mammoth lakes camping

Best Mammoth Lakes Camping Guide

Mammoth Lakes, CA is a high-altitude mountain town (7,881 ft) part of Mono County and is located in one of my favorite areas of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Nothing quite compares to the Eastern Sierra Mountains, although I may be biased. If you love nature, you have to experience at least one Mammoth Lakes camping trip in your life! There are many reasons why people should consider camping at Mammoth Lakes, California. 

First and foremost, Mammoth Lakes is a stunningly beautiful area that offers some of the most scenic and diverse natural landscapes in California. From towering mountains and pristine lakes to lush forests and meandering streams, the area is a popular year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. 

In addition, Mammoth Lakes is home to a variety of world-class recreational opportunities, including hiking of all levels, fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and more. There are also numerous campgrounds in the area that offer a range of amenities, from standard car-camping tent sites to remote backcountry camping in the wilderness to full hook-up RV sites with electricity, water, and sewer. 

Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Mammoth Lakes offers a unique and unforgettable experience in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Mammoth Lakes Camping Overview

You can camp in Mammoth Lakes all year round, but May – October is typically when all campgrounds are open although winter camping is possible for the brave and prepared. July – September are the best months for camping because the weather and lakes are still warm, but the days do get hot so start your hikes early. August and September are typically wildfire season which may impact your camping experience, but I’d still book that campsite!

Since Summer is just around the corner, many of these are probably reserved already.

*Pro Tip*
If your schedule is flexible, it helps to constantly check back on the reservation pages for cancellations. I’ve snagged up a lot of amazing campsites from cancellations and walk-ups! So although it might seem like you can’t camp at Mammoth this summer when it’s right around the corner and you don’t have a reservation yet, I wouldn’t call it quits yet!

There are so many camping options around Mammoth Lakes but here are a few worth checking out.

*Bookmark this page for future trip planning*

mammoth lakes camping

Mammoth Lakes Camping: Best Campsites

There are numerous camping options in the Mammoth Lakes which is spread out along the 395 highway, but here are the best of each! The main areas to consider camping are Mammoth Lakes Basin, June Lake (north of Mammoth Lakes on the 395), and Convict Lake (south of Mammoth Lakes on the 395).

Mammoth Lake Camping: RV Camping

📍Mammoth Mountain RV Park

The Mammoth Mountain RV Park is conveniently located at the front entrance of town directly across the street from the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center on Main St. It is open all year round with full hookups but the water at individual campsites is typically shut off during the winter months (Oct-May). The maximum length of RV allowed is 45 ft. Cabins and tent sites are available too and summer rates start at $35. 

Full amenities offered: camp store, dump station, electricity and full hookups, indoor pool, internet, laundry, pet-friendly, showers, hot tubs.

📍New Shady Rest Campground and Old Shady Rest Campground

The Shady Rest Campgrounds in Mammoth Lakes are next to the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center. These campgrounds are called Shady Rest because it’s under a natural canopy of Jeffrey pine forest and costs $28/ night and an additional $2 on holidays. They are standard nonelectric sites that can accommodate RV parking but do not include hookups.

Amenities include: Nonelectric sites, a dump station ($10 to use), flush toilets, food lockers, picnic tables, fire pits, and a ranger station. Also, there is still cell phone service in this part of town (I have Verizon).

mammoth lakes camping

Mammoth Lake Camping: Tent Camping

📍Lake George Campground in Mammoth Lakes Basin

You can’t go wrong camping anywhere in the Mammoth Lakes Basin as it is the heart of Mammoth Lakes. There are several campsites but one of the best ones is Lake George Campground as it is close to trailheads to hike to the top of Mammoth Crest and to Duck Pass and Duck Lake. The views of Crystal Crag are unbeatable while you’re relaxing lake-side during the day.

However, camping here is very popular and can be busy, crowded, and loud in the summertime. There are 15 campsites here and as of 2023 and it costs $29/ night. It is an active bear area and bear lockers are provided in which you must store your food and scented items. There are also flushable toilets! This is a family–friendly option for high-altitude tent car camping!

Mammoth Lakes Basin has several other campgrounds — Coldwater Campground, Lake Mary Campground, and Twin Lakes Campground are also very close by.

