Free Campsite Review – Glass Creek NFS Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA
A very spacious, but popular free semi-dispersed National Forest campground ~9 miles north of Mammoth Lakes, CA on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (central-east CA).
Location: Glass Creek Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA
Coordinates: Entry to boondocking area around 37.751878, -118.984656. Link to map location HERE
Cost: FREE (donations accepted). 14-day stay limit.
How We Found It: This is a well-known free campground in the area and is listed on the Forest Service site and also on freecampsites.net.
Nearest Dump/Water: There are several on-site pit toilets, but NO trash and NO other services. Nearest dump & water at Mammoth Mountain RV Park in Mammoth Lakes ($10).
- Access – 4.5/5
Very easy access here for any-sized rig. The campground is only ~1/4 mile off Hwy 395 along a firm, easy dirt road (Glass Creek Road). There are no real markings on Hwy 395, but you will see clear signs of the campground (sign & posted regulations) once you drive into the area. Within the camping area there are designated (marked) sites for at least 40-50 rigs including individual and group sites (note/ camping is *not* allowed outside of designed sites). Most of the sites have picnic tables & fire-pits, but no hookups. Some interior roads may be slightly rutted/bumpy, but overall access is super easy for any-sized vehicle.
- Nature – 4/5
Beautiful nature in this area. The campground is within thick, tall pine trees and has a creek flowing along the back with miles (and miles and miles) of dirt roads to explore/hike/bike. A short distance away are views of the striking peaks of Mammoth Lakes. Only dings? You are close to 395 so you will hear *some* road noise, plus the roads here are OHV territory, so expect some noise and company on them in season too.
- Isolation – 1/5
This is a popular OHV campground and a well-known free site in the area, so you can expect company here. In the off-season (early spring, late fall) the campground is quiet, but during summer and on good weather week-ends, there will be other rigs and you can expect that many of them will be running generators.
- Pet Friendliness – 3/5
Mixed review here. On the surface this is an excellent place for pets with lots of pine trees, trails & creek to explore, but the area also has posted warnings of Plague (from rodent fleas). There have been no recent reports (since 2009) of Plague in the area and most folks camping here do have pets (all three of our neighbors were out walking dogs in the area while we were there), but the warning signs are scary nonetheless. Just something to be aware of.
Overall Rating = 3.1
BONUS ALERT = Camp within the pines & super-easy access off 395!
Summary: Glass Creek is a well-known, free Forest Service campground just ~9 miles north of Mammoth Lakes. It is a semi-dispersed campground which means no hookups and no manicured sites, but it does have designated (marked) camping areas with picnic tables and fire-pits as well as on-site pit toilets (-> a kind of half-way mix between a “true” boondocking site & a “proper” campground). Cost is free (donations accepted) and stay limit is 14-days (within the main season there is a campsite on site to monitor this). It’s main advantages are location (great access to Mammoth, June Lake etc.), super easy access (only 1/4 mile off Hwy 395) and ability to take any-sized rig. This makes it a popular spot, all the more so because it’s right next to some of Mammoth’s most well-known OHV trails. During the off-season (for example when we got here in early Nov) it can be a wonderfully quiet and peaceful place to camp, but during the main season (e.g. summer and week-ends) it can get very busy with rigs & OHV vehicles on all the roads. The other ding is that it has posted warning signs of the Plague which is rather scary for pet owners. A little Google research shows there’s been no reported cases since 2009, and talking to locals it seems to be a non-issue, but it’s important for pet owners to be aware nontheless. We enjoyed our short stop and had a blast walking the trails & taking in the scenery, although we did keep our kitties inside. We would absolutely stay here again in the off-season if we needed to stop for a few nights, but for longer stays and more isolated boondocking we’d go somewhere else.
Extra Info: Excellent Verizon signal (3-4 bars of LTE). On-site pit toilet, but NO other facilities (no water, dump or trash). Nearest dump is at Mammoth Lakes ($10)
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