Nearly 50 Spaces in the Forest Service Campground,
Dozens of Primitive Camps Along the River,
Plus Another Dozen or so Around the Lake


So many choices! It can make you crazy. If there’s one thing we have plenty of, it’s camping space. If you want to drive to your camp spot, there’s the 48-unit Jackass Meadow Campground. The campsites have paved parking and are complete with tables and fire pits. Restrooms are centrally located. A specially-built boardwalk can be used by the wheelchair-bound to take a tour of the woods and meadow nearby. The campground is right near the river, and borders on the big beautiful meadow. The Jackass Meadow Campground is closed during times the dam is spilling, usually early in the season.View of Jackass Meadow, Jackass Dike, Bear Butte


Reservations for the Jackass Meadow Campground are recommended. Make them by calling

There is a Web address you can use also:

You can get to the Jackass Meadow reservation page directly by clicking here.

Don’t care for fees or modern conveniences such as restrooms? Then drive down the river a bit and find your own campsite. Before the campground at Jackass Meadow was built, this was one of the only options for drive-up camping, and still remains a very good choice.

The only thing you need to camp most places in a National Forest is a campfire permit, which you can pick up at any Ranger Station or campground. (In Recreation Areas, such as Huntington Lake, you can only camp in a campground.)

If you don’t mind hiking or taking a boat, there are over a dozen large to small spaces around Florence Lake. Some of the best are at the far end of the lake, where the south fork of the San Joaquin River comes in. That’s where the fishing is truly fabulous! Some of the campsites in this location can accommodate large families or groups of people. Your water supply is either the river or Boulder Creek; bring your water filter to get rid of that nasty Giardia.

Getting to the sites around the lake can be done in your own boat, one of our rental boats, or you can arrange to have yourselves and your gear transported on the ferry when the lake level is high enough.

Firewood is usually easy to find since trees are always dropping a few limbs here and there. There are plenty of pine cones and pine needles for kindling, too.

Most of the lake’s campsites have tables and fire pits, and some are quite nice due to the work of campers in the past making them comfortable and useful.

If all you want is a place for a nice picnic lunch, there is a picnic area at the lake shore for day use (6am till 10pm). Picnic tables, fire pits, and nearby restrooms and parking make this a nice spot to relax and enjoy the scenery or try your luck at catching some fish.

Around the neighborhood
We have lots of things to see and do around here.
Down the road a piece is Mono Hot Springs. There you can soak in a tub of hot-spring water, get a refreshing shower, eat a meal in the restaurant, fish, explore the river, and more. Then there's Vermilion Valley Resort at Edison Lake which has offerings similar to ours, with the addition of a restaurant and motel. Edison Lake is bigger than Florence, so it should hold more fish. Also near Edison Lake is the main unit of the High Sierra Pack Station. We describe what they have on our Horses page.

At the far end of Florence Lake is the lakeside unit of the Lost Valley Pack Station. They offer activities such as Road Scholar events. Check out their Web site or call them at (559) 855-3960 or (559) 584-9132.

Three miles back on the road is Ward Lake, a tiny but very deep lake that gets planted by the Fish and Game people with nice big trout. Farther back is Portal Forebay, part of the Ward Tunnel system that drains both Florence and Edison Lakes into Huntington Lake. It, too, is planted by Fish and Game.

We’re surrounded by more mountains than you can shake a stick at (we know; we’ve tried). For anything longer than a day hike, you’ll need a wilderness permit, which you get at the Ranger Station (back down the road about seven miles).

Then of course, there’s the incredible Muir Trail Ranch. Cabins, hot spring baths, horses — wow.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch