Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-06-2022, 01:14 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
nyyankees588's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Posts: 260
Winter camping suggestions - Sierras

Hey there - we moved down to Santa Cruz, CA a little over 1yr ago and I'm looking forward to getting out in the snow a bit more this coming winter. Any suggestions for areas to explore with snow in the van? Thinking along the lines of a few nights of camping with options to snowshoe/hike during the days (unfortunately we haven't delved in to the world of backcountry skiing/snowboarding enough to open that up as an option).

Our van is 2WD w/ a LSD and we've found it to be pretty capable on the typical snowy forest service roads (with chains) over the past few winters in the PNW... it's amazing how much difference a fully-loaded vehicle makes compared to an empty 4wd pickup spinning their wheels trying to get out of the snowy parking lot.

Any guidance is appreciated - can be specific or general, I'm happy to do digging via google maps/gaia/etc. Western sierras would obviously be easiest, but we do love the eastern sierras during the non-snowy times.
__________________

__________________
2003 E250 Self-Built Van
Santa Cruz, CA
nyyankees588 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-06-2022, 03:06 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 352
Check out the area between Pinecrest/ Arnold/ Bear Valley (Stanislaus NF). Have never been there in snow but a lot in sommer. A lot of forest roads, Pinecrest Peak, Eagle Peak,

Greets from the Bay!
__________________

E-350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-06-2022, 04:58 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Glen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 348
I know it's a bit of a drive, especially when you can't get over many of the mountain passes during the winter months, but you'd have a hard time beating the Mammoth / June Lake areas...

There are tons of places to camp, off-road trails, snowmobile trails, X-country ski trails, and hiking/snow shoeing trails. We love driving out to the middle of nowhere in the snow and riding our fat tire MTN bikes or snow shoeing. There are also several hot springs out in the Owens Valley that are fun to visit during the winter months.

You can pick up some pretty good maps that show all of the above trails at the Mammoth Visitor's Center.
__________________
Friends Don't Let Friends Do Stupid Things Alone
Glen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2022, 09:09 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
nyyankees588's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Posts: 260
Sweet! Thanks to you both. Definitely will add the bear valley area to our list.

Mammoth / June Lakes area is one that we have always wanted to stop and spend time in. We've mostly passed through it while spending time around Bishop + eastern Yosemite. I drool at all the FS roads that you can see just off of the highway, so it's good to know that they're a cool place in the winter as well.
__________________
2003 E250 Self-Built Van
Santa Cruz, CA
nyyankees588 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-07-2022, 10:44 AM   #5
Site Team
 
daveb's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Turlock Ca
Posts: 10,365
Garage
First you need to find roads that are kept open all year or have spots to park at and then go from there. One that come to mind is highway 88 around Kirkwood or Bear Valley on highway 4. Unfortunately most of the west slope forest service roads in my neck of the woods are closed off during the winter where snow is heavy. You can find places less prone to high snow levels to camp at during winter and drive to areas you can explore. For instance Hodgdon's meadow in Yosemite is a bit lower in altitude and kept open all year. Often you are alone in the CG or can find a secluded site. Along highway 120 inside the park has a few spots where you can park and CC ski or snowshoe. One nice spot nearby to snowshoe into is the Merced Grove of giant Sequoia Trees. Crane Flat also has places to park and cross country ski or snowshoe to explore. Evergreen road just outside the park offers a few spots and Hetch Hetchy is a nice place to check out. While the valley CG's are often busy, Yosemite Valley itself is a great spot to explore during winter. I often camp at some of the Merced River CG's at Briceburg. It's a great place void of snow but has some nice spots to hike/bike along the Merced river.

On 108 (Sonora Pass) above Strawberry, the road is usually closed off at a specific gate and there is a area to park (called SNO-Park) but no camping generally. Again you can find FS roads or CG's open at lower areas. Maybe take a look at Dodge Ridge above Pinecrest.



Donnell reservoir access road is often kept open during winter. Here is a good site:
Cross Country Skiing on Sonora Pass



Another nice spot further south is the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway and although the road is often closed at a spot along the loop road, there are several lower places to camp and then drive to higher altitude places to explore. Just be aware of the recent fires and what is closed.



Yet further south are the areas around Shaver Lake. Some great easy FS roads with nice scenery open year round and local areas you can often camp in the snow at.


