Camp High Sierra, Mammoth Mountain’s least-known venue, is the area’s most underrated reception space.
This century-old spot (which in Mammoth’s architectural history is as old as it gets) doesn’t do a lot of weddings.
It’s a public campground in the summer, so it’s only available for weddings in September and October. I’ve only shot here a few times but they’ve left me wanting more.
In my experience, most couples choose to come here after a ceremony at Forest Chapel but there are lots of spaces on site to hold weddings under the thick pine canopy.
The site’s cabins and rec hall, where the party happens, are built for summer youth camps and the first wedding I did at CHS was for a couple that met there during a band camp retreat.
If it sounds rustic and real, that’s because it is. If the other option was a high-end beach resort in Southern California, this venue isn’t for you.
You’re probably going to end the night with dirty feet and clothes that smell like a campfire, and for many couples that’s exactly what they love about Mammoth and want their wedding to reflect that.
The aforementioned hall, which was built in 1921, is a Mammoth gem. It’s a throwback to the era it was built and has lofty ceilings, stone fireplaces and space for plenty of people.
Here are some of the reasons I’d recommend having your wedding or reception at Camp High Sierra:
- The reception hall is as close at it gets to a barn venue in Mammoth and it’s got such a cool vibe that you have to see to understand. It reminds me of some of the historic and stately venues on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, but with a dash of undeveloped Mammoth charm thrown in to keep it wild.
- The party space here, whether in the hall or out in the campground, is killer. If the weather is great, party outdoors. If it’s snowing like it was for a wedding I shot here in September 2019, enjoy the unique indoor space.
- Ending the night around a camp fire in this setting is special. Several of the guests at the band camp wedding I mentioned earlier were musicians and the night ended with a fireside jam session and it was perfect.
- It’s the closest venue to town after Sierra Star Golf Course. If you need anything, town and everything it offers is five minutes away.
- The thick forest here diffuses the mid day light which makes it a great and easy spot to do family and bridal party photos. The trees also knock down any nearby ambient light so it’s also a great spot for night portraits.
- There are cabins and RV campsites on site, as well as bathrooms and other amenities. It’s perfect for guests who want to have a Mammoth camping experience. If not, the modern Juniper Lodge is walking distance from the site and The Village and The Westin Monache are a five minute drive away.
Things to think about for your Camp High Sierra wedding or reception:
- The venue is only open for weddings in September and October, so you’ve got some late-season factors to think about. The sun is going down earlier, it’s warm when the sun is out but the temps drop dramatically when the sun goes down. The sun starts to set closer to 6:00 in October, so plan the timeline around the shorter days.
- There aren’t many spots here for sunset portraits so I’d recommend carving out some time to jump in the car to get up above or below the the forest cover. This isn’t a problem—there’s a short dirt road above the venue that lands you on Lake Mary Road headed to the Lakes Basin. But I’d recommend setting aside 30-45 minutes for us to jam elsewhere to catch last light.
- Again, this venue is rustic. I love it, but it may not be for everyone. This is the perfect spot for the outdoor couples who value that authentic outdoor vibe over something more formal.
That’s it for Camp High Sierra. Words and photos will only go so far with this space—you need to go walk around and peek into the hall to really understand what it’s all about.
Have a look below for some photos from weddings and receptions there.