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“beautiful but all bears and NO rangers!” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Dorst Campground

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Dorst Campground
San Jose, California
Level Contributor
24 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“beautiful but all bears and NO rangers!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 July 2010

As you may notice, the happy reviews of 2003 give way to frightened reviews by those who recently camped and Dorst. We are seasoned bear campers...I'm 46 years old with two kids age 9 and 11. NEVER have I encountered so many bears at Sequioa as this year. In a five night stay between the campgrounds and hiking we saw 10 bears total! On the first night, one went right down the road between our campsites (we vacationed with another family) and was small and wandered off as soon as we made noise. But the second night a 7 foot black bear, untagged (called "wild" by the park volunteer at Lodgepole whom we gave the description to) broke into our minivan by pulling off the back window that had been left adjar. I had mistakenly overlooked three packs of gum I had left in my kleenex box and he had smelled it and was trying to get to it when my friend camping across the way scared it off by yelling and running towards it. Before that I had activated my car alarm and had blown a bull horn three times to no avail. Only human voices and presence was able to scare it off.

While I admit my mistake, I also have noticed that campers at Dorst are on their own. No rangers or bear techs patrol any more at night due to budget cuts. Only on the weekends do they sometimes come by. NIght after night car alarms go off all over the campgrounds and you sit wondering when your turn is coming. Even if you don't have a few sticks of gum hidden/forgotten in your car they come into the campsite anyways to see what they can find. It's out of control and the park has no plans to deal with it.

One night a family of very small children was visited by a bear and they screamed at it for several minutes before it would leave. This was the night after our break in and this family was just down a small hill from us. I put the kids in the van and went to the pay phone to call 911 feeling unsafe. The payphone was DEAD! So we drove to Lodgepole and called 911. Nothing happened...by 9 am the next morning a sweet 20something volunteer, who helped the elusive bear techs, of which there are only TWO left, came by to see what had happened the night before. She explained the budget cuts and said "we really don't know why Dorst has such a bear problem or why the Dorst bears are so aggresive and unafraid of humans". Her only explaination was that Dorst was only open two months out of the year as it is an overflow/afterthought to Lodgepole. So the bears aren't used to sharing with humans. So, picture yourself camping in the back country with your small children and that's the mixture you get at Dorst...that is also the protection you get from the Park Service....so if you are comfortable with that...go ahead and have a good time!!! Just check your car two and three times over before your head hits that pillow!!!!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank vacationfromvacation
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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64 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (10)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • Any
English first
calif
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 September 2009

We have stayed at Dorst almost every summer for the last 16 years with my wife and daughters. It has changed a lot, and a whole lot more crowded and much different type of campers. It is still my favorite place on earth. My family have met so many different people from all over the world, folks who have had the luxury of traveling the globe. And almost without exception the all say the same thing the Sequoias are one of the most stunning places they have ever been.

Dorst is a great place to camp, if you follow the rules particularly in respect to the bears.
Plan your stay at Dorst, take a day or so just to relax and enjoy the surroundings, then plan your day trips. There is so much to see and do and please get off the beaten path every once in while, take a deep breath and reflect. This truly is one of God's gifts.

Stayed June 2007, travelled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank jmeikle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
köln
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 August 2009

Beautiful site, friendly service, more or less clean restrooms, quiet at 10 pm, also not that busy at daytime, great starshine in the night!

  • Stayed July 2009, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank abacus69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southern California
1 review
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 July 2009

If you are looking for off the beaten path, Dorst is not it! We had reservations from Sunday til Wed and changed gears and campgrounds immediately upon arrival. It was like the Sequoia suburbs! Way too many people, RV's, etc....hard to get a taste of nature with the hum and buzz of so many bikes, kids, radios, etc.

