Atwell Mill Campground and Cold Springs Campground in Sequoia National Park
The Mineral King region of Sequoia National Park has two serene campgrounds, Atwell Mill Campground and Cold Springs Campground. RVs are not allowed at either of these tent-only campgrounds. Both campgrounds are open from late May through the end of October. Outside of holiday weekends, finding a campsite at these remote havens is hardly a challenge. All sites are first-come first-serve, and at $12 per night, Atwell Mill and Cold Springs offer splendid camping in the Sierra (price as of 2018).
Atwell Mill Campground
This campground is located nineteen miles up the twisty Mineral King Road from the city of Three Rivers. At 6,600 feet, Atwell Mill offers comfortable camping in a forest of sky-scraping conifers. Giant Sequoia stumps are spread throughout the sylvan retreat, left behind by lumberjacks who operated a mill on these grounds at the end of the 19th century. The mill closed when the operators realized that the soft sequoia supplied a not very useful wood, which made it impossible to justify the expense of delivery from this remote location. The remaining trees have since been protected.
Modern visitors have access to 21 tent-only campsites. Bear boxes, picnic tables, fire rings with grills, two vault toilets, and potable water are provided.
Hiking is plentiful around the campground, including Paradise Ridge Trail and Hockett Trail. These excursions are very pleasant and more suitable for children than the tougher trails in Mineral King.
To get to Atwell Mill Campground: From Southern California, take the 5 North to the 99 North. After 96 miles, exit on the 198 East toward Visalia and go 39 miles to the city of Three Rivers. Turn right on Mineral King Road and take it all the way to the campgrounds. Mineral King Road is steep, narrow, and twisty, with blind curves that demand patient driving. The 19-mile climb to Atwell Mill can easily take an hour, so factor this into your drive time. The Campground will be on the right (south) side of the road.
Campground address: Mineral King Road, Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, CA 93271
Campground coordinates: 36.464238, -118.669018 (36° 27′ 51.25″N 118° 40′ 08.46″W)
Cold Springs Campground
Four miles past Atwell Mill is a larger campground with identical amenities. Cold Springs Campground lies at 7,500 feet and offers 40 sites for tent campers. Nine of these are walk-in sites and the other 31 are drive-up plots. The bulk of the trails in the Mineral King region make their start near Cold Springs Campground.
To get to Cold Springs Campground: From Southern California, take the 5 North to the 99 North. After 96 miles, exit on the 198 East toward Visalia and go 39 miles to the city of Three Rivers. Turn right on Mineral King Road and take it all the way to the campgrounds. Mineral King Road is steep, narrow, and twisty, with blind curves that demand patient driving. The 23-mile climb to Cold Springs Campground will take well over an hour, so factor this into your drive time. Cold Springs Campground is on the right (south) side of the road, four miles past Atwell Mill Campground and one mile from the end of the road.
Campground address: Mineral King Road, Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, CA 93271
Campground coordinates: 36.452183, -118.612611 (36° 27′ 07.85″N 118° 36′ 45.39″W)
When visiting Mineral King, you may see a warning about marmots, that apparently enjoy getting into vehicle engines and chewing wires (pop your hood to check things out before driving off). Twelve other campgrounds in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are also available, including the relatively nearby Potwisha and Buckeye Flat Campgrounds.
Use the map below to view the campgrounds and get directions:
Or view Sierra Nevada trails and campgrounds in a larger map
This wooded 3-mile hike descends to a bridge spanning the East Fork of Kaweah River. Adventurous hikers can continue on to East Fork Sequoia Grove and more Mineral King backcountry.
|Monarch Lakes Trail|
This 9.4-mile hike visits a spectacular pair of lakes high above Mineral King Valley.
|Eagle Lake Trail|
The robust 7.2-mile hike climbs 2,200 feet to an alpine lake overlooking Mineral King.
|More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains|
Explore other destinations in Sequoia National Park and the rest of the range.
|Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Campgrounds|
Fourteen campgrounds with over 1,000 total sites are spread throughout the parks to facilitate your visit.
|Hume Lake Ranger District Campgrounds|
There are fourteen campgrounds in the Hume Lake Ranger District of Sequoia National Forest and Giant Forest National Monument, including the 74-site Hume Lake Campground.
|Western Divide Ranger District Campgrounds|
There are ten campgrounds in Giant Sequoia National Monument within the Western Divide Ranger District of Sequoia National Forest, including the 32-site Quaking Aspen Campground.
