Tag Archives: cheap

Walk-In Camp Sites

MIneral KIng Walkin Camps

Walk-In Camps

Below are developed campgrounds in California that have walk-in camp spots available. Vehicles are parked and you must carry your gear into the camp site (usually a short distance, but can be up to a half mile).

California Campgrounds with more than a 1-mile trek are not included in this list below. Areas such as – Catalina Island, Crystal Cove SP, Angel Island SP, Point Reyes National Seashore, indeed have many hike-to camps, but most are measured in miles (one way).

walk in campsites are perfect for –

  • people who wish not to see cars @ camp
  • people who prefer less noise while camping
  • physically fit folks, who want exercise
  • backpackers, who plan to hit the trails soon
  • avid hikers, who may be out day hiking
  • cyclists, just passing through
  • mountain bike campers
  • one nighters, travelers who only stay one night
  • late comers to the campground

    (hint: these are usually the last campsites to fill up)

NewMelones WalkIn Camps

campWalk in campsites are often located away from car campers & RVs. Some camp sites may have more privacy, tucked away in trees, while others have shared community area with fire pits and/or barbecues. All camp sites will have picnic tables and a some kinda toilet nearby. Bear boxes may be available for storing food properly. Sharing these food storage boxes with neighboring campers is common practice.

Campgrounds with walk-in sites range in elevation from sea level marshlands to high altitude alpine lakes. Most of these camps listed below are located inside developed campgrounds with overnight fees. Many are small campgrounds, while others are large hubs of activity. Some may be smaller campgrounds, with just a few camp sites. The most popular places can be reserved, with the links provided.

Many parks can also have day use fees, so know where you park and what time span is allowed. Ask the campground host if needing assistance. Some campgrounds lock their gates at sunset and do not permit entry at night. Others may not allow campers to check in anytime after sundown. Know their rules before you make reservations.

hikerIf you plan on not making camp reservations; make sure to have a plan B or C choice camp – in case your desired campground is already full. Many popular destinations can fill up fast (by noon in the summer).

spacious camps
Spacious Camp @ Aspen Grove Campground, Eagle Lake, CA

Walk In Camps in California

hikes campmtb

Andrew Molera State Park, Beach access, North Big Sur Coast
Anthony Chabot Regional Park, East Bay San Francisco
Aspen Grove Campground, Eagle Lake, CA
Austin Creek SRA, Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville CA
Azalea Cove Campground, Union Valley Reservoir

Bear Campground, North Angeles National Forest
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
Black Rock Campground, Little Grass Valley Reservoir
Blue Lake Campground, PG&E 4×4 @ i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Boise Creek Campground, Six River National Forest
Bottchers Gap Campground, North Big Sur Mountains
Butano State Park, Pescadero, Santa Cruz Mountains
Butler Creek Camp, Prairie Creek Redwood SP

Carr Campground, i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Cherry Hill Campground, Butte Creek, Lassen National Forest
Chilcoot Campground, Frenchman Lake, Plumas NF
China Camp State Park, SF @ San Pablo Bay, San Rafael
Chula Vista Campground @ Mount Pinos, Los Padres NF mtb
Clear Lake State Park, North Wine Country, Kelseyville CA
Cold Springs Campground
,
Mineral King @ Sequoia NP
Cool Springs CampgroundPG&E Camp, Butt Valley Reservoirhike
Cottonwood Pass / Cottonwood Lakes
on Horseshoe Meadow Rd, PCT Eastern Sierra @ Lone Pine

coolsprings

Dark Day Campground, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, N Sierra
Donner Memorial State Park, Interstate 80 @ Truckee CA

Dry Lagoon Walk-In, Humboldt Lagoons State Park
Dry Gulch Campground, Sierra NF @ El Portal
18 mi from Yosemite Valley

El Capitan State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast

Gaviota State Park Campground, North Santa Barbara Coast
Glory Hole Campground @ New Melones Reservoir, Gold Co
Granite Flat Campground, Truckee River @ Lake Tahoe
Gualala Point Park, 6 sites @ Gualala River, Sonoma Co Park

Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay

Headquarters Campground, Salton Sea SRA @ Mecca CA
Henry W Coe State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
(wilderness permits required)

Horseshoe Meadow, Cottonwood Pass trailhead, Inyo NF

Intake Campground, Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

Jackson Flat Walk-In Camp PCT @ Angeles NF
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, NorCal
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur Coast

Kidd Lake Group Campground, PG&E @ i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA Kayak, canoe, hike-in camp sites

Kirby Cove @ Golden Gate National Recreation Area
5 tent camp sites on a bluff over the mouth of San Francisco Bay; reservations required

Klamath National Forest –
small campsites on a river

Lassen National Park – Southwest Campground 6700′ elev.
Liberty Glen Campground @ Lake Sonoma Recreation Area
Limekiln State Park Campground, Hwy 1 Big Sur Coastline
Lone Rock Campground @ Union Valley Reservoir

MacKerricher State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast
Macumber Reservoir,
PG&E Camp, West of Lassen NPfishing
Manresa State Beach Campground
, Monterey Bay
Marmot Rock Walk-In Camp, Courtright Reservoir
Mary Smith Campground
@ Lewiston Lake, Trinity River

McCabe Flat Campground BLM @ Merced River Yosemiteblm camps
Merced Recreation Area, Merced River, Mariposa CA
3 small, developed campgrounds on dirt road
Briceburg, Yosemite Hwy 140

Mesa Campground, Silverwood Lake SRA, Cajon Pass (I-15)
Mill Creek Campground @ Bucks Lake, Plumas NF
Mill Creek Campground, Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo mtb
Mosquito Flat Trailhead Camp, One night limit! Camp is for backpackers heading into back country at the end of Rock Creek Road, Inyo NF hike

Niagra Creek Campground, OHV 4×4 trails, Stanislaus NF
North Battle Creek Reservoir
PG&E Camp, West of Lassen
North Grove Campground, Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Oak Bottom Campground

Oak Bottom Campground @ Whiskeytown Reservoir NRA
(*wildfire 2018)

Onion Valley CA

Onion Valley Campground, Eastern Sierra @ Independence, CAhike

Pantoll Campground, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground, Big Sur Coast
Pigeon Flat Campground, Stanislaus River, Dardanelle CA
Pomo Canyon Walk-In Camp, Sonoma Coast State Beach
Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
hikePrather Meadows Camp, Bunny Flat @ Mount Shasta
Providence Mountains SRA @ Mitchell Cavern, Mojave

Railroad Flat Campground BLM  @ Merced River
Briceburg Yosemite Hwy 140blm camps

Redwood National Park, NorCal Coast
(no reservations, no fees. open all year) NPS

  • Flint Ridge Walk-In
  • Nickel Creek Walk-In
chulavistacamp
CHULA VISTA CAMPGROUND – Wild Iris Meadow at Mount Pinos

Refugio State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast
Rock Creek Campground
, Eel River @ Standish-Hickey SRA
Roxie Peconom Campground, Bizz Johnson Trail, W Susanville mtb
Rucker Lake Campground, PG&E @ i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
Russian Gulch State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast

shadycamp
Roxie Peconom Susanville, CA

San Clemente State Beach, Orange County Coast
Sanborn Campground, Skyline County Park, Saratoga CA
Sand Flat Campground, Clark Fork, Carson Icerberg Wilderness
Sawmill Walk-In Campground, 9800′ elev @ Tioga Pass, E Yosemite
Silver Creek Campground, Truckee River @ Tahoe
Southfork Recreation Camp
, south shore @ Lake Isabella, CA

Southwest Walk-In Camp, 6700′ elev @ Lassen Volcanic NP
Squaw Leap Campground, San Joaquin River, Auberry CA
Stillwater Cove Regional Park, N of Fort Ross, Sonoma Coast

