Union Reservoir Photos – A Stunning HWY 4 Gem
Welcome to my favorite granite-rimmed Sierra lake! It’s amazing to me that I only learned about this place within the last year. Funny thing, too…I actually found it by simply pouring over Google maps in “satellite view”. Haha. Anyhow, here are some of my favorite Union Reservoir photos…
Tucked away, miles down a side road off mountain highway 4, this is the sister lake of Utica Reservoir. However, even though that it’s less than a mile away, I’ve never seen it! So far I just visited Union Reservoir twice.
The first trip consisted of me parking my truck at Elephant rock lake nearby, then bushwhacking my way to Union Reservoir. I just had a general idea where to go, based on screenshots of the map. Though I did get lost until I climbed up high to get my bearings, ultimately I did prevail – it was an incredible solo camping trip!
Well, not so fast. This was actually during the dreaded Ferguson Fire near Yosemite. Not only did smoke come bellowing into my front yard – but it lingered there. I hoped to find some respite further north up at Union Lake. As chance would have it (and as you can see in the pics), smoke from the wildfire was inescapable.
Still, though, at least I could get an idea of what an incredibly beautiful area this is. Anyhow, I suppose the haze gives the lake a mystical feel, yeah? They say that wildfires can inadvertently produce beautiful sunsets…judging by the photo below, who am I to disagree?
Camping alone here – with no lights, infrastructure or people, was truly an unforgettable experience. I suppose it was something I felt I needed to experience at least once in life. I hope to write more about it in my mountain diary someday.
Camping – Union Reservoir Photos
Speaking of camping, here are photos from another trip I made with family a few months later. However, clear skies this time! What I neglected to mention before is that Union Reservoir is famous for its “granite islands” out in the water.
After my first excursion, I dreamed of returning with all my camping gear loaded into a canoe. In fact, this is exactly what we did! “Canoe camping” is a total blast, I tell you.
We set up camp and watched the sun set a few hours later. While the weather was more or less perfect during the day, it was bone chilling cold in the wee hours of the morning – even though it was just September.
Well, I suppose that’s what camping at over 8,000 feet gets ya. Besides, it’s nothing a good thermarest and down sleeping bag can’t take care of.
Another great thing about this lake is that there aren’t so many restrictions. I’m pretty sure you can camp anywhere there is a site (I found quite a few primitive, backcountry locations) without a permit. However, I think you do need a campfire permit…and you can get that online here.
You’re welcome. Enjoy!
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– Nathan Allen
I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of YosemiteParkPhotos.com (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.