Names ‘N Numbers
So let’s go through some information, much of which should be very useful to you. As you explore the following California campground information you will have the opportunity to click into many of these links and “drill down” and find many more campgrounds and a lot more info that we might not touch on.
Also one of the important things we’ll be covering is making campground reservations in California.
Later we’ll even share a link with you for the California trout stocking schedule, something that came in handy when we started doing some of our best fishing in Bishop, Ca.
One of the best places for a good fishing report on the area is Mac’s Sporting Goods there in town. Often, they’ll point out the bait and lures that are working the best at the time.
By the way, the following info is good for a lot of the Southern California RV campgrounds if you’re located in So Cal and you just want to stay fairly local.
So, What’ll Ya’ Do First…
When we first started doing the long range runs and camping and fishing Bishop Creek, Rock Creek and beyond, we just took off and hoped for a good campsite when we got to where we were going. But over time we found that it was nice to have a campsite reserved and just waiting for us when we got there instead of having to drag the trailer through several different campgrounds until we found something that would work for us.
Our Eastern Sierra Trip usually starts us out at Rock Creek a little farther up the road than Bishop Creek where our Eastern Sierra camping experience first began. We start out by contacting Reserve America*(which usually will lead you to Recreation.gov**) and searching for reservations. There are a few things to remember about making reservations.
The first is that the earliest that you can reserve a site is exactly 6 months from the desired date at 12:00am (00:00hrs PST). The second thing to remember is that once you locate the campground that you’re interested in and bring up the campground map, you can click on the campsites and information will come up about the site such as the maximum length of the unit that will fit in that site and it’ll tell ya’ about things like shade, parking surface and pets allowed or not.
Losing the Nasty Stuff…
The closest dump site in the area is on Rock Creek Rd. about 2/3 of a mile or so before you reach Hwy 395. Again, Tom’s place has food and lodging and a little general store with much of the fishing tackle and supplies that you’ll need.
Bishop is only 20 to 30 miles away where there are some great restaurants, bait and tackle shops, a Kmart, RV repairs and of course, the infamous Schat’s Bakery. Keep in mind that there are plenty of campgrounds up and around Bishop Creek and tons of great stream and lake fishing.
The 120 and 395…
One of the critical things you’ll need to have is information on some of the RV dump stations, Ca. Just off the 395 on the 120, a mile or so south of Lee Vining, you’ll find the Mobil station that has another easy access dump station.
I think it costs ya’ $5 or $10 but it’s nice and very open, easy to access and again, the restaurant there is absolutely wonderful. This is great place to stop in before you climb the grade into Yosemite or the grade heading north on the 395 to Bridgeport.
As you pull into Bridgeport and go through town, just before you exit to the north, you’ll notice a Shell station. At the corner of it is also a dump station and I believe it’s around $10 to drop there. Keep in mind though, that this site is not level and you may retain waste and grey water in your tanks.
If you’re camping down at Robinson Creek campgrounds, it’s much better to just go down to Twin Lakes Resort, Mono Village and dump at their wide open, convenient sites. I believe that the price there is also $10.
The last easy access place to dump your tanks in this area is at the Bridgeport Marina which also has a small camping facility. Here at the marina they have had problems with people abusing the dumpsite and dumping non-degradable material. So, expect to get screened by the manager before being allowed to use their site to dump your tanks. I never did get a price on it but I think it was around $15 or so.
Other Favorites Reserved Through *Reserve America or **Recreation.Gov…
Yosemite Nat’l Park (16 campgrounds including Tuolumne Meadows and White Wolf) http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/campground.htm
For the Bishop Creek Area and the Mammoth Lakes Area: http://www.reserveamerica.com/unifSearchResults.do
Just enter Bishop Creek or Mammoth Lakes in the “Where” search box.
*Reserve America… for a ton of California Campground information.
California State Park Campgrounds
Customer Service: 1-800-695-2269
NRRS Federal Campgrounds
Toll Free: 1-877-444-6777
**Recreation.Gov is another easy site to use to locate campgrounds and campsites. Basic info is as follows: Toll-free reservation line: 1-877-444-6777 (10:00 AM – Midnight EST)
So California Information…
San Bernardino National Forest Campgrounds Heartbar, Barton Flats, San Gorgonio, South Fork and Serrano (Big Bear) Campgrounds can all be accessed through Reserve America*
San Diego County Parks…
For individual campground contact information: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/parks/Camping/info.html
For individual campground maps and reservations: http://reservations.sdparks.org/
S. D. County Parks and Recreation Contact Info: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/parks/contactus.html
The information number is 858-694-3049.
Hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pinezanita RV Ranch and Campground info is as follows…
http://pinezanita.com/ For Reservations call (760) 765-0429. Located 4 miles south of Julian, Ca. on Hwy 79 at 4446 California Hwy 79 Julian, CA 92036. Be sure to check out our review on Pinezanita RV and Campground!
One of the greatest places to camp in the wintertime is in the northern part of the Big Sur area. Just 26 miles south of Carmel Heights, in the Monterey area one can find 3 or 4 great private campgrounds to enjoy during the winter months.
The nights can be cold and the days a little chilly but the beauty of the Big Sur can rarely be matched. There are restaurants nearby, if not on the premises and each of these campgrounds have electrical and water hookups. If you take a small electric heater with you winters are mild enough here to really enjoy yourselves.
