Reversed Creek Campground

Reversed Creek Campground

By Kimberly Wilkes, Author of Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy

Photographs by Patrick Wilkes

There’s nothing like camping under the aspens when they’re ablaze in yellow, red, and orange. Although many Eastern Sierra campgrounds are closed by the time the trees put on their annual show, there are campgrounds that stay open into at least October, weather permitting. And they’re near some of the best fall foliage in the Eastern Sierra. Here are more than 11 campgrounds that are still open through the remainder of the fall color season. Closing dates vary year to year so the dates listed below are approximate. Closing dates can be sooner or later than listed.

June Lake Loop Campgrounds

Date Closes for the Season:
Reversed Creek, June Lake, Oh! Ridge: Third Week In October
Silver Lake: Early November
Gull Lake: Usually closes same time as June Lake.

Gull Lake, Reversed Creek, June Lake, and Silver Lake campgrounds all have campsites  located under the aspens, meaning foliators (my husband’s word for people who like to look at fall foliage) won’t have to even leave their campsites to admire the aspen’s fall show. The aspens on the June Lake Loop tend to change later (mid-October).

Oh! Ridge Campground doesn’t have the view of the aspens the other campgrounds have, but it’s near all the leaf action and you’ll only have to drive a few minutes to view June Lake’s colorful show. If you like privacy when camping, this campground doesn’t have a lot of spaces that meet that criteria. But when we were researching our book, Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy, we did find three campsites at this campground that were worth including in the book, including one campsite with an amazing view of June Lake.

Location: The June Lake Loop is Highway 158, which is located north of Mammoth Lakes or south of Lee Vining off of Highway 395.

Lundy Campground

Date Closes for the Season: Early to mid-November, weather permitting.

Lundy Campground

Lundy Campground

You’re immersed in fall color at Lundy Campground, where virtually every campsite sits under the aspens and every campsite has a view of the changing trees. Lundy Canyon puts on one of the most spectacular fall foliage shows in the Eastern Sierra. This is also a good base camp to explore the fall foliage in Lee Vining Canyon, by Mono Lake, and up by Tioga Pass.

Location: From Lee Vining, drive north on Highway 395 for about 7 miles. Turn left on Lundy Lake Road. The campground is approximately 5 miles on the left.

Convict Lake Campground

Date Closes for the Season: Late October

Convict Lake Campground

Convict Lake Campground

Aspens and willows embrace many of the spaces in Convict Lake Campground, so you’ll never be far from the fall color. Plus, it’s a short drive from the campground to Convict Lake, where aspens cascade down the mountainsides lining the water. Depending on the year, Convict Lake fall color usually peaks around the second week in October, but from the bottom of the canyon to the top, there are a lot of aspens and willows here, so the show can last into late October, weather permitting.

Location: From Mammoth Lakes, drive about 4.5 miles south on Highway 395. Turn right on Convict Lake Road and travel 2 miles to the campground on the left.

McGee Creek Campground

Date Closes for the Season: Late October, First Few Days In November

View from McGee Creek Campground

View from McGee Creek Campground

McGee Creek Canyon puts on one of the most spectacular fall foliage shows in the Eastern Sierra. It’s the perfect time to camp at McGee Creek Campground.

McGee Creek Campground sits in the sagebrush right next to the aspens lining the creek, so from your picnic table you’ll have a front row seat for the fall color show. Many of the spaces are out in the open, but there are a few really nice spaces here and all the campsites have ramadas over the picnic tables to add extra privacy. Plus, at this time of the year, less people camp, so you might not have any nearby neighbors.

It’s a short drive from the campground up the road to the trailhead. Aspens line the road and gather around the trailhead parking lot, so you don’t have to hike up the canyon to see fall color. But the hike is one of the most beautiful in the Sierra. Zig zags of color decorate towering mountain peaks here. And aspens line perky little McGee Creek.

If you hit it at the right time, McGee Creek Canyon is one of the best places to view Eastern Sierra fall color. And it’s not as crowded as Bishop Creek Canyon, although on Columbus Day weekend, after many other campgrounds have closed, it can get quite crowded.

Location: South of Mammoth Lakes. Exit Highway 395 at the McGee Creek sign and follow the road up the mountain to the campground on the left.

Tuff Campground
Date Closing for the Season: Late October

Rock Creek in Tuff Campground

Rock Creek in Tuff Campground

Interesting pink formations made from the rock known as tuff tower over this campground. Most of the campsites overlook the aspens lining the creek, so you’ll have a view of fall color right from your campsite. The trees here are farther down Rock Creek Canyon, at a much lower elevation than Rock Creek Lake, so they tend to turn later, usually around the second or third week in October.

Location: From Mammoth Lakes, at Tom’s Place, turn left (the opposite direction from Rock Creek Lake) on Owen’s Gorge Road. When the paved road curves to the left, take the dirt road on the right.

French Camp
Date Closing for the Season: October 30 – November 1

French Camp

French Camp

Even though there’s not a lot of foliage directly in the campground—with the exception of a smattering of aspens near the creek—this makes a great base camp to view the fall color in Rock Creek Canyon, which puts on a spectacular display.

Even better: French Camp is a short drive from Rock Creek Lakes Resort, where until mid-October you can savor one of their homemade pies or cobblers.

Location: From Mammoth Lakes, on Highway 395 at Tom’s Place, turn right on Rock Creek Road. The campground is a half mile on the right.

Upper and Lower Gray’s Meadow

Date Closes for the Season: Late October

Gray's Meadow Campground

Gray’s Meadow Campground

The black oaks alongside Independence Creek provide an interesting change of pace from the usual aspen forest you see growing along creeks in the Eastern Sierra. Of course, there are aspens here, too, and willows as well, making for a colorful collection of fall foliage. This is a peaceful campground and it has many spaces that we included in our Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy book.

Location: From Highway 395 in Independence, turn west on Market Street and follow it to the campgrounds on the right.

Lone Pine Campground

Date Closes for the Season: Late October

Lone Pine Campground

Lone Pine Campground

Even though Lone Pine Creek Canyon doesn’t have as many aspens as some of the other Eastern Sierra canyons, there is foliage here, growing alongside the creek. And Lone Pine Campground is a good starting point to explore the area. It’s a short drive from here to Independence Creek Canyon, where you can drive up to Onion Valley to view the aspens against a dramatic backdrop. This is an ideal time to stay in this campground, when the weather is cooler. In the summer it can be a bit toasty here.

Location: From Highway 395 in Lone Pine, turn west on Whitney Portal Road and follow it to the campground entrance on the left.

Do you like to camp in the campsites with the most privacy? Then buy our book Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy: Your Guide To the Most Private Campsites Near Mammoth Lakes, Tuolumne Meadows, Death Valley, And Beyond. The book increases your chances of finding campsites away from noisy neighbors or tucked away among the aspens.

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