Could be nice, but . . .
In early June, we headed to the Easter Sierras. We didn't really have much of an itinerary, except that we knew we wanted to stop somewhere close to Bishop to spend some time fishing and discovering the area including the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the oldest living things on earth (a very worthwhile day trip! To read more about it, click here.)
I dropped off one Little, along with the Angler at a favorite local fishing spot and continued on to look for a place to camp. We'd driven by Glacier View campground many times, and gave it another drive by but since we had some time on our hands decided to press to Bishop, to see what we could find there.
Brown's Town campground looked crowded so we rambled on through Highland's RV Park, which is basically a giant, concrete parking lot crammed full of 35 foot motorcoaches on the main drag through Bishop. Not really our scene. So by comparison, Glacier View seemed pretty great.
I'm going to put the emphasis here on the word "seemed."
The host is awesome. His name is Ken and he was friendly and helpful. He gave me some parking and backing assist, and advice about which spots are most shady.
He really meant out of the sun shady, but "shady" has more than one meaning at this campground.
Here's the issue: As much as I like the cute town with its general store and Friday Farmer's Market and as much as I like Ken, and as much as like the Brown family who runs the campground (I've had the opportunity to meet them and they are dear, well-meaning people), Big Pine is currently plagued by a rash of drug use, violence, crime and homelessness. And because this campground is in town, has facilities (very poor though they are), and is fairly affordable, some of these issues are literally camped out here.
Of course, I didn't know all this til I was parked, unhitched, hooked up and fully committed. Even then, I didn't fully realize the situation.
There is a posted 2 week limit to stays but some campers have clearly been at this campground much longer. There aren't sewer hookups, but we observed some campers dumping their gray (let's just hope it was only grey) into the ground under their rigs. Structures are built or leaned against rigs and some rigs are surrounded by excessive personal belongings that indicate that this is actually where people come to stay with all their worldly possessions when they have no where else to go.
The campground also apparently allows long term storage of old cars and RVs, most of which are dilapidated or even out-right wrecked. That doesn't help the run-down appearance of the campground.
But the bigger issue is that there is actual crime here. The Sheriff showed up one night to take statements about a local woman who had tried to use a butcher knife to break into her son's camper on site and had stolen some items from around rigs in the campground. Honestly, I was both worried for our safety and heartbroken at the desperation that was so evident.
We met some of these campers, and they are friendly, open people, struggling to live clean and put their lives back together. Their stories are truly heart-wrenching.
Over the days we were there I noticed that many rigs arrived in the evening, parked in the outer reaches of the campground-- far away from the fray-- and were gone early. For now, if you need to stay in Big Pine, that's probably your best bet. I would love to say that I recommend this campground, but unfortunately I can't. I just hope that in the future this town and this campground can dig themselves out of the situation they find themselves in.