Independence Creek Campsite is a basic no-frills campsite located just off of U.S. Route 395 in the town of Independence, CA. What Independence Creek lacks in amenities, it makes up for in location. This campsite is a short 13 mile drive from the Onion Valley trailhead to Kearsarge Lakes, and is located in between Lone Pine and Bishop, making it the perfect base camp for exploration in the Eastern Sierra.
- Independence Creek Campground is located right off of U.S. Route 395 in the town of Independence, CA. As you drive on U.S. Route 395, turn west onto Market St. Market St. is located near the historic courthouse and post office. Drive west on Market St. for 0.6 miles and then turn right into the campsite. It is very easy to miss the campsite entrance, so make sure to keep an eye out for the entrance sign.
- See on Google Maps.
- Capacity: 29 primitive campsites that must be booked on Reserve America. Sites allow for groups of 6 people.
- Facilities: potable water, pit toilets, fire rings, and tables. Bring your own firewood. No electricity.
- RVs and Campers: 20-40 foot limits based on campsite, no RV hookups
- Hours: The campground is open 24 hours.
- Cost: Camping is $14 per night per site, which includes parking.
- Pets: Dogs are allowed and must be on a 6-foot max leash. Must be accompanied by a person at all times.
Booking and Reservations
Booking a reservation on Reserve America is pretty straightforward and is the only option for checking availability of campsites. Make sure to book online, as we saw a lot of people driving through hoping to find a vacant site without any luck. When you arrive, your reservation details will be clipped to a campsite post with your site number at the top.
The best sites at the campground in my opinion are numbers 15, 29, and 1, as they provide the most space. Sites 1-15 are right along Onion Valley Rd, but there isn’t much traffic, so don’t let that scare you away. Sites 16-29 are located right along the creek, which is nice if you plan on fishing for trout. There are also more trees around sites 16-29, which makes a big difference in the hot summer sun.
As you drive into Independence Creek Campsite you’ll turn left to access the campsites. You’ll immediately see sites 1-12, and will need to cross over the creek bridge to access 13-29.
As I mentioned above, it is very easy to drive past the campsite entrance, as you’ll have majestic views of the Eastern Sierra on the horizon. There is only one way to enter, so safely make a u-turn if you drive past the gate like I did.
Campsites and Facilities
There are a few trails that weave around Independence Creek Campsite, but all of the best hiking is accessed by driving up into the mountains. There is a flowing creek that cuts right through camp, and trout are readily available.
The individual campsites are large enough to park two cars each, have soft dirt/sand as a base, and fit large 8-12 person tents very easily. Each site has an old wooden park bench, but no manmade structures for shade. There are a few trees to provide shade, but some sites get quite a bit of sun exposure.
There is a pit toilet restroom at the entrance with two facilities and both appeared to have been cleaned that day. There is also a trash and recycling disposal bin near the restroom. At the western end of the campground there is another toilet that is used far less often than the ones near the entrance. To use this one, look for the green structure at the end of the campsite near site 12.
Sites 13-29 along the creek are removed from the road, have a little more room for additional parking, are closer to the trails, and have amazing views of Mt. Whitney. They are in higher demand though, and can be more difficult to book when compared to 1-12.
Many of the campsites have potable water spigots, but I only use it for cleaning. I always opt for bottled water at campsites just to be safe.
Independence Creek Campsite offers a lot of value at $14 per night. Its close proximity to Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth, and many Eastern Sierra trailheads make it a great basecamp option for those not lucky enough to book campsites up in the high country. The facilities are limited in regards to showers, electricity, and shade structures, but a few of the available campsites negate some of those drawbacks with trees and creek access. If you’re okay ‘roughing it’ a bit, and prefer function over facilities, Independence Creek Campsite will be a great launching point to your adventures in the Sierra.