The best WALK IN camping near
Ballico , CALIFORNIA

76 Reviews29 Campgrounds

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Most Recent Ballico Camping Reviews
10/10

Been coming here for our annual family camping trip for years now and love this place. The staff is always friendly and willing help. Will be coming back in the future.

Convenient Yosemite Campground

We drove in after a long day of hiking in Yosemite. This campground is right off of Hwy 120 and makes for a super convenient stop the night before or after visiting Yosemite.

At the time we visited (early Nov 2020) there were no water or trash removal services, but the infrastructure is there. Bathrooms were in poor shape, though I'm not sure if this is due it being the winter season.

Campsites were $16 and included a picnic table, campfire ring, and a bear box. There were plenty of spots within our campsite for three 2-person tents.

Secluded!

We drove into the campground on a Friday night and were surprised to see that the 5.5mi dirt road was on the side of the mountain and had a lot of ruts. We were driving a Prius Prime with low ground clearance, so it took us nearly an hour to get down to the campground from Hwy 120. Others driving a truck and a Chevy Suburban passed us pretty quickly during turnouts.

Though 4WD or higher ground clearance is not required, I would recommend it! Otherwise, be prepared for a slow drive down to the campground.

Campsites are free, and the facilities are pretty bare bones (you have a picnic table, a fire pit, and a bear box at each site plus a single toilet at the campground entrance), but we got excellent views of the stars and were the only group at the campground. I definitely recommend this campground if you're looking to get away from everything and everyone.

Other than the unexpectedly difficult drive down (for a sedan/Prius), we all enjoyed this campground. We will be returning in a more appropriate vehicle in the future.

First Rain of the Season

I visited in November, on the first days of rain after a long dry season. I arrived after dark and was unfamiliar with the layout, so I stayed at a pull-out near the McCabe Flat campground. The next morning I checked out Willow Placer campground and continued to the end of the road to claim the last spot at Railroad Flat campground.

All three camps are along the river. There are no reservations. The first two are mostly walk-in tent sites. They are all clean and well maintained. There was a helpful ranger on patrol through the weekend.

I came with my 16’ Airstream in tow, and it fit perfectly. I would not recommend anything larger. It was late in the season, so there were only a few campers at each location. The narrow road winds along the steep canyon wall with occasional pull-outs to allow oncoming cars to pass. I was glad not to meet any vehicles on my way.

The scenery was stunning! It rained on-and-off with sunshine in between, so I rode my bike along and went fishing (didn't catch anything) while the sky was blue, then hid under a blanket with a cup of tea and watched the stormy skies. I had initially planned to go to Yosemite but was content to stay here.

First Rain of the Season

I visited in November, on the first days of rain after a long dry season. I arrived after dark and was unfamiliar with the layout, so I stayed at a pull-out near the McCabe Flat campground. The next morning I checked out Willow Placer campground and continued to the end of the road to claim the last spot at Railroad Flat campground.

All three camps are along the river. There are no reservations. The first two are mostly walk-in tent sites. They are all clean and well maintained. There was a helpful ranger on patrol through the weekend.

I came with my 16’ Airstream in tow, and it fit perfectly. I would not recommend anything larger. It was late in the season, so there were only a few campers at each location. The narrow road winds along the steep canyon wall with occasional pull-outs to allow oncoming cars to pass. I was glad not to meet any vehicles on my way.

The scenery was stunning! It rained on-and-off with sunshine in between, so I rode my bike along and went fishing (didn't catch anything) while the sky was blue, then hid under a blanket with a cup of tea and watched the stormy skies. I had initially planned to go to Yosemite but was content to stay here.

First Rain of the Season

I visited in November, on the first days of rain after a long dry season. I arrived after dark and was unfamiliar with the layout, so I stayed at a pull-out near the McCabe Flat campground. The next morning I checked out Willow Placer campground and continued to the end of the road to claim the last spot at Railroad Flat campground.