Table Mountain Group Camp, Bishop Creek Canyon, Inyo NF

Tahoe National Forest
Donner Area Camping Lakes

NFS 530-265-4531

  • Carr Lake Campground
    10 miles north of Highway 20
    6,700′ elev
    5 walk-in campsites
  • Rucker Lake Campground
    6 miles north of Highway 20
    5,462′ elev
    7 walk-in campsites
  • Sterling Lake Campground
    9 miles north of Interstate 80
    7,000′ elev
    6 walk-in campsites

Toad Lake Walk In Camp, PCT @ Shasta National Forest
Tuolumne Meadows Camp, Yosemite National Park
(reservations & wilderness permits required)

Union Reservoir Walk In Camps, Arnold CA

Union Valley Reservoir – Eldorado National Forest

  • Azalea Cove Campground
  • Fashoda Campground

Van Damme Redwoods State Park, Mendocino Coast

Walker Pass Campground, PCT, East of Lake Isabella CA
Whitney Portal Trailhead Camp, Mount Whitney, Eastern Sierra

Willow Placer Campground BLM, Merced River Recreation Area
Briceburg Yosemite Hwy 140
Woodside Campground, Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast

OnionValleyWalkIns

Walk in campgrounds are considered ‘tent camping‘, as opposed to ‘car camping‘, which is literally camping next to your vehicle. This type of hike-in camping may also be referred to as ‘trailhead camping‘, as many ideal hikes begin at these prime locations. Boat-in, bike-in or hike-in camp sites are also available at some of these locations.

Tulare County Fair

Tulare County

Tulare Fair

Tulare is located in the California Central Valley (the “bread basket”) – so summers can still be quite warm, or should we say HOT, even in September.

Big county fair for this farming region. Agriculture shows, auctions, destruction derby, exhibits, competitions, 4H livestock, parade, rodeo, tractor pull and much more. Don’t miss the delicious Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler Cook-Off and the Tri-Tip Cook-Off. Carnival rides and carnival games too.

Annual event; September

Tulare County Fair Assoc.
620 South K St.
Tulare, CA 93274
559-686-4707

tcfair.org

 

farris wheel

Vallecito – Anza Borrego

Vallecito Park, San Diego Desert

Anza Borrego Desert

Great Overland Stagecoach Route of 1849

East San Diego County Road S2 winds thru the lower passes & washes of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. On the edge of the State Park boundary Vallecito is a small campground & park, but it was a stage coach route in the 1800’s.

California Historic Marker #304

Vallecito

VALLECITO STAGE STOP – A 1934 reconstruction of Vallecito Stage Station (originally built in 1852) on the eastern slopes of the mountains in the high desert. A super important stop on the first official transcontinental route, serving ‘The Jackass Mail‘, the Butterfield Overland Stage Line, and the southern emigrant caravans.

backpacking, birdwatching, camping, cycling, hiking, mountain biking, off roading, stargazing, wildflowers

camp

 

Vallecito Campground
elev. 1555′
camp sites: 44
overnight fee
first come, first serve
reservations accepted
Campfire pits, picnic tables, bathrooms, & historic buildings; 22 sites are tents only. RV 40′ limit; Additional 8 equestrian campsites w/ corrals. No RV hookups, no dump station. No piped water. No gasoline, no store, no amenities. No firewood, no collecting of firewood. No shade trees, just tall desert brush. Arrive adequately prepared for real desert roughin it.

RV

Vallecito Stage Station County Park
760-765-1188
37349 Great Southern Overland Stage Route
County Road S2 @ mile marker 34.7
About 3.5 mi NW of Agua Caliente Hot Springs

Closed during the hottest months of summer: JUNE-AUG. Open seasonally: Labor Day weekend through the fall, winter and spring, up until the last week in May. 

camptruck

see also – Oriflamme Canyon / Mason Valley Truck Trail

muck to stagecoachA neighboring and very rural stage coach stop is further down a long wash, to the south east. Getting there usually requires 4×4, since you must ford a muddy desert wash w/ creek & deep holes. There are no signs out in this sandy desert wash, so you best have a good map and a compass.

The Old Carrizo Stage Station site is accessible by 4 different dirt roads (desert washes) way off the paved highway. None of these are well signed at the highway: Vallecito Creek, Willow Creek near Mountain Palm Springs, Carrizo Creek near Bow Willow, and Canyon sin Nombre.

Agua Caliente, Bow Willow Campground, Canebrake, Sweeney Pass,  the badlands overlook, mud caves and slot canyons are all located south of Vallecito. California SR 78 and Blair Valley are north of Vallecito.

Vallecito Creek

San Diego Desert MapVallecito is located at the apex of the gap in the Carrizo Badlands created by Carrizo Creek and its wash in its lower reach, to which Vallecito Creek is a tributary. Once a seasonal village of the native Kumeyaay people, on a trail across the desert from the Colorado River, this oasis, became a crucial stopping place for Spanish and then Mexican travelers to recover from the desert crossing between Sonora and New Mexico to California. The non native settlement of the site began in 1850, as a camp with a one room sod warehouse as the U.S. Army Depot Vallecito for the supply of Fort Yuma. It was later increased in size and became a store, a stage station, and a ranch house. read more on wiki

find maps for this desert region –

Anza Borrego Desert Map

San Diego Backcountry Map

Cleveland National Forest Atlas

dark skies anza

califrepublic

Another Vallecito, California?

Yep! Small community of about 400 folks in the western Sierra Nevada  foothills. Gold Rush Country, mining region. Up off the Historic 49 and it used to be called Murphy’s Old Diggings.

see Gold Country Maps

Lobster Festival Redondo

Redondo Pier

Redondo Beach Lobster Festival

30 years running, this Redondo Beach event is a hot hit, especially for beach-goers near Los Angeles, California

3 day event held at the Seaside Lagoon next to King Harbor, just north of the Redondo Beach Pier. Live music, entertainment, lobster recipes, celebrity chefs, craft beer, kids activities and vendor booths.

Annual event; October
310-376-6911

REDONDO BEACH California

redondolobsterfestival.com

 

Cracking lobster

Independence Day Celebrations

July 4th in California

Beach Camping
Crowds are common at beaches all summer long.

go somewhere cool this summer

camping lakes

drifters

July 4th marks the busiest summer week in California. It’s mid Summer for most school kids. The golden state has its biggest increase of visiting tourists during this month too, along with the local residents traveling on seasonal road trips. Plenty of traffic, be warned.

Camping July 4th means EVERYBODY and their GRANDMOTHER will be outside this weekend. The majority of big family camp-outs and social BBQ events take place — on this very summer holiday weekend. Backpackers and serious car campers are on the road well ahead of time – headed for wilderness destinations.

Stay away from the biggest campgrounds and tourist traps, unless you are into that. Head for the back country for optimal seclusion, flowing creeks and coolest lakes.

 

 

City Fireworks & Parade Events can be found on various city web sites or chamber of commerce sites, which you can easily access through Total Escape.

California July 4

Fourth of July is also known as Independence Day, with celebrations in almost every major city & some notable small towns. City parades, firework displays, live music, streets fairs, BBQs, crafts, beach bon fires & in certain beach towns, total utter chaos. Below is only a sampling of popular July 4th events within California. Firework shows are so common that we are not listing most of them.

Street Fairs, Rodeos & Festivals on July 4th –

Music Festivals on July 4th –

califrepublic

Independence Parades –

Central Valley Reservoirs

California’s Central Valley Recreational Lakes & Reservoirs

boatingcampingRV campshiking fishing

(listed from north to south)

North State / North Valley / North Sacramento Valleyboatramp

Black Butte Reservoir
Stony Gorge Reservoir
East Park Reservoir
Lake Berryessa
Lake Oroville SRA
Thermalito Afterbay
Thermalito Forebay
New Bullards Bar
Collins Lake

Sunset at the Lake
fishOak foothills of the Historic Gold Country, at the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

  • boating
  • canoe
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • houseboats
  • kayaking
  • wildflowers

Most Central Valley Reservoirs have blooming wildflowers in early springtime. Summer heat can measure triple digits for months as most of these lakes are located below 1000′ elevation.

