I took my family to Warner Valley Campground August 2011. This was the first time we had visited here, although I had read about it in a few camping books and a co-worker. From the way everyone was talking about it, I was afraid I was not going to be able to get a site on a Friday evening after I got off work, that is how well spoken of this campground is. My worries were unfounded, as there were only about 5 other campsites occupied, out of 18 or so total sites.
Getting to Warner Valley Campground is fairly simple. Drive into Chester and turn west onto Feather River Drive. Follow Feather River Drive until you get to a sign on the right that gives the direction to many different locations, including Warner Valley and Drakesbad. From here, you will follow this road (Warner Valley Road) all the way to the campground. Along the way there will be a couple narrow bridges and sharp turns, but nothing too dangerous, as it is paved for about 3/4 of the way. Once you hit the unpaved section, you only have another 10 minutes or so, and the road isn't even that bad, as it has very recently been graded and graveled. One word of advice: this campground is not advisable for trailers/5th wheels/ motorhomes. There are a few steep hills and the gravel can get loose. I'm not saying it's impossible, but not advised. Before you get to the campground, you will enter Lassen Volcanic National Park and have to pay an entrance fee of $10. This fee is separate from the campground fee, just like you would if you were entering the park from Highway 89. After entering the park, the campground is only a minute up the road.
The campground is divided into two parts, and upper loop and a lower loop. The lower loop is closer to the creek and only has six sites, one of which is the campground host. I would not describe it as "creekside," as the sites are all up on a cliff, looking down on the creek. We decided on the upper loop due to the fact that the sites are much better. Also, the Pacific Crest Trail runs right through the campground, so access to trails is easier from the upper loop. Each site in the entire campground has a fire ring, a newer concrete picnic table (very nice!), and a large bear box to store food and other smelly stuff in, which is much better than loading and unloading everything back and forth from your car. A few of the sites are on slopes, but the boxes, tables and tent pads have been leveled in those cases. Parking for most sites is also very convenient. We stayed in site 17, although 14 would have been better had we a smaller tent.
This is a good campground for those individuals and families who want to either get away from a lot of other campers and relax in peace, or if you are looking for a place to get in a ton of hiking in the Lassen Volcanic Park Backcountry, as the Pacific Crest Trail is routed through the campground. For us, our small children are not yet able to hike very far, so we did not try any hiking. We did, however, take a walk down to the Drakesbad Guest Ranch, a privately managed group of cabins down the road a half mile or so. Drakesbad serves 3 meals a day to their guests, as well as anyone who is willing to make the trip, which seems like quite a few folks. It also has a swimming pool that is heated by hot springs.
Overall, this is a very good campground for the person/family who doesn't mind going out of the way a bit for some seclusion and quiet or people who want to have a basecamp for some serious hiking. Dogs are allowed in camp, but not on the trails, which is a bummer. Also, it gets very cold at night, as the camp is at 5300 something elevation. In the middle of August, we were sleeping in the low 40s, so bring a warm sleeping bag.
E-mail me with questions! [--]
Sorry for not having any pictures...we forgot our camera :(