Where to Camp in California

The Salad: Camping in California's Forests

If you prefer something green and leafy instead of the desert sand, California can provide a truly memorable camping experience. The state is home to more than a dozen national forests, from the Klamath National Forest on the Oregon border to the Cleveland National Forest, which extends nearly to Mexico.

Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the tallest trees on the planet at more than 350 feet. The parks also contain 40 miles of coastline and plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and horseback riding. You can choose among four developed campgrounds and seven back-country sites.

A similar wide range of activities is available in Tahoe National Forest, just northwest of Lake Tahoe, which provides a true wilderness experience with snow-capped peaks, mountain lakes and rivers. The region contains a wide selection of campground options.

Further south in the Sierra Nevada mountain range are Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, adjacent parks east of Fresno. The parks are home to spectacular mountain scenery, including 29 sequoia groves. There are 14 campgrounds between the two parks, many of which are open year-round.

Camp at: Dorst Creek

San Bernardino National Forest is made up of eight wilderness areas in the mountains east of San Bernardino. Two hubs of activity center around the two large lakes surrounded by mountain forests, Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead. The area contains a wide assortment of family and group campgrounds.

The Main Course: Mountain Camping

For many, camping means an escape to the mountains, with spectacular scenery, cool fresh air and the psychological benefit of feeling like you've escaped the routine and are above it all. The options in the Golden State again are plentiful.

If it's a snow-capped peak you desire, the Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area is the place for you. The area is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, with hiking, fishing, horseback riding, hunting and climbing, all in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, a snow-capped, 14,162-foot dormant volcano.

For those wanting to hike to spectacular scenery, nothing beats Yosemite National Park, which is one of the most visited national parks each year for good reason. Breathtaking waterfalls, accessible vistas and deep valleys are all part of the bucket-list experience that is Yosemite. There are 13 campgrounds in the national park itself with a variety of amenities.

Camp at: Yosemite Lakes

Angeles National Forest is a wilderness area of more than 650,000 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles. The area, which has more than 50 campgrounds, provides a wide range of outdoor activities, with more than 550 miles of hiking trails and several mountain peaks to climb, including Mt. Baldy, the tallest at 10,064 feet.

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About the Author

Chuck Scott

Chuck Scott is a freelance editor and writer with 30 years of experience in sports journalism. He is also an avid backpacker and camper, and contributor to ReserveAmerica.com.
Chuck Scott is a freelance editor and writer with 30 years of experience in sports journalism. He is also an avid backpacker and camper, and contributor to ReserveAmerica.com.

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