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Free Camping Near San Francisco

China Camp State Park And Beach

Petaluma KOA Campground San Francisco North HD 1080p

China Camp Beach is definitely and experiences to be had. There are endless opportunities of fun to be had here for sure including a fun-filled beach experience, adventures, new experiences, and much much more. Explore nearly any hobby here!

China Camp has fun activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, picnicking, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, photography, and anything else you can think of. This campsite also has a grass park, museum, BBQs, boat launch, and a pier.

Along with all of these fun activities, it is a very comfortable place to stay. They have restrooms, showers, an RV park and a campground, plenty of trails, and you can even bring your dogs with you!

China Camp is a little under an hour away from San Francisco making it perfect because you are outside all of the city craziness and can have a luxury camping experience, while still being able to go to dinner and explore the town whenever you feel like it.

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Bureau Of Land Management Land

dispersed camping on BLM land

What is BLM land you ask? Its public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. You can camp on many dispersed camping sites on BLM land for up to 14 days.

There are some areas that will have no camping signs so pay attention to those, too.

Here is info on camping in California. Ive honestly never found their site that helpful in terms of finding campgrounds, so I just prefer to use as it lists BLM land sites, too.

Best Camping Near San Francisco: 11 Magical Campgrounds Near San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay area is more than just the Golden Gate Bridge and a terrific urban destination.

There are so many campgrounds near San Francisco: from the Marin Headlands to Mount Tam, from Angel Island to the Point Reyes National Seashore

Within just 15 minutes of the bustling city life, there are a variety of excellent campgrounds near San Francisco .

Choose between a campsite under the redwoods, one with views of the breathtaking rugged Pacific coastline where you can fall asleep to the tune of foghorns, or even waking up to see the Golden Gate Bridge!

The Marin Headlands area offers the Instagram-worthy Kirby Cove along with a variety of sites throughout the Tennessee Valley.

Are you planning on visiting Muir Woods National Monument? Then choose a convenient campsite at one of the three campgrounds in neighboring Mount Tamalpais State Park.

From there, you can continue your journey north and choose between four hike-in campgrounds in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Grab your sleeping bag, family, or friends, and enjoy escaping the busy city and have a blast at one of these favored campgrounds near San Francisco!

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Death Valley National Park

Right along the Nevada border, youll find Death Valley National Park. With three-million acres, this is the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Although it is hot and dry, you can still find plenty to do. You can hike, visit hot springs, explore sand dunes, or learn about the indigenous and mining history of the area.

Death Valley National Park is the only national park in California that allows dispersed camping. There are four free campsites within the park, but you can also camp along dirt roads at least one mile away from any paved road or day use only dirt road.

Angel Island State Park Campsites

A Weekend Guide to South Lake Tahoe

Location: Tiburon

Amenities: Campsite tables, picnic tables, dock, group camping options, drinking water, and toilets

Activities: Camping, fishing, picnicking, biking, boating, paddling, hiking, swimming, and wildlife watching.

Dogs allowed: No dogs are allowed on the island.

For an exceptional camping experience, head to the largest natural island in the BayAngel Island State Park. Its accessible from the city and is a popular choice for locals, so we recommend booking your campsite in advance and coming early to secure a parking spot. There are four main camping areas to choose from: East Bay, Ridge, Sunrise, and Kayak Camps. Within these four camping areas, there are 16 campsites, three of which offer incredible views of the city skyline. As you trek along the trails, youll be captivated by the wildlife and phenomenal scenic vistas. But if you get the urge to explore the Bay and its main attractions, catch a ferry ride from Tiburon.

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Del Valle Family Campground Ca

Del Valle Family Campground is the perfect getaway for anybody looking to explore the Bay Area of California. This RV park is situated in Del Valle Regional Park, meaning youll be surrounded by lakes, woodlands, and rolling hills. Del Valle Campground provides its RV campers with plenty to do. The nearby Del Valle Lake is perfect for a variety of water sports, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, and more. This campground also offers boat rentals so you can explore the lake even if you dont own a boat. Pets are welcome at this campground, so feel free to bring your pooch along on your adventures.

Mendenhall Springs campers will love the Del Valle Family Campground thanks to its secluded location. There

Mendocino National Forest Free Camping

  • Rigs: Depends on road/campsite

You dont have to stick to a developed campground if you want to head up to Mendocino National Forest. This is a great place for free camping in Northern California, close to the coast.

Mendocino National Forests website says most of the forest is open to people who prefer dispersed camping.

Youre allowed to camp for free in the same location for 14 days. Then, you can move locations and camp another 14 days within the same 30-day period. However, no more than 28 consecutive days are allowed per calendar year in the forest.

One great way to locate free camping is to download the Motor Vehicle Use Maps for the Mendocino National Forest. Youre bound to find many hidden dirt roads with no other campers in sight. Great for secluded Northern California boondocking!

