Camping And Clamming Dillon Beach
Dillon Beach is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It sits on a finger of land called Sand Point, aptly named because it sits between undulating sand dunes on one side and a long stretch of sandy beach on the other. The Lawson’s Landing campground is on a large grassy area in the middle of all this sand. Camp wherever there is a spot next to a picnic table and a fire ring. This is “boondocking” or camping without hookups, but there are restrooms on-site. The plus for this campground is that it is next to clam-rich mudflats. During low tide, grab some buckets, put on those waders, and slosh out across the sand in search of fresh clams for dinner.
Lakes Basin Campground Plumas National Forest
Next to the meandering banks of Gray Eagle Creek, this wooded campground in the Plumas National Forest is surrounded by glacier lakes. At least 20 lakes are connected via an intertwining trail system stemming from the campground, including the impressive Gold Lake only a short walk away.
A public boat ramp on Gold Lake is popular with watercraft owners, and the 22 sites at Lakes Basin also fill with trail hikers, mountain bikers, and horse riders.
Address: Elwell Lodge Road, Blairsden-Graeagle, California
Clam Beach State Campground:
There are several reasons why I highly recommend staying at Clam Beach State Campground and the biggest one is that its close to the Redwoods National Park .
Now California actually has several sections in the northern region that have Redwoods, but this one is in my experience less crowded .
Its located very close to the Redwoods Forest and that forest goes straight to the beach that you can explore.
Whenever I visit the Pacific Northwest, and drive through California, this Redwoods region is what I always drive through!
And if youve never seen the Redwoods, this is a great place to explore them and their beauty!
And now that this list is done, let me mention one more very important thing :
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Rv Camping On The Northern California Coast
The meandering rocky coastline of northern California is known for its dramatic sunset views, especially along Highway 1 north of San Francisco and in the Point Reyes National Seashores vicinity.
RV camping sites directly on the shore are not as abundant as they are in southern California, but they exist.
A bit off the beaten path, there are many quaint coastal towns, and small cities are worth a visit. These include San Simeon, Monterey, and Mendocino and lesser-known locales like Cayucos, Morro Bay, Eureka, and Pescadero.
This may be a bit obvious, but heres a tip for your trip. While traveling along Highway 1, its a good idea to drive from north to south. That way, after youve stopped to enjoy the view, its easier to merge back into traffic. After all, youre going with the flow.
Westport Beach Rv And Campground
On the beautiful Mendocino County coastline lies one of the best places for beach camping in Northern California. Westport Beach RV and Campground has ocean view sites right next to a private beach.
This is the perfect spot to park your RV or set up your tent and enjoy the relaxing sounds of the ocean. This campground has RV sites with full hookups, tent sites and cabin rentals.
You will also have everything you need right on sites such as showers, bathrooms, a general store, park for the kids, and a fish cleaning station.
The ocean is just steps away from the campground. You can spend the day enjoying the beach, or explore some of the other great things to do near this campground.
There are some beautiful beaches nearby including the famous Glass Beach . The Mendocino County coast is also a popular destination for fishing, surfing, and has many surrounding spots for scuba diving and snorkeling.
For more information visit the Westport Beach RV and Campground website.
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Manzanita Lake Campground Lassen Volcanic National Park
On the southern end of the Cascade Range in Northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park encompasses over 100,000 dynamic acres of a striking environment. Seven campgrounds vary in size, accommodations, and seasonality, and the Manzanita Lake Campground tends to be the most sought after.
The campground’s proximity to Redding adds to its popularity, as do the 175-plus sites availablebut it’s really the access to numerous lake activities that causes the campground to fill up during the summer season.
Other popular campgrounds at Lassen Volcanic National Park include Butte Lake Campground and Warner Valley Campground. Each campground at Lassen offers access to unique areas of the park like Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak.
For winter camping in Lassen, the only year-round campground is the Southwest Walk-In Campground, where campers must dig themselves a place to stay.
Address: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mineral, California
Finding A Great California Beach Campground
Beach campgrounds aren’t always what you expect them to be. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting camper, some places add the word “beach” to a campground name in an attempt to get attention. Sadly, they may be so far away from the ocean that you might need to take a photograph back to your campsite just to remember what the beach looked like.
If you’re looking for beach camping in California, you want your campsite to be right on the beach or next to it. A place on the cliff above the ocean, across a busy road from the beach, or so far away you’d need binoculars to see the sand doesn’t qualify for this guide.
To help you find the best places for beach camping in California, use the lists of beach campgrounds below to plan your trip. Every place on the lists below meets strict requirements. They are all next to the ocean, or just a short walk away and you won’t have to brave traffic when you make that walk. In addition, all the campgrounds in the guides below have been visited and checked, just to be sure they are what they claim to be.
