Camping in the Eldorado National Forest is not limited to developed campgrounds. Most of the National Forest is open to those who prefer the quiet and solitude of a completely undeveloped setting outside established campgrounds. This type of camping is called "dispersed camping," and visitors are asked to choose a fire safe camping spot and leave a minimal impact on the site. There is no fee for dispersed camping.
If you are more interested in camping at an established campground, visit our Campgrounds section of Discover Echo Summit for a complete list of National Forest Campgrounds along Highway 50.
A current California Campfire Permit is required to use a camp stove, barbecue or have a campfire outside of developed areas. Permits are now available online at California Campfire Permits. Permits can also be picked up at any Forest Service Ranger Station such as in Placerville, Pacific or Lake Tahoe. Local restrictions regarding campfires or use of stoves may be in effect, so check with your local ranger station.
Always locate your campfire, barbeque, or camp stove away from brush, trees, or overhanging limbs. Be sure to clear away flammable vegetation from your campfire for a radius of at least five feet down to bare mineral soil; never start or maintain a campfire on a windy day; and use plenty of water and stir to completely drown your fire before leaving. Never leave a campfire unattended, even for one moment - extinguish it completely before leaving camp. Submerge your used barbeque briquettes in a pail of water and then dispose of them in the center of your campfire ring.
Dispersed Camping is allowed on most National Forest land. There are developed areas where dispersed camping is not allowed, such as around Echo Lakes, Wrights Lake, and Ice House Reservoir. In those area signs indicate that camping is only allowed in developed campgrounds. Popular dispersed camping sites on the Echo Summit - Highway 50 Corridor are in remote parts of the Crystal Basin, along the Silver Fork or the Mormon Emigrant Trail Road. Many forest service roads wind back into the woods and offer excellent places to camp. Boat-in camping is allowed at Union Valley Reservoir and Loon Lake.
For more information about dispersed camping in the Eldorado National Forest, see
Dispersed Camping in the Eldorado National Forest