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Have any Kennedy Meadows Campground advice?

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#1 John the Space Traveler

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Posted 12 February 2024 - 05:41 PM

I'm thinking of organizing a two-night trip to Kennedy Meadows Campground, in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, for this summer's Perseid Shower.  It might involve 15 people and 3 or 4 cars.  I'm looking for trip planning advice from people that have been here before.

 

  1.  Camp sites are first come, first served.  During the summer, how hard is it to get a site or two?  Should I have a Plan B?
     
  2. A) What is the vibe from backpackers and other campers?  Noisy?  Rowdy?  Drinking?

    B) If you have telescopes set up, do strangers wander in looking for peeks, or are the sites semi-private?

    I ask because at Mount Pinos I've had drunken campers obnoxiously interfere with my group.  I've gave 2 of the drunks a peek, and they returned with 5 others a few minutes later.  It got in the way of serving my own observing party, but for the safety of my friends I obliged the intruders so that they wouldn't get upset.  Normally I don't mind sharing my scope, but when I bring a private group I have a viewing agenda for them alone, and don't have time for lookie-loos.
     
  3. What daytime activities do you recommend?  Any easy hiking  trails to explore (half my group are out of shape).
     
  4. Any other advice?

Thank you ahead of time for your help.  It's very much appreciated! laugh.gif



#2 Dan Watt

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Posted 13 February 2024 - 05:30 PM

The three or so times I’ve camped there I had it mostly to myself. Generally the only people camping there are meeting up with people doing the pct or people hiking a section of it. Nothing like Pinos.

Only a few of the spots there are useable for astronomy though as there is a lot of tree cover. Most of the spots have room for at least two vehicles.


When I head out there I usually camp just south of the campground on some BLM land that has more of a clearing and better horizons. I think these spots could be popular with fisherman as it’s right on the river. No porta potty’s though.

The mosquitos are pretty bad so keep that in mind. And bears aren’t uncommon either so be smart with your food and trash.

And I’m sure you’re aware of this but there is no reception once you leave the 395 so if you are caravaning maybe round up everybody there first. There is WiFi available at the general store near the campground for a couple bucks.
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#3 John the Space Traveler

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Posted 13 February 2024 - 08:41 PM

The three or so times I’ve camped there I had it mostly to myself. Generally the only people camping there are meeting up with people doing the pct or people hiking a section of it. Nothing like Pinos.

Only a few of the spots there are useable for astronomy though as there is a lot of tree cover. Most of the spots have room for at least two vehicles.


When I head out there I usually camp just south of the campground on some BLM land that has more of a clearing and better horizons. I think these spots could be popular with fisherman as it’s right on the river. No porta potty’s though.

The mosquitos are pretty bad so keep that in mind. And bears aren’t uncommon either so be smart with your food and trash.

And I’m sure you’re aware of this but there is no reception once you leave the 395 so if you are caravaning maybe round up everybody there first. There is WiFi available at the general store near the campground for a couple bucks.

First off, thank you for chiming in.  After 25 hours, 90 views and ZERO replies I was beginning to think nobody was going to answer lol lol.gif   I appreciate your help.

All your input is helpful and I've noted it.  The fishing spot is probably a good thing, because my couch potato friends don't like making any efforts to hike, so they can forage our dinner for us.  

Regarding mosquitos, is that just a spring/summer thing, or fall too (I assume nothing in winter)?  Again, the glampers on the trip will probably be unhappy.  But hey, that's the outdoors!

I live in LA and anything remotely dark (Bortle 4) is about 2.5 hours away, but in the desert, which is hot during the summer (sometimes even at night).  The meadows are only another 45 minutes farther, but supposedly Bortle 2 and much cooler due the higher elevation.

If you have any other site suggestions I'm all ears.  Thanks again. waytogo.gif   



#4 Dan Watt

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Posted 14 February 2024 - 09:56 PM

Last time I went was in September and the mosquitos were pretty hardcore at dusk but died down once it got dark. Keep in mind I’m a Californian so my tolerance for mosquitos is pretty low.

Last two times I was up there I measured 21.4 and I was surprised to have zero noticeable glow to the south, was able to chase some stuff low in the summer Milky Way I usually can’t go for.
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#5 John the Space Traveler

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 02:33 AM

Last time I went was in September and the mosquitos were pretty hardcore at dusk but died down once it got dark. Keep in mind I’m a Californian so my tolerance for mosquitos is pretty low.

I was surprised to have zero noticeable glow to the south, was able to chase some stuff low in the summer Milky Way I usually can’t go for.

I've lived on the East and West Coasts, including the swamps of South Carolina.  California's mosquitoes, especially when a good bit of water is nearby, are no joke and can be as bad as anywhere (except the swamps).  And KM has the Kern River running through it, so don't feel the need to minimize your discomfort.

 

I'll check it out as soon as SoCal's latest storms pass.  It'll be nice to play in the snow.



#6 kerniew

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 10:51 AM

JTST (John the Space Traveler),

 

I live in Ridgecrest, which is probably the best place to find services before you go up nine mile canyon to the Kennedy Meadows area.  Personally, I haven't camped at Kennedy Meadows, but have visited several times, so I'm somewhat limited in my camping knowledge there.

 

Consider the very rustic institution of Grumpy Bear retreat -  https://grumpybearsretreat.com/ It is relatively close by and can provide some conveniences for your glamper types.  Grumpy Bear does cater to the hikers on Pacific Crest Trail.