Central Sacramento & California Delta

Trimmer Boat Ramp
Trimmer Boat Ramp @ Pine Flat

Central Valley / San Joaquin Valley

Lake Amador
Lake Camanche
Pardee Reservoir
New Hogan Lake
New Melones Lake
Woodward Reservoir
Salt Spring Valley Reservoir
Lake Tulloch
Don Pedro Lake
Turlock Lake SRA
Modesto Reservoir
Lake McClure
San Luis Reservoir SRA
Eastman Lake
Hensley Lake
Woodward Reservoir
Millerton Lake SRA
Redinger Lake
Pine Flat Reservoir
Lake Kaweah
Lake Success
Buena Vista Reservoir

Walk-In Camp Site at Lake
Walk-In Camp Site at New Melones Lake, Gold Co

Kaweah Sequoia Sierra
Lake Kaweah, near Mineral King & Southern Sequoia NP

California Eclipse

Moon Eclipse

The Blood Moon

Solar Eclipse & Lunar Eclipse

Eclipse schedule, as seen from California

Make plans for your nights spent camping out, under the stars, watching the celestial events and meteor showers. Comfortable: Hat, blanket, radio. Hot cocoa and sugary treats will help keep you awake and alert.

Next Solar Eclipse, 2024

April 8, 2024 — Great North American Eclipse
(see more info)

faceshield

stars

Upcoming Lunar Eclipse

2021 Lunar Eclipses

 

May 26: “Blood moon” total lunar eclipse

Across western North America you will be able to witness the moon blush red as it undergoes a total lunar eclipse. This dramatic astronomical event happens when the sun, Earth, and moon are precisely aligned so that our planet’s shadow completely blankets the moon’s face. (see more info)

orange, red or amber colored moon
A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a Blood Moon, because of the reddish tinge the Full Moon takes on when fully eclipsed.

November 19: Partial lunar eclipse

Last lunar eclipse of the year will greet sky watchers across North and South America. Technically a partial eclipse, up to 95 percent of the full moon will be cast within Earth’s dark shadow. During the maximum phase, it should briefly appear as a total eclipse, which means the lunar disk may show hints of orange or red. (see more info)

moonfire

best places to watch the skies

 The California Deserts are sometimes the best place to watch the nights sky, unless the winds are kicking up. Deserts are warmer than other locations and if you position yourself well you can be far from any city lights.

The California Foothills, both coastal foothills or mountain foothills – are the second best choice, if you can drive up canyons and get well away from the sprawling suburbs. Choice spots would be ridges above 2000′ elevation, with minimal trees. Oak foothills are choice spots. Higher than 4000′ and you will be chillin overnight.

The California Mountains are the prime choice for summertime recreation of all kinds. Primitive camping on the back roads will save you fees at a developed campground. The higher in altitude, the less atmosphere above you – the better night sky viewing is above. Choose a meadow or mountain ridge w/ minimal trees. Burn areas provide wide open spots, so you can seek old wildfire ridges. Nights can get pretty chilly most all year long, so go well prepared. Jackets, gloves, hats and all. Keep all campfires to a bare minimum after 9pm, so you can focus on the stars in the sky.

your pupils will welcome the dark skies

The California Coast is often covered with a thick layer of clouds and moisture, so star gazing along the ocean front is not always great. Central Coast and NorCal beaches have less less population, so these would be the ideal locations. Choose an inland valley w/ rolling oak hills and dirt roads, over the busy beaches. There might be clear days and nights, especially if forecast call for heat – check the local weather forecast for accurate up to date conditions.

Large urban areas, the cities and towns of California are the worst place you can sky watch, due to light pollution, traffic and smog. Drive to the outskirts of town – pick a dark location, a park, open space or forest lands nearby. Arrive before dark to get the best spots, well off the main road. Choose viewing spots without street lights and without passing traffic. Find a nice level spot to set chairs up and bring lots of snacks.

Stargazing California

How to watch a meteor shower

Follow YouTubeYoutube
SuspiciousObservers

moonrise


Balch Park

Balch Park / Sequoia Park

Balch Park Campground

BALCH PARK campground is on a first come basis; no campground reservations needed.

2021 – THIS CAMPGROUND IS CLOSED indefinitely,
due to the Castle Fire 2020

Balch Park open May to October
Park info # 559 539-3896

Hedrick Pond lined w/ Sequoia trees

Balch County Park is right in the middle of Mountain Home State Forest, which is within the bigger Sequoia National Forest (aka Giant Sequoia National Monument). But don’t let all the bureaucracy mislead you, this is an ideal park and location, well worth your trip. The campground is the most developed one within the area – with paved roads, RV spaces, flush toilets and a fee to go along with all that. Even gotta fishing pond.

  • Bears are a big deal in these neck of the woods. Please store all your food properly to avoid a un-welcomed visitor
  • A Sequoia Grove is nearby with plenty of creeks & meadows.
  • Trailers not recommended due to the long curvy road leading up the mountain.

Balch Park & Campground NOT TO BE CONFUSED with utility company residences of BALCH CAMP between Pine Flat & Blackrock Reservoirs


View Larger Map

Helpful Maps:

Nearby cities & towns:

campground elev. spots veg toilet water fee
Balch Park
559-539-3896
6500′ 71 pines flush piped yes no reservations
first come basis

DSCN0021

Hidden Falls Campground

waterfall hidden
Hidden waterfall is tucked inside a cove of granite, at the far end of the parking lot.

 

2021 – THIS CAMPGROUND IS CLOSED indefinitely,
due to the Castle Fire 2020

Hidden Falls Campground
Middle North Fork of Tule River

Northside of Western Divide Highway 190, near Springville, CA

Mountain Home State Forest
559-539-2321 summer
559-539-2855 winter

Located right on the middle north fork of the Tule River

Inside an unknown area called Mountain Home State Forest, this small campground has a few spots that fill up quickly on weekends and at anytime during in the summer months. Campground closes seasonally, for winter snow.

Usually open: MAY-OCT

HIDDEN FALLS CAMPGROUND camping

Elevation: 6,150′
Number of Sites: 8 walk-in camp sites
Reservations: No
Sites Available: First come, First serve
Vehicle Accessibility: 20′ max.
Length of Stay: 14 Days
Water: River nearby
Toilet: Vault
Bear Boxes: Yes
Season: Closed for winter
Fee: Yes
Operated By: National Forest Service
Closest Town: Springville, California

tent camping on river

Motorhome RV campers beware; no hook-ups, no paved roads.  This is a primitive style camp, way back on a dirt road – not suitable for large vehicles.

NOTE $ This used to be one of our favorite FREE spots, but they recently started charging an overnight fee for this campground.

viewsfromcamp
Views from Camp
  • hikerbike
  • camp
  • fish
  • hike
  • picnic
  • stargaze

Golden Trout Wilderness trailheads nearby. Plenty of hiking opportunities, great scenery and several Sequoia groves to visit.Mountain biking is allowed on the dirt roads. Single track trails may be overgrown or even off-limits, due to the fragile eco-system around Sequoia trees.

You may actually love this little camp so much, you won’t want to go anywhere else. How ’bout just chillin out: relaxing near the water. Shady swimming holes. Fishing in the Tule River.

Pack a picnic: Back road exploration is a great day trip, for there are many dirt roads weaving in and around this park, near the Giant Sequoia.