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Mendocino Beach And Forest Campgrounds
Mendocino County is known for its spectacular coastline dotted with pocket beaches and for its magnificent forests spread across the coastal mountains.
- Hendy Woods Redwood State Park – For anyone seeking a quiet redwood park with lots of streams and trails for children to explore, try Hendy Woods.
- Russian Gulch and Van Damme Beach – These two coastal state parks offer camping near the ocean close to the picturesque town of Mendocino
- MacKerricher State Park – Just north of Fort Bragg, MacKerricher has great coastal camping with lots of nearby attractions.
Best Campgrounds In Northern California For Your Next Trip
Northern California has long been a top destination for camping, and its no wonder. A sunny, warm climate paired with great weather year-round makes it perfect for fun outside activities.
Outdoor activities such as hiking and camping are popular in Northern California due to their proximity to national parks, state parks, mountain ranges, forests, and deserts. With everything from beautiful beaches and lakes to breathtaking redwoods, Northern Californias scenery and wildlife will have you coming back for a long time!
If you or your family are planning on embarking on a camping trip to this area, check out our list of the best campgrounds in Northern California for your next adventure.
We totally get itit can be really hard to decide where to camp in Northern California, so we did the research and the heavy lifting for you! This guide has narrowed it down to the top 18 best campgrounds in the region.
At the end of the post, weve included a few extra glamping spots for those of you looking for a more elevated camping experience. We hope you find something perfect for your next camping trip.
This post may contain affiliate links. You wont be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!
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Westport Beach Rv Park & Campground
Take in the ocean breeze and feel the sand between your toes when you step out of your RV at the Westport Beach RV Park & Campground. Located in Westport, California, this beachfront RV park and campground has 75 full hook-up RV sites, 50 tent sites, and 5 group sites.
Westport Beach RV Park in California. Photo by Westport Beach RV Park & Campground
Enjoy strolling the private beaches, fishing, or playing in the ocean. Park amenities include a convenience store, two restroom/shower buildings, a childrens play area, horseshoe pit, volleyball court, and laundry.
Angel Island State Park Walk
Region: San Francisco Bay
Scenic rating: 10/10
Camping at Angel Island is one of the unique adventures in the Bay Area the only catch is that getting to the campsites requires a ferry boat ride and then a walk of 1-2 miles, or a kayak or boat trip from the mainland directly to the camp. The payoff comes at the end of the day, when all of the parks day visitors depart for the mainland, leaving the entire island to you.
This is one campsite that it pays to be prepared book far ahead because the sites can book up months in advance. The group camp is popular with kayakers because of beach access. From start to finish, its a great trip, featuring a private campsite, often with spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, the San Francisco waterfront and skyline, Marin Headlands, and Mount Tamalpais. The tromp up to 798-foot Mount Livermore includes a short, steep stretch, but in return furnishes one of the most spectacular urban lookouts in America. Be ready for cold, foggy weather at night in midsummer. The park features more than 13 miles of trails, including Perimeter Road, a must-do for all avid cyclists. Bikes are also permitted on the parks fire road system. Angel Island has a stunning history, including being used from 1910 to 1940 to process thousands of immigrants as they entered America historic tram tours are available.
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Amazing Places For Beach Camping In Northern California
Northern California has some of the prettiest beaches in all of the US. It is easy to find stunning beaches in this great state. Its not so easy to find places where you can camp on the beach in Northern California.
There is nothing better than camping at the beach! Waking up to the sound of the waves, enjoying all day on the sand and then watching the sunset over the ocean. Camping at the beach is simply amazing and should be on your bucket list.
Whether you want to park your RV next to the ocean, or set up your tent right on the sand, there are some great places to plan your beach camping trip.
No Free Beach Camping In Northern California
Free beach camping in NorCal is one of those Internet fails that keeps making the rounds, copied by people who don’t take the time to find out the facts. If you see anything about a free beach campground near Orick in Northern California, I can save you some trouble. After talking to a State Park Ranger, I confirmed that there are no free beach campgrounds in the Orick area.
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Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras Big Trees State Park is located within the Stanislaus National Forest about 2 hours southeast of Sacramento. The park was created in 1931 to protect two groves of giant sequoias the North and South Groves. The park has an abundance of natural attractions including the Stanislaus River, Beaver Creek, ancient volcanic formations, and natural meadows. The park has a plethora of trails to give you up close access to the beauty. A free, guided hike is given Saturdays by a knowledgeable docent or ranger. It also has a visitors center, campground center, and exhibit hall. Campsites are found in two areas North Grove and Oak Hollow. Campsites are simple with fire ring and table, but no power or water. There are flush toilets and showers available.
