Staying near Mammoth Lake

My original goal was twofold for this stay:

  1. Make a short driving day for us from Lone Pine, CA
  2. Have time to explore the larger areas for future campsite options

With a destination in mind we headed north on Highway 395.

We arrived to my selected camp target by late morning and easily located the Laurel Creek campsite area. Setup required some digging to get level but once done we were ready for the day. We were still nursing a leaky tire and made plans to head into Mammoth and find an auto parts shop for a fix it spray.

On our Mammoth shopping outing we took a detour out to Twin Lakes. It was fun to see the difference now in June versus my stay in May 2019. May 2019, the snow was still very much present!

Later in the afternoon, we spent time taking the Jeep on an OHV trail before dinner and the next morning enjoyed driving around Hot Creek and Owens River areas on the east side of Highway 395.

Camping in Laurel Creek dispersed

We saw 7 sites available back against Laurel Mountain only 2 miles from HWY395. Conveniently close to Mammoth Lakes which is only 6.5 miles away. There’s a few areas to go explore including a great jeep OHV trail nearby to Laurel lakes.

At the site we chose, we found a small amount of trash including nails from folks burning pallets. They were simply in a hole that we were driving over. Never burn a pallet unless you can remove the nails first! We had slow internet with only 1 to 2 bars Verizon, T-Mobile and Google fi connections. Definitely quiet during our stay, but every site full by night fall with a couple sites occupied by suspected long timers.

  • GPS: 37.617411 , -118.897545
  • Easy to locate: Yes; 2 miles from Highway 395 on a gravel road
  • Public Land: Yes
  • Cell: 1 bar T-mobile, Google fi, Verizon
  • Crowded: no, but each spot was full by
  • Buggy: not during our stay
  • Clean: mostly clean
  • Would we stay here again: Yes but primarily for an overnight stay passing through the area

Laurel Lakes Jeep Trail

We spent an afternoon taking the Jeep out on Laurel Creek Road. It is a well maintained OHV trail easily accessible from Highway 395 and near our campsite.

Entering Laurel Creek valley
ON X OFFROAD trail tracking
Trail view back towards Mammoth
Long Laurel Creek water cascade
In the valley and heading to snow capped mountain
Primary Laurel Lake
Secondary Laurel Lakes

Hot Creek geological site

The following morning we made a short trek in the Jeep to discover Hot Creek geological site and locate other hot springs in the area. We were also interested to and see what the area’s dispersed camping options looked like.

The Hot Creek geological site was easy to locate using Google maps and what an interesting discovery! It was a mini Yellowstone. You could walk down a paved path and view the springs from the south bank of Hot Creek. During our stay the paved lot and restrooms were closed but plenty of other parking nearby with access to the paved trail down.

We also got a good look at camp pullouts along Hot Creek gorge and then further back into the valley near cattle grazing fields.

Owens River at Benton Crossing

A popular fishing area and not too far from highway 395 is on the Owens River and Benton Crossing. There is a large RV park that has sites at at the river’s edge. We didn’t see any immediate dispersed area, but a glance at some maps indicated that there may be some just further south along the river.

Benton Crossing & Owens River

Where to next?

We’re will do a short stay near South Lake Tahoe and if our leaky tire can be repaired we’ll plan some time to drive to the lake for a short visit. Then onward to Oregon and Washington getting reacquainted with old friends.

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