Please advise if there are any place for fishing at Cold Springs camp site. Thank you.
You will probably have better luck fishing down by Three Rivers.
Planning to drive up from L.A. on a Sunday morning (8/28) to Mineral King for some camping. Can me and my friends be assured getting a campsite that afternoon? We assume some campers will be vacating their campsites then.
Would the local ranger know how busy things are? Is there a number to call?
There should be plenty available Sunday afternoon. You can always call a SNP ranger to be sure.
Planning on going up Labor Day weekend (we have a backup reservation spot).. I know its pretty crazy, but I was planning on going up on Saturday Morning.. Is it possible to get a campsite?? or do you think lots of people will be going up on Friday and staying the whole weekend???
Arriving Saturday seems risky, especially because these two campgrounds are hours from anywhere.
Hi, was planning on visiting coldsprings campground possibly early Oct? Never been here before and was wondering what your thoughts on the weather around this time would be? Would it be worth the camping trip?
I’m planning on visiting Mineral King in early June and I have a question. I have a van. A 10-person passenger van but same size vans are sometimes converted to RVs. I read that RV are not permitted at the campground and not recommended on the access road. Would my van be considered prohibited? BTW, the van is the same length as the Chevy Suburban, has a high wheel clearance, and no 4×4.
I think you will be ok at the campground and on the road, but you may want to call the park to confirm.
I have 2 small dogs and was wondering if it is safe to bring them camping @ Mineral King?
You may bring dogs to the campgrounds as long as they are kept on a leash. Dogs are not allowed on any trails, so you may want to leave them at home. More info: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/pets.htm
My friends and I were planning on going camping from Sep 13th – 16th. Would there be camp sites available around that time? And can we reserve the other night when we get there on the 13th?
My best guess is that you will not have a problem finding a site on the 13th. You can certainly reserve multiple nights after you arrive.
These campgrounds are first come, first served. Reservations are not available for Atwell Mill, or Cold Springs.
LOL! I just realized that this is an old post. Disregard, please.
We are planning to camp at Cold Springs this coming June. We can come either Sunday June 16th (which is Father’s Day) around noon or Monday June 17th around the same time. Our preference would be Sunday. Are campgrounds usually more vacant on a Sunday afternoon, or a Monday?
Either day would likely be fine, but Monday might have even more openings.
Are sites usually available Friday mornings in June?
Great website! I’m new to California, so the information on the campsites and the hikes are a great resource.
It sounds like Atwell Mill Campground is a good choice for kids because of the easier hikes nearby. Is there a particular campsite that you recommend? The campsite in the picture above looks like a nice, private site nestled in the trees.
This Thursday is the 4th of July, if we arrive early Thursday morning what are the chances of getting a campsite? Thanks
Do I need a permit to backback up to one of the lakes and camp for a night, and if so, where can I get permit. Also can I leave my car at Cold Springs or only down at excess parking at Atwell Mill?
I am planning a hiking trip and wondering about Mineral King Road. Will a two-wheel drive, ten-year old mercedes be able to make the twenty miles along the road to the campground?
Hi. Your car should be able to make it. The road up is paved. It’s just windy and slow.
Is Mineral King Rd paved all the way or most of the way to Cold Springs Camp? I drove it a few years ago, but I can’t remember. All I remember is my Mazda3 made it without issue. I just need to know what to tell others to expect who will be joining me in July. Thank you!!!
Planning on heading up from LA on a Friday morning. If I arrive early enough – 8am – 9am – are my chances of getting a site at either Atwell Mill or Cold Springs pretty good?
I would think so. Enjoy the trip!
I would like to know, what are the chances of getting 3 camping spots for the weekend of Labor Day, we are planning to get there around 3pm, but still afraid of not finding a site.
