6 Ways to Camp Responsibly in Mammoth Lakes

May 25, 2023

Being a responsible camper is like giving Mother Nature a BIG hug. When you pitch a tent in one of our campgrounds, show your campsite some love by following the responsible camping guidelines below.

Know Camping Regulations

Whether you’re camping in an established campground or getting a wilderness permit to backpack into the wilderness, your camping trip in Mammoth Lakes is going to require a bit of planning. Here’s a list of things you should be thinking about before you head out on a camping adventure in the mountains: 

Respect Wildlife

The wildlife that calls the Eastern Sierra home, including deer, birds, trout, rodents and, of course, bears, deserve to be treated with respect. Give animals plenty of space (at least 50 feet) and never feed wildlife. Relying on human food be dangerous for animals because they may have trouble surviving on their own or become too comfortable around humans and find themselves in a situation that is unsafe for both animals and humans.

Store Food in Bear-Proof Containers

Keep all food and scented items (think: toiletries) in bear-proof containers. In established campgrounds, bear-proof containers called bear boxes are available to guests free of charge throughout the campsite. As soon as you arrive at camp, transfer your food, including coolers, from your car into the bear box.

If you’re backpacking, you are required to carry a bear canister, which is like your own portable bear box. You can purchase or rent bear canisters at several local retail stores. The U.S. Forest Service office at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center also rents bear canisters. 

Dispose of Trash Properly

Always dispose of your trash in locked dumpsters, securing the carabiner clip or latched handle used to lock the receptacle. Do not leave trash outside your camp or in your car or tent.

When backpacking, trash and leftover food should be stored in your bear canister until you are back in town and can dispose of the trash in a bear-proof dumpster. 

Learn About Campfire Safety & Regulations

It’s no secret that California is prone to wildfires, especially in dry summers. While we can’t control natural fires, we can take extra care to make sure we are never the cause of manmade fires by following fire regulations and practicing fire safety. Here are some of the most important rules of fire safety:

  • Know the current fire regulations and where you are allowed to have a campfire
  • Be sure to acquire the appropriate fire permit for any fires outside of designated campgrounds.
  • Buy firewood where you plan to burn it so you don’t introduce pests from your hometown to the local environment.
  • Use existing fire rings.
  • Keep fires small and never leave a fire unattended.
  • Drown your fire dead out. The remnants of a campfire should be cool to the touch before you leave your campsite.

For more detailed fire safety tips, visit the Leave No Trace website. ​

Leave Your Campsite Better Than You Found It

If you love visiting Mammoth Lakes (and how could you not, it’s so beautiful here) treat the mountains and your campsite like a second home. Always try to leave your campsite or any trails you explore better than you found it. You’ll be ensuring your next visit to Mammoth Lakes is just as magical. And you’ll be saving some of the magic for other visitors who come after you as well.

Your first step toward more sustainable recreation can be as simple as reading and signing the Mammoth Lakes Promise to commit to keeping Mammoth Lakes beautiful.

Sign the Mammoth Lakes Promise

Meghan Miranda

Meghan has been living and playing in Mammoth Lakes since 2016. She enjoys any outdoor activities that her dogs can tag along for. See more of Meghan's adventures on her blog Meg Moves Mountains.

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