Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

Sleeper Hit

Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

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 perfect for access to 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. One very important note: be sure to check the Stanislaus National Forest website for all campfire restrictions, as they change with conditions, and it's absolutely essential to follow the restrictions.

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 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: Check ahead for campfire restrictions. *When allowed, campfires are only permitted in the designated campsites at the developed campgrounds, NOT in dispersed camping, which includes any island or shoreline (stoves only for these places, and you need a permit for that as well, and for lantern use). Permit info.

If you have additional questions, it's best to call the Stanislaus Ranger Station: (209) 795-1381.

Dog-friendly!

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