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Weekend camping options away from Rim Fire in Sierra

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POSTED August 31, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Last year it was a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond that threatened to keep people home on Labor Day weekend.

This year it’s the Rim Fire – which has burned nearly 200,000 acres and continues to threaten Yosemite National Park and the treasure trove of jewels that people usually flock to on the first weekend in September.

With access to the park’s northernmost gate cutoff at a road closure outside of Groveland, getting into Yosemite – which remains open and is still expected to draw a healthy amount of campers – is encouraged through either Highway 140 through Merced or Highway 41 through Fresno.

Or you could just try something a little bit closer to home.

A variety of options exist with the a 30-mile radius of Manteca. Nearly all of them will be crowd free for the majority of the weekend, even with the beautiful weather that is expected to bake the Central Valley in sunshine through the middle of next week.

Here are a few places to try if you’re not feeling adventurous:

•Woodward Reservoir:  The reservoir holds 33,000 acre feet of water as in-district storage for the SSJID that supplies water to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy as well as farming operations within the 72,000-acre district.

And it’s also a source for fun. Boating, camping, swimming and water sports are all popular summertime options and the picnic grounds around the lake are big with people looking to enjoy the lake for an afternoon.

There is a $10 charge for day use per vehicle with a $5 surcharge on holidays such as Labor Day. Boats are $7, camping is $20 and camping with hookup is $25 per day.

•Caswell Memorial State Park: This 258-acre gem tucked beneath massive oak trees along the Stanislaus River provides a getaway without actually having to spend the time and the money to make the trek up into the Sierra. Campgrounds with enough space for Recreational Vehicles provide for comfort, and riverfront spaces allow for taking in serene beauty. Advance reservations can be made at www.reserveamerica.com, and some reservations still exist for the weekend Day use is $6, and camping is $20 per night.

•New Hogan Reservoir: Valley Springs is just a short trip up Highway 26, and this little gem is a great spot for fishing or floating or anything else you want to do on the water for the day. Camping is relatively cheap – advanced reservations can be made online through www.reserveamerica.com – and it’s far enough away to where you won’t feel like you’re driving up the street but close enough to enjoy it for the day.

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