Camping in Northern California?


Anyone know a good campsite in northern California? Closer to the San Fransico Bay Area? (2-3 hour distance)

I usually go to Lake Tahoe Forest, but DH wants to try something new since we went there last yr. He wasn’t too fond of the hard-core hiking down the mountain to the campsite adventure I took him to last yr. :shrug:


There are a ton of great campgrounds within driving distance of San Francisco. One of my favorites is along the Redwood Hiway 101 north of San Francisco called the Jedediah Smith Campground. It’s in the Redwoods and absolutely gorgeous and great for families. Check out this website for a lot of great ones.


Woods Lake is an absolute gem of a spot; one of the few reasons for me to miss California :wink: The campground is easy to get to from the highway and very close to the beautiful lake.

Another lovely place is Silver Lake, back down the highway and closer to Jackson than Woods Lake:


Great looking places!!

Please keep them coming. I’m trying to find a place for Labor Day weekend,



Bear River Reservoir, 40 miles up highway 88 from Jackson, is another option:

(Let us know where you decide to go! :slight_smile: )


If he wants something “different” do you think he would be interested in camping on the beach and driving an ATV? It isn’t the scenic beautiful camping, but I just got back from a trip to Pismo Beach, and it is a lot of fun. I mean, not only is riding an ATV on the beach and in the dunes a lot of fun, but everyone who is there is sooooo nice. It is great for families or couples.


Where you camp really depends on what type of activities you are looking for…

Here are some of my favorites
Russian Gulch SP between Mendocino and Ft. Bragg
MacKerricher SP just north of Fort Bragg
Any place on the North or West Shore of Lake Tahoe (bears)
Any place in Yosemite (bears)
Lett’s Lake in the Mendocino NF. Small fishing lake very rustic.
(I’m biased as I grew up on the FS Ranger Station in Stonyford, CA.)

Never camped here but highly recommended by friends:
Samuel P. Taylor SP in Marin
Hendy Woods SP near Booneville

Where not to go:
Lake Comanche outside of Lodi…the worst place I’ve ever camped…think pitching your tent at Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland. The noise never stopped, drug dealing in the BR, some rules are not enforced (noise drugs dogs) some are # of cars per campsite…go figure!

Happy Camping…



There are a lot of parks in the east bay that have nice camping areas. Pretty much just pick a park, although they are closer than 2-3 hours. There are also topological maps of the parks online so you can get a good idea of how the hikes are. Extra bonus, the area is absolutely stunning as well :).


The last post jogged my memory…

Lake Del Valle near Pleasanton/Livermore. It’s part of the EBRP system. There is camping, hiking, swimming, small boats, kyacks.

A friend just took his 3 school aged g-kids there for an overnight and they had a blast! Close yet you would never know!

You probably already know this but remember that most places suggested need reservations…and the time is short for Labor Day. The best sites at the National Parks like Yosemite go they day they are released months in advance, the same for CA State Parks. Some smaller, less known SP are first come first serve, also many National Forest campsites, too… but these tend not to have full amenities (hot showers, flush potties). Others have amenities like BEARS! We had bears in our campsite every night when we camped at Lake Tahoe. It a little frightening to hear and feel snuffling along the side of your tent, knowing there is just a little piece of fabric between you and … Luckily we keep a clean camp and everything was locked in the bear locker! Not so with our neighbor campers that chased the furry friends our way.

Have great time in the great outdoors!


I can still find a mini cabin in Yosemite, but DH wants to take people with us and I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing one of those tiny things w/strangers, especially strange men.

We found a camp in a forest 2 hours away but it doesn’t accept reservations so it’s a first come first served, so we have to arrive early. They have many, many sites for tents, so we’re going to leave really eraly. It’s called lake alpine, and if there are no spots available there, we have the rest of the forest to search for a spot.

Thanks for the ideas, the only thing about the ones I liked from the thread is that they were 5-7 hrs away from our hometown. I wish we could’ve gone to one of those redwood or seqouia forests.

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