Longtime lurker, first time poster.
I recently followed the advice of this fantastic post highlighting Hope Valley & Monitor Pass as two excellent dark sky sites in Northern California. This past week, I seized the opportunity to scope out Hope Valley and had a fabulous time observing with my 20x80s.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the choice of planning my visit around optimal conditions and had to share the sky with a waxing Gibbous Moon. Nevertheless- I was still able to get some better views of M27 & M107 than a normal night back home might allow.
My plan is to go back at New Moon & really make a night of it, but I have a few concerns that I'm hoping some ambassadors of the area might shed some light on...
South Lake Tahoe seems to be the home base for these two locations, but given the Coronavirus situation and maxed out local campgrounds, staying there to stave off a long drive home doesn't seem to be an option. Hope Valley looks to be covered with a bit too much brush to make for easy camping. Is Monitor Pass an acceptable place to pitch a tent and get some shut eye before the long drive home in the morning? More importantly- is it appropriate to camp at either of these locations? Is it safe? Are any of these on reservations?
In general, what are safety precautions the seasoned observers of this forum try to heed when they are viewing outside the comfort of a larger star party? I will be there with a few other individuals, but an unpleasant experience with some locals on the runway in Redding a few decades ago and a startling encounter with a bobcat in Napa seem to have left a lasting impact on my perceived safety of all night observing marathons...
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!