If your idea of camping involves peace, quiet and solitude, the southern end of the Sierras provides that and more in a variety of settings in the Sequoia National Forest. Named for the massive orange trees that dominate the western slope of these mountains, camping in this region can involve everything from lakeside deserts to rivers running through the forest, with free camping and paid full-hookup options alike, and none ever more than a jaunt away from Mother Nature wearing her most technicolor of robes.
Kayaks cut streams through Lake Isabella where free camping (with a National Parks or Southern Sierra pass) along those shores includes access to bathrooms with real running water and all; not to mention showers, a dump station and trash services at places like Auxiliary Dam Campground and Stine Cove. The lake is surrounded by a couple dozen places to camp, from the aforementioned freebies to private RV parks like Lake Isabella RV Resort, where your plug and sewer hose can find their significant others while you toggle your traveling toes in their swimming pool.
If you’re in search of scenery and towering trees, Troy Meadow puts you at elevation and farther from those crowds more comfortable with cell service and an easy drive to town. Conifers shade the paved sites, and your picnic table and fire pit come with a bear box to help you avoid the nastier encounters with wildlife that can happen in this still very raw mountain range. Keep on trucking a little farther and you’ll come across the even more secluded Fish Creek Campground.
If you’re searching for the kings themselves, those largest of all trees in the world — the Sequoia Redwoods — you’ll want to stick to the higher elevations of the western slope, where campgrounds like Redwood Meadow puts you near trails lined with the giants. The foothills of that side of the Sierras are home to smaller scrub oak forests, while the lower elevations around the southern and eastern edges provide a more direct line of sight to that big fireball in the sky we call the sun, providing ample solar-ready boondocking.
No matter your preference for the type of flora that surrounds your chosen means of camping, Sequoia National Forest truly shines largely due to the plethora of other options in California. While many a camper clan will flock to Joshua Tree or the handful of national parks in the Sierra Nevadas, or hustle themselves around to the Eastern Sierras for the private RV parks galore that region offers, Sequoia National Forest is still one of the most pristinely beautiful places in the country to camp, but simply doesn’t see the magnetic pull with which these other regions tend to draw in traffic.