View Full Version : Any "can't miss" camping spots?

03-30-2009, 14:03
For those that have done the JMT, are there any campsites that you found to be the "best of the best"? I'm heading out in August for a SOBO thru, and can't wait.

03-30-2009, 14:48
Heading north you will cross a stream after the stream the trail opens up and you can see hermit Mtn. to your right. About 60 yards from the trail by the stream is a great camping spot. The link below will show you the spot and hermit Mtn. This was my favorite camping spot. There are tons of camping spots on the JMT.


03-31-2009, 10:31
Thanks for the info, that pic looks amazing...I can't wait to get out there!

03-31-2009, 12:10
I prefer to camp high, above treeline, so my choice sites are probably different from what people will recommend who like a fire, a fishing stream or a hot spring nearby...

For best view, my overall favorite - Bighorn Plateau - but you gotta pack water up there. The puddle up on that plateau is ok if you don't mind the taste of the water (allegedly tastes like soap...).

For a hot spring you need to do an alternate route after Reds Meadows, but it's worth it. Just past Sharktooh Creek in Fish Valley, you can spend the night at Iva Bell Hotsprings


next morning, get up the valley along Sharktooth Creek, meet up with the JMT just below Silver Pass again.

I like camping on top of Mt Whitney, just next to the cabin (which has very little room inside and is usually crowded in summer)

My favorite site for view and drama has to be the summit of Clouds Rest - just a small detour on the JMT, but the view is amazing and in good weather spending the night on top is a very special thing. Not much room there (tent will be difficult to set up), but in a good night, just sleep under the stars and enjoy amazing views down Yos. Valley in the evening, with Half Dome just below you, close enough to touch. Pick up the JMT north via Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

03-31-2009, 12:15
Bighorn Plateau images from a night spent there in 1990

morning 2

and something you may see from Mt Whitney at sunrise:

Clouds Rest seen from Tioga Pass road

Clouds Rest is the humpback on the left - imagine the view from there... almost 10000 feet high, perfect medium altitude to see the valley below nicely, while your view to Mt Lyell and the other tall peaks east is just as good. I'll scan some pix from my night up there in the coming days

03-31-2009, 21:54
Thanks for all the pics and info, those sites look amazing! I like being up above treeline too. Man I can't wait to get out there...aug 13 I start in Yose!

03-31-2009, 22:56
I agree, high is best.
I have always found that staying away from the established camping spots is best.
That's where the bears go and i guess that's why i have yet to see one in the Sierras
(and i've hiked and camped in there a lot)
I go off trail, look for some shelter from the wind, yet with a view, and don't need water to camp although there are plenty of lakes up high in the Sierra of course.

Have a great trip.

04-03-2009, 11:06
Thanks for all the pics and info, those sites look amazing! I like being up above treeline too.

above the treeline - there's not much of a chance to go wrong. I can't remember a single site above treeline I didn't like. The reasons for that are probably simple - a) you're most likely totally alone up there, and b) you always have a view)

here's a site found on the way down into Le Conte Canyon on a day the weather was very threatening near Muir Pass, so we hiked as far as we could to get lower. There's hardly a flat spot to put a tent in this canyon unless you make it to one of the lakes. We just set up on a ledge on top of a large granite block. Great site, and we're probably the only people who have ever camped there:


Back then there were no bear canisters, so we always wanted to get to the big trees, or stay very high. that night above was one of the many we had to worry about our food at night. So every time you complain about your bear canister, think of it as a "can pick any site you want" device. It really lets you camp anywhere these days and still sleep well

04-03-2009, 11:42
It's hard to pinpoint any single campsite. I enjoyed camping in the alpine areas above treeline near the lakes (but not too close per Forest Service & NPS regulations). As you can see from my JMT journal (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=4830), lots of opportunities abound. I don't think I ever had a bad campsite.

This site (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=13796&catid=member&imageuser=5065) below Mather Pass was typical - magnificent! This one (http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=182367) was nice also.

04-03-2009, 17:05
Evolution Lake was excellent:


Camping next to Rae Lake was fantastic:


Guitar Lake was terrific, too:


Did I stay anyplace ugly on the JMT? Nah, don't think so.

04-03-2009, 17:43
wow all these places look fantastic...thanks a bunch for sharing. I am seriously just counting the days until I get out there, and all these amazing pics are making it go by so slow!

04-10-2009, 16:19
more on that Clouds Rest campsite, now that I have scanned some pix from up there:

the site:


the view west on sunset:


East at the same time


just don't tell too many people about it - there's room for maybe 10 people up there, and only for very small tents. We didn't use a tent. The photos are from 1990, and I haven't been back up there since, so make sure it's still legal to stay overnight on the summit. Half Dome used to be legal back then, too, but now it is closed to overnight camping.

Even if you don't stay overnight, this peak adds just a few miles and a few vertical feet to the JMT, but it's a must see location, with probably the best view in Yosemite

04-15-2009, 10:05
wow...uh yeh I think I can add a couple of miles for that...amazing!

04-15-2009, 11:16
wow...uh yeh I think I can add a couple of miles for that...amazing!

going south, you gotta pack a lot of water for this peak just after the Half Dome turnoff and before heading up to Clouds Rest from the south. There's no water for quite a while even north of the peak, so plan on evening and morning water. Gonna make the extra altitude a bit more character building when you have a full bag of water in there, all on your first or second day. If you have a permit to spend the night in Little Yos. Valley, you should be alright, but if you want to get to Clouds Rest from Happy Isles in one day, better start before sunrise and eat some extra Cliff bars :-?.

04-16-2009, 19:39
There are quite a few can't miss campsites, so many in fact that you will be forced to miss most of them. So really, they aren't can't miss so much anymore.
Ponder that while hiking out there.

04-17-2009, 15:10
Helmuth Fishmonger, you are taking us well off the JMT which I amsure is a nice alternative, but you need to be mopre clear on mileage and terrain comparisons.

04-20-2009, 10:21
Helmuth Fishmonger, you are taking us well off the JMT which I amsure is a nice alternative, but you need to be mopre clear on mileage and terrain comparisons.

grab a map. Clouds Rest is not "well off" the trail, but rather right next to one of the dullest sections of the entire thing.

Terrain - yeah, it's not for mules, and if you're afraid of heights, there are a few steps on the northern approach to Clouds Rest that is "exposed" but no technical difficulties. Here's a 24k map of the "alternate"


by the way, just because it's the Muir Trail doesnt' mean it's the most interesting or best trail option in a particular area of the Sierras. Especially on the northern half of the trail, I generally spend at least half my miles on alternates these days. I've been there 8 times now and only twice have I walked the regular trail on the above map section. I will do it once more this summer, but only because we are doing a yo-yo and will be in that area twice.