 

Another place to consider is the Kennedy Meadows General Store:  https://www.kennedym...lstore.com/home You can get supplies there as well.

 

Between the two you should be able to keep yourself comfortable.

 

If you are more adventurous, you can consider Grandview campground https://www.fs.usda....ea/?recid=20268  I have friends that regularly do astronomy there.

 

Also, Ballarat is another:  You need to do some research to understand how to keep everyone comfortable.

 

For what its worth, I'm the VP for the China Lake Astronomical Society:  https://www.chinalakeastro.org/ Click on the link for "Next Star Party".  There are no mosquitos there.  Spring and Fall are glorious at night.  Summers can be difficult even at night, but are tolerable (IMHO).  We don't do any star parties in December, January and February as it can get cold.  Ridgecrest is an easy commute, and you can choose to hotel it or use a local campground. There are no facilities or services at the site, so be prepared.  CLAS has engaged with the BLM and they acknowledge our use of the site.  Let us know if you will be there, so we can document our use of the site.  Regardless, PM me and we can discuss if you are interested.


Edited by kerniew, 15 February 2024 - 10:59 AM.


#7 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 04:10 PM

I haven't experienced the Kennedy meadows mosquitos, but have experienced some insane buggers on the mountain in Santa Barbara. There were large groups of them, and they were sufficiently large and ravenous that I was getting bitten through my jeans. Never thought that was possible.

 

I'd go for gloves and a head bug net with a strategically placed hole for an eyepiece. . . 



#8 John the Space Traveler

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Posted 16 February 2024 - 03:43 AM

I haven't experienced the Kennedy meadows mosquitos, but have experienced some insane buggers on the mountain in Santa Barbara. There were large groups of them, and they were sufficiently large and ravenous that I was getting bitten through my jeans. Never thought that was possible.

 

I'd go for gloves and a head bug net with a strategically placed hole for an eyepiece. . . 

Through the jeans?  Wow!  That's crazy.


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#9 John the Space Traveler

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Posted 16 February 2024 - 04:10 AM

JTST (John the Space Traveler),

 

I live in Ridgecrest, which is probably the best place to find services before you go up nine mile canyon to the Kennedy Meadows area.  Personally, I haven't camped at Kennedy Meadows, but have visited several times, so I'm somewhat limited in my camping knowledge there.

 

Consider the very rustic institution of Grumpy Bear retreat -  https://grumpybearsretreat.com/ It is relatively close by and can provide some conveniences for your glamper types.  Grumpy Bear does cater to the hikers on Pacific Crest Trail.

 

Another place to consider is the Kennedy Meadows General Store:  https://www.kennedym...lstore.com/home You can get supplies there as well.

 

Between the two you should be able to keep yourself comfortable.

 

If you are more adventurous, you can consider Grandview campground https://www.fs.usda....ea/?recid=20268  I have friends that regularly do astronomy there.

 

Also, Ballarat is another:  You need to do some research to understand how to keep everyone comfortable.

 

For what its worth, I'm the VP for the China Lake Astronomical Society:  https://www.chinalakeastro.org/ Click on the link for "Next Star Party".  There are no mosquitos there.  Spring and Fall are glorious at night.  Summers can be difficult even at night, but are tolerable (IMHO).  We don't do any star parties in December, January and February as it can get cold.  Ridgecrest is an easy commute, and you can choose to hotel it or use a local campground. There are no facilities or services at the site, so be prepared.  CLAS has engaged with the BLM and they acknowledge our use of the site.  Let us know if you will be there, so we can document our use of the site.  Regardless, PM me and we can discuss if you are interested.

Hi kerniew,

Thanks for the invite to CLAS' Star Party.  I'll pass it on to my friends, and next time we are near Cuddeback Dry Lake (one of our go-to spots from LA), we'll try to pop in.

I noted the KM amenities you spoke of, and will let my group know.

RE: Grandview, I hear that light from Bishop has become a bit invasive.  Do you agree, or is it worth a visit?

RE: Ballarat, I'm very familiar with it and the wider Panamint Valley.  Our trip is in August so those 115-122 deg F days won't cut it; definitely not for our glampers  bawling.gif  and even hardened veterans like myself.   sweaty.gif

 

Thanks again for the advice and offer.  Very much appreciated.



#10 Dan Watt

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Posted 17 February 2024 - 01:41 PM

I camped in Kennedy Meadows and Grandview a few times each last summer. Grandview is still a little darker, even with the enchroaching light dome from Bishop. I usually measured around 21.6. You may be interested in booking one of the 3 group campgrounds in the White Mountains. I spent a few days in one last year and it was actually a bit darker than Grandview but more trees to contend with. $25/night for the whole group ain't bad. https://www.fs.usda....=20274&actid=33



#11 John the Space Traveler

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Posted 17 February 2024 - 03:25 PM

I camped in Kennedy Meadows and Grandview a few times each last summer. Grandview is still a little darker, even with the enchroaching light dome from Bishop. I usually measured around 21.6. You may be interested in booking one of the 3 group campgrounds in the White Mountains. I spent a few days in one last year and it was actually a bit darker than Grandview but more trees to contend with. $25/night for the whole group ain't bad. https://www.fs.usda....=20274&actid=33

Thank you.  I saved all that to my list of observing spots.  I have a trip planned for that area later in the year.

 

I saw that the Forest Service web site describes it as "popular with academic institutions for geology field trips."  I did a few geology field trips in the region during college.  Now I'm wondering if that's where we stayed.


Edited by John the Space Traveler, 17 February 2024 - 03:59 PM.



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