Exploring Waterside Bliss: Ironhorse Campground at New Melones Lake

Ironhorse Campground stands as a beacon of outdoor adventure, beckoning travelers to its picturesque shores nestled within the Glory Hole Recreation Area of New Melones Lake. With its 87 campsites sprawled across rolling hills, this campground offers a gateway to a world of natural splendor and recreational opportunities. As you prepare to embark on your escape to this scenic retreat, arm yourself with essential tips, strategies, and gear recommendations to ensure an unforgettable camping experience at Ironhorse Campground.

Map & Reservations

For first-time campers, Ironhorse Campground presents a diverse array of camping options to suit every preference. Whether you’re arriving with an RV, trailer, or tent, or seeking a secluded lakeside retreat at the walk-in, tents-only sites, there’s something for everyone. Embrace the tranquility of the lakeside views from these secluded sites, and plan your visit during the peak season to take full advantage of the favorable weather conditions and abundance of outdoor activities.

Securing your spot at Ironhorse Campground is made easy with the option to make reservations for standard sites, ensuring peace of mind as you plan your camping adventure. Arrive early in the afternoon to claim your campsite and immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings. Position yourself close to the waterfront to maximize your lakeside experience, with easy access to water activities and breathtaking scenery.

As the day winds down, indulge in the luxury of a hot shower under the open sky by bringing quarters for the campground showers. For fishing enthusiasts, take advantage of the nearby fish cleaning stations to prepare your catch for a delicious campfire-cooked meal. And don’t miss out on the evening entertainment at the amphitheater, where you can learn about the area’s rich history and natural wonders.

When packing for your camping adventure, prioritize comfort and versatility. Ensure you have all the essentials for a cozy campsite setup, including picnic table-friendly gear, cozy sleeping arrangements, and layered clothing to adapt to changing temperatures. For those camping with pets, don’t forget to bring along pet-friendly essentials to keep your furry companions happy throughout your stay.

For those eager to explore the lake, be sure to pack equipment for water skiing, jet skiing, and sailing to enhance your aquatic adventures. And for personalized gear recommendations tailored to your camping needs, explore our gearlist account for expert advice on camp cooking, sleeping systems, backpacks, and more.

Immerse yourself in the captivating landscapes of Ironhorse Campground, where the beauty of nature awaits at every turn. With these tips and recommendations in hand, you’re ready to unlock the full potential of your camping adventure at Ironhorse Campground and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Top Tips for Campers Camping Here for the First Time

  • Embrace the Diversity: Ironhorse Campground caters to various camping preferences, with sites accommodating RVs, trailers, and tents, as well as walk-in, tents-only sites on the tips of two peninsulas close to the water.
  • Walk-In Tranquility: If you seek a more secluded experience, consider the walk-in, tents-only sites, ensuring a peaceful retreat with limited foot traffic and stunning lakeside views.
  • Seasonal Sensibility: Plan your visit during the peak season, usually open until October, to enjoy favorable weather conditions for fishing, boating, and exploring the miles of trails and roads around New Melones Lake.
  • Reservation Perks: While walk-in sites are first-come, first-served, consider making reservations for standard sites, allowing you to secure your spot and plan your camping adventure with peace of mind.
  • Sunset Serenity: Take advantage of the spectacular sunsets over the lake, creating a serene ambiance that enhances your camping experience with natural beauty and tranquility.

Top Strategies and Tactics for an Enhanced Camping Experience

  • Ideal Arrival Time: Arrive in the early afternoon to secure your campsite and make the most of the amenities. The strategic timing allows you to settle in, explore the surroundings, and relish the beauty of the lake.
  • Waterfront Wonders: Maximize your lakeside experience by camping close to the boat launch ramp, marina, and lake shoreline, ensuring easy access to water activities and the enchanting scenery.
  • Hot Shower Hack: Bring quarters for the showers, adding a touch of luxury to your camping experience. After a day of outdoor adventures, a hot shower under the open sky can be a rejuvenating finale.
  • Fisherman’s Haven: If you’re a fishing enthusiast, capitalize on the nearby fish cleaning stations, allowing you to prepare your catch and indulge in a delicious campfire-cooked meal.
  • Evening Entertainment: Attend the campfire programs at the amphitheater, immersing yourself in the natural wonders and learning about the area’s geology, Mi-Wok Indians, the Gold Rush, and ranching history.

Recommendations on Essential Camping Gear

  • Campsite Comfort: Pack a picnic table-friendly set, cozy sleeping gear, and layered clothing to adapt to varying temperatures. Ensure your camping gear aligns with the versatility of the sites, whether for RVs, trailers, or tents.
  • Water Wisdom: Given the potential for water scarcity after California’s drought, bring ample water supplies to stay hydrated during your outdoor adventures.
  • Pet-Friendly Essentials: For those camping with pets, secure a sturdy leash, water bowls, and comfortable bedding to ensure your furry companions are content throughout your stay.
  • Shoreline Exploration: If you plan on exploring the lake, consider bringing equipment for water skiing, jet skiing, and sailing, enhancing your aquatic adventures.
  • Explore Our Gearlist: Dive into our gearlist account for tailored recommendations on camp cooking, sleeping systems, overlanding setups, backpacks, and clothing, ensuring you’re well-equipped for a seamless and enjoyable camping experience.

Check out our Gearlist for the gear we use for trips like this

Our Gearlist account lists all of the gear we use. Discover our top picks, where to snag them, and stay informed with our regular updates.


Ironhorse Campground stands as a testament to the beauty and adventure that awaits within the Glory Hole Recreation Area of New Melones Lake. As you bid farewell to this picturesque retreat, take with you the memories of serene lakeside sunsets, the gentle rustle of mature oaks, and the camaraderie forged around crackling campfires.

During your time at Ironhorse Campground, you’ve experienced the joys of outdoor living, from the tranquil mornings to the exhilarating days filled with water activities and exploration. Whether you ventured out onto the shimmering waters of New Melones Lake or hiked the trails that wind through the surrounding hills, each moment was an opportunity to connect with nature and find solace in its beauty.

As you prepare to depart, reflect on the invaluable lessons learned during your camping adventure. You’ve discovered the importance of early arrival to secure the perfect campsite and the convenience of making reservations to ensure a stress-free experience. You’ve embraced the diversity of camping options available, from RV sites to walk-in tents-only sites, each offering its own unique charm and serenity.

Throughout your stay, you’ve savored the simple pleasures of camp life, from cozy evenings spent around the campfire to the luxury of a hot shower under the open sky. You’ve learned the art of packing efficiently, ensuring you had all the essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience, including gear tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

But perhaps most importantly, you’ve cultivated a deep appreciation for the natural world and all it has to offer. You’ve marveled at the stunning landscapes that surround Ironhorse Campground, from the rolling hills to the sparkling waters of New Melones Lake. You’ve witnessed the resilience of nature, thriving in the face of adversity and providing a sanctuary for all who seek its embrace.

As you bid farewell to Ironhorse Campground, carry with you the memories of your time spent in this serene wilderness. Cherish the moments of connection, laughter, and adventure shared with loved ones, and let them serve as a reminder of the beauty and wonder that await when you venture into the great outdoors.

Though your time at Ironhorse Campground may be coming to an end, know that the spirit of adventure lives on within you. Carry it with you as you journey forth, exploring new horizons and discovering the beauty that lies just beyond the next hill or around the next bend in the trail. And remember, no matter where your travels may take you, the memories of your time at Ironhorse Campground will always hold a special place in your heart.