Yosemite. The redwoods. Big Sur. World-famous outdoor destinations abound in California. There are so many that you couldn’t possibly explore all the richness the state offers in one lifetime. The trick when camping in California is managing so many possibilities. Once you've visited the famous sites, try some creative approaches to camping in California.
When you think Napa Valley, you think of wine, not camping. But you can plan a wine vacation from behind the flap of your tent. Set up in one of the valley’s campgrounds then visit the many casual tasting rooms that won't mind dirt under your fingernails. When you tire of drinking wine, hike Mt. St Helena, a dormant volcano. Or walk through the Petrified Forest, a forest that was turned to stone by the last eruption of the volcano. Or visit California’s Old Faithful, a nearby geyser.
Once you have found camping in California’s Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, center yourself in Tuolumne Meadows, a more remote section of the park with its own collection of charming granite domes. Here's a secret: Instead of joining the crowds of day hikers on the meadow's most popular trails, follow the backpackers north on the famed John Muir Trail. The trail meanders through meadows, along a river below alpine peaks. And best of all, the first 8 miles of this trail out of Tuolumne are flat. Hike until you find a spot to watch the marmots, then return to your campsite. For more, backpack another 23 miles to Reds Meadow where you can catch a shuttle back up to Tuolumne.
With a little effort, you can spend the rest of your life camping in California and have a new adventure every time.
I absolutely loved camping here with friends. And we already can’t wait to book another trip! Breath-taking view of Mt. Shasta was just around the corner from our site. Very clean, family/pet friendly, hiking, fishing, and swimming! Overall a wonderful stay!
Great little hotsprings in a relatively accessible spot. They are situated right by the creek and I loved how quiet and unused the area is. The canyon can get chilly (esp. in winter months) just get from your campfire to the springs to your tent quickly.
Simple and quiet
The visit overall was wonderful. I plan on making this a go to spot whenever I'm in the Big Sur area
Beautiful warm springs out in the middle of nowhere. The camping area can be crowded, and it can be hard to find spots, but it’s oh so worth it if you can. There are pit toilets, 5 different hot springs and plenty of stars. From Big Pine it is about a 3.5 hour drive, 40 miles of which is off-road. AWD or 4x4 is recommended, same with ground clearance. Just follow signs for Saline Valley Warm Springs as there are a couple of turns. It is a long journey out there, but definitely worth it.
Stayed in site 1. The closest flush toilets are closed but there are ones near the road that are nice. Spot 15 looks great and if I ever go back I’d try to get that one, but if you do stay there then it’s a honey hut that’s close-by. Didn’t check out the lower campground, but walked the main loop and there’s some great views of the valley and the stars. It was nice having two big tables in our spot and a water spigot was close by. There’s some road noise, but otherwise it was peaceful in the winter. There’s a day use area that I imagine gets more attention in the summer. Cell service was great for ATT (cell tower near-by). Check out The Summit drive in a few miles up the road for a tasty burger :)
We camped here a week before Christmas. We have a 24 ft travel trailer. Stayed in a site with electricity and water. No sewer hook-up but there is a dump station in the campground. Great amenities including flush toilets and token operated showers. Each site has an ocean view. A bit of road noise from PCH but million dollar houses also have such problems! There is an elementary school adjacent to the campground so you get a few PA announcements to start your day.
There is a small visitor's center on site. Hiking and mountain bike riding are in the canyon adjacent to the campground. You can access the beach by walking down the hill and using the tunnel under PCH. From there, you can walk to Crystal Cove Historic Site and the Beachcomber restaurant. You can also walk to a nice chopping center with restaurants and a Trader Joe's (we forgot toothpaste). Your campsite parking pass is good at any of the parking areas in Crystal Cove State Park so you don't have to walk if mobility is an issue.The beach is clean and great for beachcombing - just can't collect anything. Lots of marine and land wildlife in the area.
Close to Laguna Beach so you can go into this nice artsy community.
A couple of other reviewers mentioned a few things that seem a bit inaccurate. Alcohol is limited to the campsites but you can drink in your campsite. You just can't take it to the beach or to the bluff overlook. It is easy to get in and out - unless you are in one of the backcountry sites. Pelican Hill Resort and golf club are nearby (not Trump National which is in Palos Verdes).
Idyllwild County campground is not that easy to find, but when you finally find it you will be glad you did. It is dog friendly, clean restrooms, showers and very friendly staff. The fees for camping are low and it's exciting to be away from everything but know there is a safety net of rangers and other staff around if you need them. Hike to the Nature Center using Perimeter or Hillside trails and you are in for a treat. They have good exhibits, and a bonus bird watching area. I love this park for day use as well - when it's 100 degrees + in the summer a drive up to Idyllwild is like going to heaven.
Great campground in Joshua Tree NP, rustic - just put toilets & drinking water available but some sites are tucked right up amongst the red rocks. Great for bouldering, desert night sky spectacular too.
We take our Kayaks and spend the day on the lake. It gets choppy in the afternoon so be aware. The campgrounds are set among huge boulders and can be very private. There are bears but they seem to keep to themselves but don’t temp with unstored food. Tables, bear lockers,fire rings are at all campsites. Trailers and RV are mostly kept to the boat launch. Closed from October till May
This RV Resort has tent sites, RV sites, Yurt, 2 Cabin appartments to rent for vacations. The park has basketball court, recreational room with pool table, TV with cable, books and board games, laundry room $1.25 to wash & $.25 to dry, rest rooms and showers $0.50 a token for 6 minutes of hot water. Come see for yourself, enjoy the Redwoods and about 15 to 25 minutes to town of Crescent City and ocean. Smith River is close by as well.
Hiked from Scorpion Harbor cross-island to Del Norte Camp, great way to see the island. Camped at site 1, had the most wind but also the best views of the ocean. Food storage locker provided to protect food from sneaky foxes. No water anywhere near the campsite. About 4 miles from Prisoners Harbor ferry landing. Shared the campground with one other group. Only 4 campsites total. Great place to camp for solitude.
Clean and great views
6ish mostly uphil trek to the twin lakes campsite. Campsite sites are very nice with bear boxes and a locker toilet. Whole area is at about 9,000 ft elevation so it gets cold and the views are unreal
One of the nicest backpacking campgrounds. Nice bathrooms and right next to a clean blue river perfect for swimming in! Surrounded by granite rocks in one of the most wonderful place Yosemite
Nice place and clean place, but not really a campground as it much as it’s an rv park with cabins. Not much nature. Use to go years ago when they had tent camping. Miss those days. Some good hikes down to the river bed and bike/ running trails
Really nice place to backpack the lake is so nice and private. You’ll meet a lot of people hiking the pct or jmt our here. The lower vermillion camp has a full store with a bar and tv’s. Also a fair leaves from out to here