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Camping in the Mother Lode

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Camping is one of the most popular recreation activities in the Mother Lode. In the summer the weather is ideal, the fishing is great and the whole family can unwind in the country from their busy lives.

Many camp grounds allow reservations, but the majority of Stanislaus National Forest campgrounds are operated on a first-come, first-served system. Most campgrounds fill quickly during holiday weekends.

If you are prepared to camp in undeveloped areas, dispersed area camping is an option available on non-wilderness designated land. Contact the individual Ranger District nearest your destination to verify space availability in your selected campground. They can also assist you in choosing an ideal location and don’t forget to ask for a campfire permit if you are cooking in a non designated area.

For the full list of camp grounds visit the Stanislaus National Forest Website.

Beardsley Lake

Beardsley Campground has around 26 campsites open on a first-come, first-served basis during the season (May to October).

Big Trees

The Park also has two campgrounds, the North and South Grove, with a total of 129 campsites. For Reservation go to six months in advance…

Cherry Valley

Cherry Valley Campground is on the south west shore of Cherry Lake and has 46 campsites, with 18 first-come, first-served and there is dispersed camping (you can boat-in) on the east side. Open from late April through October.

Dardanelle Area

In the forested area along the Middle Fork Stanislaus River are some lovely camping spots. The view of the Sierra Nevada hills is stunning and the early morning fishing can yield a great catch! There are 28 campsites, RV’s and trailers up to 28 feet are welcome.

Lake Amador

Lake Amador Resort was created by the Lockhart Family in 1973. They have expanded from 12 campsites to 150, with showers and flush toilets. There are also 73 lakeside full RV hook-ups and a swimming pond with a waterslide.

Lake Camanche

Lake Camanche has tent camping available year-round at both North and South Shores. RV hook-up sites are provided at South Shore, self-contained RV’s are welcome at North Shore. Camp sites include barbecues, tables, water, hot showers, restrooms and laundry facilities.

Lake Don Pedro

Facilities at Flemming Meadows, Moccasin Point, and Blue Oaks include water, sewer and electricity hookups, paved parking pad, table, and barbeque grill at each site, plus access to hot showers in developed restrooms.

Tent Sites are located in all three developed campgrounds. Facilities include paved parking pad, table, food locker, and barbeque grill at each site, plus access to hot showers and water faucets in developed restrooms.

Lake Pardee

The Recreation area at Pardee Lake has 141 campsites located within two separate campgrounds. Lakeview and the more secluded Oaks Campground. Campsites offer plenty of shade, a picnic table, fire ring, and running water is close to or right next to a site.

Lake Tulloch

Lake Tulloch has 130 sites. Lakefront sites with RV hook-ups also allow boats to tie up. Cabin rentals are available with two rooms, electric and evaporative cooler with sleeping accommodations for 6 – 8 persons. Cabins also have private docks and lakefront swimming.

New Hogan Reservoir

New Hogan Reservoir offers 177 campsites in its three developed campgrounds. Acorn East and Acorn West have hot showers and flush toilets while Oak Knoll is more primitive. A group campground is also available at Coyote Point. Most campsites and the group campground are available by reservation.

New Melones

In the Tuttletown Recreation Area you will find six lovely lakeside campgrounds, Acorn, Fiddleneck, Oak Knoll, Manzanita, Chamise and Lupine. Two campgrounds, Ironhorse and Big Oak, are located in the Glory Hole Recreation Area. Campsites offer barbecues, water, campfire rings, shower facilities, fish cleaning station, telephones, watertaps, and a free launch ramp.


From May through October camp sites can be reserved, most weekends are full a year in advance. 200 campsites are available with the premium spots near the shore of Pinecrest Lake. Maximum length of stay is 14 days only 6 people per site persons per site.

Salt Springs Valley Reservoir

Salt Springs Reservoir offers 24 campsites and is great for group camping. There is a store and a launch ramp available. Sites are available first come first serve for $20. The R.V Park has 30 spots that are rented on a monthly bases.

Spicer Reservoir

Spicer has 43 tent and RV campsites. They are first-come, first-served and open from June to October, weather permitting.

Stanislaus National Forest

Camping is one of the most popular recreation activities in the Stanislaus National Forest. In the summer the weather is ideal, the fishing is great and the whole family can unwind in the country from their busy lives.


Yosemite National Park has 13 popular campgrounds, each in a wonderful setting with sweeping views or forest canopies and plenty of room to relax. Seven of the campgrounds are on a reservation system. From April through September, reservations are essential and even the first-come, first-served campgrounds often fill by noon from May through September.

If you want to stay in the Mother Lode take a look our list of places to stay.

Planning a wedding, conference or other event? Take a look our list of places to host your event.

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