Forest Camping Opens for Memorial Day Weekend

Release Date: May 21, 2009  

News Release

[Graphic]: Forest Service Logo.
US Forest Service
Stanislaus National Forest

Public Affairs (209) 532-3671 ext.244/245


Sonora, May 21, 2009 - The Forest Service today announced that many Stanislaus National Forest (NF) campgrounds and picnic areas will be open to accommodate visitors and campers for Memorial Day weekend. Due to relatively normal snow pack at higher elevations, Forest visitors will find 33 campgrounds open for this Memorial Day weekend, with a total of 52 developed campgrounds offering 1,391 campsites open and available by early summer this year.

Open campgrounds, picnic areas, and dispersed, undeveloped camping areas will provide an extensive array of recreation opportunities spanning the entire Forest this season. Forest visitors are encouraged to contact local Ranger Stations for current information on changing conditions, and the best places to camp.

California State Highway trans-Sierra routes over Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4, Sonora Pass Hwy 108, and Tioga Pass Hwy 120 are all open. Information on State Highways can be obtained by calling the toll-free CALTRANS road information phone line at (800) 427-7623.

Outdoor recreationists are encouraged, before heading out, to contact Stanislaus NF ranger stations for the most current information on camping, roads, and trail conditions. Forest information, recreation maps, campfire permits, wilderness permits, and personal use fuel wood permits can be obtained at all Forest offices during the following summer business hours:

Forest Supervisor's Office 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora
Phone (209) 532-3671
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Mi-Wok Ranger Station Highway 108, Mi-Wuk Village
Phone (209) 586-3234
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Summit Ranger Station Highway 108, Pinecrest
Phone (209) 965-3434
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Groveland Ranger Station Highway 120, Buck Meadows
Phone (209) 962-7825
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday / Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Calaveras Ranger Station Highway 4, Hathaway Pines
Phone (209) 795-1381
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00p.m.
(Alpine Station open on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday through Monday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Forest Service Offices will also distribute copies of the latest Stanislaus Traveler, the newsletter that offers the full scoop on Stanislaus National Forest vacations. Additional recreation opportunity information may also be obtained by visiting the Stanislaus National Forest website at

Camping and hiking

Forest conditions vary by elevation and current weather patterns. Campers, hikers, and backpackers should expect to find the snow level beginning at approximately 7,500 feet, with some snow pack and isolated drifts in shady areas and on north-facing slopes, with partial snow coverage on slopes above 8,000 feet. Most Forest developed campgrounds at lower, middle, and higher elevations are open.

Developed campground availability depends primarily on the day and time that visitors arrive. Most campgrounds are operated on a first-come, first-serve basis, and are filled to capacity by Friday afternoon. Campground fees range from $6.00 to $20.00 per night, with the largest group sites ranging up to $75 per night. The maximum stay in most campgrounds is 14 days, with a 21-day maximum stay per Ranger District.

A small number of campgrounds offer campsites by reservation through the National Recreation Reservation Service, telephone (877) 444-6777, or on the Web at []. Reservation campgrounds include Pinecrest Campground and Pioneer Group Camp on the Summit Ranger District, Big Meadow Campground and Lodgepole Group Camp on the Calaveras District, and a number of campsites in the Dimond O Campground on the Groveland Ranger District.

Undeveloped, or "primitive", camping is permitted at dispersed camping sites throughout the Forest. Visitors arriving on Saturdays are encouraged to check with Ranger District offices for suggestions on the best "pick your own" undeveloped camp sites. Fees are not charged at dispersed sites, and visitors are required to obtain a free campfire permit for a campfire, gas stove, or bar-b-cue.

Visitors are also required to camp at least 100 feet from rivers and streams, and pack out all litter to keep the Forest clean. This year the public is encouraged to adopt a "Pack it in, Pack it out, Pack it home!" plan to help reduce impacts to developed camping areas, and to maintain dispersed camping areas and other dispersed sites where no trash pick-up services are provided.

Trail conditions are icy in places

Some snow and ice still covers portions of hiking trails in the Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg, and Mokelumne Wildernesses. In areas where trails are partially open, the conditions are wet and muddy, with stream crossings somewhat swollen by snowmelt, with icy conditions in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Hikers are requested to delay use on muddy trails until trail surface conditions become dryer and stabilize. This helps to prevent resource damage.

