Camping in California State Parks: Finding the Perfect Spot

Burney Falls

Whether you live in or are traveling to the Golden State, California State camping parks are certainly an incredible way to enjoy the mild weather and beauty of this incredible, diverse location.

Selecting the Perfect Park

Probably the most difficult decision is choosing a place from such a large assortment of perfect options. While some people's advice would be to take a couple weeks off and travel from one extraordinary park to the next, that is not reality for most camping travelers. Your best bet in selecting the perfect park for your next California camping adventure is to narrow it down by location and amenities. Once you know which part of California you wish to explore, use this guide to select the park that best matches your desired comforts and available activities.

Northern California

D.L. Bliss State Park Campgrounds

Northern California camping includes parks that extend north of the San Francisco and Sacramento areas, including such popular locations as Lake Tahoe. A beauty in the Lake Tahoe area is uncovered at D. L. Bliss State Park, escaping the crowds of the popular lake region. A park named after a lumberman (of all people!), D.L. Bliss State Park offers the following services:

  • Flush toilets and hot showers
  • Campground is right next to Lester Beach
  • Smaller RVs and tent sites
  • Great hiking and easy access to all of Lake Tahoe's activities

Pomo Canyon Campground, Bodega Bay

A totally different camping experience awaits you at Pomo Canyon. Nestled in a redwood canyon, just over the ridge from the ocean, this campground requires a short hike in. Although the walk to your site is approximately 0.1 mile, it does require you to carry your gear, so it is a good place for minimalists.

  • All sites are shaded by large redwood trees
  • Drinking water and pit toilets
  • No dogs allowed
  • Rustic, quiet and cool

Patrick's Point State Park, Trinidad

A majestic park with three campground loops awaits you at Patrick's Point. With the large Sitka spruce, cliff overlooks, sea lions, beaches and more, there is something for everyone here.

  • Hiking trails
  • Whale watching
  • Tidepools
  • Agate hunting
  • Tent and RV camping
  • Water, flush toilets and showers

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park Campground, Burney

A busy summer destination full of families and kids, or the quiet seclusion of wintertime escape, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park features a variety of moods for the season. Next to the Lake Britton reservoir and a short hike to one of California's most renowned waterfalls, 129-foot Burney Falls, this park is all about water and wildlife.

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing and boating
  • Hiking and biking
  • Large and open, historic campsites
  • Tent and RV camping
  • Flush toilets, showers and dump stations

Central California

From the Bay Area to San Luis Obispo there opens a world of rural camping to explore.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Boulder Creek

In the mountains above the beach city of Santa Cruz lives a hidden paradise, the forest of redwoods found at the first official California state park, which is Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

  • Tent and RV sites, as well as tent cabins are available
  • Ample hiking and biking trails
  • Flush toilets and showers
  • Dogs allowed on leash in campground only

Pine Marten Campground, Sonora

A prime Sierra campground on Lake Alpine is found at Pine Marten. Due to the high elevation, snow is even possible here as late as July. Rocky with sparse pines, the scenery is amazing and bright.

  • Hiking trails
  • Fishing, boating and swimming
  • Nearby resort offers a restaurant, bar and showers
  • Water and flush toilets at campground
  • Tent and RV sites

Mesquite Spring, Death Valley National Park

Although dry and hot, the Death Valley area is known for its amazing beauty. In order to maximize the desert experience you must see it from the morning to the night, and there is no better way than to camp.

  • Tent and RV sites
  • Water, flush toilets and dump station
  • Hiking

Whitney Portal Group, Inyo National Forest

If you enjoy mountaineering or just like to watch it in action, the Inyo National Forest is the portal to the intense climb to the top of California's highest peak, Mt. Whitney.

  • Camp is at 8,000 feet elevation
  • Tent and RV sites
  • Water and flush toilets

For more information call (760) 876-6200.

Southern California

Southern California camping is know for mild drier weather, sandy escapes and water play.

El Capitan State Beach, Santa Barbara Coast

In a rustic rural area of pristine coastline sits a row of incredible state beaches. El Capitan is particularly popular due to beautiful setting and ample beach activities.

  • Warm water swimming
  • Sandy beach
  • Tidepools
  • Biking and beach strolling
  • Tent and RV sites
  • Summer lifeguard
  • Water, flush toilets and showers
  • Summer convenience store

South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad

Want a campsite with an ocean view? Then this state campground is for you. Half of the sites at South Carlsbad sit on top of the bluff overlooking the ocean. Not a bad deal for less than $35 a night.

  • Swimming and surfing
  • Snorkeling and diving
  • Reservations required
  • Tent and RV sites
  • Flush toilets and showers
  • Summer lifeguard service

About The State of California's Wilderness

The diversity of California's wild country is like no other place in the world. With both the highest and lowest points in the continental U.S., the state offers incredible variety for the adventurous traveler. Whether you prefer the alpine landscapes of the high sierra or the dry sand of the dessert, the miles of beaches or the redwood rainforests, California state camping parks have something gorgeous and pristine to offer.

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Camping in California State Parks: Finding the Perfect Spot