Tule River, South Fork
Tule River, North Fork

SEQUOIA_mapHidden Falls is accessible via a long, narrow, paved mountain road; then a dirt road, leading 3 miles back to two very secluded campgrounds: this one & neighboring Moses Gulch Campground.

western south sierra

North of Springville on Highway 190, turn left (north) on to J37, some call it  Balch Park Road (Google Maps has it as Wagner Drive) and follow it up 3.5 miles to Bear Creek Road (#220). Drive 17.5 miles on curvy Bear Creek Road, turn right and follow signs to campground.

saabaru_forest

San Diego Camping

Anza Backroads

Cleveland National Forest Camping – San Diego Campgrounds – Desert Camping Anza Borrego – SD County Campgrounds – BLM Campgrounds – San Diego Beach Camping – San Diego Mountains

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Bobcat Meadow 3800′ 16 oaks vault no no RVs
Burnt Rancheria 5000′ 100+ pines vault piped Sunrise Hwy
Cibbets Flats 4200′ 23 oaks vault piped Interstate 8
Corral Canyon 3500′ 20 oaks vault piped OHV near I-8
Dripping Springs 1800′ 26 oaks vault piped Hwy 79, E Temecula
El Cariso North 2600′ 24 oaks vault piped small RV
Fry Creek Campground 4900′ 20 oaks vault piped Palomar Mountain
Indian Flats Campground 3600′ 17 oaks vault piped off Hwy 79
Laguna Mountain 5500′ 75 pines vault piped Sunrise Hwy
Palomar SP Campground 7000′ 13 pines vault piped Palomar Mountain

Anza Camping

Anza Borrego Desert Camping & Campgrounds

Desert Mountain Biking Open Camping Stargazing Hiking

San Diego County Campgrounds

Sweetwater Reservoir, Otay Lakes, Agua Caliente, Vallecito
Camping Reservations 877-565-3600 or 858-565-3600

Camping

Bureau of Land Management

San Diego BLM Camping

Lark Canyon, Cottonwood @ McCain Valley near Interstate 8
El Centro Desert OHV, Hot Springs, Colorado River

Coastal Cliffs San Diego

San Diego Beach Camping

Coastal Towns with Camping near San Diego –

Chula Vista
Coronado
San Diego
Mission Beach & Bay
Del Mar
Cardiff
Carlsbad
Oceanside

Indian Flats Campground

Indian Flats Campground is located on a dirt road off Hwy 79, near Warner Springs CA. Boulder ridges & manzanita surround this oak filled secluded canyon. Small seasonal creek & waterfall is a short walk from campsite.

Los Coyotes Campground is a tribal camp, located on Hot Spring Mountain in North San Diego County. High desert chaparral, oak groves and boulders.

Free Camping
Anza Borrego Desert by far has the best free camping options available near San Diego.

Maps Mountains / Desert Topo / San Diego Area Maps

Cool Places to See in Cali

Cool Places in California

Off the Beaten Path
inside California

California Day Trips

 

58 counties
58 Counties in Calif
poppy desert
California Poppy Park

MUSEUMS: County museums, gardens and small town historical societies can be found linked on the individual town pages.

tejonpass
Tejon Pass (1991) Cristo Umbrellas

califrepublic

Shopping Tourists
tourist attractions and vacations

Hearst Castle

California National Parks
California National Forests
California Rivers
California State Parks

Carlsbad Flower Fields
North county San Diego annual bloom event every Spring (March & April)

Covered Bridges of California

Gilroy Garlic Capital

Hearst Castle
Central Coast rural and rugged coastline, south of Big Sur, California. Very touristy destination; Tickets for tours required.

Central Coast California
San Simeon SP. Central Coast of California

minerdude

Historical Re-Enactments @ Riley’s Farm
A real working apple orchard near Los Angeles; offering living history programs; re-enactments of scenes from the American Revolution, Civil War & Old West. Dinner, holiday shows, restaurant & tavern.

Lake List of California

McWay Falls on Big Sur Coast

Monterey Bay Aquarium
This is the premier ocean museum and largest tanks on the California Coast.

Mystery Spot
Defy gravity, geological puzzling; Interstate 236 Santa Cruz coastal redwoods

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Winchester Mystery House
6 acre, 160 room 45 million dollar Victorian mansion with bizarre architectural features

Oregon City Bridge

edwards crossing
Edwards Crossing 1898
Subway Cave California
Subway Cave California

Northern California Mountains

Mountains of Northern California / NorCal Mountain

California sure has a lot of mountains. West Coast land is home to the tallest Sierra Nevada range, plus the Cascade range, which extends northwards to Canada. (Many of which have volcanic peaks.)

We break down all the mountainous regions in the north part of the state below w/ links, topo maps, lakes, rivers, wilderness, parks and forests. Small towns & cities are linked in red.

sacramento river
Sacramento River, above Lake Shasta

North Coast Mountains

canoeRedwood forests and rivers are what make up most of the Northwest part of California, just below the Oregon coast. Logging and fishing are the big industries up here. Lumber mill towns and camps still exists today. Wilderness areas, dirt back roads, river kayaking, stream fishing, camping and real wild indians. Oh yeah, and Big Foot!

The landscape in more dramatic along the North Coast of California, as the steep rocky terrain tumbles into the sea w/ the San Andreas fault running parallel to the shore. Marine life, rocky shores w/ small towns. Del Norte County & Humboldt County. Wild rainy weather, at least half the year; fog and sun the other half.

Six River National Forest

California towns near Redwoods & Mountains:

NorCal California

the North State

fishThe furthest north is Siskiyou County, which borders the state of Oregon. We have the Klamath River flowing south into California, with plenty of mountain peaks, forests and wilderness. Interstate 5, Highway 3 and Highway 96

Pacific Crest Trail passes through the area and backpacking is common (all year long). Notable spots – Klamath Knot and The Eddy’s. Prominent Mount Shasta is actually situated inside Siskiyou County, not Shasta.

Klamath National Forest

California towns near Klamath Mountains:

NorCal California

shasta

Shasta Trinity Mountains

Giant Mount Shasta is located inside Siskiyou County, and Shasta County & Trinity is everything located to the south of it. Interstate 5, Highway 3 and Highway 299. Recreational lakes, rivers and streams, and off roading trails.hiker

Waterfalls, hot springs, mountain biking and stream fishing can be found within this region. Mining history and museums are primarily situated around Weaverville. Houseboats and boat rentals can be found on the big reservoirs. Whiskeytown was totally toasted in wildfire of 2018. Alpine lakes, granite spires, campgrounds and cavern tours, all located along the Interstate 5 corridor.

Shasta Trinity National Forest

California towns near Trinity Alps & Shasta Forest:

Lee Fong Park
Beautiful park setting @ Lee Fong Park, in historic Weaverville, CA
River Beach Campground
Trinity River Camping, Douglas City, CA

Mendocino Mountains

dirtbikesCoastal mountains located above the Napa & Sonoma wine country. US 101 & Highway 20. Rivers, forests, wilderness and redwoods is the key terrain that make up the Mendocino County mountains.

There is a fair amount of off road trails and dirt roads located in and around Mendocino, so you can expect to see 4x4s, dirt bikes and toy haulers on the east side of the mountain range. The coastal side of the Mendo National Forest will have the rivers and redwood parks.

Mendocino National Forest

California towns near Mendocino Mountains:

Spring Fouts Mendo
Fouts Springs Camping OHV

Plumas Mountains

pctNorthern Sierra Nevada mountains is where the granite rock of the Sierra meets to volcanic rock of Lassen Volcano.  Butte County and Plumas County is the Feather River drainage, all flowing south from Mount Lassen.

Pacific Crest Trail is routed through Bucks Lake Wilderness and the Feather River Canyon, so backpacking is popular. Highway 70

Plumas National Forest

California towns around the Plumas Mountains:

goldshore
Mini Gold Lake, near Silver Lake @ Bucks

Lassen Mountains

snowmoTechnically speaking, the Susan River is the top waterway of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Lassen County spans the distance from the Nevada state line, west to Plumas forest and the Feather Rivers (all 4 forks).

Lassen Peak is the middle of the National Park and the National Forest totally surrounds that. Numerous lakes, hiking trails, wilderness areas and dirt roads make up this huge forested area. Snow-mobiling is popular in winter months around the town of Chester.

