rock creek hike snow photo

It is the time of year when a hike into the backcountry can quickly turn dangerous for the unprepared, as fall transitions to winter. Many backcountry trails are open but many are no longer accessible due to the access roads being closed for the season; know where you are going and the road conditions before traveling anywhere in the Eastern Sierra. 

Many roads, rec sites now closed; here's what you need to know

It's that time of year when access to Eastern Sierra roads and recreation sites changes over night or within and hour, depending on the weather. Here is the latest updates on all of the Inyo National Forests campgrounds roads and recreation sites, current as of Oct. 28. Remember, although some of the closures in place may be temporary, some will likely be the winter closure for the season, so keep an eye out from sources such as Caltrans to verify changes.

Also remember, roads maintained by Inyo County have shifted to winter operations. That means that if a road is open, it is not maintained (i.e., plowed) and travel is at own risk. Please be prepared for snow and icy conditions.

Lastly, 'winter ops' campgrounds are campgrounds that are open with no fee but also no services or campground hosts. Campers need to bring in their own water and pack out their own trash. See below to see which campgrounds are considered to be winter ops campgrounds. 

Mono Lake Ranger District:

Roads closed: Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4), Sonora Pass (Hwy 108), Monitor Pass (Hwy 89), Tioga Pass (Hwy 120 W), Saddlebag Rd., Bodie Rd. (Hwy 270).

Roads open: Lundy Lake Rd., Hwy 120 E (Benton), Hwy 158 (June Lake Loop).

Campgrounds open: Lundy Canyon (county, est. close 11/15).  

Campground closing 10/31: Silver Lake.

Campgrounds closed: Tioga Lake, Junction, Ellery Lake, Big Bend, Saddlebag Lake TrailheadSaddlebag Lake, Sawmill Walk-in, Moraine, Aspen, Lower Lee Vining, Aerie Crag, Reversed Creek, Gull Lake, June Lake, Oh Ridge Hartley, Obsidian Flat Group, Glass Creek, Upper Deadman, Lower Deadman, Big Springs.

The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center is closed for the season.

Mammoth Ranger District:

Roads open: Mammoth Scenic Loop. 

Roads closed: Reds Meadow Rd. at Minaret Vista, Old Mammoth Rd. to Lake Basin Rd., Lakes Basin Rd.

Campgrounds open: Mammoth Mtn. RV Park.

Campground closing 10/31: New Shady Rest.

Campground closing 11/1: Crowley (BLM).

Campgrounds closed: Old Shady, Sherwin Creek, Pine Glen, Twin Lakes, Pine City, Lake Mary, Lake George, Coldwater, Reds Meadow, Agnew Meadows Family, Agnew Meadows Horse, Agnew Meadows Group Pumice Flat, Pumice Flat Group, Minaret Falls, Upper Soda.

The Devils Postpile Ranger Station is closed for the season.

Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center: Open to virtual services seven days a week, 8:30 am-4:30 pm. ESIA is operating the bookstore Thursday-Sunday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

White Mountain Ranger District:

Road Closed: Rock Creek after the pack station, North Lake Rd.Hwy 168 after Aspendell, South Lake Rd. after Parchers.

Roads open: McGee Creek Rd., Rock Creek Road to the pack station, (expect ice and snow, will close in advance of winter storm), Pine Creek, Buttermilk Rd., Hwy 168 to Aspendell,  South Lake Parchers, White Mountain Rd (not maintained in winter, travel at own risk), Silver Canyon Rd. (4x4-high clearance, snow), Wyman Canyon Rd. (4x4-high clearance, snow), Big Pine Canyon (not maintained in winter, travel at own risk).

Campgrounds Open: Mosquito Flat Backpacker (no water), Pleasant Valley (County), Pleasant Valley Pit (BLM, no water), Grandview (winter ops, no services, no fees), Baker Creek (County), Taboose Creek (County), Tinnemaha Creek (County), Goodale (BLM, no water).

Campgrounds closing 10/30: Convict Lake, French Camp, Tuff.

Campground Closing 11/1: Horton.

Campground open winter ops 11/1: Bitterbrush (no services, no fees).

Campgrounds closed: Rock Creek, Rock Creek Group, Upper Pine Grove, Pine Grove, East Fork, Palisade Group, Aspen Group, Big Meadow, Iris Meadow, McGee Creek, Holiday, North Lake, Sabrina, Willow, Bishop Park, Bishop Park Group, Big Trees, Mountain Glen, Table Mountain Group, Intake 2, Forks, Four Jeffrey, Cedar Flat Group, Big Pine Creek, Upper Sage Flat, Lower Sage Flat, Clyde Glacier Group, Palisade Glacier Group.

Closing for the season 10/31: The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center is open 10:00 am. to 4:00 pm. Thursday through Sunday 10/31. 

The White Mountain Public Lands Information Center in Bishop: virtual services, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, closed for lunch noon to 1:00 pm.

Mt Whitney Ranger District:

 Roads open: Onion Valley (not maintained in winter, travel at own risk), Whitney Portal Rd. (not maintained in winter, travel at own risk), Foothill Road, Division Creek, Horseshoe Meadow (not maintained in winter, travel at own risk).

Campgrounds open: Independence Creek (county), Tuttle Creek (BLM), Portuguese Joe (county), Diaz Lake (County), Cottonwood Lakes(est. close 11/15), Cottonwood Pass(est. close 11/15), Horseshoe Meadows Equestrian(est. close 11/15), Kennedy Meadows with no services (no toilets, no water, no trash cans, no fee). 

Campgrounds closing 10/31: Upper Grays Meadow, Onion Valley, Whitney Portal, Whitney Portal Trailhead Campground, Whitney Portal Group, Lone Pine.

Campground open winter ops 11/1: Lower Grays Meadow, Lone Pine (no services, no fees).

The Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine: Open Thursday through Monday, 8:00 am to 4:30 am. ESIA will operate the bookstore daily, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. 

The Inyo National Forest is not in fire restrictions.

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