Weekend dispersed / roadside car camping in Northern California

Hi everyone!

Newbie questions. I typically camp in Big Basin or Portola at reserved campsites. However, lately I’ve been trying to venture into two things I’ve yet to experience - dispersed camping and backpacking. Rather than combine both of these in one thread, I would love to get advice on dispersed camping within 2 hours (one way) of San Mateo in the Bay Area. Place where I can just drive and either camp in the car or pitch a tent in an unreserved spot.

Advice is greatly appreciated. If another thread addresses this question, please point me to there, I’ll gladly take direction.

So far I’ve come across two good ones - Trinity Shasta is about a 4.5 hr drive so too far for a weekend drive. Driving along Hwy 1 or 101 is a possibility where I could just park in a pullout along the highway and stay overnight with views of the ocean.

Hey there! I haven’t done any camping near bay area but I found a list / map of all dispersed campgrounds near San Mateo that might be of interest to you: https://thedyrt.com/camping/california/near/san-mateo/with/dispersed

Specifically this campgrounds looks INSANE: https://thedyrt.com/camping/california/california-mount-tamalpais-state-park-rocky-point-steep-ravine-environmental-campground

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Do you know how to book for the Mt Tam spot? It doesn’t seem to show on the state park search.

It’s listed on the right side under “s rav”. There’s the primitive camping or the cabins

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Try Sugarloaf State Park, Kenwood, Ca. Beautiful park, great hiking, spectacular waterfall to hike to. My husband and I were camp host at this park for all of 2019. Staff and volunteers care alot about this beautiful park and they are wonderful people. Reservations, but also leave a few walk-in (drive in) sites available every day but you’ll want to either show up @ 9 am to visitor center to get one or you can call @ 10am sharp because they go FAST!

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