Find the Ultimate Private Camping in California

Before we became RVers, we were hardcore backpackers. Jim and I carried everything we needed on our backs. We headed to remote places to find the ultimate private camping with as few people as possible. We thought RVers were so lame!

tent camping, private, California, book, guide, Eastern Sierra, Death Valley
Tent camping in Big Bend.

But then we discovered that RVs offer so much more than a comfy bed in the woods. They’re a ticket to freedom for a lifestyle like no other. The only problem? Finding the ultimate private camping spot. Because when you choose to go RV camping you give up much of the solitude that backpackers enjoy.

Thankfully the new book “Eastern Sierra and Death Valley Camping with Privacy” makes it easier to find those private places that rock our world. The comprehensive guide by Kimberly and Patrick Wilkes is a must-have resource if you spend any time camping in California’s public campgrounds and want to escape the crowds.

Eastern Sierra camping guide

This huge 462-page guide covers the vast expanse between Lake Tahoe and Death Valley. The Wilkes review 3,416 campsites for tenters and RVers, giving a firsthand account of what to expect before you truck on out there.

It’s not just a book about campgrounds, it’s a campsite review book. The couple has devised a strict criteria for determining what qualifies as a “private” campsite when you’re tent or RV camping:

Eastern Sierra camping guide
#50 Lower Grays Meadow. Photo: P. Wilkes

“In order for a campsite to be included in this book it had to meet one of several qualifications. The campsite had to:

  • Be far enough away from neighboring sites so that they didn’t feel intrusive, and/or
  • Be surrounded by vegetation on one or more sides, which blocked the view of any neighbors, and/or
  • Have some sort of natural feature obscuring the view of one or more neighbors such as a hill or rocks, and/or
  • Feel private and peaceful, especially compared to other sites in the campground.â€

There’s a picture of a tent on the book’s cover, but don’t be fooled: it’s not just for tenters. Kimberly said in an email that “We point out in the book which campsites are best for RVs, especially those that have pull through driveways.†They include details about important deal breakers like:

  • which campsites can accommodate larger and smaller RVs
  • what you can see from different vantage points within each campsite and reveal important facts like cell phone availability
  • tasty local eateries, hiking trails and more.
Eastern Sierra camping guide
Campsite #6: Reversed Creek. Photo: P. Wilkes

In conjunction with the book, Kimberly and Patrick also run the helpful website “I Love the Eastern Sierras.” This freelance writer and photographer have put their heart and soul into this guide and it shows. The only thing missing is a reference map. Hopefully the Wilkes will include it in the next revision. The book is only available in print now but in a couple of months you’ll be able to download a Kindle copy.

If you camp in California you know it’s getting harder to get away from crowds. Plus, most places require you to make advance reservations, which  means taking a huge leap of faith that the site you pick out online will match your expectations. If you don’t want to be disappointed, keep a copy of Eastern Sierras and Death Valley Camping with Privacy by your side when choosing which campsites to reserve.





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