Eastern Sierra Campgrounds
The Eastern Sierra has many options for camping -- both in traditional campgrounds as well as on more primitive grounds such as national forests and BLM land. Many of the traditional campgrounds require a reservation well in advance, and most are closed during winter. There are some great resources out there to research Eastern Sierra campgrounds, as we've listed below.
A great place to find a traditional campground with some amenities is at CaliforniasBestCamping.com. They provide a nice map with the Eastern Sierra campgrounds laid out. Here are the direct links to the different areas:
BLM and National Forest Camping
There are some BLM and National Forest campgrounds in the Eastern Sierra which also feature a few amenities, and they are much less expensive. There is no reservation system for these campgrounds -- they're first come, first serve. If you're looking for a formal BLM or National Forest campground, here are your options:
Dispersed Camping (Completely free!)
If you're willing to forego amenities, pack out your trash, and live without a bathroom, then dispersed camping will offer the least expensive options with the most solitude. You'll have to properly bury your waste (6 inches deep -- at least 100' away from rivers, lakes, and streams!), and pack out used toilet paper, etc., but if you can get over that, your locations to choose from become almost infinite... just pick the best view and set up shop! It's fair game to camp primitively on almost any Inyo National Forest and BLM land in the Eastern Sierra. Pick up an Inyo National Forest Atlas, or stop in to any ranger station if you're unsure whether the land you want to camp on is good to go. The vastness of the Eastern Sierra allows for one to go undisturbed almost anywhere -- just be respectful of the land and go out of your way to leave it as you found it, or better.
If you want to camp at a dispersed location for longer than 14 days, and you want to "keep it legal," then you can obtain a permit from the BLM office to stay for up to 180 days. Two great places to find dispersed camping are Alabama Hills and Volcanic Tablelands.