Best Camping in Northern California

Best Campgrounds in Northern California: Pitch Your Tent in Paradise

Camping is one of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Northern California. With its diverse landscape, from the towering Redwoods to the rugged coastline, there’s no shortage of amazing places to pitch a tent and spend a few days under the stars.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best camping spots in Northern California. We’ll also provide tips on what to bring, what to expect, and how to make the most of your trip. So, whether you’re a first-time camper or a seasoned pro, this guide will help you plan the perfect camping trip.

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Let’s take a look at Best Camping in Northern California.

Northern California Quick Overview

Northern California, also known as NorCal, is a breathtakingly beautiful region that spans from the northern border of Oregon to San Luis Obispo county in California.

The area is renowned for its towering redwood forests and rugged Pacific coastline, both of which are stunning natural wonders that attract visitors from all over the world.

Among its many cities, San Francisco stands out as a must-visit destination, with its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and historic cable cars. San Jose, located farther south, is home to Silicon Valley, a thriving technology and innovation hub.

Heading north, the Napa and Sonoma valleys beckon, with hundreds of vineyards dotting the rolling hills. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or culinary delights, Northern California has something for everyone to discover and enjoy.

The Best Campgrounds in Northern California

Northern California is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with various camping spots offering stunning natural beauty and a range of recreational activities. Here are some of the best camping spots in Northern California.

Beal’s Point Campground: Best Campground in Northern California

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is a picturesque destination just 30 miles west of Sacramento, boasting three campgrounds offering breathtaking views of Folsom Lake.

Beal's Point Campground

Among them, the most popular one is Beal’s Point Campground, situated on the western shoreline of Folsom Lake, just north of the Folsom Lake Dam. Here’s everything you need to know about camping at Beal’s Point Campground.

Reservations and Availability: Beal’s Point Campground offers 69 sites for year-round camping, with options for both tents and RVs.

Making reservations during the summer is advisable, as the campground tends to fill up fast. During the winter, the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and you’re more likely to find a spot without a reservation.

Amenities: Every overnight Beal’s Point Campground guest can access potable water and hot showers. The campground is also located close to a swimming beach, perfect for a refreshing dip in the lake. Whether camping in a tent or an RV, you’ll have everything you need to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.

Activities: Folsom Lake offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, and boating. Beal’s Point Campground is conveniently located near Granite Bay, where several public boat ramps provide water access.

If you’re looking for additional camping options, Peninsula Campground is located on the north end of the lake, accessible via a scenic 10-mile drive. It offers over 80 sites and is a popular destination for boaters.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Graham Hill Campground.

Located just five miles from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Graham Hill Campground at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a must-visit for nature lovers seeking an immersive camping experience.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Graham Hill Campground

The campground’s 100-plus campsites are surrounded by towering trees and lush forests, allowing visitors to sleep beneath the stars in a veritable wonderland.

Camping Options: Graham Hill Campground caters to both RV and tent campers. While RVs with no hookups are welcome, the maximum length permitted is 31 feet.

Visitors will find potable water, coin-operated showers at the campground, and a bicycle path that navigates the sites. The nearby Eagle Creek Trail connects to the park’s signature Redwood Grove Loop Trail for those looking for a more challenging adventure.

Other Nearby Redwood Campsites: For those seeking more redwood camping options, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is less than 20 miles northwest of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

As the oldest state park in California, Big Basin boasts nearly 150 standard campsites spread across four different campgrounds. Backcountry camping is also popular in Big Basin, and many hikers utilize these primitive spots while trekking the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail.

Camp Richardson: A Lake Tahoe Gem.

Located on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy the area’s breathtaking scenery.

Camp Richardson_ A Lake Tahoe Gem

This campground offers easy access to the lake, hiking trails, and a range of outdoor activities that will leave visitors feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Campsite Amenities: Camp Richardson offers both tent and RV sites for visitors. Tent sites cost $45 per night during the week and $65 on weekends, while RV sites cost $60 per night during the week and $70 on weekends.

Full hook-up sites are also available for $65 and $70 per night. Each site includes a picnic table and fire ring; tent sites also feature bear-proof food lockers.