What day are you arriving? Check with rangers at the national park to see if they think you’ll be able to get what you’re looking for.
Trying to find the closest water access to Atwell Mill Campground. Not looking for anything big, just water!
I am planning a late camping trip for Veteran’s Day weekend with a group of 6-8. Would I have trouble finding a campsite at either Atwell or Coldsrpings? We plan to arrive before noon on Sunday 11/10 and leave Monday afternoon.
A group of friends and I are planning to go and spend a weekend but is there cell phone reception?
I will be staying at either atwell mill or cold springs campsite. What is the closest place to get ice? Also, I will have two cars. Is there an overflow parking area? Thanks.
I’m planning a trip to Atwell Mill or Cold Springs. We were hoping to arrive before 12 on Sunday, July 20th. Do you think we will get a spot?
Also, how is the bathroom situation. Are vault toilets just port-a-potties? I also read that there are showers 1/2 a mile up the road at Silver City. Are there full on bathrooms there?
Thanks so much!
Hi- Sunday should be a good day to arrive, as people are leaving after the weekend. Vault toilets, also called pit toilets, are a little different than port-a-potties. A vault toilet has a hole down to a “vault” in the ground with a toilet over it and a little building built around it – your basic park toilet.
Another “Availability” question… I know you can only give your ‘best guess’ so nobody will hold you to it… but we are thinking of staying at Atwell Mill Campground on August 29,30, and 31 (2014, of course). We have to drive 6 hours to get there… So, what are “Vegas Odds” of us getting a spot?
No doubt the campgrounds will be full Labor Day Weekend. Maybe if you get there early on Friday you’ll be lucky enough to get a spot.
What are my odds of getting a camp site this Friday, July 25th?
are their showers near cold springs campground?
do you need any special devices to protect your vehicle from Marmots
I have a few questions…
If we drive up Sunday Aug. 3rd, do you think we will have a problem finding a spot at Atwell Mill?
I see that there are some burn bans in place right now. If we are camping at Atwell Mills can we still use the fire pits that are in place?
Are there any spots that the kiddos can swim at?
I have a full size pickup with an overhead camper on it. It sticks out 2′ past my bumper. If I sleep in a tent, can I bring it?
I don’t see why you couldn’t
Hello, We are heading up to Atwell Mill or Cold springs this Wed for a 4 day camping trip. Any way to find out if there are spaces?
Hi, I’m planning on going to atwell mill campground on a Friday morning. Hopefully arising the around 12:00 pm. Are my chances of finding a campsite available good? Can I drive a truck up to the actual campsite? Thanks.
Why are dog not allowed on the trails? This hasn’t always been the case. My family ussed to camp at the Cold Springs campground every year when I was younger, and we always took our dogs. They are part of the family and love to go camping and hiking.
Hi. Dogs are great. But they aren’t usually allowed on national park trails. Their scents can interfere with native animals. There are usually other rules for the restrictions too.
Great site! 2 quick questions. Thinking of backpacking starting @ the Timber Gap trailhead. We’ll be doing a loop & ending our hike 4 days later @ Atwell Mill. We need to get back to our car. Is there public transportation like a shuttle or is it reasonable to think we could hitch a ride for the 5 mile trip back to Cold Spring campground? Last question – where can we leave our car while we’re in the backcountry? We were thinking of leaving it @ Timber Gap trailhead parking lot? Thanks for the great info!
How do I make a reservation at any of the Mineral King area campgrounds?
These campgrounds are first-come first-served. They do no accept reservations.
WARNING: Finding a campsite at Cold Springs and Atwell Mill is no longer “hardly a challenge,” as this article states. My family and I just got back from Atwell Mill. We arrived at Cold Springs early Friday afternoon, and it was completely full. We drove back down to Atwell Mill and just barely got the last campsite there. Throughout the afternoon and evening, numerous vehicles of unhappy would-be campers drove through, looking for an empty site.
