Winter (Snow Camping) In California

1:54 p.m. on December 20, 2007 (EST)
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Greetings all,

Some friends of mine and my better half are planning a camping trip for Jan 4th,5th and 6th. We want to camp on/in snow.

Besides getting together for simple camping, the idea behind the trip is to test our cold weather gear and abilities. None of us have camping in colder weather before. We are all summer time campers.

We are currently looking for a spot to camp, that is "car camping" in the snow. We would perfer to camp in a EVA spot, because we like to feel like we are alone out there. The car camping is just incase we didn't manage things correctly. In other words, we are camping as if the car wasn't there, but if worse turns to worse, we can always leave.

This is all in preparation for a trip in Febuary for my birthday, that will involve true backpacking and snowshoeing. Nothing extremely challenging. I beleive that we are taking the right steps to prepare correctly.

If anyone has any suggestions for a good spot to car camp in the snow in CA, that information would be much appreciated.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions as were to do the Febuary trip, that as well would be much appreciated.


Thank you!

4:10 a.m. on December 22, 2007 (EST)
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I would head up to Tahoe for your first trip. Plenty of snow from what I saw on the news recently. I don't think there is any camping at Donner, but there should be somewhere around there to do what you have in mind.

For February, I would go to Yosemite; in fact I am going there myself for a few days. Check the Yosemite websites-both the official park website and the concessionaire's site. If you go up to Badger Pass, you can snowshoe down Glacier Point Road and camp most anywhere along the road, as long as you are far enough away from it-the website will have the regulations. You need a wilderness pass, but you get that at the A frame ranger station next to the ski lodge when you get there. The pass is free. There is parking reserved for campers in the parking lot.

2:43 p.m. on January 31, 2008 (EST)
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Quote:

I would head up to Tahoe for your first trip. Plenty of snow from what I saw on
the news recently. I don't think there is any camping at Donner, but there
should be somewhere around there to do what you have in mind.

But where can one do "car camping" in the winter up around Tahoe? I'm interested in doing something similar to what the OP described.

I'm also looking for such a place within a reasonable distance of Lassen, but haven't found anything yet. All the regular campgrounds are closed, and "jeep roads" where one might normally go for dispersed camping, are covered in deep snow.

There's a campground open in winter in Sequoia NP, and one in Yosemite, but I haven't seen many of these elsewhere.

Any suggestions would be appreciated :).

4:12 p.m. on January 31, 2008 (EST)
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There are a huge number of places to go winter car camping in the Tahoe area. Sugar Pine Point State Park is open in the winter (standard park camping fees apply). That's on the west shore of the Lake. You come in from the north (SH 89 is closed a bit south of the park due to avalanche danger). They keep a system of XC ski trails open (FREE! unlike the commercial XC ski places, and it takes you to the old Winter Olympics Biathalon target range). You can park at the SnowPark near Boreal and cross under I80 to camp in Castle Valley (half mile or so of snowshoe hiking). Above South Tahoe, you can park at the Snow Park at Echo Summit and hike a couple hundred meters south along the PCT (follow the blue diamonds for the XC ski trail) or go a half mile to Benwood Meadows. Several of the USFS campgrounds around Tahoe are open for walk-ins during the winter as well as some campgrounds just off I80.

In Yosemite, several of the campgrounds in the Valley are open, but might not have snow. You can hike (snowshoe or ski) along Glacier Point road from Badger Pass Ski Resort to Bridal Veil Campground (3 miles, an outhouse is open in winter, plus there is a working payphone) On the north side, you can ski or snowshoe out along the Tioga Road from Yosemite Institute to Gin Flat (3 miles).

Along SH108 (that heads for Sonora Pass, the Pinecrest campground is open in winter - with heated! restrooms). 108 is the highway you start up toward the north entrance to Yosemite, along with 120, until 120 turns off at Yosemite Junction.

Head up SH4 to Bear Valley. At the turnoff to the Bear Valley Ski area, there is a SnowPark. It is about a half mile to the campground at Lake Alpine, which has a restroom open in the winter. There is also a Snow Park at a reservoir a few miles before Bear Valley that has camping in the winter.

That's only a few of the available car camping or short hike places for beginning snow campers.

4:48 p.m. on January 31, 2008 (EST)
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Oh, thanks Bill S! Do you know of any places like that in the Lassen vicinity, or even within some kind of reasonable drive of there to be able to go up to the mountain for snowshoeing day trips?

Amazingly, my searching online has found nothing open in the winter.

6:39 p.m. on January 31, 2008 (EST)
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You can park near the entry and ski or snowshoe on the main road (or at least could a few years ago when I last went there in winter). It used to be a popular tour. The main road is closed to cars in winter, of course, but that's just like Tioga and Glacier Point roads in Yosemite, which are popular for ski and snowshoe tours. Paul Richins book on Ski and Snowboard Summits in California has some information about the traverse routes. Going to the old ski area (south entrance) offers some easy to access campsites. Call the park office for info. You might have to try several times, since they do a lot of training sessions during the winter months (bureaucratic type of training, not outdoor type, unfortunately).

2:17 a.m. on February 1, 2008 (EST)
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Good idea, I'll just use the old fashioned method and call them :) since web searching isn't turning up anything. I know I can snowshoe in, but I'm looking for a place to car camp. I'll see what I can find...

October 22, 2014
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