An air of creepiness prevails at Upper Deadman, even before campfire tales of headless miners. Being free of charge, it’s a little run down, and some campers take full advantage of the 21-day limit. It is also deep in Inyo National Forest bear country.
Deadman Creek earned its name when a headless miner’s body, apparently killed by a Gold Rush-era rival, was discovered there. 19th-century ghost stories aside, the threat of bears is very real at Upper Deadman Campground. There are no bear boxes or secured trash receptacles onsite, and bears have been frequently spotted in the campground. If swinging food bags over a branch in the dark isn’t your thing, bear canisters can be rented at Mono Basin Visitors Center, Mammoth Ranger Station, or one of the many Yosemite Ranger Stations.
General spookiness aside, Upper Deadman is in a pleasantly sheltered conifer grove at the edge of Deadman Creek. The campsite makes for a perfect launching point to explore the volcanic attractions of Obsidian Dome, Glass Creek, and White Wing Mountain.
Situated between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, Upper Deadman feels isolated without being too remote. If the 15-site campground is full, several other first-come, first-served campgrounds are on the dirt Deadman Creek Road (2S05) that connects travelers with U.S. 395.
Nighttime temps are cool in the high Sierra foothills. At 7,800 feet, most area campgrounds close for the winter around mid-October. There is no running water at Upper Deadman. Vault toilets exist but are not well maintained.