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Camp Mather to Remain Closed in 2021
Camp Mather, the City-owned family summer camp in the High Sierra wilderness, will remain closed in 2021 due to Covid-19 risks.
It is the second summer coronavirus concerns have shuttered the 337-acre site, which hosts about 500 campers and 70 employees each week. The shutdowns were made after extensive consultation with health officials in both San Francisco and Tuolumne counties.
The beloved camp, which has served San Franciscans for more than 90 years, faces significant challenges in ensuring social distancing. Campers share bathrooms, meals, and social activities.
Camp Mather’s remote location near Yosemite could present an obstacle to medical care during an outbreak. Additionally, the spread of the virus and its uncertain forecast has made it difficult to recruit camp employees.
The Origins of a San Francisco Family Tradition
The history of Camp Mather dates back many years before the area became a popular vacation site. Even before the pioneers settled in California, Mather was home to a group of Miwok Indians, who made their camp near where the corral now stands. Artifacts are occasionally found from these Indians.
Although there are signs that prospectors may have re-settled the area during the gold rush era, it was actually not until the early part of this century that the area became heavily populated, when the City of San Francisco began construction of a dam at nearby Hetch Hetchy Valley.
During this time, a sawmill was built on the lake side of Mather to supply the lumber needed for the dam’s construction. ’ Birch Lake, now the camp "swimming hole," was used to float logs needed for the project.
At the same time, the Yosemite Park and Curry Company used the other side of camp to house tourists interested in seeing both Yosemite National Park and the construction of the dam. The company built the Jack Spring Dining Hall for this purpose, the building that now serves as the Camp Mather kitchen and dining room.
When the O’Shaughnessy Dam was completed, many of the facilities were no longer needed. In the mid 1920’s, the City of San Francisco designated the property for use as a family recreation area. It was named Camp Mather in honor of Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service.
Fun and Exciting Activities!
Swimming - Birch Lake and pool, both in camp, have trained lifeguards. A spacious lawn area for sun bathing adjoins the lake and pool. (Swimming only when lifeguards are on duty.)
Recreation Activities - Experienced recreation personnel lead group games, organize tournaments, arrange dances and serve many other recreational interests, including regular campfire programs, talent shows and nature hikes.
Hiking and Biking - Numerous mountain trails bring the vacationer to the beauty of the High Sierra. Sunrise Peak and Inspiration Point are favorite spots for breathtaking views of Hetch Hetchy Valley, O’Shaughnessy Dam and the deep Tuolumne River gorge. Bring your bike to explore old fire roads or take you to "Inspiration Point".
Games - Facilities are available for tennis, badminton, ping-pong, horseshoes, volleyball and softball. Please bring your own tennis racquets and softball gloves. Badminton racquets and ping-pong paddles, basketballs and volleyballs are available for use.
Horseback Riding - For those who enjoy riding, there are well-trained horses accustomed to mountain trails. A corral concession service provides horses for hire by the hour or the day. Special rides such as breakfast rides, children’s rides and pack trips are offered at reasonable rates.
Fishing - Try your luck in the Tuolumne River, South and Middle Forks of the Tuolumne, Cottonwood Creek and along the shores of Hetch Hetchy. California Trout License required.
Young Children’s Programs - There are special arts and crafts programs, recreation activities and also a play area with play apparatus.
BREATHTAKING SCENIC TRIPS
Camp Mather is the perfect center for sightseeing. Both half day and full day trips to some the most spectacular scenery in the High Sierra is easily reached by automobile.
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir - A twenty-minute drive and nine miles away, is the O’Shaughnessy Dam, where one may see San Francisco’s gigantic dam and water supply. From there you might wish to take a two-mile hike on marked trails to Wampama Waterfalls.
Yosemite Valley - The splendor of Yosemite National Park can be found just 27 miles and a 45-minute drive away in the Yosemite Valley. Here within seven square miles are the spectacular Yosemite and Bridal Veil Falls and the sculptured beauty of El Capitan and Half Dome.
Tuolumne Meadows - A leisurely hour’s ride from Mather over the Tioga Pass Road and through the Yosemite High Camps brings one to the exquisite Tuolumne Meadows. A walk through this natural alpine garden, at 8600 feet of elevation, makes a delightful day excursion - an unforgettable odyssey among sparkling streams, glistening lakes and mountain wildflowers.
Highway 49 - The historic gold rush towns of Sonora, Columbia and Angels Camp, home of the Calaveras County Frog Jumping Contest, are within easy driving distance of Mather.
Nestled among the tall pines are rustic cabins that can accommodate one to six persons. Furnishings include electric lights, beds, and mattresses. Separate bathhouse facilities with hot water, laundry rooms with coin-operated washer/dryers are easily accessible.
Items campers should bring include pillows, blankets, linen, a flashlight, extension cord, double socket and plug, padlock, clothes hangers, and mosquito repellent. No special food preparation is made for baby’s formulas or special foods. No pets or firearms are allowed.
A concession store that sells sodas, candies and sundries is open throughout the summer. Campers are advised to bring travelers checks since personal checks are not accepted.
For more information, call the Camp Mather Desk at 415-831-2715.
The 2020 Camp Mather season has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Please read the above FAQs for more information.