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Best Places To Camp Close To National Parks in California

Best Places To Camp Close To National Parks in California

May 16, 2019

 A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on California’s Top 10 National Parks. If you are lucky enough to call California home, you might be able to do day trips to these stunning natural playgrounds but if you are visiting, you will definitely need a place to spend a night or two! There are a lot of options for accommodation including hotels, cabins and huts but here I want to focus on camping. Since I was a kid, camping has been a big of part of my summers and to this day, the place and time of the year where I feel at peace de most. There is something about going back to the basics and connecting with nature in a way that is never possible in the big city.

 

For each National Park that I mentioned in a previous post, I will give you an absolutely jaw-dropping campsite option. Most of us campers know that we have to book our campsites way in advance as the best ones are in high demand all season long. If you plan on visiting California’s National Parks this summer and haven’t booked you stay already, don’t miss out and make sure to do it now! Some of these places are almost completely booked already and the remaining spots will go fast. You know it’s good when you have to fight for a spot.

 

Summit Lake Campground (North and South), Lassen Volcanic National Park

Right in the middle of Lassen Volcanic National Park, this campground is in two parts, one being located on the North side of the stunning Summit Lake and the other one on the south side. They are both very similar, however campsites on the South side tend to have a little more privacy. Most sites need to be booked in advance but a few of them in loop A & E are first come first serve, loop E is tent only but most sites can accommodate an RV.

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

Y

Showers

N

Price

$20-30

Activities

·      Beach/Lake

·      Caves

·      Hiking

·      Hot Springs

 

Stargazing Camping Tents

Mesquite Spring Campground, Death Valley National Park  

Definitely the most beautiful campground in Death Valley, this is a first come first serve only – no reservations possible. It gives you a good chance to get in if you don’t have anything booked yet but get there early! Mesquite has 30 campsites available both for tents or RV. The dramatic landscape will stun you and make sure to catch the impressive sunset and stay up a little longer with a good drink for some incredible stargazing. If you are looking for a little peace and quiet, this might just be the place.

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

N

Showers

N

Price

~$15

Activities

·      Biking

·      Hiking

·      Climbing

·      Wildlife Watching

 

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park 

Located in Joshua National Park, Ryan Campground has 31 campsites to offer on a first come first serve basis. All campsites are surrounding an enormous boulder witch can be climb for an end of day cocktail while watching the sun set on the desert. Even though it is a desert like terrain and not many vegetation offer cover (if any at all), the massive boulders create some sense of privacy. Located near Ryan Mountain, there is great hiking accessible near by.

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

N

Showers

N

Price

~$15

Activities

·      Biking

·      Hiking

·      Climbing

·      Wildlife Watching

 

Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park

Santa Rosa is the second largest island in California and offers amazing backcountry and front country camping options. There are 15 campsites for tents only you can book. It can be windy on the island but when you’ll see the pure white sand beaches, stunning wildlife and impressive canyon and hikes, a little wind will be the least of your concerns.

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

Y

Showers

Y

Price

$15

Activities

·      Hiking

·      Boating

·      Paddling

·      Fishing

·      Surfing

 

Camping Woods Tents

Tomales Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore

Here it’s not only camping, it’s a full experience. Probably the campground I am the most excited about and for one, good reason, it’s boat in only! There's something about reaching a destination that is hard to get to, a sense of accomplishment and a true connection with nature. Tomales Bay is accessible by kayak after a 1-hour paddle to an absolutely beautiful beach campsite. You and your friends don’t own kayaks? No problem, you can rent them from Blue Water Kayak in Marshall. Fires are permitted but you will need to get a fire permit and load in your firewood.

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

N

Potable Water

N

Showers

N

Price

$20

Activities

·      Beach

·      Boating

·      Paddling

·      Fishing

·      Surfing

·      Swimming

 

Pinnacles Campground, Pinnacles National Park 

This is the only developed campground available in Pinnacles National Park and it has all the amenities including a swimming pool, flush toilets and showers and even a general store. Perfect for a little bit of comfort away from home. You can reserve your campground ahead of time and it is highly recommended during high season. All are welcome: tents, RV and groups. Great caving and amazing hiking and rock climbing can be done in the area, plus you will most likely see the rare California Condor!

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

Y

Showers

Y

Price

$25-35

Activities

·      Hiking

·      Climbing

·      Wildlife watching

·      Caving

·      Swimming

 

Camp Jade River, Redwoods State Parks

Camp Jade River is a hidden gem in an area where campgrounds are hard to find. Owner Tyler made this acreage a little piece of heaven. With its waterfront campsites on platforms it is wonderful to fall asleep to the sound of running water. There are also a few spots available in the meadows for RVs. The adjacent river offers swimming and fishing holes and great hiking and biking trails are right around the corner. Only 30 minutes away from a few redwoods state parks, it is great for day trips.

 

Campground Summary 

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

Y

Showers

N

Price

$40

Activities

·      Hiking

·      Climbing

·      Fishing

·      Biking

·      Swimming

·      Paddling

 

Bonfire Friends Cheers

Hidden Camps, Near Sequoia National Park

This is a perfect spot for couples, located on a cattle ranch Hidden offers little tree covered campsites for two on a leafy flooring that makes it extra comfy! The site has great amenities and a communal outdoors hang out spot with a large fire pit and a full outdoors kitchen with all you need. The hang out area has a few wooden structures in case of rain and on sunny days, Hidden has a fantastic swimming hole. Located about an hour out of Sequoia National Park, it is great for day trips. Remember that Kings Canyon National Park is also next to Sequoia and only one pass is needed for both!

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

N

Potable Water

Y

Showers

Y

Price

$45

Activities

·      Hiking

·      Climbing

·      Outdoor Cooking

·      Biking

·      Swimming

·      Paddling

 

Paradise Shores Lakeshore Camping, near Yosemite

Close enough from Yosemite but far enough so that you avoid crowds, Paradise Shores is a husband and wife run campsite and it is beautiful. Located right on the Bridgeport Reservoir with snow-capped mountain views all around it is heavenly for water activities and hiking. The site offers a large fire pit, showers and a kitchen. Book it for a night or an extended stay and you will sure fall in love with Paradise Shores.

 

Campground Summary

 

Y/N

Campfires

Y

Toilet

Y

Pets

Y

Potable Water

Y

Showers

Y

Price

$30

Activities

·      Hiking

·      Paddling

·      Outdoor Cooking

·      Biking

·      Swimming

·      Hot Springs

·      Bird Watching

 

These are only a few options amongst so many in the State, if you can't get a campsite at your first pick, don't get discouraged. There are a number of websites that offer campground reviews and you can even search by map in most cases, it makes it very easy to find a place in the area that you want. After all, the goal is to get away from the big city and relax in nature for few days, as long as you get to do that it's a win!

Happy camping in California!




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