Sonora Pass Vacations
Lodging and Camping
More Than 100 Years of Tradition
Kennedy Meadows has been a gathering place for people of varied recreational interests for more than 90 years.
The combination of the campgrounds, the resort, and the pack station - all three spread along the bank
of the Stanislaus River - creates a special ambiance hard to find anywhere else in the Sierra. Kennedy Meadows
is a crossroad for horse back
riders and fly fishermen, backpackers and hunters, photographers and campers - all mixing together in a friendly exchange, everyone enjoying the
tranquility of the mountains.
Fishing and Hiking near Kennedy Meadows
Fishing is excellent along the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River for rainbow, brook,
and brown trout. Fishing is usually best beginning in mid-summer when the heavy spring
runoff has settled down. The meadow area south of the resort is especially popular with fly
fishermen. It is also a great place to take children to introduce them to fishing.
Check our fishing map for the best locations for fishing around Kennedy Meadows. A little walking can take you
to sections of the river overlooked by most anglers.
Adventurous anglers can set out from Kennedy Meadows in morning and work their way up to
Relief Reservoir or Kennedy Lake,
fishing the steams along the way. The Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
to take you into some of their favorite fishing places in the Emigrant Wilderness and leave you at a base
camp for a day or two - or even a week - to fish and then pick you up again at on a designated day.
Hiking from Kennedy Meadows usually means heading into the Emigrant Wilderness. A day hike
up to Relief Reservoir is rewarded with spectacular scenery along the way, including waterfalls, abandoned
machinery from the dam building years, and soaring mountain peaks. Fishing at Relief Reservoir is good in the
early morning or evening. Exploring the dam is an interesting side-trip.
Thomas Winnett's Sierra North has long been the best guide to backpacking in the northern
Sierra Nevada. This 9th edition written with Kathy Morey and others covers the entire Emigrant Wilderness along with many other popular hiking
areas in the northern Sierra.
The Night Cap Peak Trail leads out from a point just south of the resort, but this 3.5-mile trail is not recommended for
inexperienced or solo hikers. It climbs 2000 feet over a shoulder of Night Cap Peak before descending to meet
the Kennedy Lake trail.
The hike to Kennedy Lake is really an overnight trip, but ambitious hikers could make the loop in a day. It is
about 7 miles to the lake with 1,500 feet of elevation gain. Near the lake are a pair of old log cabin. Views of
Kennedy Peak and surrounding mountains are spectacular.
For an extended Emigrant Wilderness outing, try Emigrant Lake, 14 miles from
Kennedy Meadows. The lake makes a great base camp for fishing nearby lakes such as Huckleberry Lake,
Buck Lakes, and Long Lake.
High Sierra Trails
A Backpacker's Guide to the
Most Spectacular Trails
in the Sierra Nevada
Kennedy Meadows Resort
Kennedy Meadows Resort draws visitors from all over California and Nevada, in large part because
of its proximity to so many recreation opportunities.
Located 57 miles east of Sonora on Highway 108, Kennedy Meadows Resort is open from late April
until early October. A fire several years ago burned the original resort, but it was
rebuilt and open for business within a year. The resort is spread along the banks of
the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River.
The Kennedy Meadows Resort store sells basic groceries, camping supplies, and fishing supplies.
The Kennedy Meadows Restaurant offers café style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
Reservations for dinner are recommended on weekends.
The Saloon at Kennedy Meadows sells beer, wine and liquor. The Saloon is open 7 days a week from 11:00AM until closing time.
Kennedy Meadows Resort has an eclectic collection of cabins for rent, ranging from simple sleeper
cabins to two-story structures that can sleep up to 11 people.
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station
Located at Kennedy Meadows the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station is at the edge of the Emigrant Wilderness, a vast mountain area full of recreation opportunities. The pack station offers both day trail rides for an hour, a half day, or all day. They also provide
pack animals and wranglers for extended pack trips.
2017 - Horse Camp
A 5 or 6-day horse camp for youths ages 10 - 16 with minimal riding experience or with riding camp experience from previous years. Improve riding skills, learn about packing mules, wilderness cooking, and back country camping.
Camp #1 - For those with minimal riding and camping experience or are younger ages June 13-17, 2017
Camp #2 - For those who have been to camp before, June 19-24, 20171
1 Includes an overnight trip to a backcountry lake. (See Facebook: Kennedy Meadows.)
Find all the Horse Camp details at Kennedy Meadows Horse Camp.
For ages 16 and older. Learn the skills to lead a wilderness pack trip. Learn about safety, packing mules and horses; feeding, grooming, and saddling horses and pack animals; wilderness cooking.
Dates for 2017 TBA
Find all the Pack Camp details at Kennedy Meadows Pack Camp.
Summer Contacts for Kennedy Meadows Pack Station:
(209) 965-3911 or
To learn more about their rates and destinations, see Pack Stations
The Sonora and Mono Wagon Road
The old Sonora and Mono Wagon Road followed much the same course as Highway 108 does today along
the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River Valley from the Clark Fork turnoff to Kennedy Meadows. Few
remnants of the old road are visible here, except for the stone bridge abutments on the Stanislaus River at
Dardanelle. Up the pass from Kennedy Meadows the road passed through a narrow gap known as Que de Porka. It
has since been widened. Farther up the pass long sections of the old wagon road can be seen.
Kennedy Lake and the land around Kennedy Meadows were claimed by Andrew Thomas Kennedy of Knights Ferry and
William E. Lutz in the mid-1880s. Kennedy built a cabin, which still stands today, where the resort is now located.
The cabin was restored in 1988 by Pat Casey. The original Kennedy Meadows lodge was erected in 1917. It burned
down during the winter of 1940-1941, to be replaced by the classic building familiar to so many until it also
burned to the ground in 2007. Today's resort was completed in 2008.
In the 1880s Greenbury C. Baker from Sonora opened what he described as a "Summer Resort" at Baker's Station, just
a half mile back down the highway from the Kennedy Meadows turnoff. Baker offered accommodations to individuals or
families for a day, a week, or a month. The hostelry was used mostly by people crossing the pass on the
wagon road. By 1890 snow had collapsed the original buildings. Later the site was turned into a highway
maintenance station. Today Baker's Station is used by the High Sierra Institute in partnership with
Yosemite Community College. The Institute has hosted classes such as cartography, geology, yoga, and creative writing. Recent
work has upgraded several of the cabins and the restrooms.
Baker Campground is a popular campground in the summer.
With the Stanislaus River at their doorstep and Kennedy Meadows Resort within easy walking distance,
Baker Campground makes a great place to park your Recreation Vehicle or set up a tent. They have 43 sites
which cost $20 per night for a single site. Baker Campground has piped water and vault toilets. It is on a
first-come, first-served basis.
Deadman Campground is situated next to the Middle
Fork of the Stanislaus River along the Kennedy Meadows road. Its beautiful setting
among the trees makes it a favorite camping destination for many. Kennedy Meadows Resort and the
Emigrant Wilderness are both within walking distance. It is on a first-come, first-served basis. The 17
sites at Deadman Campground cost $20 per night for a single camp site. The campground
has piped water and vault toilets.