Onion Valley Campground

Inyo National Forest

Gilbert Lake

Onion Valley Campground, Inyo National Forest, CA

Onion Valley Campground (April)

Southern Eastern Sierra
Attractions and Activities

A number of wonderful camping areas are found along the southern Eastern Sierra. Among them are Convict Lake, Rock Creek, Sabrina Lake, South Lake, and Big Pine. Those spending time at Onion Valley Campground may enjoy visiting some of these places.

  • Enjoy a day at Rock Creek Lake's beach area, swimming and fishing.
  • Fish for trout in popular Bishop Creek or nearby Lake Sabrina and South Lake.
  • Hike up Big Pine Creek past waterfalls to actor Lon Chaney's wilderness cabin.
  • Go on a trail ride with Rock Creek Pack Station or near Lake Sabrina and North Lake see Bishop Pack Outfitters.
  • Mountain bike along challenging trails in the Rock Creek area.
  • Find great fishing at Convict Lake, Rock Creek Lake, and Lake Crowley.
  • Enjoy wonderful hiking trails leading into the Sierra Nevada.
  • Spend days among the beautiful Mammoth Lakes.
  • Take a day hike up the trail into Little Lakes Valley at Rock Creek.

Key Onion Valley Campground Regulations

  1. Dogs must be on leash and attended at all times. No more than 2 pets are permitted per campsite.
  2. To avoid problems with bears campers are required to store food and scented items in bear-proof lockers.
  3. Fires are only permitted in provided fire rings. Collect only down and dead wood.
  4. Quiet Hours are from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
  5. Generators may only be used during non-quiet hours. Only run them a maximum of 3 hours and be in attendance at all times.

Onion Valley Campground

Onion Valley Campground is at the end of Onion Valley Road in the Inyo National Forest, 14 miles west of Independence. Many who choose Onion Valley Campground enjoy photography, fishing, and simply soaking in the magnificent scenery.

Onion Valley Campground has 30 campsites. Most of the sites have good privacy and shade from trees. Nearly every site has wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. Two campsites are designated for tents-only and another 7 are walk-in campsites. The remainder can accommodate small RVs, tent trailers, and tents. Large vehicles are not recommended. Most sites can be reserved ahead of time. Some are designated as Management, which means that the reservation is not site-specific. For those reservations, a specific campsite will be assigned upon arrival. Other campsites are available for site-specific reservations.

With the main trailhead only yards from the campground, it is popular with those planning to hike into the John Muir Wilderness and Kings Canyon National Park. After hiking a little more than a mile, visitors begin to pass a series of scenic lakes such Gilbert Lake (shown above). The trail continues over 11,800-foot Kearsarge Pass into Kings Canyon National Park, connecting with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Thru hikers on those trails often make the 7.6-mile hike out from the trail over Kearsarge Pass to pick up supplies in nearby Independence. (Use the PCT button to find information about the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail at Onion Valley Campground.)

Onion Valley Campground Basics
Onion Valley Campground Location: Onion Valley Road, 14 miles west of Independence on Highway 395
Elevation: 9,200 feet
Mileage from major cities: 239 miles north of Los Angeles
From Bakersfield - 199 miles
Number of Campsites: 30
Open - Closed: Late May through October (if weather permits)
Max. People per Site: 6 (including children)
Vehicles per Site: 2 vehicles, 2nd vehicle $7
Maximum Length of Stay: 14 days
Pets: On leash, always attended
Operated by Recreation Resource Management, for Inyo National Forest
Information: Eastern Sierra Interpretive Center
(2 miles south of Lone Pine)
(760) 876-6200

Reservations at Onion Valley Campground
Reservations available whenever campground is open, available up to 6 months in advance
Maximum RV/Trailer Length: 16 feet
Wheelchair Accessible Sites: None designated, but some facilities are accessible
Fees: $21 per night
Reservations: Onion Valley Campground Reservations
Check-in, check-out: 2:00 PM, 1:00 PM

Onion Valley Campground Amenities
Campsites: Picnic table, fire ring, bear-proof food storage locker; no hook-ups
Campground: Vault toilets, tap water
Showers: No
Dump station: No
Attractions near Onion Valley Campground: Visit the Eastern California Museum in Independence. Also tour the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery and the Manzanar War Relocation Center. Take a day and drive out to Death Valley. Onion Valley trailhead is the gateway for hikes to Kearsarge Pass and on into Kings Canyon National Park. Spend your day fishing, mountaineering, cycling.

General Camping Information

Not all campsites can accommodate trailers or RVs of all lengths. Check carefully on the reservation site when you make your reservation to be sure your vehicle will fit your campsite. Purchase firewood locally to avoid spreading pests.

Accessible Sites

Designated Accessible sites are usually reserved for people with disabilities who have a vehicle displaying an accessible parking placard or license plate.

Onion Valley Trailhead, Inyo National Forest, CA

Onion Valley Trailhead (campground to the right)

Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail Information

The two trails are essentially one and the same through Kings Canyon National Park. The Onion Valley/Kearsarge Pass trail meets the PCT/JMT just north of the Charlotte Lake trail junction.

Trail Miles Northbound from PCT/JMT Trail Junction

  • Glen Pass - 2 miles
  • Rae Lakes campsite - 4.4 miles
  • Dollar Lake - 6.7 miles
  • Woods Creek suspension bridge - 10.7 miles
  • Canada Border - 1,860.9 miles

Trail Miles Southbound from PCT/JMT Trail Junction

  • Cedar Grove Trail Junction. - 1.8 miles
  • Upper Vidette Meadow - 3 miles
  • Forester Pass - 9.6 miles
  • Mexican Border - 789.1 miles

Nearest Town

Independence - 13 miles east of Onion Valley Campground on Highway 395
  Post Office, restaurants, mini-mart, lodging, public transportation (Eastern Sierra Transit)

Always confirm mileages and directions with a reliable PCT source such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association's The Pacific Crest Trail: Exploring America's Wilderness Trail.


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