Camping Picnic

Picnicking & Camping

This picnic page is dedicated to various ways to eat outdoors around a camping or road trip. Whether it be a backpacking adventure, a car camping excursion or a quick stop “en route” while on a longer road trip, these tips may help you plan to eat better while enjoying the outdoors.

Ice (or refrigeration) – during winter this is less of an issue. Don’t let your food spoil with warm temperatures. Ice Chest or Cooler Backpacks are key to keeping your food fresh. Block ice will last longer than cubes, so make some at home ahead of time.


Paper Plates – easier than washing dishes outdoors

The Tools – kitchen knife, utensils and a perhaps corkscrew. Storing utensils inside the ice chest is acceptable. Ziplock bags, paper bags, paper towels and a beach towel are all handy items to carry.

Thermos – thermal insulated bottle for storing hot beverages like coffee, hot cocoa or even homemade soup.

Screen Room – when bugs and mosquitoes are expected, plus you plan on staying in this location all day, then bringing a screened tent might be a good idea.

The Food Bag – This is one, strong grocery bag with all the food items inside for easy transport and access “on the road”.

If you are parking in Bear Country (where bears live) then you may be required to store your food items inside a steel locker/bear box located near the parking lot or campsite. Being able to grab a cooler and one bag and move these to the bear box will be less cumbersome if you have all your food condensed. Sharing boxes with other visitors is quite common, so keep your belongings compact.


Camping is often one long picnic, spending much of the time in cooking, preparation, campfires, and of course, cleanup.


Day trips from camp, may lead you away from your base camp most of the day exploring, so you should always bring the FOOD BAG and the cooler in the car/truck/van. Have mostly prepared food – all ready to eat for quick access and minimal hassles.






Hunting and fishing trips are often done with overnight camping. Cooking over the open flame, primitive style is key to the fun. Bring a hand saw for firewood, lighters or matches for flames. See more on Campfire Cooking


Hunger can come on sudden when outside exerting oneself.

If you are planning a big “all day hike” or even a “half day hike”, packing a picnic lunch to eat on the trail is always advised. At minimum, you should pack a snack and water for any hike.


desert picnic


Camp chairs, lawn chairs, beach chairs and solid picnic tables are all considered luxury items in the wilderness. Finding a picnic table location will be easier near parks, campgrounds and trailhead parking. Bring a blanket, beach towel or large tarp to throw down and dine on. Carry your own portable chair if you cannot sit on the ground. Truck tailgates make fine benches for eating.

silver lake picnic

Top Destinations for Picnics:

alpine lakes

Summer is the best time to find a lake in the mountains, as most are located at high elevations, covered snow during winter. Luckily, California Lakes come in all shapes, sizes and elevations.


The coastlines are the most popular locations in all of California. Locating an uncrowded beach will be easier during the non-summer months.

big meadows

Meadows are very popular spots for picnics and most require some walking to reach. This mountain terrain is usually buried in snow half the year, so these are summertime spots.


The California deserts are best visited in non-summer months. Considered winter playgrounds, deserts hold mining history, ghost towns, abundant off road trails and first-of-the-season wildflower blooms.

ridge lines

Mountain ridges are awesome places for views, sunsets and stargazing. Find a dirt road, instead of a paved highway for the best experience.


California has plenty of rivers to enjoy. Picnic tables and parks, plus campgrounds can usually be found next to these bodies of water. Rivers can also be dangerous during spring run-off, where the river swells with the high country snow melt. Find California Rivers




Planning to camp out, maybe bike and/or hike? Explore the wildflower blooms and relax longer with a meal. Low deserts  began blooming as early as late February, and can last well into May.

star party

Night skies with meteor showers or a lunar eclipse can mean plenty of free time to sit and watch the sky. Celestial events. Snacks, sandwiches, caffeine beverages.


Winter picnics should include hot beverages, or perhaps a barbeque or cooking over a fire. Bring the Camp Stove for instant heat options. Campfire permits may be required if you plan to build a fire outside of a developed site.

picnic table


save fuel, stay put

You do know that you don’t have to drive all over the park, cramming in every sightseeing destination? You could choose to spend MOST of your time at camp, or maybe walking distance from camp. 

Learn to stay put, really relax and take it all in. The trees, the birds, the breezes, the sound of the creek. Less driving means saving on gasoline cost.


walk more, drive less

Choosing to camp in large campground near the best attractions, could mean more walking and less driving. Picnic grounds are common in most all State Parks, National Parks, National Forests and even in county parks and small historic towns. 

State Historic Park

State Historic Parks are great places to find picnic tables. This oak and wildflower hillside is located at Coloma, CA in the Gold Country foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Marshall Gold Discovery State Park at the south fork of the American River.