Thomas Mountain Yellow Post Site #1, Idyllwild, CA

San Bernardino National Forest

Yellow Post Campsites are unique to San Bernardino National Forest. These are campsites intended to be used by a single party of campers. They are primitive sites that come with a fire ring and picnic table. There’s no cost to camp here, and they are open for cars, vans, and RVs. Most Yellow Post campsites are difficult to reach by most vehicles, but a handful of them, including this one, are easy to get to. The one we’re covering here, is the most popular free camping site among them.

Thomas Mountain Yellow Post Site #1

Yellow Post Campsites located in the San Bernardino National Forest offer boondockers offer up to 14-days of continuous free camping with the closest proximity to the greater Southern California metropolitan area. This particular site is one of the easier Yellow Post sites to get into with a medium to large RV or trailer. Most Yellow Post sites tend to require 4WD, high clearance vehicles. This site also offers a short drive into Idyllwild for supplies, dining, and tourist shopping.

Probably the biggest challenge with this particular campsite is that it’s very popular. Because only one party of campers can camp here at a time, it’s almost always taken. There are a few clearings a couple hundred feet away, and you will often other boondockers setting up camp there.

Elevation here is at 4,400 feet, offering you cooler temperatures than in the valleys below. Where the weather is 100 degrees in Hemet, you can usually get 85 up here. It’s still rather hot to camp here during the middle of summer, but it’s great during Fall, Winter, and Spring.

You will definitely get some light snow fall in the Winter, and you may find temperatures dipping into the teens at night. But for the most part, it’s still very much easy camping throughout the coldest part of the year.

The biggest draw to camping here is the close proximity to Idyllwild. You’ll find shopping, dining, and entertainment there. Pretty much all fuel stations throughout San Bernardino National Forest offer propane tank refill.

Pros and Cons

Pros: Peace and quiet, a rich scent of fresh pine, sounds of song birds¬† and howling coyotes. It’s totally free to camp here with a 14-day limit, and there are hiking trails throughout. Verizon 4G comes in strong here.

Cons: Tends to get dusty here during dry weather, access road into this site can be tricky, but doable for most RVs, forest rangers do patrol this site often.


Fire ring and picnic table provided. Trash dumpster available at the forest’s section of Lake Hemet. Propane tank refill, along with RV dump station, at Lake Hemet RV park.

Cellphone Signal Strength

Verizon 4G comes in good here, usually at 4/5 bars.

Insects, Pests, & Wildlife

Seemingly very little in the way of gnats and common houseflies can be found here. Bees may bother you if you’re eating outside. No mice or rats, though raccoons are out and about. Mule deer is everywhere here.


Mostly peaceful and quiet. Forest Road 6S13 is popular among 4×4 drivers, and you may hear a dirt bike rider go by. OHV is illegal here, though you will still see them go by.

Safe or Sketchy?

Other campers will pitch a tent about 200 feet away, but we’ve never encountered problems with them. We did one time have a vandweller decide to park right next to us, about 20 feet away. But these are often overnighters who will be gone by sunrise. Overall, it feels safe to boondock here.

How Crowded Is It?

It’s not crowded being that this site is intended for a single party of campers. However, it’s a very popular site and as a result is difficult to find available.

It’s not quite secluded camping here because there will be a number of campers trying to get in here, though at times it can seem private.

usfs logo


U.S. Forest Service
San Jacinto Ranger District

San Jacinto Ranger District:
Tel: (909) 382-2921


Motor Vehicle Use Map, San Bernardino National Forest, South, published by U.S. Forest Service, 2020.

San Bernardino National Forest Visitor Guide, published by U.S. Forest Service, 2018.


GPS: 33.6565, -116.6688

Nearest Town: Idylwilld, CA


Price: Free

Max Stay: 14 days

Amenities: Fire ring, picnic table

Access: asphalt along SR-74, hard pack dirt along FR 6S13.

Verizon Coverage: Good, 4/5 bars

Crowded: not crowded, but is usually occupied

custom outfitters
Leave A Comment