Juniper Lakelassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen, located in the wilds of Californias northeast corner, is other-worldly. The parks namesake peak last exploded more than 100 years ago, but geothermal activity is still very present at sulphur vents, mud pots, and hot springs. Lassen is much less crowded than other national parks in California, so youll have a better chance of finding a campsite anywhere here.
The Juniper Lake campground in particular can be overlooked, since its nestled at the end of a 13-mile semi-paved road. Because of the steep and windy road, it is not for RVs. The 18 tent sites on the lakes southeastern shore are first-come, first-served. There are two group campsites and a horse campsite available. There is no running water.
Unlike the impressive but always incredible Yosemite, Lassen is a gem of a national park rivaling Yellowstone, but without the crowds. There are mud pots, alpine meadows, and lakes to swim and fish in, The Dyrt camper Brian C.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
With high peaks, pristine lakes and miles & miles of wilderness trails, its not hard to see why Sequoia & Kings Canyon are such a popular spot for camping!
You can go hiking trails for all levels, horseback riding, fishing and swimming!
Keep in mind that pets are not allowed on trails but are fine in the campgrounds.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon also boasts the Crystal Cave which is a natural marble cavern located near the Sequoia Giant Forest.
Plan a full day there as the windy roads can take while to navigate through.
Unfortunately the only way to go in and explore is by going on the tour, which is not free. Youll also have to purchase tickets ahead of time and make sure to wear something warm as its pretty cold in the cavern, even if its hot outside.
Its definitely worth it so you may wish schedule the Crystal cave into your camping get-away!
No reservation campgrounds include:
$18/night with 2 vehicle max. 110 available tent and RV campsites .
Since most of the campsites are under evergreen trees, shade is in abundance and youll be within walking distance of the General Grant sequoia grove which offers plenty of short hikes.
There are flushing toilets and potable water within each camp loop and each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring.
Bear resistant food lockers are located in each campsite you are required to use them for food storage at all times.
Can’t Find A Campsite
The park has become an extremely popular destination in recent years. Due to this popularity, all park campgrounds are usually full on weekends October through May.
If you arrive too late to get a site in a designated campground, you have the following options:
- Camp on Bureau of Land Management land outside the park.
- Go to a private campground or stay in lodging in gateway communities. Please contact area chambers of commerce for information.
Sleeping in your vehicle overnight along the roadside or at a roadside pull off is not allowed, and violators may be subject to a citation.
For more information, visit our Camping Outside of the Park page.
- Group sites can accommodate 10-60 people.
- Reservations may be made up to 6 months in advance for Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Sheep Pass.
- Cottonwood and Sheep Pass Group Campgrounds are for tents only. Indian Cove Group Campground can accommodate small RVs or trailers, with a maximum combined length of 25 feet.
Black Rock and Ryan Campgrounds have designated horse camps. Ryan is closed in the summer months. See the horseback riding page for more information.
Death Valley National Park
Campsite fees: Free-$36The great thing about driving five hours to the hottest spot in the western hemisphere is that, chances are, you will get a campsite. Note that some areas are closed during part of the year, so check the website before heading out. The only campgrounds open in the summer of 2021 are Mesquite Springs, Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike, and Mahogany Flat. The uber-desert park has plenty to fascinate kids , and campgrounds that are first come, first served most of the year .
S’mores are the best thing about camping! Photo by US Dep’t of Agriculture via flickr
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
Image from The Dyrt camper Rachel O.
The Lost Coast is a 60-mile stretch of wilderness along the ragged coastline of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties, part of the King Range Conservation Area. Hikers and backpackers love the empty sandy beaches, windy bluffs and many possibilities for wildlife sightings. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park lies at the southern portion of the region, and is a perfectly hidden northern California camping option.
The campground at Usal Beach is the largest and most accessible campground in the parkhowever, RVs are not recommended because of the difficult road getting in. All 25 sites are first come, first served. There are some sites right on the beach, and some a little more inland among the grasses. There is no fresh running water, so bring your own or bring a good water filter.
Im lucky enough to live within an hour from this amazing place. Granted it has no facilities as budgets have been hacked and slashed, but this isnt the kind of place for luxury camping. This is the kind of place that will renew your soul, it will make you feel alive and allow the stress of the everyday world to wash away. The Dyrt camper Matthew G.
Recommended Reading: Camping World Traverse City Michigan
How To Find Last Minute Camping In Los Angeles
If youre like me, its Wednesday afternoon or Thursday night before you even start thinking you might like to round up a few buddies and get away for the weekend…
…way too late to snag a campsite anywhere.
Planning ahead isnt exactly my strong suit but finding loopholes in the system is. Stick with me, fair reader, and youll be cracking open a cold one with the boys in your very own campsite this weekend with no need for actual planning on your part.
**note**This worked for me on Labor Day Weekend, arguably the most crowded outdoor weekend on the calendar, so I assure you it can work for you too.