📍June Lake Campground near Mammoth Lakes, CA

June Lake is only 15-20 mins north of the Mammoth Lakes area but is 100% worth visiting. In the summer, June Lake lights up a beautiful turquoise-clear color. There are walk-up sites available or you can reserve in advance on June Lake Campground has 28 campsites and is typically open from late April to early October depending on the snow, but June is when June Lake is most vibrant. It costs $28-30/ night and there is potable water, food lockers, and picnic tables. It is also very close to town and has a really good pizza spot.

June Lake Campground is also close to one of my favorite easy, short hikes to a turquoise alpine lake – Parker Lake.

📍Convict Lake Campground near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Convict Lake is close enough to Mammoth Lakes, but far enough away from the hustle and bustle of town which offers a more secluded nature experience. It’s about 10 miles (15 mins) south of Mammoth Lakes and sits at an elevation of 7,500 ft, whereas Mammoth Lakes Basin averages around 9,000 ft depending on which campground.

Convict Lake is one of the few easy-to-access crystal clear turquoise lakes you can drive up to, as opposed to hiking into the backcountry to camp by. But the views of Mt Morrison and Laurel Mountain make this campground unbeatable. 

Due to its popularity (and with good reason – the views are absolutely stunning), Convict Lake Campground fills up fast! There are 85 campsites and although many can accommodate RVs, there are no hookups – all sites are nonelectric but there is a dump station, flushing toilets, and you can buy showers next door at the Convict Lake Resort.

Reservations for tent sites are $39/ night (+tax) however, there are also walk-up sites. Campsites are available for online booking 6 months out and Convict Lake Campground is typically open from May – Oct depending on the snow melt.

All sites are nonelectric and have food storage lockers as it is an active bear area and picnic tables. Dogs are allowed on leash.

*If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore deep into the backcountry wilderness beyond these views, check out the trail to Mount Baldwin 12,624 ft - this may be one of my favorite and most colorful backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierra mountains.* 
mammoth lakes camping

Mammoth Lake Camping: Camping Cabins

📍Mammoth Mountain Chalets

Mammoth Mountain Chalets has 19 A-frame cabin rentals available year-round ranging in sizes with some sleeping up to 12 people. The cabins are located in a central part of town right next to the Adventure Center and gondola. Each cabin comes with a full kitchen and outdoor grill. Most cabins are pet-friendly and some include laundry machines. 

In the summer, the cabins are walking distance to the shuttles and in the winter, the cabins are located right next to Mammoth Mountain Resort for a ski-in / ski-out experience.

The nightly rate starts at $395 and requires a 2-4 nights stay minimum. Book your cabin here.

📍Crystal Crag Lodge

Crystal Crag Lodge Cabins are located along Lake Mary in Mammoth Lakes and offer a stunning lake view of the famous Crystal Crag. It is only open in the summer months from June – October. There are 22 cabins along the lake to give you a comfortable summer camping experience, without actually camping. 

The rustic cabins are fully furnished with kitchens, fireplaces, and even laundry. There is also a private dock on the property to fish from or you can rent a boat to get out on the water.

Rates start at $182/ night, and the lodge is pet-friendly and has disability access.

📍Wildyrie Lodge

Wildyrie Lodge is a bit more secluded from the popular areas of Mammoth Lakes Basin. The rustic lodge is located along Lake Mamie and is only open in the summer. It offers 11 furnished lakeside cabins or you can rent a small room in the main historic lodge for a more bread-and-breakfast feel. 

The private cabins include a kitchen and kitchenware, bathrooms, showers, bedding, linen, gas wall heaters, and a deck with a grill. Boat rentals are also available.

Rooms in the lodge start at $189/ night and the private cabin rentals start at $299/ night. Pets are not allowed.

Mammoth Lake Camping: Free Camping

You can basically disperse camp for free on public lands managed by the BLM (land managed by the Bureau of Land Management) and Forest Service Roads land. Disperse camping means there are NO facilities or services at all and you must pack everything in and out – you basically need to be self-sufficient and leave the land as you entered, if not better.

