The sight of billions of stars twinkling overhead mesmerized journalist Kimberly Wilkes when she first started camping in the Eastern Sierra and Death Valley more than 20 years ago. She was captivated by the quietness of the area, its silence broken by only the babble of a brook, the quaking of leaves, or the soft sifting of desert sand in the breeze. The last thing she wanted while camping was a next-door neighbor who left a lamp on all night or whose loud voice interrupted the silence of the woods or the melody of a mountain stream.
She faced a challenge many campers confront: it was impossible to know which campsites offered the most privacy, and which campgrounds would be the best choice for someone who likes plenty of elbowroom. Although campers can visit websites (including recreation.gov) that display photos of camp spaces, it is impossible to tell from the images how near each site sits to its neighbor.
So Kimberly and her husband, professional photographer Patrick Wilkes, teamed up to investigate the region’s campsites and author a book to share their favorites with other like-minded campers. Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy: Your Guide To The Most Private Campsites Near Mammoth Lakes, Tuolumne Meadows, Death Valley, And Beyond is now the region’s definitive guide to choosing a private campsite. The book is the only one of its kind that critiques and grades individual campsites, in addition to describing the privacy of campgrounds as a whole.
A book signing will be held at Range and River Books in Bishop on Saturday, October 17th from 3-5pm. Door prizes from local businesses like Upper Crust Pizza Co. and Sage To Summit will be awarded, and the first 20 attendees will receive a free digital portrait taken by photographer Patrick Wilkes. We hope to see you there!
Kimberly and Patrick decided to take their efforts a step further and help preserve the open spaces that made a lasting impression on their hearts. Between now and December 12th, they have agreed to donate $2 from the sale of each paperback and 40% of the royalties from each Kindle book to support the work of Eastern Sierra Land Trust.
“ESLT feels incredibly lucky for the partnership provided by Kimberly and Patrick,” commented Kay Ogden, ESLT Executive Director. “Their search for seclusion and beauty in our region aligns perfectly with ESLT’s efforts. Their guide is a fantastic resource for those looking to enjoy this special region our organization works to protect.”
“While we were researching the book, we spent so much time in the Eastern Sierra that it feels like a second home to us,” Kimberly Wilkes said. “We love everything about the Eastern Sierra, including the mountain peaks, the wildflowers, the dramatic sunsets and sunrises, and the fall foliage. And Patrick proposed to me at Convict Lake, so the area holds a special place in our hearts. We wanted to do something to help preserve this beautiful land, which is why we are donating part of our book royalties to Eastern Sierra Land Trust.”
While researching the book, Kimberly and Patrick looked at 3,416 campsites in 91 campgrounds between Hope Valley and Lone Pine, along with Death Valley and Grandview Campground near the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. They gave each campsite in the book a grade based on the site’s privacy. Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy also includes a detailed description of each recommended campsite.
With this resource, campers can learn which campsites are a good distance from nearby sites or are hidden away behind vegetation. The book improves chances that noise from neighbors will be minimized, making it easier to find serenity and solitude while camping in the Eastern Sierra.
Using the book to make online campsite reservations allows campers to better know what to expect from their selected site. In addition, this guide helps those seeking a first-come, first-served campsite discover which campgrounds have the best selection of private spots. Such knowledge provides a major advantage to those seeking an optimal campsite, particularly in locations like Death Valley where campgrounds are so spread out that it is nearly impossible to drive to multiple different areas to find the best sites.
Eastern Sierra And Death Valley Camping With Privacy also shares information on activities and restaurants located near each campground. For most campgrounds, it indicates whether Verizon cell phone service is available.
The paperback features black and white photographs of select campsites; the Kindle version (available November 1) features color photos on all Kindle devices that are color-compatible. The Kindle ebook also contains hyperlinks to recreation.gov, as well as every campground, hike, restaurant, and resort mentioned.
This fall, campers can find the book at Range and River Books and Spellbinder Books in Bishop, the Eastern Sierra Visitor’s Center in Lone Pine, the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center and at Booky Joint in Mammoth Lakes, Tioga Gas Mart and the Mono Lake Committee Store in Lee Vining, Rock Creek Lakes Resort, Hope Valley Resort and Sorensen’s Resort in Hope Valley, or online at Amazon.com. And remember – those who buy the guide by December 12 will be purchasing more than a powerful campsite resource. They will be doing their part to help protect the spectacular views and wide-open landscapes that make camping in this region a truly special experience.