All three camps are along the river. There are no reservations. The first two are mostly walk-in tent sites. They are all clean and well maintained. There was a helpful ranger on patrol through the weekend.

I came with my 16’ Airstream in tow, and it fit perfectly. I would not recommend anything larger. It was late in the season, so there were only a few campers at each location. The narrow road winds along the steep canyon wall with occasional pull-outs to allow oncoming cars to pass. I was glad not to meet any vehicles on my way.

The scenery was stunning! It rained on-and-off with sunshine in between, so I rode my bike along and went fishing (didn't catch anything) while the sky was blue, then hid under a blanket with a cup of tea and watched the stormy skies. I had initially planned to go to Yosemite but was content to stay here.

Hike-in sites are great

We stayed here for a weekend at one of the hike-in sites in the Chamise area.  We were the only ones in this area, and had a decent view of the lake.  We even managed to make a path down to the water from our site, so we could swim.  Lots of good trees around for hammocks.

The hike-in sites were relatively close to the parking area, so not a huge hike, though a little steep.  We probably brought too much stuff, so it might have been a little easier if we pared down a little.

Nice spot for a weekend

We camped out for 2 nights in spot 96 in the height of summer and just before all the fires started. New Melones was not a top destination but it was close to a very special place for us, Natural Bridges. Also, at the time of booking it was one of the few campgrounds accepting new reservations in this age of COVID. We selected spot 96 as it was the furthest from any other spot (situated on a bend and the only site on that part of the road for a while). It was something like 107 when we were setting up the tent and most of the day time but on the lake itself, the temperature was perfect. One thing to be aware of, most of the drive in camp sites, including ours, had absolutely no shade (including nowhere to hang a hammock).

The Good:

  • The view was amazing
  • The tent spot was level and clear of big rocks
  • All the campers abided by quiet time
  • It was so dark that I was able to do some great astrophotography
  • The location was a great step off point for adventure in Gold Country

The Bad:

  • The last campers in our spot left garbage everywhere. We filled up a large garbage bag before we could setup camp.
  • Some bathrooms were closed but port-o-potties were there instead (as if somehow that is more clean???)
  • The bathrooms that were open were disgusting
  • No camp host onsite while we were there

We don’t have a boat but the boat launch was pretty busy all day and the day use spots were packed.

All in all, Tuttletown wouldn’t be our first choice but we would go back - probably later in the season since we aren’t there for boating.

I was debating on 3 or 4 stars. Showing up in 107 heat and wanting to set up a tent but having to clean up that much garbage was a huge turn off and having bathrooms closed with no notice was also a disappointment. I know these things aren’t normal but more notice on facilities and finding ways to get this cleaned up first would be a start.

Small campsites

Cute small campsites, kind of close to your neighbor. Not a lot of bugs which is always a plus when your near water, we went mid October and the weather wasn’t too hot or too cold. They have flushing toilets and coin operated showers with is nice, but the toilet situation near our campsite was questionable (site 62). Your not as close to the water as you would think looking at the map you need to drive a few minutes to the parking lot. But we found a nice private spot to dunk in the water. No electrical hook up. In some spots the hook ups are far, other sites they have them every few feet.

Near 39 is nice

Nice place during the Fall

We went at the end of September. It is very dry, the Lake New Malones was down quite a bit. We swam in the lake the water was great. However, we did not bother with the Kayaks. It’s really not a kayak lake more of a speed boat lake. The campground was good. We were in Acorn 065. The site was great, roomy and in a corner, I have to say it was one of the nicer ones. We had vault toilets close by but there was also flush toilets and showers not to far away. Not a lot of shade, I would not recommend going in the hotter months. The campground is easy to get to. No firewood for sale on site. You have to go to one of the local stores. Plan ahead if arriving late. When we came there was a PSPS so we were told on the second day that wood fires or charcoal fires would be allowed that day due to wind. Lucky their was a Walmart not too far away and we were able to grab a gas grill. :)