Friends who live in San Francisco have raved over the years about Camp Mather (above), a “family camp” run by the city’s Park and Rec department that is a great affordable family vacation option for residents of a famously unaffordable city. The camp is outside Yosemite National Park . (Interesting aside, there has been some controversy with the Camp – with some saying it’s too much of a “carefully kept secret” that most San Franciscans don’t know about…more below). Friends in Sacramento rave about a similar offering there called “Camp Sacramento.”
So I’m wondering if Los Angeles offers something similar, now that my brother has moved there with his family. To date, the information I’ve found suggests that L.A.’s Park and Rec may have some options (known as”out of town camps”) but they’re pretty limited and several camps have long been closed. The best bet I’ve seen so far is Camp Seeley but it’s unclear if like Camp Mather (I think), this camp offers not just facilities but programming for families.
Here’s some info I’ve dug up to date:
Camp Seely is located in the San Bernardino Mountains, 65 miles from City Hall, nestled in a forest of tall pines at an elevation of 4,200 feet. Close to Lake Gregory and the Village of Crestline, it is located on Highway 138, four miles from Lake Silverwood. Camp Seely is owned and operated by the Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks, under permit from the National Forest Service.
The facility includes 60 cabins (each sleeps 4-5 people), a large kitchen, dining hall, rustic lodge, modern restroom/shower facilities, playing field, game room and children’s play area.
Out of Town Camps
The City of Los Angeles offers year-round group camping opportunities at its out-of-town camps. The fees include rental of individual or dormitory style cabins, depending on the camp, and full use of kitchen and lodges. Groups must provide their own food. Weekend rentals are available from Labor Day through mid-June. During the Summer months (Mid-June until Labor Day), rentals are on a week-long basis (usually Sunday through the following Saturday). Camps vary in size and maximum camper occupancy.
|Out of Town Camps|
|* Select facility name for site specific information|
|Camp High Sierra||P.O. Box 711, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93646||6 per site|
|Camp Radford||3250 Radford River Rd., Angelus Oaks, CA 92305||260 (Camp Temporarily Closed)|
|Camp Seeley||250 N. Hwy. 138 P.O. Box 3372, Crestline, CA 92325||270|
|Camp Valcrest||HC 01 Box 18, La Cañada, CA 91011-9706||60 (Camp Temporarily Closed)|
|Decker Canyon Camp||3133 S. Decker Canyon Rd., Malibu, CA 90265||150 (Camp Temporarily Closed)|
|For more information and/or reservations, please call theCamping Section Office at
(213) 485-4853. Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm
Camp Mather is the San Francisco family camp that was built as a sawmill for the construction of the O’Shaughnessey Dam in the 1920’s. 150 miles east of San Francisco near the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The border of Yosemite National Park is a mile up the road, Yosemite Valley is 18 miles south. The camp is beloved by many as an off-the-grid refuge from city life and is a treasure for generations of SF families.
Camp Mather is a camp owned and operated by the City and County of San Francisco. It is located 15 miles front the entrance to Yosemite National Park, in the High Sierras at an elevation of 4,520 feet. Each year applications are submitted for attendance to camp through a lottery. It’s a very competitive process, because there are more applicants than there is space available during the camp season. Camp Mather Family Lottery registration opens on January 6 (10am), and closes on February 5 (5pm). Camp Mather Family Camp lottery registration is online only at sfreconline.org. There is a $100 registration deposit required at registration. This $100 will be applied to your final bill if you get a reservation or will be refunded if you don’t get a reservation.
About Camp Sacramento (from 2013)
Camp Sacramento is situated in the Sayles Flat area of the Eldorado National Forest. It sits on a 14-acre property owned by the U.S. Forest Service and leased by the City of Sacramento. There are 61 cabins of various sizes scattered throughout the property. These cabins have electricity, but most don’t have any outlets other than the light bulb on the ceiling and the porch light. They are rustic yet charming – most of them were built in the 1930s. The cabins don’t have running water, but there are centrally located restrooms available complete with electrical outlets and private shower stalls. Camp facilites also include a dining hall, a lodge, a camp store, a camp nurse’s office, a softball diamond, a half basketball court, a volleyball court, a campfire pit, arts & crafts areas, ping pong tables, horeshoe pits, and the scenic American River. Camp Sacramento offers eight mini Camp (4 days/3 nights) and four week-long (6 days/5 nights) vacation sessions during its 2011 Family Camp season. We provide guests with 3 meals a day and a vacation full of recreation activities. This is all included in the camp fees. Come and join us as we begin our 90th year of Family Camping Adventures.The last week of the season at Camp Sacramento is Senior Adventure Camp, open only to adults age 50 and older.
from 2012, alas: L.A. spent $2 million to keep up camps closed for more than 10 years
The city has paid for caretakers to live at Camp Valcrest and Camp Radford, closed for 13 and 20 years, respectively, an audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel finds.
Los Angeles park officials spent $2 million to operate two campgrounds that have been closed for more than 10 years, according to an audit released Wednesday by City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Camp Valcrest in the Angeles National Forest and Camp Radford in the San Bernardino Mountains have been closed for the last 13 and 20 years, respectively, because necessary repairs were deferred. But the city Department of Recreation and Parks has paid $2 million for caretakers to live at the camps since they closed and nearly $100,000 for water to be trucked to Camp Valcrest, the audit states.