Hope you find what you're looking for.
__________________
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
daveb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2022, 02:26 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
nyyankees588's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Posts: 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb View Post
First you need to find roads that are kept open all year or have spots to park at and then go from there. One that come to mind is highway 88 around Kirkwood or Bear Valley on highway 4. Unfortunately most of the west slope forest service roads in my neck of the woods are closed off during the winter where snow is heavy. You can find places less prone to high snow levels to camp at during winter and drive to areas you can explore. For instance Hodgdon's meadow in Yosemite is a bit lower in altitude and kept open all year. Often you are alone in the CG or can find a secluded site. Along highway 120 inside the park has a few spots where you can park and CC ski or snowshoe. One nice spot nearby to snowshoe into is the Merced Grove of giant Sequoia Trees. Crane Flat also has places to park and cross country ski or snowshoe to explore. Evergreen road just outside the park offers a few spots and Hetch Hetchy is a nice place to check out. While the valley CG's are often busy, Yosemite Valley itself is a great spot to explore during winter. I often camp at some of the Merced River CG's at Briceburg. It's a great place void of snow but has some nice spots to hike/bike along the Merced river.

On 108 (Sonora Pass) above Strawberry, the road is usually closed off at a specific gate and there is a area to park (called SNO-Park) but no camping generally. Again you can find FS roads or CG's open at lower areas. Maybe take a look at Dodge Ridge above Pinecrest.



Donnell reservoir access road is often kept open during winter. Here is a good site:
Cross Country Skiing on Sonora Pass



Another nice spot further south is the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway and although the road is often closed at a spot along the loop road, there are several lower places to camp and then drive to higher altitude places to explore. Just be aware of the recent fires and what is closed.



Yet further south are the areas around Shaver Lake. Some great easy FS roads with nice scenery open year round and local areas you can often camp in the snow at.


Hope you find what you're looking for.
Super cool - appreciate those recommendations. I am familiar with the Dodge Ridge area from a brief backpacking trip in the Emigrant Wilderness area this summer... I was wondering during that trip how accessible that general area stayed during the winter.

The sierra vista scenic loop is 100% going to be on my list - first time hearing about it. Reminds me of a few similar loop areas in the north cascades.
__________________
2003 E250 Self-Built Van
Santa Cruz, CA
nyyankees588 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2022, 11:11 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Darkstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: San Diego
Posts: 103
I second the suggestion of around the Mammoth Lakes area. There are some very easy to get to side of the road spots along the Mammoth Scenic Loop. There are also some more difficult to pass dirt roads also. Obviously be aware of the weather as you can veery easily get stuck in deep snow and plowed in. But. Aside from a little basic common sense that's a great spot to go just a bit in there or to explore a bit deeper. Also the freecampsites.net is a great resource for van camping areas that I use often
Darkstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2022, 12:27 PM   #8
Member
 
porschedpm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Reno, NV
Posts: 63
Keep in mind that several of the Sierra mountain passes are closed during the winter beginning after the first major storm of the season (roughly from Nov/Dec +/-)and until April or so. (link: https://sierramountainpasses.com/abo...road-closures/). Makes getting to the Eastern Sierras more of challenge.

Donner Pass Road
Monitor Pass, CA 89
Ebbetts Pass, CA 4
Sonora Pass, CA 108
Tioga Pass, CA 120
Minaret Summit, CA 203
Sherman Pass, Sherman Pass Road

Also, during the winter, before I drive over any mountain passes I'll check weather reports and also road conditions on the Calif Road Report (CARR) app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/califo...rt/id366746980. The app gives current road conditions for all Calif highways and freeways as well as an interactive map which shows road closures/incidents, traffic cameras and other info. I like to check for any chain controls or closures and also the traffic cams to try to see just how bad the snow is and whether it's getting worse or not.
__________________
2006 E350 SMB RB50 6.0 PSD
porschedpm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2022, 01:18 PM   #9
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 11
I would recommend getting a California SNO-Park pass. The Highway 4/Bear Valley area is great, but once the snow starts there are very few plowed roads at that elevation, apart from Highway 4 itself. You could explore forest service roads at a lower elevation, or camp in a SNO-Park and use that as a base for snowshoeing, etc.
Viajero is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2022, 08:55 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
nyyankees588's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Posts: 260
Appreciate all of the continued suggestions - I'm definitely familiar with checking the passes/road open conditions and I'm aware of the reality that things often aren't navigable once deep snow has set-in. Spent the past few years up in Seattle and explored quite a bit in the winter in the Cascades.

Definitely will look to check out the Mammoth lakes area this winter, depending on snow conditions and passes. We only ever used a sno-park once in the cascades, but will keep that in mind as well... they can be great for an overnight spot when everything else has a lot of snow.
__________________

__________________
2003 E250 Self-Built Van
Santa Cruz, CA
nyyankees588 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:52 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×