Lassen National Forest

California towns around the Lassen Mountains:

nlassen
Camping N Lassen

Northeast California

The far northeast corner of the golden state is the remote cattle range lands of Modoc Country inside Modoc County. Drier than the rest of NorCal, the high desert sage brush meadows, a few lakes and pine forest mountains. Highway 299 & US 395

Modoc National Forest

California towns near Modoc Mountains:

mill creek falls
Mill Creek Falls in Modoc

Camping Near Yosemite

Yosemite Lake View Camp Sites

Camp Near Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is a top destination, all year long. California masses converge on the sacred valley each summer, so expect more as the buses keep rolling in. Plan a Yosemite trip before Memorial Day weekend – or after Labor Day weekend, for less people.

Camping close to Yosemite National Park without being inside the park boundaries. The scenery and wildness doesn’t stop in the back country. There are numerous National Forests surrounding the popular National Park, so much public land has been set aside for these recreation purposes. Granite-lined mountain meadows, dense forests, raging creeks, wildlife and real seclusion. Plenty of great paved back roads, dirt roads and camping options in the Sierra Nevada.

CAMP OUTSIDE YOSEMITE NP, WHY?

No campground reservations needed, cheaper fees (or free), less crowds, less noise. More freedom, more privacy, more nature.

pinetree

Hundreds of developed, small campgrounds can be found around Yosemite. A few private RV resorts, cabin rentals, lodging on the main highways. Primitive style camping is considered “camping outside of developed campgrounds”. USDA National Forests usually allows open-camping within the forest boundary – with a required camp fire permit. Sometimes wildfire danger is too extreme, so they often ban campfires in dry conditions.

YOSEMITE: SOUTH @ HWY 41

SIERRA NF @ Fish Camp, CA

East side of CA SR 41:camptruck

West side of CA SR 41:camp

Lakes & Camping West of Yosemite NP:
Sierra National Forest

all Lakes near Yosemite

niruatjackass
Jackass Meadow
Granite Creek
Granite Creek Campground NFS

YOSEMITE: WEST @ Highway 140

Camping near CA SR 140

Gold Country @ Mariposa, CA

boatrampGold Country Foothills – listed below are valley reservoirs. Oaks, dry hills, which can can be super hot in summer. Boating, camping and water recreation can be found at most Reservoirs, out in these parts.

camping

YOSEMITE: WEST Highway 120

Camping near CA SR 120NFSlogo

North side of CA SR 120:

highmeadowstentsatlake

See all Lakes near Yosemite Park

lakes near Yosemite hiking

YOSEMITE: EAST Highway 120

Tioga Pass on Hwy 120 (elevation 9410′) is only open during summer months. Generally June through October. Always check road conditions before your trip.

hiker

Camping Hiking Lakes @ Tioga
Very high elevation meadows, aspen groves, snowmelt lakes. Just east of Yosemite National Park border, near the EAST GATE, inside Inyo National Forest

leeviningcamps

Lee Vining Canyon @ US 395,
10 steep miles, 
EAST of Yosemite border @ Tioga Pass
Inyo National Forest

  • Cattleguard Campground
  • Moraine Campground
  • Boulder Campground
  • Aspen Grove Campground
  • Big Bend Campground
leeviningvalley
lee vining canyon

Mono Maloy

MONO LAKE, CALIFORNIA

California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

Lupine Drive

Rules of the Meadow

Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

No driving on meadows. No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

4x4Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires across the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading. You’re not spreading the seeds, you’re destroying a fragile ecosystem.

Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas. Fences also help keep the wandering public out of private lands or sensitive areas.

hikerWhen hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

Snow Mobiling

highmeadows

meadow views

6N06 – Stanislaus NF

graded road

Forest Rd #6N06 – County Line Road, Fence Creek, Stanislaus National Forest

Central Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
N of Hwy 108; W of Sonora Pass

On the very edge of wilderness
Stanislaus National Forest
County Line Road
Fence Creek Campground (NFS)

Graded dirt road near Clarks Fork junction @ SR 108. Dirt road travels up into forest, hiking trails and meadows; South side of the volcanic Dardanelles @ Tuolumne Co. & Alpine Co. boundary

Carson Iceberg Map

County Line Trailhead
Wheats Meadow Trailhead
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area
The Dardanelles (9524′ elev)

Clark Fork, Middle Stanislaus River

Topo Maps of this Region:

Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map USDA
Carson, Emigrant, Mokelumne Map NatGeo
Sierra Nevada Topo Map

hiker

  • backpacker access
  • day hiking
  • horse camping
  • primitive camping
  • trailhead camping

winter road closure, annually
check with local rangers on road access and conditions.

Rd# 6N06, climbs to mountain scenery at upper elevations, well of the main highway. Route is a 2-lane wide road at times, narrower and private towards the end of roads; several dirt roads, overgrown 2 tracks w/ many camp sites to choose from. Dispersed primitive camping requires a camp fire permit.

6N06rd

OHV off-roaders will only find dead ends on dirt route 6N06. NO motorized access in nearby wilderness. Wheelers should try south of Highway 108 @ Niagra Campgrounds; Niagra Off Road #5N01 for all the noise-makers, gear heads, dirt bikes, and toy boxes. Niagra Creek, Niagra OHV, Niagra 4×4.

dirtbikes

nearest towns:

Dardanelle
Pinecrest Lake
Twain Harte

volcano mdws

Taylorsville Campground

northvalleycurves

Taylorsville Campground

at Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada mountainscampfire

also known as –
Taylorsville County Campground
Taylorsville Community Campground
Taylorsville Park Campground

sepiacampBeautiful North Sierra Nevada. The rural country life is out here… in the mountains of NorthernCal. Cattle ranches, a few sheep, grazing deer, big old barns, bike races and much residential. Taylorsville is a very small town, on the edge of the Indian Valley. Right across the valley from Greenville and Round Valley Reservoir.

All surrounded by Plumas National Forest

campTaylorsville Park Campground

elevation: 3200′
camp sites: 32
piped water near camp: yes
toilets: flush
showers: yes
fee: yes
season: May-October

walktotown
Easy Walk to Town – Taylorsville, CA

The wooded campground is located at the intersection of North Valley Road, Genesee Rd and Arlington Rd –  a few miles off the main highway 89.

Looking for a quiet place to tent camp in between Quincy & Greenville? then this is it. The best developed campground option in the whole region. Closed for winter months – cuz it does snow pretty good up here.

grillsurface

This shaded tent campground loop is on a hillside; across the street from the small rodeo grounds, the community park w/ picnic areas, tennis courts and a small RV park. Campground host located behind the bathrooms.

Nearest local laundromat in nearby Greenville, behind the main grocery market.

showers

bathing… would be nice

Flush toilets and showers, affordable overnight prices, plus ideal walking-hiking-biking location make this a special campground worth mentioning!

  • walk to townhiker
  • mountain biking
  • cycling
  • hiking
  • tennis

taylorsvillecamp

towns nearby:fish

maps of the region:

 

northvalleyrd600


All Lake Campgrounds

davisatsunset

California Lakes A-Z

alphabetically listed; cross reference by lake or campground name. reservations may be accepted for certain locations; follow links.

Developed Lake Campgrounds
inside California

lake campgrounds

lakes mountains foothills camp  boating fishing hiking State Parks NFS

Most of the lake campgrounds listed below are traditional style campgrounds with easy access: paved driveways, toilets, tables, maybe piped water. Various agencies manage these park campsites and additional links are provided.

Some of the campgrounds may be more primitive than others, with long dirt road access, gravel driveways, and minimal facilities. This list includes a wide range of lakes, from reservable group camps, to private RV resorts to back road beauties. Even a few campgrounds without fees!

Higher elevation locations close-up for the seasonal winter snow, which can last from NOV-MAY (or later, depending on snowmelt).