Where Can I Camp Without Reservations In Southern California
10 Glorious Campgrounds In Southern California Where No Reservation Is Required Buckhorn Campground Angeles National Forest. Holcomb Valley Campground San Bernardino National Forest. Oak Flats Campground Angeles National Forest. Ryan Campground Joshua Tree National Park. Chilao Campground -Angeles National Forest.
Read Also: American River Camping And Rafting
Castle Rock State Park
Storm damage in the Santa Cruz mountains has delayed openings in Big Basin, but the backcountry trail camps at Castle Rock State Park are currently open for use. These sites are primitive, so youll need your own drinking water and TP.
$15 per night + $8 reservation fee
Yosemite has a number of seasonal first-come, first-served campgrounds, but Camp 4 is the only one open right now. Other first-come-first-served sites in Yosemite, including Bridalveil Creek, will not be open until August 1.
$6 per person per night
Pinnacles does not require reservations. With 99 tent only sites plus more RV and group camping sites, theres always something available. Most sites have nearby drinking water and toilets.
$25 annual pass
Up in Gold Country, Auburn SRA has two separate first-come, first-served campgrounds, Mineral Bar and Ruck-a-Chucky. Neither have drinking water, although toilets and garbage cans are provided.
$28 per night
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How To Make A Last
Iâm one of the two people working on Campnab. I like to run, ski, bike, and camp with my family and friends.
Looking to make a last-minute reservation for camping? You are not in luck. Sleeping on the ground is surprisingly appealing to a lot of peopleâwho probably made campsite reservations months ago.
I wish I could give you better news. Fact is, booking a campsite was challenging in the first place. The pandemic and associated restrictions on international travel have many looking instead to domestic travel options. Given its outdoor setting, budget-friendliness, and nostalgic good-vibes, camping is at the top of the list for many.
Those who made their camping plans early didnât have it much easier. Campgrounds sell-out quickly. Many reached out to us this year noting that they had their mouse over the Reserve button on opening morningâbut spots were gone by the time they clicked. Seriously: Campsites are booking faster than an Abba reunion tour.
The truth of the matter is that getting a last-minute campsite reservation wonât be easy. So, itâs time to check your expectations. If you are lucky enough to score a campsite, you might not get the spot of your dreams. That said, all hope is not lost. Following are a handful of options that could help get your family around a campfire, eating some gooey sâmores, this summer. Read onâ¦
Sites like Glamping Hub allow you to sample camping options that are sometimes more unique.
Also Check: Wekiwa Springs State Park Camping
Can I Go Camping In California
With the Regional Stay at Home Order lifted for all regions in the state, California State Parks today announced the reopening of campground sites for existing reservation holders. Additionally, group campsites remain closed. Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public remain open.
Hit The Backcountry Trail
Its no surprise that campgrounds with amenities like showers and electricity are popular destinations for families and glampers. If you dont mind getting a little dirty and disconnecting for a few days in the backcountry, then backpacking sites are a great alternative to busy RV campgrounds. Although largely more available, backcountry permits are oftentimes required, check online to see if your specific dates are available.
Also Read: 9 State Parks You Need to Visit
Recommended Reading: Hillsborough River State Park Camping
How Do I Get Started
Tate starts her search with an old-fashioned California state atlas, which feels like a throw-back, given that most campgrounds have websites. But not all.
The large-format atlases have all of the campgrounds marked, she said. So a lot of the little, tiny county ones or community ones, theyll be marked on that map. You may not be able to find out much about them online.
Why hike in Los Angeles? Lots of reasons. Use our guide to navigate 50 trails in Southern California, plus tips on gear and treats for the trail.
Once you have a destination and a date in mind, nail down your spot. Camping reservations open six months in advance for most national and state parks, meaning Memorial Day campers snagged their reservations in late November.
National parks: California has nine, more than any other state: Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Sequoia and Yosemite.
For many park campgrounds, Recreation.gov is the online gateway. You can choose a campground and peruse photos and maps of each one, allowing you to pick a site near the creek or deep in the woods. Reservations open six months in advance.
California State Parks: The agency uses the ReserveCalifornia.com online system, which opens reservations six months in advance of the date you want to camp. It also offers maps and information about amenities.
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Explore County And City Park Options
This tip might be our top tip. Its one weve used time and time again for last-minute bookings overlooked county and city parks. They can be a bit tricky as sometimes they dont have websites or even a staff, which means you might have to call a park service office to book, but the harder it is to make a reservation, the better the chance that its not sold-out.
Read Also: Camping Near Harriman State Park
Check Private Campgrounds For Availabilities
Provincial, state, and national parks can be spectacular. That doesnât mean theyâre your only options though. When it comes to last-minute campsites you can sometimes fare better with private campsites. This is because many donât even offer online booking.