Stayed July 2009, travelled with friends
Helpful?
Thank campinqueen28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Camarillo, Ca
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 July 2009

My family stayed at Dorst for 5 days and we had absolutely no complaints. It was a fantastic trip for the whole family. When you get there the rangers give you a good ten min. bear safety talk because Dorst does have many black bears. We did see 3 bears just outside of campground and heard there were bears wondering around at night but never felt we were in any danger. Just take care of your things and follow the rules and you won't have a problem. The Rangers were always driving around and were very polite. The kids loved it when the wind kicked up and the Sugar Pine trees were dropping the pinecones. We stayed in site 97. Beautiful spot, but barely any shade and could get very hot. Deer roamed the meadow morning and night and chipmunks everywhere.
Downfalls - The closest showers were at Stony Creek Lodge - 5 miles away. Also you will need to plan your day. Dorst is about 10 miles from General Sherman, because the road is so winding, this could take about 30 minutes.
We would definitely stay there again. We had absolutely no problems with other campers and by 11pm you could hear only the sounds on nature. There are creeks and hiking trails and everywhere you look it is absolutely beautiful.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Luuccy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
calif
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 August 2008

The campground is nice, but when we were at our site last weekend. A macho ranger screamed at me because I did not respond to him quickly. There were other campers all around us
and I did not know that he was speaking to us at first. He was about 30 ft from everyone shouting from his truck, and screamed out "respond when I am speaking to you!!!" He had no reason to scream, my husband that was with me is a retired firefighter and we are well aware of fire safety. Anyways, it was a 8 hr trip and that ruined our vacation.

Stayed August 2008
Helpful?
3 Thank blueishfish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 August 2008

Dorst Campground was surprisingly great. Don't let weather reports fool you (most websites stated the temperature at the base of the mountain range, which is in the 100's F during the day), but at Dorst it was 25 degrees cooler.
You are in good proximity to several of Sequoia National Park's Sites, like Crystal Cave or the Giant Forest, plus there are several hiking trail heads directly from the campground. One thing to note, if you want to visit Crystal Cave, go early--on the weekends, mid-day and evening visits are booked up with groups as big as 50, and with all large groups of tourists, it's very annoying.
We saw a lot of wildlife on the way into the park and while staying at our campsite. The rangers are very strict and lecture everyone entering the campground about bears and mountain lions. Contrary to IsgCalifornia's claim that they did not do enough to protect campers, I personally saw them touring the entire grounds hourly, sometimes every 30 minutes. They would scold and cite campers that were lazy and left food out or left their bear boxes open. I think they did a good job, considering they had to deal with annoying novice campers.
There was a lot of wildlife (deer, bears, etc) near the campgrounds, but if you store your food in the locker, they will not bug you. IsgCalifornia over-exaggerated the danger, and it's safe for young children. The bears seemed more afraid of the campers than you'd expect. Follow the rangers advice and don't leave anything in your car or tent. It's pretty simple.
The elevation of the site is over 6000 feet, so be prepared for a lot less oxygen. You can feel a bit out of breath occasionally. Also, if you want to see something interesting, buy a bag of potato chips (prior to ascending the mountain), do not open it and leave it on your dash.
Some downsides: Like most campsites that provide water and flush toilets, the clientèle is comprised of mostly (about 60%) of weekend-campers that have little regard for their neighbors. It wasn't uncommon to hear a car alarm booming, radio blasting, generator growling, or offensive drunken conversation from your neighbors. It would be nice if they reserved a portion of the campground to be "quiet;" i.e. no radio, no generators, no loud discussions.
Also, the sites are only a few dozen feet apart, so you feel a bit like sardines. There is no under-growth, so a camper can see everyone else's site.

Other than that, I'd recommend Dorst.

  • Liked — Views, Wildlife, Hikes
  • Disliked — People, Tourists
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank genscripter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Dorst Campground

Property: Dorst Campground
Address: Seven-and-a-half miles northwest of Lodgepole Visitor Center, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, CA
Region: United States > California > Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 19 Speciality Lodging in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Dorst Campground has 204 campsites. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Dorst Campground Hotel Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Park

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