  • no motor boats?
  • no RVs?
  • wilderness lake fishing?
  • trailhead access?

Each lake camp is different, so know what is available at the location before you get out there. Many spots do not have a boat ramp. Some lakes do not allow swimming. Some might be 4×4 access only, w/ hairy granite rock road, 12 miles long. If you require a general store within walking distance, then get the maps out, follow links and make sure.

ACORN CAMPGROUND
New Hogan Lake, Valley Springs, Stockton CA

ALMANOR CAMPGROUND
Lake Almanor, Westwood, Chester, California

ANTELOPE LAKE – Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

Anthony Chabot Park
Lake Chabot Campground

East Bay San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, CA

ANTLERS RV CAMPGROUND
Lake Shasta, Lakehead, O’Brien CA, Interstate 5

ASPEN GROUP CAMP
Jackson Meadow Reservoir, Tahoe NF, Truckee, California

ASPEN GROVE CAMPGROUND NFS
Eagle Lake, Lassen NF, Susanville, California

ASPEN HOLLOW GROUP CAMP NFS
Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Park, Hume Lake

AUBURN SRA BOAT-IN CAMPING State Park
Auburn State Recreation Area, Gold Country
Folsom Lake, American Arm, Auburn, CA

lakes

BAILEY COVE CAMPGROUND
Lake Shasta, California

BASS LAKE – Sierra National Forest, South of Yosemite NP NFS

BEAR RIVER GROUP CAMP
Lower Bear Reservoir, Eldorado National Forest

BENBOW LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA State Park
Mendocino Benbow Lake, NorCal Redwoods US 101

BERGER CAMPGROUND NFS
Packer Lake @ Lakes Basin Recreation Area, Yuba River, North Gold Country California; Sierra City, Downieville CA

BIG COVE CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Feather River, Plumas NF, Portola CA

BIG SILVER GROUP CAMP
Union Valley Reservoir, US Hwy 50, Placerville, Gold Country

BLACK BUTTE LAKE – North Sac Valley, NorCal

BLACK OAK CAMPGROUNDNFS
Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, Eldorado NF
East of Georgetown, CA

BLACKROCK RESERVOIR
North fork of Kings River, Sierra NF
Western Sierra Nevada

BLUE LAKES, South of Lake Tahoe
PGE Campgrounds @ Carson Pass, Hwy 88

  • Blue Lake Dam
  • Lower Blue Lake Campground
  • Middle Creek Campground
  • Upper Blue Lake Campground

BLUE LAKE DISPERSED CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
PGE Campground, first come
4×4 roads and hike-in access only jeep30 hike

BOCA RESERVOIR – Tahoe NF, Truckee, California NFS

BOULDER GULCH CAMPGROUND NFS
Kern Canyon, Lake Isabella, California

BOWMAN LAKE (5665′ elev)
Tahoe National Forest, N of Donner Pass

  • BOWMAN LAKE CAMPGROUND

BRANNAN ISLAND STATE RECREATION AREA State Park
Sacramento River @ California Delta, Lodi CA

Indian Rock Beach, Bucks Lake California

BUCKS LAKE – North Sierra, Plumas National Forest

BURNEY FALLS STATE PARK CAMPGROUND State Park
Lake Britton SRA, Burney, California

BUSHAY CAMPGROUND
Lake Mendocino, California

coolsprings

BUTT VALLEY Reservoir – PG&E Campgrounds
West of Lake Almanor

BUTTE LAKE – Lassen Volcanic National Park NPS

  • BUTTE LAKE CAMPGROUND
  • BUTTE LAKE GROUP CAMP
  • BUTTE LAKE STOCK CORRALhorses

lakes

CARR LAKE CAMPGROUND
North of Donner Pass, Tahoe NF
hike-in camp sites

Castaic Lake RV Park
North Los Angeles County, Castiac, CA Interstate 5

CHEKAKA CAMPGROUND
Lake Mendocino, Wine Country California, US Hwy 101

CHERRY LAKE (wildfire 2013)
West of Yosemite NP

  • CHERRY VALLEY CAMPGROUND

CHILCOOT CAMPGROUND
South of Frenchman Lake, East Plumas NF, Feather River, Portola CA

Chowchilla Recreation Area
Eastman Lake, Central Valley, Fresno CA

CHRISTIE CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake, south shore; Plumas NF, Susanville, California

CLEAR LAKE SP – Wine Country, California State Park

CODORNIZ RECREATION AREA
Eastman Lake, San Joaquin Valley, Central Valley

COLLEGE CAMPGROUND NFS
Huntington Lake, Western Sierra Nevada

CONVICT LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
Eastern Sierra, US Hwy 395, Mammoth Lakes

COTTONWOOD SPRINGS CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Feather River, North Sierra Nevada

COURTRIGHT RESERVOIR hikesNFS
Le Conte Divide, John Muir Wilderness
Sierra NF, Western Sierra Nevada

CROWLEY LAKE
Eastern Sierra, South of Mammoth Lakes

CRYSTAL LAKE
Angeles National Forest, Azusa, CA

lakes

DE VALLE LAKE SRA
Central Valley Reservoir

D.L. BLISS SP State Park
DL BLISS CAMPGROUND
DL Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe, California

DINKEY CREEK
Dinkey Creek CA; near Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Area
Sierra NF, south of Shaver Lake CA

DONNER STATE PARK State Park
Donner Lake, Sierra Nevada, Donner Pass
, Tahoe NF, Truckee, CA

  • Donner Memorial State Park Campground

lakes

EAGLE LAKE – Lassen NF, Susanville, California

EASTMAN LAKE – California Central Valley, Fresno CA

CAMP EDISON @ SHAVER
EDISON CAMPGROUND
California Edison Campground
@ Shaver Lake, CA, Western Sierra

ELLERY CREEK
McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake, California

EMERALD BAY SP State Park
South Lake Tahoe California

lakes

FALLEN LEAF CAMPGROUND 
South Lake Tahoe California

FASHODA CAMPGROUND NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, Mid-Sierra, ElDorado NF

FAUCHERIE GROUP CAMP
Faucherie Lake, Donner Pass Area, Tahoe NF,  Truckee, California

FAWN CAMPGROUND
Trinity Alps Highway 3, NorCal, Trinity Lake CA

FIR COVE CAMPGROUND NFS
Ruth Lake, Mad River CA @ Hwy 36, Six River NF

FISH LAKE CAMPGROUND
Hwy 96, Six River National Forest, Orleans CA

Florence Lake Picnic

FLORENCE LAKE
Sierra National Forest

  • JACKASS MEADOW CAMPGROUND

FOLSOM LAKE SRA State Park
Folsom State Recreation Area, Sacramento CA

FORKS CAMPGROUND
Bass Lake, Sierra NF, South Yosemite

FREMONT CAMPGROUND
near Lake CachumaSanta Barbara Camping

FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR – American River

  • LEWIS CAMPGROUND

FRENCHMAN LAKE – Plumas NF, Feather River, Portola CA

FULLER LAKE
Donner Pass, Tahoe NF
No more Campground; Day Use Only
see – RUCKER LAKE for camping

lakes

GLORY HOLE RECREATION AREA
GLORY HOLE CAMPGROUND

New Melones Reservoir
Angels Camp, California Gold Country

GOLD LAKE, CALIFORNIA
Lakes Basin Recaretion Area, Northern Sierra

GREEN VALLEY CAMPGROUND NFS
Green Valley Lake, Big Bear Lake Area, San Bernardino NF

GRIZZLY CAMPGROUND
Lake Davis, Plumas National Forest, Portola CA

lakes

LAKE HAVASU
Colorado River @ California – Arizona border

HAYWARD FLAT
Trinity Lake, NorCal Highway 3, Weaverville CA

LAKE HEMET
Idyllwild, CA – RV Camping, Southern California

HETCH HETCHY RESERVOIR
NPS Campground, West of Yosemite NP

HIGHLANDS LAKES
Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4, Sierra Nevada