Point Mugu State Park
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains close to Malibu, Point Mugu State Park has two beach campgrounds Thornhill Broome Campground and Sycamore Campground. Sycamore is located on the east side of the highway, so if you are looking for true California beach camping, Thornhill Broome should be your top choice here as its located right on the beach.
Thornhill Broome has 69 primitive sites available and Sycamore has 58 there are no hookups available at either campground. There are 70 miles of hiking trails located near these campgrounds, making it the perfect weekend getaway spot.
Please be advised that due to tidal influence and storm surge, the Thornhill Broome Beach campground is subject to flooding and closure. More camping and reservation information is available here.
Thornhill Broome Campground
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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Campground
- Location: Big Sur, Monterey County
- Type: Hike-in
Feeling lucky? Try scoring a night at one of the four-person environmental campsites at . These two sites, the only ones in this park, are located about a half-mile hike from the parking lot and right above the famous McWay Falls. You wont be able to see the falls from your tent, but youll be the only people in the park once it closes for the night.
Spend the day hiking to Cone Peak, at 5,155 feet, the tallest coastal mountain in the lower 48. At night, head to Treebones for some outstanding omakase at the Sushi Bar or garden-to-table campfire fare at Wild Coast Restaurant, also onsite. If youre up for a late-night adventure, book hot springs time at Esalen the spring-fed tubs are only open to the public in the wee hours of the morning.
Paradise By The Sea Rv Resort
Paradise By The Sea RV Resort in Oceanside is a paradise for roadtrippers. This 90-site campground is located right next to Buccaneer Park and Beach which includes a playground, basketball court, shaded picnic area, restrooms, and beach café.
Paradise by the Sea RV Resort is one of the most popular RV parks in California. Photo by Paradise by the Sea RV Resort
You can explore nearby towns like Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Encinitas take a road trip to Snowbird visit attractions like LEGOLAND and Sea World or just surf and enjoy the southern California sun. The campground has a resort-style pool and hot tub as well as free cable TV and WiFi. Enjoy full hookups, laundry, a relaxation garden, firepit, outdoor recreation area, and rec room.
Popular Youtubers Mortons On The Move shared their review of Paradise By The Sea in this video:
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Utica And Union Reservoirs
Region: Tahoe and Northern Sierra
Scenic rating: 10/10
These twin reservoirs are set in Sierra granite at 6,850 feet. Union is a beautiful and quiet lake that is kept that way with rules that mandate a 5-mph speed limit. Utica does not allow motors of any kind. Most of the campsites provide lakeside views. Fishing is often goodtrolling for kokanee salmonbut you need a boat. The setting is great, especially for canoes or other small boats. This area was once a secret, but alas the secret is out and there are now three new, small campgrounds around the waters edge. Remember to bring pack water in with you, as there is no potable water onsite. Leashed pets are allowed.
Moss Landing Koa Express
This campground is one of the best places for beach camping in Northern California for nature lovers. Located on the harbor in Monterey Bay and within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The best part of moss landing is the location. It is just a short walk from the campground to the beach, restaurants and shopping. It is also just a 15-minute drive to Santa Cruz or Monterey.
Moss Landing is only for fully self-contained RVs. There are no sites for tent or van camping. All sites come with full hookups. The RV park is pretty small, and the sites are close together, but it is a clean park and you cant beat all there is to do in the area.
Visitors enjoy scenic nature tours through the Elkhorn Slough, chartered whale watching tours, and exploring the beach. It is also just a short drive to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and the historic Monterey-Cannery Row and Fishermans Wharf.
For more information visit the Moss Landing KOA Express website.
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Choose A Variety Of Ways To Stay
The idea of camping in California means different things to different people. Youll find plenty of different ways to camp when you choose to camp at a KOA campground. Your options include:
- Tent camping: At KOA, youll find traditional Tent Sites where you can pitch your tent and enjoy nature. For many, tent camping is the essence of the camping experience, and we accommodate that essential experience with some of the best tent camping sites youll find in California complete with great campground amenities.
- Cabin camping: We also offer Camping Cabins for those who want to pack a little lighter. Get all the benefits of camping while enjoying a elevated camping experience when you choose a Camping Cabin at KOA.
- Deluxe Cabin camping: Take your camping to the next level with our Deluxe Cabins. These types of cabins offer additional amenities like a private bathroom, and often kitchenettes, linens and more.
- RVing: When you need a place to hook up your RV and enjoy a night in a safe, comfortable and clean RV Site, choose RV campgrounds in California with KOA. At some KOA campgrounds you will even find KOA Patio Sites. Stay for a night on your way to your final destination or stay for an extended period of time the possibilities are endless!
- Unique lodging: Many KOA campgrounds also offer unique lodging, including teepees, Airstreams, yurts, Glamping Tents and more!
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