The Southern Sierra Feature

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Camping in Southern Sierra

Camping in the Sierra Nevada means gazing up at awe-inspiring constellations and awakening to the sights of nearby meadows and streams and the unforgettable landscape of giant granite. Dozens of campgrounds, from remote, tents-only areas to sprawling full-service facilities close to the main attractions, operate in the Southern Sierra's three national parks. Be aware that the three parks' most accessible campgrounds can be jam-packed and claustrophobic in the summer. Luckily, there are many options outside the parks, including calm and beautiful sites such as Lake Mary Campground in the Mammoth Lakes area. The following campsites are recommended.

Convict Lake Campground. A ten-minute drive south of Mammoth, this campground near the Convict Lake Resort is run by the U.S. Forest Service. It's open May to October, and sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. They're extremely popular. One look at the scenery and you'll understand why. Convict Lake Rd., 2 miles off U.S. 395, Three Rivers, CA, 93546. 760/924–5500. 88 campsites. flush toilets, dump station, drinking water, showers, fire pits, general store.

Lake Mary Campground. There are few sites as beautiful as this lakeside campground at 8,900 feet, open June to September. If it's full, which it often is, try the adjacent Coldwater campground. You can catch trout in tourmaline Lake Mary, the biggest lake in the region. There's a general store nearby. Lake Mary Loop Dr., off Hwy. 203, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 93546. 760/924–5500. 48 sites (tent or RV). flush toilets, drinking water, fire grates, picnic tables. No credit cards.

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