HORSE CREEK
Lake Kaweah, South Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers CA

HUME LAKE – Kings Canyon & Sequoia NP, Hume Lake

HUNGRY GULCH CAMPGROUND NFS
Lake Isabella, Kern River, Kernville CA

HUNTINGTON LAKE – Western Sierra Nevada NFS

HUTCHINS CAMPGROUND
Bucks Lake, CA, Plumas National Forest

Bucks Lake Campgrounds

lakes

ICE HOUSE CAMPGROUNDNFS
Ice House Reservoir, US Hwy 50, El Dorado NF

INDEPENDENCE LAKE 6949′
N of Donner Pass; N of Truckee, CA

  • INDEPENDENCE LAKE CAMPGROUND

ISLAND PARK CAMPGROUND
Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River, Sierra NF

JACKSON FLAT GROUP CAMPNFS
Jackson Lake, Angeles NF, Wrightwood CA

jacksoncreek
Jackson Creek Campground, Bowman Lake. N Donner Pass, Interstate 80

JACKSON MEADOWS Reservoir – Tahoe NF, Truckee

  • ASPEN GROUP CAMP
  • EAST MEADOW CAMPGROUND
  • FINDLEY CAMPGROUND
  • FIR TOP CAMPGROUND
  • JACKSON POINT
  • PASS CREEK CAMP
  • WOODCAMP

JUANITA LAKE GROUP CAMP
near Butte Valley Wildlife Area, Klamath NF, Weed CA

JUNE LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
June Lake Loop, Hwy 158, June Lake, CA Eastern Sierra

JUNIPER LAKE – Lassen Volcanic NP NPS

  • JUNIPER LAKE GROUP CAMP
  • JUNIPER LAKE STOCK CORRAL
    Equestrian Camping

Lassen Lakes

KASPIAN CAMPGROUND
hiking trail to Barker Peak @ Lake Tahoe CA

LAKE KAWEAH
just outside Sequoia NP, Three Rivers, CA

KIDD LAKE GROUP CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass @ Soda Springs, CA
kayak, canoe, hike-in camp sites

KINGS BEACH SRA
State Recreation Area Lake Tahoe CA

lakes

LAKE ALMANOR – Northern Sierra Nevada

LAKE BERRYESSA – Wine Country California

  • OAK SHORES CAMPGROUND

LAKE BRITTON  Burney Falls Park State Park

LAKE CACHUMA – Santa Barbara Mountains NFS

LAKE DAVIS – Plumas National Forest, Portola, CA bike

LAKE EDISON – Sierra NF, John Muir Wilderness hikes

LAKE ISABELLA – Kern River, South Sierra Nevada NFS

LAKE MENDOCINO – North Wine Country CA, US Hwy 101

LAKE MOJAVE
Lake Mohave National Recreation Area
Colorado River 4×4 Camping, AZ, CA, NV

LAKE OROVILLE SRA State Park
Oroville Lake State Recreation Area
Loafer Creek, Equestrian Camp, Feather River Oroville CA

LAKE PERRIS SRA State Park
Inland Empire, Southern California

LAKE PILLSBURY
Mendocino NF, N of Ukiah, CA

  • Fuller Grove Campground (currently closed)
  • Oak Flat Creek Campground (currently closed)
  • Poigie Point Campground (currently closed)
  • Sunset Campground (currently closed)
  • Trout Creek Campground (currently closed)

LAKE SONOMA – Wine Country California, Geyserville

LAKE SPAULDING
PG&E Campground, Donner Pass, Interstate 80

tahoe emerald bay
The Gem of the Sierra Nevada – Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE – Sierra Nevada Mountains State Park NFS

LAKE VALLEY Reservoir 
Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

  • LODGEPOLE CAMPGROUND

LAKES BASIN CAMPGROUND NFS
Lakes Basin Recreation Area, North Gold Country

LAKESHORE EAST
Shasta Lake, Northern California

LAKESIDE CAMPGROUND NFS
Prosser Reservoir, OHV Camping, Truckee, California

LEWIS CAMPGROUND
French Meadows Reservoir, American River, W of Lake Tahoe

LIBERTY GLEN CAMPGROUND
Lake Sonoma, Wine Country California

Lake Davis Trails
Lake Davis Trails – hike, bike, horseback

LIGHTNING TREE CAMPGROUND NFS
Lake Davis, Plumas National Forest, Susanville, California

LINDSEY LAKE CAMPGROUND
North of i80 Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

LODGEPOLE CAMPGROUND
Lake Valley Reservoir 
i80 Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

LOGGER FLAT CAMPGROUND
near Hume Lake, near Sequoia & Kings National Parks NPS

LONE ROCK NFS
Antelope Lake, Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

LONG POINT NFS
Antelope Lake, Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

LOON LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
ElDorado NF High Country, Georgetown, CA

LOON LAKE CHALET NFS
ElDorado NF High Country, Georgetown, CA

LOS ALAMOS CAMPGROUND
Pyramid Lake, North Los Angeles, Interstate 5
(no campgrounds on the lakeshore)

LOWER TWIN LAKES NFS
Twin Lakes CA, BRIDGEPORT, Eastern Sierra

LUNDY LAKE CAMPGROUND
Eastern Sierra, East of Yosemite NP

LUPINE CAMPGROUNDNFS
Bass Lake, Sierra NF, South Yosemite

lakes

MAMMOTH POOL RESERVOIR Sierra NF, South of Yosemite NP

MANZANITA LAKE – Lassen Volcanic NP NPS

MARY SMITH CAMPGROUND
Lewiston Lake, Trinity River, Lewiston CA

MEADOW LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, Truckee, CA
PGE Campground, high clearance vehicles only

MEEKS BAY CAMPGROUND
Lake Tahoe California, west shore

LAKE MENDOCINO
Lake Campground Mendocino, Ukiah CA, US Hwy 101

MERRILL CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake Recreation Area, Susanville CA

MESA CAMPGROUND
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, Cajon Pass L.A.

MILLERTON LAKE SRA State Park
Millerton Lake Campground, Fresno CA

MODESTO RESERVOIR REGIONAL PARK
Western Sierra Foothills, Modesto, Merced, Central Valley

MONO LAKE, CALIFORNIA
Eastern Sierra, US Hwy 395 @ Lee Vining, CA

lakes

NELSON POINT
Shasta Lake, Northern California

NEVADA BEACH CAMPGROUND
Lake Tahoe, south shore @ Nevada state line, US Hwy 50

bullards bar California
Bullards Bar, Sierra Nevada Mountains
Dark Day Campground, Bullards Bar

NEW BULLARDS BAR RESERVOIR
Hwy 49, North Gold Country

NEW HOGAN LAKE – Valley Springs, Gold Country

NEW MELONES Reservoir – Angels Camp, Gold Country

NORTH FORK CAMPGROUND
Bass Lake, Sierra National Forest, Yosemite South

NORTH SHORE
Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino National Forest

lakes

OAK KNOLL CAMPGROUND
New Hogan Reservoir, San Andreas, Gold Country

OAK SHORES
Lake Berryessa, RV Camping in Wine Country

OH RIDGE
June Lake, California, Eastern Sierra

June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra
June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

lakes

PACKER LAKE
North Sierra Nevada, Lakes Basin Recreation Area

  • Berger Campground
  • Packsaddle Campground

PAHA CAMPGROUND
Twin Lakes, Bridgeport CA, Eastern Sierra

PARADISE COVE
Lake Isabella, Kern River California

LAKE PILLSBURY
Mendocino National Forest, N of Ukiah, CA

PINECREST LAKE
Sonora Pass, Hwy 108, Stanislaus National Forest

PINE FLAT RESERVOIR Kings River, Sierra NF

PINE POINT
Shasta Lake, Shasta National Forest

PIONEER POINT
Lake Isabella, Kern River, South Sierra

PROSSER Reservoir –  Truckee Camping w/ OHV Trails

PYRAMID LAKE – North Los Angeles, Interstate 5
(no campground on the lakeshore)

