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California Camping Sites

Are you looking for California camping sites? You are in luck! California has a multitude of camping opportunities: everything from cozy mom-and-pop private campgrounds to isolated campsites in majestic forests - and everything in between.

Whether you are looking for a full-service campground with electrical hookups, a laundromat and a video arcade - or a remote backcountry site beside a rushing mountain stream - you'll find it in California!

What is your favorite place to camp in California? Please click here to tell us all about it!

Types of California Camping Sites

State Parks

There are more than 280 state parks in California, with a total of almost 15000 campsites.

While most of the state parks in California have campgrounds, there may be some that don't. Be sure to check ahead of time!

State park camping is a great option for family camping. Many state parks are located on main highways, in scenic locations.

You can expect to find these basic amenities at most state parks:

  • level sites
  • picnic tables
  • fire rings
  • outhouses or flush toilets
  • drinking water

Click here to read about state park camping in other parts of the United States.

State Forests

California boasts 8 state forests:

  • Boggs Mountain
  • Ellen Pickett
  • Jackson
  • Las Posadas
  • Latour
  • Mount Zion
  • Mountain Home
  • Rogue River

Camping is allowed in many of these forests. If you are looking for California camping sites in the wilderness, a state forest is for you! Be sure to read these backpacking tips if you are new to backcountry camping.

State Recreation Areas

There are 9 state-managed recreation areas in California:

  • Auburn State
  • Austin Creek
  • Benbow Lake
  • Benicia
  • Brannan Island
  • Colusa-Sacramento River
  • Folsom Lake
  • Millerton Lake
  • Picacho

You'll find lots to do in a recreation area. Swimming, fishing and boating are likely to be available. Perhaps there will be mountain biking, or gold panning, or roller blading!

The camping options vary widely in Recreation Areas. Be sure to check in advance.

Benecia has just 3 campsites, and all 3 are for self-contained RVs only. Tents are not allowed.

Some, recreation areas, like Folsom Lake, have full hook ups.

Others, like Auburn State, have only primitive sites. Bring your own water, and expect to use an outhouse. (If you're not convinced that you want to use outhouse toilets, click here.)

If you travel to Austin Creek Recreation Area, be aware that the road to the campground is steep and winding, and is not suitable for trailers. In fact, any vehicle over 20 feet in length is prohibited.

National Parks

Most National Parks are in an area of exceptional beauty or geographical significance. Since their settings are so magnificent, lots of people want to visit. Be prepared to share your experience with a crowd!

There are 9 California National Parks:

  • Channel Islands
  • Death Valley
  • Joshua Tree
  • Kings Canyon
  • Lassen Volcanic
  • Pinnacles
  • Redwood
  • Sequoia
  • Yosemite

California camping sites in National Parks are similar to those in state parks: you'll find basic, well-maintained amenities. To read about National Parks in other parts of the United States, click here.

National Forests

National Forests, in general, are less crowded and less expensive to visit than National Parks. If jostling with groups of tourists is not for you, check out a National Forest.

There are 18 National Forests in California. I was impressed to learn that they cover 20% of the land in the state!

There are abundant camping opportunities in the National Forests. You can choose to stay in a developed campground, or in a primitive campground - or you can camp just about anywhere for free, as long as you have fire permit! Fires permits are obtainable at BLM offices, Forest Service offices, or at a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection site.

Private campgrounds

If you enjoy the comforts of home when you are traveling, you will probably want to stay at a private campground. Do you need hot showers and place to do laundry? Do you want a recreation room or a swimming pool? Look for a private campground.

Unlike the state or national parks, private campgrounds can vary widely in their quality, their price and the services they offer. Try to find a place that is recommended, either by a friend or an online forum.

If you find yourself at an unknown campground, feel free to walk around the grounds before committing yourself to staying. Check out the sites and especially the bathrooms to avoid any surprises later.

General Recommendations

Plan ahead

No matter where you decide to camp, find out if your chosen campground accepts reservations, and whether it tends to fill up. If so, do make reservations - even if you have to pay a fee. It will be worth it to avoid the disappointment and hassle of being turned away.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Place To Camp In California

Where is it? What do you like about it?

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Lake Camanche, California.... 
This place is very clean and safe for people that aren't very familiar with camping. __________________________________________________ Thank you, …

Click here to write your own.

Now that you know a bit about California camping sites, visit this page to learn about other options for camping in the United States.

Before you start packing for your next camping trip, be sure to visit the Complete Family Camping Guide home page! There is a lot of helpful information there!

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