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San Francisco Rv Resort

Why you should camp here: This is the best place to park your RV when you want to explore San Francisco.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall, winter
  • Campsite type: RVs
  • RV hookups: Yes

Rich with amenities and ocean views, San Francisco RV Resort is a fine place to make basecamp as you set out to explore San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area. Its an unbeatable location for those looking to spend some time in the city.

The RV park is set atop a steep ocean cliff southwest of the city. Campers can take advantage of the on-site amenities which include a pool, hot tub, clubhouse, picnic area, and a store. The surrounding neighborhoods have plenty of grocery stores and restaurants to choose from, among other conveniences.

The heart of the city is a short drive away, and the RV park is adjacent to several beaches and parks worth checking out. Mussel Rock Park offers astounding rocky coastline vistas with sandy beaches to enjoy, and a hike up Milagra Ridge proffers a grand view of the area from above.

Why you should camp here: Youre hiking, biking, or boating through the Candlestick Point State Recreation Area.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, summer, fall
  • Campsite type: Tents

All visitors must reserve their campsites ahead of time, and motorized boats are not allowed to access the shoreline. Amenities include flushing toilets, potable water, and barbecue grills. Pets arent allowed, and visitors can stay for a maximum of two nights.

Anthony Chabot Family Campground Anthony Chabot Regional Park

Dispersed Camping on the California Coast! Off-Road in the Subaru Outback

Twenty miles from downtown Oakland in the East Bay, the family campground at Anthony Chabot Regional Park features 53 standard sites and 12 RV sites with full hookups. An additional 10 walk-in campsites are reserved exclusively for tents. The popular Honker Bay Trail leads from the campground to Lake Chabot, which is frequently stocked for great fishing opportunity. All overnight visitors to Anthony Chabot have access to flushing toilets, potable water, and hot showers.

Northwest of Anthony Chabot and connected by hiking trail, Redwood Regional Park is also operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. With dense forests of giant trees, Redwood Regional Park features three different group sites to spend the night. Available by reservation only, campgrounds like Fern Dell Group Campground can accommodate up to 50 people.

Farther east and outside of Fremont, Lake Del Valle Family Campground is also operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. Lake Del Valley Campground features 150 individual campsites that are just over an hour away from San Francisco.

Address: 9999 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, California

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Where Can You Find Free Camping In California

California can be an expensive place to vacation, but that doesnt mean that there arent ways to save money. You can have a cheap summer vacation in California by renting an RV and staying in free campsites. RV park rates can vary depending on location and amenities, so if youre willing to forgo amenities like sewer, water, and electric hookups, you can easily vacation while staying on a budget.

National Forests And Grasslands

Typically you are allowed to camp for free in US National Forests & Grasslands unless otherwise marked. Each national forest has slightly different rules, so check ahead of time, but generally speaking, you are allowed to camp anywhere outside established recreation areas and developed campgrounds.

Who Its Good For: Tent & car camping, Vans, Trailers, and RVs.

What Its Like: You have a lot of options when camping in a National Forest. You can find a nice pullover, backpack into the woods to set up camp, or find an attractive spot along a forest service road.

However, youll need to be self-sufficient, as there will likely be zero amenities. No picnic table, trash, or restrooms. In some places, you are allowed to have a fire if you obtain a fire permit and there are no fire restrictions in place .

How to Find It: National Forests are well marked on Google maps, but you can use the National Forest Map Locator or search state by state to find information about the specific jurisdiction you are looking to camp in. Again, the rules are different depending on the area, so check ahead.


  • Camping must be done outside of developed campgrounds.
  • Usually a 14 day limit, sometimes more.
  • No amenities picnic table, trash, or restrooms. Practice Leave No Trace.
  • Set up camp 200 feet away from any stream or water source.

** This information does not apply in National Parksbut many National Parks are bordered by National Forests!

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Mogollon Rim Dispersed Camping

The Mogollon Rim runs along most of north-central Arizona near the towns of Payson, Rimrock, and Strawberry. Close to these rural towns are great free camping options- specifically off of forest service roads FR 9354, 9350, and 208.

Similar to Edge of the World near Flagstaff, the Mogollon Rim is a literal cliff that drops off into a sea of ponderosa pine trees. The Mogollon Rim offers great hiking and biking. When you venture out and explore the Rim, you are likely to be alone most of your time there. Because of the distance away from major Arizona cities like Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, few people venture out to the Mogollon Rim when they are considering camping in Arizona. Enjoy some peace and quiet and miles of forest trails near your camp.

Fort Point National Historic Site

California Free Camping: 319 Free Campsites in California

Distance from San Francisco – The park is located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge

Top Attractions – Historic Fort

Fort Point Historic Site defended the San Francisco Bay following California’s Gold Rush through World War 2.

This is a great place to take in the Golden Gate Bridge, attend a special program like a cannon loading demonstration, or watch a movie Fort Point-Guardian of the Golden Gate. This is also a great time to visit the Presidio of San Francisco!

Entrance Fee – $0.00, there is no fee to visit the park.

Lodging – There is no lodging within the park

Camping – There is no camping within the park.