ROUND VALLEY Reservoir
North Sierra @ Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

  • ROUND VALLEY CAMPGROUND

RUCKER LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

RUTH LAKE –  Mad River, Six River NF NFS

  • FIR COVE CAMPGROUND

lakes

SAGE HILL
Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara Mountains

SALTON SEA SRA State Park
Salton Sea State Recreation Area, Imperial Valley Desert

SAN LUIS RESERVOIR SRA State Park
Central California, Interstate 5 @ Hwy 152

SARDINE LAKE
Lakes Basin Recreation Area, North Gold Country

SHASTA LAKE – Northern California NFS

SILVER LAKE @ BUCKS
Plumas NF w/ dirt road, Bucks Lake Wilderness & PCT

SILVER LAKE @ CARSON
Carson Pass – Hwy 88, El Dorado NF, Markleeville CA

SILVER LAKE @ JUNE NFS
June Lake Loop – Hwy 158, Eastern Sierra

SILVER LAKE @ LASSEN
Lassn NF, E of Lassen Volcanic National Park

SILVERWOOD LAKE SRA State Park
Cajon Pass, San Bernardino NF, Southern California

SNAG LAKE
North Sierra Nevada, Lakes Basin Recreation Area

SNAKE LAKE CAMPGROUND
Plumas NF, in between Bucks Lake and Quincy, CA

SOUTH SHORE CAMPGROUND
Lower Bear River Reservoir, El Dorado National Forest

SPAULDING LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 (freeway close) Donner Pass, Tahoe NF

STONY GORGE Reservoir – North Valley

LAKE SUCCESS
Tule River, Porterville, CA

SUGAR PINE POINT SP State Park
Lake Tahoe California, west shore

SUGAR PINE ReservoirNFS
American River, Tahoe National Forest
NE of Foresthill, CA

  • Giant Gap Campground
  • Shirttail Creek Campground
  • Forbes Group Campground

SUGARLOAF RIDGE SP State Park
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Santa Rosa, Wine Country

SUMMIT LAKE – Lassen Volcanic National Park NPS

SUNSET CAMPGROUND NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, El Dorado NF, US Hwy 50

SWEETWATER CAMPGROUND NFS
Mammoth Pool Reservoir, Sierra NF, North Fork CA

Mammoth Pool Reservoir

lakes

TAHOE SRA Campground State Park
Tahoe State Recreation Area, Lake Tahoe California

TANNERY GULCH NFS
Trinity Lake, Shasta Trinity NF

TRIMMER CAMPGROUND NFS
Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River, Sierra National Forest

Trinity KOA Kampground
Trinity Lake, Hwy 3, Northern California

TRINITY LAKE – Shasta Trinity NF, Weaverville CA NFS

TROUT CREEK CAMPGROUND
Lake Pillsbury, Mendocino National Forest

TRUMBULL LAKE
Virginia Lakes, US Hwy 395, Eastern Sierra

TURLOCK LAKE SRA State Park
Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, Central Valley

TUTTLETOWN RECREATION AREA
New Melones Reservoir, Angels Camp, Gold Country

TWIN LAKES – Eastern Sierra, Bridgeport CA NFS

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Los Angeles Beach Camping

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There are very few camping options along the Los Angeles coastline and what is available is geared toward RV campers and the dreaded, amusement parks. Orange County Coastline has the best camping near the Los Angeles region (without needing to smell the oil refineries). Ventura and Santa Barbara, both north of L.A. also have excellent camping beaches.

blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.

State Park

SoCal Camping

Sunny and near perfect temperatures all year long, Southern California seriously pulls in the tourists. L.A. is a major metropolis city right next to the Pacific Ocean. With 22 million people residing in Southern California, and millions of visitors annually, this region is pretty busy all the time – even in winter months. Off season for camping might be November-March, when most of the precipitation falls for the year, but campground reservations are highly recommended all year long.

(located from south to north)

Orange County Beach Camping

camp

Long Beach and LA Campgrounds

queenmaryship
Queen Mary Ship @ Long Beach, CA

Bolsa Chica State Beach, Long Beach CA State Parks

Golden Shores RV Park, Long Beach CA

Redondo Beach (no campgrounds)

Hermosa Beach (no campgrounds)

Manhattan Beach (no campgrounds)

Dockweiler State Beach RV Park
Situated near LAX airport, the Chevron refinery and the main sewage treatment plant, this location can be stinky at times. Paved bike path along the beach leads north & south.

Playa del Rey (no campgrounds)

Venice Beach (no campgrounds)

Santa Monica (no campgrounds)

Malibu Campgrounds

Leo Carillo State Beach Campground State Parks

Point Mugu State Park Campgrounds State Parks

  • Sycamore Beach & Canyon Campground
  • Thornhill Broome Campground

Ventura Beach Camping

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San Diego Beach Camping

Coastal Cliffs San Diego

San Diego Coastal Campgrounds
Mission Bay & North County
SD Beach RV Parks & Camping

RV camps camp

San Diego’s mild climate means camping is available all year round. Winter storms can get windy and rainy, but most campgrounds are still open. From north county where the coastal cliffs overlook the ocean, to downtown bay side marinas w/ RV camping, to camping right on the sand w/ ocean crashing just feet away. Bike paths are common around downtown San Diego, so you can bring your bike or skates.

San Diego has 2 BAYS, both located along Interstate 5: The main bay downtown is called San Diego Bay (one of the deepest on the west coast) and the other a few miles north, is named Mission Bay (a man-made coastal waterway w/ green parks and paved bike trails).

Reservations are required at almost ALL coastal campgrounds, especially around holidays, any 3 day weekends, and all summer long. Tons of tourists flock to Southern California and this is a very popular coastline – with busy little cities and crowded beach towns. Beware: if you are seeking secluded camping – this would not be the place.

Best Beaches

listed from south to north

Carlsbad Cliffs

There are numerous private RV resorts, some quite large, like KOA and GoodSam parks located in and around San Diego county. Most are metro-close and not located on the beach. This list is primarily coastal camping options for the San Diego region.

camping SoCal

Seagulls at Cardiff

see also
San Diego Campground Camping

see a list of all
San Diego cities & towns

baybridge

San Diego Camping

Redwood Beach Camping

NorCal Redwood Coastal Camping

Redwood Campgrounds

Del Norte County, Northern California

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There are a few special places in California where redwood trees grow right down to the shore, but it is rare. Searching for place to pitch a tent (under the redwoods at the coast) is possible, but a bit harder to find than you might imagine. State Parks usually offer the standard paved camp site. Maybe need to drive dirt roads to find redwood seclusion.

Crescent City Camping

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Klamath Coast Camping

blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.

State Park

Redwood Park Campgrounds State Parks

Redwood National Park National Park
Camping 

  • Demartin Campground
  • Flint Ridge Campground
  • Mill Creek Campground
  • Nickel Creek Campground (backcountry)

Eureka RV Campgrounds

redwood camping norcal

If you are seeking free or dirt cheap, primitive camping on the coast, then LOST COAST CAMPING on the Mendocino border is one option. Or head east, inland to the abundant National Forest. Dirt roads of the Six Rivers National Forest offer old logging roads, creeks, and secluded places to pitch a tent. Campfire permits are needed for dispersed camping, or ‘boondocking’ as some call it.

Dirt back roads can get muddy during the wet season, so know your vehicles capability and if you are unsure, check with the local rangers over the phone (preferably a ‘field ranger’) before venturing out. Remember that rain and mud are the norm, most of the year.

Fog is typical of the region. Enjoy the sunshine – when you can!

see more towns nearby –

Smith River
Crescent City
Klamath
Orick
Trinidad
Arcata
Eureka
Scotia
Ferndale
Petrolia
Garberville
Redway
Shelter Cove