📍US Forest Service Roads: Mammoth Scenic Loop

The Mammoth Scenic Loop is one of the more popular roads to find free dispersed camping very close to town. Many of these pull-outs will be easier to access with a high clearance vehicle but there are still plenty of options for the standard passenger vehicle – you just might not have as much privacy and be camped closer to other cars.

There is spotty cell service along the north entrance of the road.

📍BLM near Mammoth Lakes: Benton Crossing Road and Whitmore Tubs Road

Just outside of Mammoth Lakes on the opposite side of the 395 highway is a lot of BLM to camp at – it’s a large space but it gets very crowded with limited decent pullouts for sedans – expect neighbors if you go on a crowded weekend. The elevation here is slightly lower than Mammoth Lakes, around 6,800 ft, so it is considerably warmer than the mountains. There are also a ton of natural hot springs out here and there is spotty cell service out here too, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Here’s a cool map to show where you can camp. The yellow is BLM and the light green is Forest Service land. You can camp in those areas. You cannot disperse camp in the red or brown, and need a permit to wilderness camp in the dark green zones.

source: essrp

Winter Camping Mammoth Lakes

Winter camping is not for everywhere and you have to make sure you’re prepared with the conditions and proper gear. Most tent campsites close down in the winter and reopen later in May, but if you’re down for primitive/ dispersed camping on BLM with no facilities or backcountry camping in the snow, it can be an amazing experience. A 0-degree sleeping bag is worth getting for winter camping, even if you just plan to sleep in your car – it gets really cold! If you plan to winter camp on snow, I would even recommend a -20 degrees sleeping bag depending on the temps if you run cold like I do, and a foam pad to help keep your back insulated for a warm nights rest.

The Mammoth Mountain RV Park is a good option for winter camping in Mammoth.

Ready for some winter hiking? Check out Tiff’s snow hiking pack list to help you prepare!

mammoth lakes

FAQ: Mammoth Lakes Camping

There are many different camping options in and near Mammoth Lakes, ranging from tent camping next to your car with neighbors right next to you, to secluded backcountry camping in the wilderness with no other groups nearby, to RV camping with all the amenities, to primitive camping with no amenities. Choose your own adventure.

Can you camp anywhere in Mammoth Lakes?

No, but there are so many options for camping in and near Mammoth Lakes from dispersed (free) camping to backcountry wilderness camping to car camping to RV camping.

Do you need reservations for Mammoth Lakes?

Camping reservations are required for all designated campgrounds in Mammoth Lakes. 

How to reserve a campsite in Mammoth Lakes?

Campsite reservations typically need to be booked 6 months out and you can reserve them on or 

You can try your luck with a walk-up permit but I’d check for reservations 6 months out from the date you want to camp. which manages most campsites and backcountry permits in the Mammoth area releases permits and reservations 6 months out.

Can I sleep in my car in Mammoth Lakes?

You can definitely sleep in your car although it’s hard to find spots to do so near the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Many people also sleep in their cars at trailhead parking lots although you’re not supposed to. However, if you branch out a bit further to the outskirts of town, there are certainly options for parking your car for free and sleeping on US Forest Service Roads and BLM.

Where can I sleep in my car in Mammoth Lakes?

The short answer is – you can sleep on any National Forest Roads or BLM (land managed by the Bureau of Land Management), just look for a wide and open pull-out that is off of the main road so you don’t block anyone. Areas to consider are the Mammoth Scenic Loop and the Benton Crossing/ Whitmore hot springs area on the east side of hwy 395. These both have spotty cell service depending on where you park it.

The Wrap-up: Mammoth Lakes Camping

Mammoth Lakes is a very popular area for summer camping due to the picturesque High Sierra mountain views, alpine lakes, and all the activities around from hiking to fishing to climbing. You should definitely start planning your summer camping trip to Mammoth Lakes around November before you miss all the good campsites.

While you’re out there, some sights near Mammoth Lakes Basin worth visiting include Rainbow Falls, Devil’s Postpile, Twin Lakes Overlook, and Minarets Viewpoint. Convict Lake and June Lake outside of Mammoth Basin are worth the detour.

Overnight hiking trips into the Mammoth backcountry area you may enjoy are:

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