Campground review: French Camp, Inyo National Forest, CA


Inyo National Forest, near Tom's Place, CA
(760) 935-4339


The campground is approximately 30 miles north of Bishop (18 miles south of Mammoth Lakes), off of Highway 395.

Take the Tom's Place exit from 395 and go about 1/2 mile up Rock Creek Road. Turn right at the French Camp sign.

More info:

Date of visit:
September 5-8, 2008.


We really lucked out and the weather was perfect; 80-85F during the day and an overnight low of 60F.
Definitely check the weather before you go, though — the campground is at 7100' elevation and the weather can change quickly, especially in spring and fall.

Campground Condition:
* The campsites really vary in size. Our site, #79, was the largest campsite I've ever stayed at; another guy's site (#74) was even larger. I think 8 or 9 people stayed at his site and there was plenty of room to spare. On the other hand, another friend had a very small site that would only fit one two-person tent.

* The campsites are very dusty in early fall, which means they're probably very muddy in winter and spring.

* Each site has a fire pit with metal grill, a picnic table, a food locker, and a place to park. There are water faucets at the bathrooms.

* The bathrooms are pretty simple; flush toilets with a sink in each room. Many of the bathroom rooms were out of service/locked when we were there. There are supposedly pay showers available 1 mile down the road at Tom's Place, but they were out of service as well when we camped.

* This is bear country! Use the food lockers for everything, even clothes that you cooked food in. There are substantial fines for leaving food outside of the lockers, day or night.

* Firewood is available from the campground manager.

What to do:

Closest to the campground is Tom's Place , which has a few rooms, a restaurant/bar, and a general store. The restaurant has very good breakfasts and a good beer selection. The store sells pretty much anything you need as well, from snacks/water/soda to fishing supplies to automotive bits.

This is an amazing motorcycling location, especially for dirtbikes and dualsports.

There are little dirt roads (mostly 2-track) everywhere. It's also a nice ride up to Mono Lake, Bridgeport, Yosemite, Bodie, etc. etc. etc.
This is a very popular fishing location; Crowley Lake, Convict Lake, and Rock Creek Lake are all close by and stocked with trout.

In the wintertime, the campground is 6 miles from the Inyo Forest Sno-Park, with miles of snowshoeing/cross-country skiing trails (passes available at the Tom's Place store).

The campground is also 18 miles south of Mammoth Mountain , which has tons of skiing/snowboarding in the wintertime and rock climbing/mountain biking/more in the summertime.

The area is also home to many hot springs; we found two while camping: "The Tub" and "Shepard's". Both are described and mapped out in the book "Hot Springs of the Eastern Sierras". Hot Creek springs is also very nearby but was closed to swimming when we visited due to being about 130F.

My photos:

Campsite #79, where my friend Nancy and I camped:


The sign you're looking for off of Rock Creek Road (it's on the right as you enter; this was taken when leaving the campground):


Rock Creek, which you can hear throughout the campground. Sounds wonderful as you're lying in your tent at night!


The scenery around the campground is gorgeous:


Site #74, which is absolutely huge:


"The Tub" hot springs:


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