Planning to spend 2 or 3 weeks May20th on into June hiking in the hopefully sunny, still snowy Eastern High Sierra. Will be spending nights in the backcountry but also planning to do some long day hikes. For those days and the days between longer outings, I'd like to spend nights in a campground where I can rest and do some car camping.
What are your favorite campgrounds from Lone Pine to Lee Vining? For me the ideal campground would: be beautiful, have access to trails into backcountry, be closer to 8000' elevation rather than 3000' in the Owens Valley, permit fires, have shade and lots of women. No particular order.
Favorite CG on the Eastside...My house. It is at 7200' and this is the view outside my front door...
You might want to consider the Crowley Lake BLM CG located on Crowley Lake Dr between Hilton Creek and McGee Creek. It is only 5.00 per night and pretty much centralized between LP and LV. No women really but you will be too busy being up the BC to worry about that.
Another one would be Lower Rock Creek - Tuff CG just on the other side of 395 from Tom's Place. Lots of shade and women every eve at Tom's Place. Access to Rock Creek, Mosquito Flats T/H is only 10 minutes up the Rock Creek Road.
I like Coldwater Creek campground in Mammoth. It's expensive though, $21 a night. You could camp on the BLM land just north for free, but there will be no one there. A plus in my book. Or free camping in the Tungsten hills, again BLM. Just find a good spot and set up camp. The options are endless. Paying for camping sucks. All you get is a fire ring and a table. Anyone else feel the same way?
What about Convict Lake? Mount Laurel as the backdrop is spetacular with many other options nearby. I don't care for the actual campsites themselves but the area in central to many options. And the elevation is at 7,850.
Although the area is relatively compact, I think you'd be better off figuring out what you want to do and camp near there vs. just picking a nice campsite and driving all over the place. Thus, you'd probaby get better responses if you were more specific with your query. Having said that, my favorite campgrounds are the ones along the road to Tom's Place and the tiny one at the end of the road to North Lake. The latter only works if you're hiking something in the area. Chief's house looks awesome, though that's probably a tough invite.
You're going to be dealing with lots of snow. Plan accordingly.
Lake Sabrina is central to many great dayhikes, and is near North Lake and South Lake for more still. It can be crowded, but if you're not there most of the time, it's not bad. You can access the entire Sabrina Basin, then hop just north to the North Lake trail head to hit Lamarck and drop into Darwin Mendel, or hit Humphreys Basin and all it offers. From Humphreys, you could even head north and come out in the upper Rock Creek area. From south Lake you could have a couple of nice choices as well.
Rock Creek is nice too, as Chief mentioned. If the road to Mosquito Flat trailhead is open, there are several great easier dayhikes out of there as well.
Can't lose with Glacier lodge either, really.
Cant really go wrong with any of them, but Sabrina is central to many, many great hikes, with great scenery.
Have fun, and bring bug juice! They're prolly coming out in force soon!