The best BOAT IN camping near
Cold Springs , CALIFORNIA

182 Reviews40 Campgrounds

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Most Recent Cold Springs 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.

Quick Camping

Woodward is our family go to place to camp in the summer heat. Lots of campsites with room for tents or RVs. Fire pits and picnic tables at each site. Plenty of bathrooms, some with showers. Usually somewhat clean. Water feels good when it's 100+ degrees outside. Good prices. And you can bring your dogs.

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.

Campground with lodge and store

I stayed in a tent cabin at Lake Alpine.  There were beds in the cabin, but the mattress wasn't that comfy.  If you're not staying at one of the regular cabins I would say to just get a campsite and stay in your own tent.  The area was really pretty.  It was a popular campground so there were a lot of people, but the way the cabins were set up it didn't feel crowded.  There was a trail that went around the whole lake that didn't have a lot of traffic, which made it nice for getting out and exploring.  The lodge had a restaurant with a full bar.  There was a small store attached to the lodge, stocked with all the things you may need.  You could rent kayaks or paddle boards there as well.  The bathroom had pay showers and flush toilets, but it wasn't really that clean.

Worth it, if you have a boat

Any boat will do. Kayak, canoe, blow up row boat, SUP. The reason you need a floating vessel of some kind (no motors allowed) is because it’s impossible to get a car camping spot anymore. It used to be impossible to get a developed campsite but only somewhat difficult to get on of the (way way better) dispersed sites in the gravel road past the campgrounds. But with Covid, forget about it. Instead, load up your boat(s) with gear and paddle out to pretty much any stretch of shoreline to find a camping site. Even on 4th of July weekend, you can get a fabulous, scenic, private spot of you boat in. And no fees! You can paddle back to the campground for use of the OOT toilet if you want. Or just use nature :)

Please please don’t trash this place! People just don’t understand LNT rules. And if you’re reading this and have no idea, look up Leave No Trace and follow ALL of their rules for recreating in the wilderness. Pack it in, pack it out.

Utica is divine. Sublime. Perfection. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the Stanislaus, El Dorado or Tahoe National Forests. Or anywhere else that I can find.

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.

Awesome, secluded paddle in sites

We canoed and SUP camped here. You can find beautiful, isolated sites on the islands all around the lake. Great hammock camping!