The Variations on Northern California Camping
You've got your beaches, your mountains, your Redwoods, your rocky rugged coastlines, your wilderness, your lakes, rivers, and streams ...
You've got local, state, and national parks, privately and publicly run camps, big facilities with lots of other campers, and isolated lonely spots where you won't see another soul for days... just about every environment you could imagine!
From hiking, biking, horseback riding, or mule packing in and sleeping under the stars, to a canvas or nylon tent next to a campfire, through all the levels of RVing, we've got you covered.
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Choose the Northern California Camping
Style That's Just Right for You
We offer you this, our essential guide to Northern California camping to help you find the NorCal region and style of camping that's perfect for YOU. So what are you waiting for, let's get started!
Northern Coastal and Coast Range Camping
Along the far North Coast of California and in the Coastal Mountain Range that runs parallel to the shoreline, you'll find everything from primitive camping opportunities to luxurious campgrounds with all the amenities.
You'll also find some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, with rugged sheer drop-off cliffs, everything from sandy to boulder-strewn beaches, pristine lakes and rushing waterways, open grasslands where deer graze, and the anciently peaceful Redwood forests of Del Norte, Calaveras, and Mendocino counties.
Klamath Mountain Range Camping
Explore the Klamath Mountain Range of Siskiyou and Trinity Counties - which includes Siskiyou, Marbel, Scott, Trinity, and Salmon ranges as well as the Trinity Alps - and you'll discover some of the most primitive and secluded camping you'll find anywhere in the world.
I remember my Dad's stories about whole summers he and his brother spent in the Trinity wilderness as teenagers. They would hunt and fish the forests and streams for their supper, and see nary a soul for weeks. Amazingly, little has changed in the mountains since those days!
But RVers who appreciate hook-ups need not fear. You'll find there are ample RV parks and providers in the area as well.
Cascade Mountain Range Camping
Looking for Northern California camping that's more lakeside? The greater Cascade Range area boasts Lake Shasta, Eagle Lake, Antelope Lake, Crater Lake, Medicine Lake, and countless more!
Besides beautiful lakes to camp around, the Cascades are home to
snow-capped mountains, and an active volcano (Mount Lassen) with
geothermal features that make this area one of the more unusual Northern
California camping regions.
More Northern California Camping Choices
Central Valley Camping
Grasslands, farmland, and the Sierra Nevada foothills make up the Central Valley, and there are plenty of camping opportunities! Camp along one of several rivers, next to any of the many reservoirs, or under the spreading oaks scattered across the foothills.
For things to see and do while you're camping here, choose between exploring gold rush towns, visiting Gold Country wineries, browsing the antique stores, camping at any of the many reservoirs for water sports, and discovering one of the most productive farming areas in the world.
Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Camping
This area encompasses such familiar and popular destinations as Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Forests; but it also includes the Eastern Sierras where you'll find dramatic contrasts - mountains melding into deserts, the Tufa towers of Mono Lake, looming glacier peaks hovering above the alkali flats - it's breath-takingly beautiful!
Napa and Sonoma Camping
Because Napa and Sonoma are popular areas for residents and visitors alike, it's surprising there are so many isolated and secluded places to camp in the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country! You'll enjoy peacefully hidden worlds, old-growth Redwood, mist-covered forests, and peaks with sweeping views.
San Francisco Bay Area Camping
Another surprise when it comes to Northern California camping is the San Francisco Bay Area! A region that's so populated doesn't usually conjure up visions of camping, wilderness, and wildlife. But hilly San Francisco was built atop the Coastal Mountain Range, and you'll discover largely unpopulated rolling hills and broad valleys within a hair's breadth of The Big City.
CC Lydia Mann
Central Coastal Camping
One of my personal favorites for camping, of course, is the Central Coastal area.
This includes the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as the wonderful Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur stretches of the coast.
Choose from camping in the mountains (Big Basin Redwoods State Park is a favorite of mine!) and the Forest Service campgrounds around Big Sur; campsites that overlook the ocean, and camping near or even on the beach - it just doesn't get much better than Central Coast camping.
We recently received this question from one of our readers: "We live in the Sac area and looking to head somewhere warmer in March to camp other than Southern California. Any suggestions?"
You can see the answer here.
If you have a question for us, be sure to ask on our FAQs page.
Northern California Camping Alternatives
There aren't too many places left in California where you can legally just
pull off the side of the highway or down a fire road and set up your camp. But you won't find a shortage of camping opportunities, nonetheless!
National Parks and Forests Camping
California has an extensive system of National Parks and National Forests, many of which are in Northern California!
Camping is on hand at Lassen Volcanic NP, Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwood National Park, Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP, and Yosemite National Park, just for starters.
CC Roman Eye
California State Parks
California also has one of the most extensive State Park systems in the United States!
And though we've been facing budget woes, hundreds of thousands of people are looking outside the normal box of funding tricks to find ways to save our parks.
You'll find State Beaches, and State Historic Parks; Protected Areas, and Reserves; plus the State Parks and Campgrounds.
You can't camp at all of them - for instance, you can't always camp on a State Beach. But there's usually camping of some kind around, so you can camp nearby and enjoy the non-camping portions of the California State Park system on a Day Use basis.
If that's not enough for you, there are literally thousands of private campgrounds throughout Northern California where you can park your tent or RV, rent a cabin, or stay at a lodge and enjoy the great outdoor adventures that come along with Northern California camping!
And if it's lodging you're looking for, compare prices and amenities, then book your choice at HotelsCombined.com:
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