LATITUDE/LONGITUDE: 39.263818, -120.656458
ELEVATION: 4,400 feet
At the edge of the Tahoe National Forest lies one of my favorite campgrounds. Once you take the Emigrant Gap exit, it’s only another seven miles hugging the side of the mountain on a one-lane, pot-hole-ridden road. Welcome to Onion Valley, and the campsite in which it’s named.The campground consists of six drive-up, tent-only sites nestled around the beautiful meadow. They are first-come-first-serve and generally fill up by Friday evening. Each site is huge, and come equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. The cedar, fir and pine trees keep the sites shaded, especially mine, site 1.There’s no shower here, but there is a “bathroom” with a non-flushing toilet which beats burying your shit in the woods. The campground utilizes self-service pay stations ruled by an “Iron Ranger.” The National Forest Service oversees the campground (click the link for a wee bit more information). At $18 a night, it’s one of the cheapest campsites around Tahoe.
This trip was just me and Roscoe, our dog. He wasn’t thrilled about camping this time around – maybe it was our small two-person backpacking tent or the fact that I forgot his favorite snack, carrots. My husband let us bing his quilted blanket that saved both Roscoe and myself from freezing to death at night (seriously, it was fucking cold), and during the day it makes the hammock warm and cozy.Our second full day here was spent exploring. We drove a few miles up the mountain until the paved road ends and splits off into two dirt roads. My little Honda is not equipped for such endeavors. We pulled off and hiked about a mile down the road. Mind you – this is a road, not a trail… I’m sure the road leads to somewhere, but we didn’t find the end.
Later in the afternoon, we took a hike right off our campsite. The road leads to another campsite and continues up and around the mountain to a sea of mangroves and dead pine trees. We hiked about a mile up to the other campsite.
I spent a lot of time journaling, meditating, reflecting, and taking in my surroundings on this trip. I am so very grateful that this sanctuary serves as my home away from home. No matter how I’m feeling when I arrive, I leave feeling lighter, more clear-headed and more appreciative of these open spaces. Where’s your favorite campground? Share in the comments below!