Camping in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains – CA

There are too many amazing things happening here to sum it up into one measly post. We camped at Brown’s Owens River Campground this July as well as for my 30th birthday, so I have some familiarity with the area but feel that I’ve still barely dipped my toes in. Both times we explored places I’ve never seen before, hiked incredible trails, saw beautiful animals and scenery, and breathed in the scents of the mountains, valleys, and rivers. I fucking love the mountains. 

This is the view looking down at the campsite at sunset. I mean gotdamn.

Another thing is that we drove through Yosemite National Park to get to the eastern side of the mountains. Not too shabby of a trip. Yosemite is entirely it’s own thing, so here just a photo I took from the famous Tunnel View vista point: 

The campground doesn’t look like there’s much around when you first drive up to it; a field with some tents and RVs. The first time I was there I thought to myself “the fuck am I supposed to do here?”  Lake Crowley is nearby, but there didn’t appear to be trails or much within walking distance. After settling in, however, I realized that it’s one of the best campgrounds I’ve been to. 

    

Double rainbows every day:

 

You’re surrounded by mountains so there are views all around you that change as the sun moves. It’s completely dark at night so the only light is that of the moon. Thousands upon thousands of stars are visible at night; my first time there we camped during the Perseid meteor shower and the second time we saw one star after the next shooting through the sky. The Owens River runs through the campground, so some people choose to fish while others, like myself, choose to play in the cold ass shallow water as it mildly flows through your tootsies. 

   

A hill lies toward the back of the campground, where I’ve ridden my mountain bike in the past. The view from the top is like whoa. 

   

At night you can hear the cows and coyotes in the distance. Some of the sounds they make are kind of odd and you know there’s some real nature shit going on out there.

Some may notice the dense clouds in some of my pictures; those are storm clouds, and we had some decent lightning and thunder. At one point we drove higher into the surrounding high desert hills to escape the rain at our campsite and tailgates from our truck. 

 

We built a fire in an old washing machine tub and cooked a feast of foil-wrapped potatoes, grilled pineapple, peppers, shrimp, salad, steak, and chicken kabobs. As we ate I learned that all of the pebbles we were standing on were actually sheep poop. 

 

Another campground tip: there are showers that use tokens and a key you get at the office. My only qualm with this place is that the showers are only open 8-4 due to office hours. Kinda sucks when yor day starts before 8 and ends after 4, but whatever. Nothing’s wrong with a stinky snatch once in awhile, and that’s why we never camp without wet wipes. Regular full bathrooms with running water available all the time (but be mindful of the drought and conserve), and portables are located throughout the campground. They’re the cleanest porta-potties I’ve ever seen. Clean enough to build a toilet paper nest on the seat, sit down, and enjoy expelling your waste. 

The surrounding area is remarkable. Mammoth Mountain is about 15 miles away, with world-famous skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. The town of Mammoth Lakes has shops, restaurants, and other tourist-geared stuff in addition to being a regular town. We kayaked at Mammoth Lake.  

 

The Hot Creek Hot Spring is also near the campground. It’s a beautiful hot spring with a trail leading down to it. I didn’t attempt to go in because we left due to rain, but I read that people have been injured here so I’m not sure that people go in it at all anymore. Even so, it’s worth seeing. I plan to go back.

  

Another nearby gem is Bodie Ghost Town, which is now a state historic park and an actual former gold-mining ghost town with some reenactors and everything. It’s an interesting one-time visit, especially after reading more history about what you’re seeing. 

 

Tom’s Place is a quaint, rustic restaurant near Crowley Lake. We went for breakfast and it was dang tasty. My mom’s husband had come here a bunch of times with his buddies for the restaurant and bar. We found out that they also have cabins so we might stay there in the future. They have an outdoor patio right next to a creek so that shit is too cute.

    

The coolest trail of the trip was the Parker Lake Trail off of the June Lake Loop. June Lake has kayaking, standup paddleboarding, fishing, boat rentals, etc, but we went past it to the trailhead. We ended up not being able to make it all the way in due to a hailstorm so I’d like to go back and finish. We hiked toward the snow-capped mountains to a creek. Ultimately the trail overlooks Parker lake. How fucking incredible is that. Hiking back in hail was a doozy but worth it. 

   

              

This whole area is great. Must see. Will go again. Will make a special trip. 

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