U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Eldorado National Forest

California and Nevada

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Forest Information

The Eldorado National Forest is located in eastern California (east of Sacramento) with a very small portion in western Nevada. In California, the Forest is comprised of 677,202 acres and 53 acres in Nevada. There are 49 developed campgrounds of which 32 meet the selection criteria.

In 1849, eager fortune-hunters poured into California looking for "el Dorado," the fabled land of gold. Today, thousands of people come from as near as Reno, NV, Sacramento, and San Francisco, as well as distant capitals of Europe to find "el Dorado." Although few may find the gold that brought all those people here more than 150 years ago, most will find their priceless treasure in the memories found in the Eldorado National Forest while exploring all its other recreational opportunities.

Yes, folks still try to strike it rich in one of Eldorado National Forest's many fast flowing streams. Recreational panning is very much alive and done by young and old within the Forest's boundaries. The areas around Pi Pi campground and Cache Rock are reported to be two of the better locations. Of course, there are rules and guidelines to follow. Contact the Eldorado National Forest for specifics before trying your hand.

However, the more abundant gold to be found at Pi Pi (pronounced pie-pie) campground is in the golden morning sunlight, the silvery moonlight, and the time in between. This lovely campground, stretching along Middle Fork of Cosumnes River, has been used by humans for maybe 1,000 years or more. The Miwok people used the meadow year after year for a summer camp. Later, in the early 1900s, the California Door Lumber Company logged the area and the people stopped coming. Today, the forest has returned and so have families, many building golden family traditions such as learning how to roast the perfect marshmallow, spending quiet time in search for the best place to cast a line, and parents helping their child successfully meet a challenge.

Valuable family traditions are being established all over Eldorado National Forest, especially in the Crystal Basin Recreation Area. This area is loaded with recreational opportunities the whole family can enjoy with campgrounds nearby to support each activity. Off road vehicle enthusiasts find Airport Flat campground a perfect location after a day facing the challenges of Rubicon Jeep Trail. Wrights Lake campground is great for canoeing enthusiasts while Sunset and Fashoda Beach campgrounds fill up each weekend with power boat lovers. Equestrians bring their horses and family to Loon Lake campground to enjoy the miles of nearby trails. Anglers find Rainbow, Brown, and Mackinaw trout in Ice House Reservoir abundant but challenging and Ice House campground a great place to fry up the day's catch. And Jones Fork campground, on the 4-mile (and growing) Union Valley Bike Trail, is perfect for any family of bicycle enthusiasts.

A series of high mountain lakes shine sapphire blue during the day, and studded with diamonds at night, stretch along State Route 88. Silver Lake, Kirkwood Lake, Caples Lake, and Woods Lake each have a campground nearby, though not always directly on a lake's edge. Wood Lake and Caples Lake camp sites enjoy the lush emerald green of a healthy forest while Kirkwood Lake campground is nestled among boulders that appear to be a jumble of giant pearls. Silver Lake campground offers both these emerald and pearl features plus has a small pond in the middle that changes from topaz color in the morning to sapphire by noon and jet black at night. Just how rich is this stretch of State Route 88? Look up for the Two Sentinels mother nature has standing guard.

The richness of Eldorado National Forest's colorful history is retained and illustrated in the places like Coloma, Fiddletown, and Chaw-se Indian Grinding Rock State Historical Park, just to mention a few. There is also history related to the names of some National Forest campgrounds. A campground like Dru Barner Park Park commemorates the life and contributions of an amazing horsewoman. China Flat campground recalls the time a former employee of Asian ancestry revenged his firing by burning down the company's business. Now, all that is left is a swamp mill pond and hidden foundations to recall the location's past. Hell Hole Reservoir's name might be a tongue-in-cheek statement but it is a very long and challenging drive to the dark blue of this pristine lake. And Hell Hole campground, with its views of the Reservoir far below, is one of the prettiest tent campgrounds in the Forest.

One of the delights of searching for "el Dorado" are the discoveries made along the way and Eldorado National Forest has many. Finding a perfect circle of Bear clover on the way to Sunset campground, a wildflower festival at Kirkwood Ski Resort near Kirkwood Lake campground, and comradery of fellow rock climbers at Lover's Leap campground, provide special moments. Pulling into Middlefork Cosumnes campground and the lush shade of cedar and sparkle of the clear flowing Middle Fork of Cosumnes River, is noteworthy. Recreational vehicle folks discovering Silver Fork campground, far from the crowds that huddle around the Forest's big lakes, will think they have struck gold.

Mythical "el Dorado" may be a fabled land but Eldorado National Forest is for real. A wealth of recreation opportunities and a Mother Lode of golden memories await those who journey to Eldorado National Forest. Come and discover the priceless treasures that awaits your discovery.

SUPERVISOR OFFICE 100 Forni Rd. Placerville, California 95667 530-622-5061 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Amador 26820 Silver Dr. Pioneer, California 95666 209-295-4251 Georgetown 7600 Wentworth Springs Rd Georgetown, California 95634 530-333-4312 Pacific 7887 Hwy. 50 Pollock Pines, California 95726 530-644-2349 Placerville 4260 Eight Mile Rd. Camino, California 95709 530-644-2324

Fred and Suzi Dow