Park Address – Long Ave & Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

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Always Respect Californias Dispersed Camping Rules

Please dont go dispersed camping unless youre going to respect our public lands.

Most importantly, you absolutely must follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact when enjoying the great outdoors

To quickly highlight a few key points, please pack out all of your trash , properly dispose of human waste , and always try your best to set up camp in previously disturbed campsites.

In addition, follow all campfire restrictions , stay out of any closed areas, respect local wildlife , and respect all stay limits .

Another point regarding campfires know that a free campfire permit is required for all campfires in California. In fact, a permit is even required to use a camp stove while dispersed camping.

Its vital we keep our public lands clean and minimize our human impact both for our own enjoyment and the enjoyment of the next visitors not to mention for the health of the local wildlife and of the land itself.

Plum Valley Campground Modoc National Forest

Located in Modoc Forests Warner Mountain Ranger District, this scenic little dispersed campground is perfect for both hiking enthusiasts and obsidian rock collectors alike. Being close to the Sugar Hill Look-Out and a crystal-clear creek, get up close and personal with nature under the shady pines!

Nearest Town: Davis Creek, Modoc County

Amenities: Fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets. No potable water.

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Angel Island Environmental Campsites Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park encompasses the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay and is only accessible by ferry or personal boat. The island is sparsely populated and has 13 miles of trails, making for a day hiker’s dream. The routes include one up to Mount Liverpool, the highest point on the island.

Along the island’s trail system, three environmental campgrounds allow campers to have the whole place to themselves throughout the night. The environmental campgrounds on Angel Island comprise three individual campsites, and campers need to hike in their own gear to each spot. Water and vault toilets are available at the campgrounds.

Angel Island State Park also features a small beach with an additional environmental campground reserved exclusively for those traveling by kayak.

+ Kirk Creek Campground

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This oceanside paradise has 34 campsites that all overlook the Pacific Ocean. Beach access and scenic trails are nearby, securing Kirk Creek as one of the best places to camp in Big Sur. Bring a tent or RV, but bear in mind while there are vault toilets, no water, dump station, or hookups are on-site. When it comes to the best ocean view camping in Big Sur, look no further than Kirk Creek.

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Glass Creek Campground Inyo National Forest

While a little more south than the other options, Glass Creek Campground is located in a beautiful pine forest near the Mammoth Lakes, and the nearby sites make it too good to leave off the list! While a primitive campground, it is situated near the surreal, must-see site of Obsidian Dome a 300-foot high lava dome that is part of the Mono-Inyo Craters Volcanic Chain!

Nearest Town: June Lake, Mono County

Amenities: Vault and pit toilets, fire rings, and tables. No potable water or hookups.

How To Find Free Camping Near Me

Below is a collection of up-to-date resources we use to find free campsites when were traveling.

*iOverlander : This app is full of user-submitted campsites as well as other traveler-friendly information like dump stations and water fills. However, since the app relies on users to add and update content, its not 100% accurate, so its worth doing some additional research once youve found a spot you are interested in. But, generally speaking, its a great place to start!

The Dyrt PRO: The Dyrt PRO offers some great resources to help you find free camping, including filters to find free campsites, offline National Forest and BLM map overlays, and a trip planner. You can try it for 30 days free by using our code FRESH90 here!

*Free Roam : This desktop and mobile app has some really helpful features. First, you can toggle on National Forest and BLM overlays, making it super easy to find public land. You can also toggle on a satellite map and zoom in to see what the roads/turnouts look like, making it easier to identify if an area might be suitable for boondocking. Second, you can also overlay Motor Vehicle Use Maps, so you dont have to go searching for the PDFs on the national forest website. Third, you can use the map layers to show cell coverage and national forest/BLM land. If you create a free account, you can also save sites or your own waypoints, making it great for multi-day planning.

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Other California Free Camping Ideas

My favorite free campsites discussed above are just the tip of the iceberg for dispersed camping in California. Dont limit yourself to them and expand your search with the following tips:

  • Consider Parking Lots Im a big fan of camping in store parking lots as a backup when I cant find a good dispersed campsite for the night. Walmart and Cracker Barrel are two options .
  • Try Casino Camping Even better than store parking lots is camping in a casino parking lot. Many casinos in California welcome boondockers, although you usually need a self-contained vehicle . Casino camping is often free.
  • Online Maps Are Helpful Find your own dispersed campsites with the help of Gaia GPS or just plain old satellite view in Google Maps. I like Gaia because it lets you turn on USFS and BLM overlays, so you know 100% your campsite is on public land.
  • Visit a Ranger Station Always visit the nearest ranger station to the public land you plan to camp on. Not only will they provide information on current conditions, but most have paper motor vehicle use maps as well. Ranger will also provide recommendations on nearby dispersed campsites when asked.
  • Stealth Camp as a Backup Im not personally a very big fan of stealth camping, but learning the ins and outs is smart just in case you need to hunker down in a city on your trip.

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