View Full Version : Free/ cheap camping?

08-13-2011, 11:09 AM
I planned a camping trip for this tues-thurs a couple months ago and got the the days off work, but now funds are low as im switching jobs next week, but still wanna try to make the most of what i got! I'm taking my wife and two daughters (1 and 3yrs old) for their first ever camping trip and wanna go somewhere where we can... A) catch fish... B) not have to pay too much for a campsite...and C)somewhere with restrooms nearby for the girls.

I dont mind driving a couple hrs or so(from sacramento), and I heard theres SOME free sites at union valley, but my bro in law was up there a couple weeks ago and said it was a zoo, no free sites available and barely any paysites($22 bucks a night WOW) were even available. He also said the fishing was very slow from shore(got no boat) and there were tons of reacreational boaters and jetskiers too! Anybody have any suggestions???

08-13-2011, 01:29 PM
There are several free campgounds on hwy 89 north of truckee on the way to Sierraville. They're right on the Truckee River but are very near some resevoirs. I've never stayed in them, but they look pretty nice.

08-14-2011, 06:36 AM
Highland lakes off Hwy 4 up Ebbetts pass is very nice and not crowded during the week. You have to drive in on a dirt road for about six miles but the trip is worth it. It's $8 a night and you get a fire pit, table, pump for water and a bathroom. I have been there and have had the campground to myself during the week. The lakes have Brook trout and you can fish from the bank. I always float tube it and do well. With the all the snow we had this year the wild flowers should still be great even this late in the year. Brookies

08-14-2011, 06:51 AM
What you might want to do is to pick up a guide book for camping. I use a couple of them and keep them in my camper. Problem with most "cheap CG's" is that they are in the boonies and are relatively un-protected from elements and critters (up to and including bears, mountain lyons, hogs etc etc). They also have pit toilets and no access to water or garbage removal (take out what you carry in). Unless you are prepared ahead of time you may be in for a suprise.........Jetspray

08-14-2011, 09:55 AM
I'm with Brookies, Highland lakes is great plus, your a drive or hike to Wolf Creek and the Carson. If your really adventurous, a hike to Arnot or Disaster Creeks.

08-14-2011, 04:28 PM
Its been awhile since I have free camped in this area, but if you go east of Pinecrest there use to be several free camp sites off of 108. These were very basic camp sites with at table and pit toliet (some didn't have water so bring you own). You might have to drive a mile or two off 108, check at the ranger station at the turn off for Pinecrest. Also does anyone know if there is a fee at Beardsley Lake?

Another place to check out is the French Medows area. There are a few camping areas beyond the lake, when I was there in June they were free, I don't know if they are alway free or if it was just because the area was free due to snow.

Let us know if you find anything. Another web site to check out would be: Wander the West (http://wanderthewest.com/) they might have some info.

08-14-2011, 05:08 PM
Not free but cheap and safe - Clarks Fork

08-15-2011, 01:39 AM
Show your kids primitive camping. Its more realistic camping. I only do primitive campsites. Will never do pay for the campsites. That's just how i roll. My wife and kids were never exposed to the easy access cityslickn water focet/running shower/ restroom ordeals because face it, we are camping and enjoying nature. Not watching sat tv and running hot showers. It's supposed to be an "experience" not a home away from home. Just buy the portable toilets and small utility tents to house the toilet and a shower tent if you want. The porto potty is just for the kids and wife. If i was campn with just guys i'd just do it in the bushes. So first whattaya going to be driving in? And 2nd, do you own a firearm and are u familiar with it? This question will help better determine a location for you. But anyhow. If you want to camp by a lake or res more than likely it'll cost you. If you decide on primitive campsites you will have a lot more options. If you are driving a 4wd truck or suv that has good clearance you'll have even more options. Just remember most easy access camp sites Will be crowded and so will be on the water.

08-15-2011, 08:15 AM
Alot of the kids are starting school this week so it should be a little easier tio get a site. As a whole the crystal Basin has alot of areas you can find to camp and Loon is close enough for a side trip. Arriving at Camino Cove (UVR) on a Tuesday should work pretty good for you, if that is full right by the boat Launch in the bushes there (to the right as you are looking at the water) I see alot of campers and you can use the launch toilets. Also just up that road is another small free campground with outhouses as well.

then hit loon during the day for some good fishing....

08-15-2011, 08:17 AM
If you have some decent ground clearance (although there are plenty of people who do it in cars) you cant beat the Bowman Lake area for free sites and great scenery. The road could give your 1yo shaken baby syndrome :nerves:but hey, that's what the experience is all about. Pack it, pack it out. The fishing was a bit slow for me, but that's why its called fishing not catching. Good luck!