According to the park rangers, ever since an article was published last year calling Cold Springs the best campground in California, it has become very difficult to get campsites on weekends. Which sucks, if you’ve just been driving through hairpin turns for 90 minutes. I asked the ranger if, due to the greater interest in the area, if the Park Service plans to begin accepting reservations. No plans to do that anytime soon.
Glad you were able to get a campsite. That is definitely a long drive if you come up empty-handed. Adding reservable sites in the future could remove some of the uncertainty.
That was also Father’s Day weekend. Pretty sure the campsites get 10 times more crowded during holidays.
Have heart condition, cannot take extreme heat or altitude.
What is average daytime temp in cold springs area in mid july?
Planning on camping on July 27th through July 30th 2015, arriving Monday and leaving Thursday. What’s the chances of finding a site at Cold Springs?
Are there any campfire restrictions this year? Are we advised to bringing our own wood? And is there a good amount of water in the rivers, streams, lakes this summer? Many thanks for the info!
We are coming up Labor Day weekend arriving at dusk on Friday. Do you think we will be able to find a campsite?
That seems risky
Did you get at camp spot on labor day weekend? What time did you arrive?
We are coming up for Labor Day weekend to Cold Springs Sequoia Campground, when is the best time to arrive on Friday 9/04/15 to ensure we find a campingsite? Please advise. Although where there any bear sighting recently?
Did you find a spot there on labor day weekend?
Do you have to pay the Nat’l Park fee if going to Atwell Mill? My friend told me of a campground by Mineral King just outside the entrance and then one inside; is this it? I’ve never been up there and we want to go camping there in a couple of weeks before they close it! Thanks!
There is an entrance station on the way to Mineral King. Perhaps you’re thinking of South Fork Campground.
Great information here. Was curious if going up to atwell creek on a Saturday morning in the middle of April (non-holiday weekend) would be risky finding a spot, or if you think there might be some sites available then?
Thanks for your time!
I like your chances. Enjoy the trip!
I was planning a trip for the end of April 4/29 – 5/1. Will the sites be open at that time so we can hike to Monarch Lakes?
Hello thinking about 4th of July this year (2016) which is about a month out. What do you think the chances are for us to get a spot if we leave Thursday night, arriving about 4:30-5am Friday the 1st? I know its not a for sure answer. Is there someone I can call that Thursday to ask about availability? Also how many tents can fit in one campsite? Thinking about Atwell and or Cold Springs. Thank you!
Great website! Question: 1> Between Atwell Mill and Cold Spring which is better for young kids (4 and 1 yo) – more accessible to hikes / kid friendly things to do / swimming holes. 2> Also chances of getting a site in mid-July on Wed-Fri? Still good – saw the update about how it is much harder now. 3> Is there a check in and out time? 3> How many tents per campsite? Thank you!
Are there cell phone signals at any of the camping sites? If not, what is the closest location to make a phone call?
Hi we are planning to go for labor day weekend. Wanted to see how much it is per night and how many people are allowed per campsite. And Atwell Mill and Cold spring are only first come first serve?
We are a party of 8 with possibly 2-3 vehicles. Can we occupy one site at ColdSprings Campground? Is there a spot to park the extra vehicle?
Yes. You can use an extra vehicle parking area for the additional vehicles.
Hi, we plan to trip Atwell Mill/Cold Springs on this Thursday, 22 June 2017. We’ll reach there in the afternoon. Do you think we have a chance to get a spot? Thank you.
Is there cell service in or near Cold Springs?
Love your site. Planning on rolling in on Tuesday, June 6, 2018. We would be 4 people occupying two sites and staying for three nights. Amenable to walk-in sites if required, but I assume it would be pretty quiet mid week. How far away is Silver City for showers, wood and ice? We have Helio showers, if necessary. Thanks so much.
My boyfriend and I want to camp here from Wednesday, July 4th until Sunday, July 8th. Will there be vacancies on the 4th or do you think it will get crowded for the holiday?
Is it permitted to drive the Mineral King Road with a Mavericks Campervan and take a Campsite in Cold Springs CG or are large Vans “RV s” and prohibited?
I have a small teardrop trailer, maybe a total of 10 foot long, would this be acceptable to bring up to camp in