Even during early summer, some higher-elevation hiking trails will have snow in patches and drifts, with icy conditions in mornings and evenings. Due to relatively normal snow pack this year, high elevation trailheads will be accessible earlier in the summer as the remaining snow melts. Hikers should be equipped and prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions due to afternoon spring and summer thunderstorms. Once trails are open, stock users are asked to follow "weed-free" practices before arriving on Forest, and when traveling in Wilderness.

Early spring water runoff conditions exist

Although rivers and streams throughout the Forest will be running at lower levels this summer due to this year's lower than normal snow pack, visitors are asked to always exercise extra caution near watercourses during the late spring and early summer months. When recreating near rivers and streams, remember the following:

  • Always keep careful watch over children near swift water - at all times!
  • Always watch footing near slippery, snow-covered stream banks and river shorelines.
  • Always avoid hopping on slick rocks or slippery logs across strong currents.
  • Always wear a life jacket when fishing in swift water, especially rivers.
  • Always avoid using any raft or kayak on swift water, especially if inexperienced.
  • Never attempt crossing high water over downed logs - they are extremely slippery.
  • Never attempt to cross fast-moving water - the currents are stronger than you think!

Forest roads are fragile due to wetness

Forest roads at elevations above 7,000 feet are generally open to travel, but wet conditions are present, and storm damage exists in some areas. Visitors are asked to adjust their driving to current Forest road conditions, use defensive driving techniques, and stay alert for storm damage including boulders, rockslides, slumps, and washouts.

Driving on soft, muddy, saturated un-surfaced Forest roads can easily cause deep wheel ruts resulting in road damage and potential soil erosion. To provide for safety, protect vital access routes, and care for the land, visitors are asked to stay alert, exercise care, and adjust their travel on Forest roads to accommodate road conditions. Traveling on drier roads helps to reduce maintenance costs and protects forest resources.

Motor vehicle travel is permitted up to 100 feet off the road and established travel ways for direct access to woodcutting, provided that no resource damage occurs and that such access is not otherwise prohibited. Damaging roads and causing damage off roads is a violation of federal regulations carrying up to a $5,000 fine and/ or 6 months in jail. Before heading out, woodcutters with valid Personal Use Fuelwood Permits should check with their local Ranger Station, or call (209) 532-5601 to find out if it is a permissible cut day, or if it is a no-cut day.

Maps showing Forest roads, brochures displaying trails open to off-highway vehicle use, and pamphlets explaining outdoor recreation opportunities are available at Forest Service Ranger Stations. Proper and responsible use of vehicles is encouraged so that Forest roads remain in good shape for the next visitors. If travelers find they are causing wheel ruts on muddy, un-surfaced roads, it's time to back-track and look for drier areas.

Campfire permits are required outside developed campgrounds

Conditions will soon become tinder-dry in the summer heat, and fire danger is expected to increase early this year. As the summer wears on, and days become hotter and drier, fire restrictions will likely go into effect. Forest fire officials are urging visitors to exercise extra care to prevent their campfires and barbeques from causing accidental wildland fires.

Visitors are encouraged to stop in at the Forest Service Ranger Station nearest their destination to find the best places to camp, get fire prevention information and campfire permits, receive an update on the current fire danger, and check for the areas where fire restrictions may be in effect:

  • Always obtain a Campfire Permit, where required, and carefully follow the permit terms.
  • Always clear away all flammable vegetation to bare mineral soil 5 feet around campfires.
  • Always extinguish all campfires and briquette barbeques - drown them with plenty of water.
  • Never build a campfire under overhanging tree limbs or near brush.
  • Never build or maintain a campfire on a hot, dry, windy afternoon.
  • Never leave a burning or smoldering campfire unattended - not even for one minute!
  • Always be sure your campfire and briquettes are out, dead out, before leaving camp.

Campfire permits can be obtained for free at any USDA Forest Service or CAL FIRE (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) office. For more information on outdoor recreation opportunities, call (209) 532-3671, or visit our Forest web site at



  • Contact Public Affairs
    For media or legislative affairs, please contact the Public Affairs Officer at 209-272-5455. For visitor information, please contact the Stanislaus National Forest at 209-532-3671.