian camping locations along the shoreline, it’s no wonder this lake keeps winning awards.
Lake Don Pedro
For those needing an escape from daily doldrums of life and a bit of lake living, look no further than Lake Don Pedro. Located just an hour west of Yosemite, it’s another renowned bass fishing lake that’s also home to trout, catfish, bluegill, and salmon. It’s also one of the best places to take in wildflowers in the early spring. The 13,000-acre lake features three campgrounds to pick from. Don’t like the idea of sleeping on the ground? Consider renting a spacious luxury houseboat, many coming fully equipped with kitchens. Be sure to bring your bike and sample the new Vista Trail at Fleming Meadows. This multi-use trail features a 3.25-mile round trip to the beautiful vista point and perfect for hiking, biking, e-biking, and even your pup.
Another hidden gem for spring camping since it has an elevation just shy of a 1,000 feet. Hidden View campground is the perfect launchpad for taking in Hensley Lake. The rolling topography plus the reservoir’s twenty miles of quiet shoreline provide a perfect habitat to bird watch. Lake fishing is particularly good in the coves where largemouth black bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish are found in abundance. Rainbow trout are stocked in the lake each winter.
To ensure that Yosemite remains the beautiful icon of national parks, the NPS has instilled a reservation system to reduce congestion for the most popular times of year such as summer. If you want to experience it, Spring is THE time to visit. From waterfalling to wild flowering, nature is waking up to put on a show for you. If that isn’t enough, another reason to book a spring camping trip is that it’s easier to get a tent site in Curry Village or reservation at the ever-popular airstream armada at AutoCamp.
Author: Alex Silgalis
Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at https://localfreshies.com
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