Sleeper Hit

Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

It’s all about the water at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest, a High Sierra reservoir with “fingers” for exploring by kayak, and with natural pools with large granite slabs that are ideal for lounging.

Campsites here are nestled right on its shore, making it perfect for easy kayak or canoe launching (or pool toy if that’s more your speed). And the scenery? Sierra spectacular! You’re at 6,800 feet in a granite basin surrounded by red fir and lodgepole pines. We recommend enjoying a moonlight paddle post-dinner.

Getting a campsite at Utica Reservoir in the height of summer can be challenging. The designated campgrounds, Sand Flat and Rocky Point, have 23 total tent camping sites (not recommended for RVs). It’s all on a first-come, first-served basis; they don’t take reservations.

Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

If that doesn’t work out, there is dispersed camping available around the lake. It’s popular to kayak or canoe around Utica Reservoir and disperse-camp away from others to get a real primitive type of camping experience.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In the episode "When the Smoke Clears" Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss their camping and kayak trip to Utica Reservoir.

Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

You have to bring your own water, pack out your trash, and practice “leave no trace camping.” (More info on dispersed camping in Stanislaus National Forest.)

Utica Reservoir is located off of Hwy. 4 in Stanislaus National Forest about 50 miles east of Angels Camp (map). From Hwy. 4 turn on to Spicer Reservoir Rd. and go 8 miles. Then turn left onto 7N75 and follow it about 1.5 miles to the reservoir. Designated campsites at Utica Reservoir are $16 per night. They are first-come first-served. There is also dispersed camping around the lake. Please be self-reliant and bring your own soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and drinking water. IMPORTANT: Campfires are only allowed in the designated campsites, not in dispersed camping, but during this 2021 drought season it is vital to be very careful and check ahead about all current fire restrictions, campfire permits, and all other related information. If you are disperse camping and want to use a portable stove or lantern you will need a permit only obtained online. Dog-friendly!

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