Big Sur Area Information…
Riverside Campground and Cabins http://www.riversidecampground.com/
Big Sur Campground and Cabins http://www.bigsurcamp.com/
Fernwood Resort Big Sur http://www.fernwoodbigsur.com/
Just south of the previously mentioned private campgrounds you will find Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Following is the info for this campground. 1-800-444-PARK (7275)….
Now, while we have not yet stayed here, it is definitely a must for us. The above mentioned Big Sur campgrounds are beautiful but I think Pfeiffer is the cat’s meow. The last time we drove through, I thought that they had a small limited amount of sites with hookups but I’m not really sure.
One thing that is absolutely wonderful about this campground is the fact that many of the campsites are very spacious and many of them have a ton of space between you and your neighbor giving you a lot of privacy.
This Is Very Important…
One thing that you MUST know is that there are a lot of ticks in the thick beautiful foliage and you have to protect yourselves and your dogs. We found out the hard way. Kaylee has a scar on her left eyelid to remind us. Please be sure and consult your veterinarian before you make reservations. But do go; you will absolutely fall in love with the Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula!
Another campground and area that we love to stay at is…
Pismo State Beach North Campground
Coast Highway (Hwy 1)
Customer Service: 1-800-695-2269
Pismo Beach is a must for first timers… ya’ have to visit Mo’s SmokeHouse for great BBQ, Splash for great chowder and fish and the absolute TOTAL MUST… The Old West Cinnamon Rolls of Pismo Beach… phenomenal cinnamon rolls, lattes and mochas! Do not miss Old West, don’t even think about it!
On the way south back into Southern California, you’ll see three more campgrounds on the beach just south of the Gaviota grade when you come out of the tunnel onto the ocean front. You’ll soon see Gaviota State Park, El Capitan State Beach and then Refugio State Beach.
We have not stayed in these yet but we have driven through 2 out of 3 of them and really don’t have any recommendations at this point. I believe that Refugio has a dump site and really doesn’t look too bad other than the sites just look a little close together. But then again, you are on the beach, it could be pretty awesome!
Feelin’ A Little Flushed…
One more thing about dump sites… a lot of “city yards” provide dump sites, free of charge, usually located at the water treatment plants. Also check your local CalTrans yards.
The cool thing about bringing your sewage home is that it does a lot of splishin’ and splashin’. Many times by the time you get home all the movement in the black water tank will really break down the nasty piles and clumps and will provide a really decent flush!
One of the things that will help you sleep at night is having veterinarian phone numbers and location information for the areas that you will be camping in. The number one thing that you will want to do when contacting them before even going on your camping trip is information about rattlesnake treatment capabilities.
Both of our dogs are consistently current on rattlesnake vaccinations and stay current each and every year. A vaccinated dog can have up to 6 (SIX) extra hours of time to get treated and is totally worth the money… well, in my opinion.
Trout Stocking Schedule California…
One thing that is really important to us is to have an idea as to when a specific stream or lake, normally gets planted with fish. So occasionally we’ll check the appropriate fish planting/stock schedule… https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/fishplants/.
Something we find that when it comes to the Eastern Sierras, no CDF&W schedule is for sure. The farther north you fish the more they mix it up due to locals pouncing on the streams and lakes before the people paying to camp there get there gear ready and go.
The ticket to beating the locals is learning what the fish are biting on and developing that local knowledge yourself, thereby eliminating the need to wait for a hatchery truck to provide you with an easy catch and limit.
As you walk along the streams or lakes that your attempting to fish in, kick over some rocks, branches and limbs and see what’s crawling underneath these things. Throw out some salmon eggs, night crawlers, Panther Martins and your favorite lures and then next time you’re in town, pick up some bait or a couple flies that resemble what you found under the rocks and such, and try them.
Basic Fishing Rules for Trout…
Another thing that is really important to know is the regulations governing what you’re fishing for and a great place to start is: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations.
We normally fish for trout and this list of regs covers our needs and most everything else that you need, should be easily accessed here. For us it is pretty much summed up in:
(4) Daily bag and possession limits, unless otherwise noted, mean the total number of salmon or trout in combination.
(5) Unless otherwise provided, it is unlawful to possess more than one daily bag limit.
Our applicable daily bag limits are 5. Fishing licenses are required at all of the locations that we have or will mention, unless otherwise noted and can be purchased at most sporting good stores, including Walmart and Kmart.
Gun Laws are a very touchy thing, however if you just “can’t leave home without it” you really need to know what the rules and laws are in the areas that you like to camp in. One place to start is: http://oag.ca.gov/firearms and another is: http://www.calguns.net/.
One thing that the law does seem to say is that your recreational vehicle is considered your home and it implies that most campsites, not campgrounds, but campsites are part of the equation. The best thing to do though is to check with the local ranger station in your camping area and get a feel for what their opinion is.
But remember this… a lot of rangers are not up to snuff on local open carry laws and you really need to do your due diligence on this issue. I have a world of opinions on this, the second amendment and my rights. Remember, I’m a country boy at heart… you can figure the rest out.
I hope that you’ve gleaned a chunk of information here. If you need any help with anything or think that I’ve got anything wrong here, PLEASE leave me a comment here or on my Contact Randy page!
By R.C. Stude