These campgrounds require a little more research, but even a Google search for â + campsiteâ will get you started. No luck? Check Campendium, The Dyrt, or Reserve America and youâre bound to find some workable options. Pro-tip: Sometimes itâs worth making a phone call to the park youâre interested in. Then speak with one of their staff about possible openings.
You might also consider exploring some groups that manage several different campgrounds. Most everyoneâs heard of Kampsites of America , which operates over 500 campgrounds across North America. Similarly, Good Sam Parks boasts 2,100+ campgrounds in Canada and the United States.
Sites like Freeroam allow you to connect with other campers and share notes.
You Want: To Hug A Tree Literally
A post shared by Ashley on Jun 25, 2019 at 5:59pm PDT
The impossible reservation: Seeing redwoods in the most iconic spots during the busiest summer weekends can be challenging. Campsites at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which features 300-foot ancient coast redwoods, are already booked for the Fourth of July weekend.
The awesome alternative: If youve been rebuffed from Big Basin, you can look toward other local campsites, like Little Basin, or you can splash out and stay in a treehouse nestled amongst the majestic old red barks. Check out the Star Redwood Treehouse on Mystery Spot Road in Santa Cruz or this redwood treehouse AirBNB in Watsonville. If youre in the East Bay, drive just 15 minutes from Oakland to Redwood Regional Park for some pretty tree-gazing.
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Where Can I Go Last Minute Camping In California
Head to These Northern California Camping Spots When Everything Else Is Booked Tuolumne MeadowsYosemite National Park. Andrew Molera State Park. Mount Tamalpais State Park. Juniper LakeLassen Volcanic National Park. Auburn State Recreation Area. Gold Lake Campground. Sinkyone Wilderness State Park. Silver Fork Campground.
Privately Owned Campgrounds Near La
Privately owned campgrounds like KOA are generally quite a different experience from state and national park camping, and tend to be a whole lot easier to reserve at the last minuteoften accommodating drive-ups. These campgrounds vary tremendously in style, so we recommend reading plenty of online reviews before choosing one. Most have plenty of amenities for the inexperienced camper, and some offer playgrounds and other entertainment for kids.
Scrambling up the climbing wall. Photo courtesy of KOA Ventura Ranch
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Where To Go For Last
With the summer solstice behind us, its now officially camping and backpacking season. In the Bay Area, this means that its officially time of year to escape the thick fog often blanketing the city.
The only problem? Popular campgrounds in the area have long since been booked for every weekend in the summer. But fear not: With a little savvy planning, you can still snag a spotand ditch the crowdsby hitting the trail. While weekend campsites at state and national parks fill the minute the reservation system goes live, many world-class wilderness areas within reasonable driving distance of the Bay Area offer first-come, first-served backcountry permits. Better still, some wilderness areas have no trail quotas, which means you virtually guaranteed a spot under the stars no matter when you arrive to retrieve your permit. Here, details on seven nearby backpacking destinations for excellent last-minute backpacking trips in NorCal.
Where Can I Camp Last
Last-Minute Camping in Southern California Chula Vista Campground in Los Padres National Forest: Way up near the summit of Mt. Pinos, this 12-site walk-in camp is an escape from the summer heat. Plan B: McGill Campground, a couple of miles down from the summit. $16 www.fs.fed.us/r5/lospadres or 661/245-3731.
Don’t Miss: New Brighton Beach Camping Reservations
National Park Camping Near Los Angeles
One way to pull off a last-minute camping trip is to head for a campground that either doesn’t take reservations at all or holds back a certain number of sites for walk-ups. Almost all national parks fall into this category. If you want to be sure of securing a campsite, plan on getting there early, though. And if you don’t mind going primitive as a last resort, there are almost always a few primitive sites available somewhere in a national park.
Currently Closed But Expected To Open This Summer:
Westridge trail camp is a primitive campground 6 miles in from the West Ridge trailhead. Six miles isnt a huge deal if youre an experienced backpacker, but first-timers may find it a good first true roughing it experience.
$5 per night
This is hands down my favorite place to camp in Big Sur. Trail Camp is currently closed due to winter storm damage, but when it opens, all 24 sites are available first come, first served.
$25 per night
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Yes You Can Find Last
Heres a hypothetical: its Memorial Day weekend and you want to go camping. Youre scrolling through the online reservation system for camping options in northern California, and growing increasingly frustrated as you see your top choices are completely full. Its a situation all too familiar when trying to go camping in California. Campgrounds in iconic locations like Yosemite National Park or along the Central Coast often fill up within minutes when reservations are opened six months or more in advance. If youre a last-minute planner like me, this can be dispiriting and difficult. If youre in a pinch you can use the offline maps and campgrounds of The Dyrt PRO to find the free public lands near you.
Luckily, theres an abundance of camping options in northern California that take no advance reservations, if you know where to look. Some of these campgrounds have policies in place to cater specifically to last-minute planners. Some of them are just off the beaten path, and all of them offer an equivalent, if not better, nature experience to the more iconic locations.