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FREE Camping Outside of Yosemite: Perfect Boondocking Site!!

GPS: 38.037754, -119.162459

Camping around Yosemite can become a little overwhelming and pricey. With the park being one of the most popular for those in California to visit, reservations can be a must for many of the options within the park itself. But if you are willing to make a short drive out of the park on the eastern side toward Mono Lake you will find that options start to become more and more abundant such as this one at Mill Creek.

Mill Creek offers entirely primitive camping perfect for those who are able to be off grid and fully sustainable on their own. The campsites lining Mill Creek offer little more than established stone fire rings at various stops along the Mill Creek. This are is maintained by the Forest Service but you will find that it is far less occupied than the neighboring Virginia Creek Campsites.

I pulled in late in the afternoon expecting to find it hard to secure a campsite considering these are free but found that in late fall this area was unoccupied. I second guessed staying a the first pull off which was just off the main road in and didn’t appear to have any seclusion whatsoever. Instead opting to stay at the second turn off which took me down a small 30 foot drive toward the creek itself.

My site was well placed in the shaded area nearest to the creek and recessed slightly. The road in was a bit uneven but still able to be driven on in my small car with some larger rocks along the way which had to be maneuvered around.

The area is at about 7000 feet so it does get pretty chilly when the winds are blowing in so the trees around me allowed me to be a little warmer than I would have been in the more exposed roadside camping stop.

At the rear of the camp I had access to my own small bridge which spanned the creek. This creek has a rich history in the area as one of the methods for which the electricity was generated from the flow for neighboring mining communities such as the now ghost town of Bodie. The creek provided a calm background on the evening as I relaxed and rested.

No restrooms, no electricity, no water but well worth the stay!!


  • Stop by the local community Lee Vining for gas and any supplies you will need. You will be paying a bit more here but this will also save you a lot of headache as this is the only stop available for many miles.

  • If staying here check out Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town for a bit of the unique history of this area beyond Yosemite you will be very pleased to learn a bit more.

  • Bring extra blankets during fall and winter if you stay here. The winds are very strong coming off the mountains.


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