The campground boasts clean and well-maintained amenities, including flush toilets, tap water, and hot showers. For those who prefer to dine out, there is a snack bar, dining marina, ice cream parlor, coffee shop, and grill on-site.

Outdoor Activities: Visitors to Camp Richardson will never run out of things to do. The campground offers easy access to beaches and tide pools, hiking and biking trails, boating, and paddleboarding. The nearby Emerald Bay State Park is a popular attraction, featuring stunning views of the lake and hiking trails that wind through the surrounding forests.

 D.L. Bliss State Park Campground

If you’re searching for lakeside camping near Lake Tahoe, look no further than D.L. Bliss State Park Campground. Located on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe, this campground offers an idyllic setting for outdoor enthusiasts, from fishing and swimming to hiking and SCUBA diving in the nearby underwater preserve.

D.L. Bliss State Park Campground

Location: D.L. Bliss is a top pick for camping around South Lake Tahoe, just a 13-minute drive from the city of South Lake Tahoe and less than 20 miles south of Tahoe City.

Its ideal location makes it a popular spot, but with other great areas like Emerald Bay State Park and Meeks Bay Resort nearby, there’s plenty of space to explore.

Campsites: The D.L. Bliss campground offers more than 250 family campsites, which are frequently full during the summer months. Generally, campsites have enough space for one vehicle and are equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. Access to water and coin-operated showers are also available to guests.

Activities: The campground’s location near Lake Tahoe offers plenty of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Fishing, swimming, and hiking are popular activities in the area.

Additionally, the nearby Inspiration Point offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains, making it a must-see spot during your stay.

D.L. Bliss State Park is also home to a nearby underwater preserve, making it a top spot for SCUBA diving enthusiasts. The park is also home to several trails that lead to stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Manzanita Lake Campground

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fascinating natural wonder located 130 miles north of Sacramento, covering over 100,000 acres of the southern end of the Cascade Range.

Lassen Volcanic National Park's Manzanita Lake Campground

The park features unique eruptive features like fumaroles, mud pits, and active volcanoes, making it a stunning environment for visitors to explore.

Camping in Lassen Volcanic National Park: Lassen Volcanic National Park offers seven campgrounds for visitors to choose from, each with different accommodations and seasonal availability. The Southwest Campground is the only campground open year-round, with 20 sites available for camping.

Manzanita Lake Campground: One of the most popular campgrounds in the park is the Manzanita Lake Campground, which is the largest, with over 175 sites available for camping.

During the summer season, this campground fills up quickly due to its easy access and proximity to Lake Manzanita. This is the best lake camping in Northern California.

Camping Amenities: Manzanita Lake Campground offers both RV and tent camping, although there are no hookups available. The campground provides several amenities to make the camping experience as comfortable as possible, including picnic tables, fire rings, restrooms, and potable water.

Other Campgrounds in Lassen Volcanic National Park: In addition to Manzanita Lake Campground, Lassen Volcanic National Park has other campgrounds available for visitors to explore, including Butte Lake and Warner Valley Campground.

Each campground offers unique access to areas of the park, such as Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak, and varies in size and accommodation.

Best Tent Camping in Northern California

The best camping in northern California can be enjoyed by sleeping under the stars and experiencing nature up close. Here are some of the best campgrounds in the region that offer incredible tent camping opportunities.

Best Tent Camping in Northern California

Van Damme State Park

Camping northern California coast: Located in the stunning Mendocino Coast region, Van Damme State Park is one of the most picturesque campgrounds in Northern California.

Van Damme State Park

Towering Douglas first surrounds the campsites, and miles of trails lead to the nearby Gualala Point Regional Park Reserve. The beach access is also a great feature, making it a perfect spot for those who love to relax by the sea.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a must-visit for those who love to camp during towering redwoods. This park is home to the world’s largest sequoia grove and offers a variety of campsites, including some of the best tent camping spots in Northern California.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Visitors can enjoy miles of hiking and biking trails and fishing spots along the Eel River. Due to its popularity, it’s best to book a site in advance.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park near Calistoga is a great option for those seeking a peaceful camping experience. The park offers stunning views of Napa Valley vineyards and access to over 12 miles of trails for hiking and exploring.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

While they have cabins and yurts available, the tent camping sites highlight this campground. With plenty of sites to choose from, you can enjoy the serene beauty of the surrounding forest while still being close to modern amenities.

Northern California has some of the country’s most beautiful and well-maintained campgrounds. If you’re looking for the best tent camping options, these three campgrounds will provide you with an unforgettable experience amid some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world.

What to Consider When Choosing a Campsite in Northern California.

Choosing the right campsite can make or break your camping trip in Northern California. With so many incredible camping spots to choose from, it’s important to consider a few key factors before making your decision.

Location: The location of your campsite is crucial, as it can greatly impact your overall experience. Consider whether you want to camp in a remote, secluded area or be close to amenities and activities.

Some campsites offer stunning views or access to hiking trails or waterfalls, while others may be near bustling towns or popular attractions.

Facilities: Consider what facilities the campsite offers, such as restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and fire pits. Some campsites may also have amenities such as RV hookups or cabins available for rent. If you’re camping with children or pets, look for campsites that offer playgrounds or designated pet areas.

Campsite Size: Check the size of the campsite to ensure it can accommodate your group size and tent or RV. Some campsites may have size restrictions, so be sure to check the details before booking.

Weather and Season: Northern California’s weather can vary greatly depending on the season and location. Be sure to check the weather forecast before choosing a campsite, as some areas may be prone to extreme temperatures or weather events such as high winds or heavy rainfall.

Rules and Regulations: Each campsite may have specific rules and regulations, such as quiet hours or campfire restrictions. Make sure to read and follow these rules to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Considering these factors, you can choose the perfect campsite in Northern California that suits your preferences and needs. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Northern California’s camping options will surely offer an unforgettable experience.

Camping in Northern California: What You Need to Bring.

When packing for a camping trip in California, it’s essential to consider the location, season, and expected weather conditions. Here’s a checklist of items you should consider packing for your next camping trip in California.

Tent: A tent is a must-have for any camping trip. Choose a tent size based on the number of people who will be sleeping in it.

Sleeping bags: Select a sleeping bag appropriate for the temperature range of the area you will be camping in.

Camping stove: Bring a camping stove, fuel, and cooking utensils to cook meals and boil water.

Water filter: A water filter is necessary to purify any water sources you may come across while camping.

Headlamp or flashlight: Bring a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries to navigate your way around the campsite at night.

Clothing: Pack appropriate clothing for the weather conditions you expect to encounter, including layers for temperature changes.

Merino wool is a fantastic choice for any outdoor adventure, especially if you’re planning a trip to Northern California. This wool is incredibly soft and comfortable, perfect for layering and keeping you warm in cooler temperatures.

Unlike traditional wool, merino wool is not scratchy, making it comfortable to wear directly against the skin. It is also naturally antimicrobial, which means it resists odors and requires less washing than other fabrics.

Merino wool can regulate body temperature, making it suitable for various weather conditions. If you’re looking to purchase merino wool products for your Northern California trip, Merinoprotect is a great place to start.

They offer a variety of high-quality merino wool clothing items, including base layers, socks, and hats, all designed to keep you comfortable and protected during your outdoor adventures.

Hiking boots: Hiking boots with good traction are essential if you plan hiking.

Insect repellent: Insect repellent is essential for keeping bugs away from you.

First aid kit: Bring a well-stocked first aid kit with essential items like bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers.

Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun by bringing sunscreen with a high SPF.

Map and compass: Always bring a map and compass to navigate your way around the campsite and surrounding areas.

Packaging these essential items will prepare you for a fun and comfortable camping trip in California. Remember to double-check your packing list before you leave so you don’t forget anything important.


Northern California is a great place to go camping, with an amazing array of outdoor activities, stunning natural beauty, and many different camping options to suit any budget.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic backcountry experience, a luxury glamping adventure, or something in between, Northern California offers something for everyone.

With its variety of landscapes, temperatures, and activities, Northern California is the perfect destination for a memorable camping trip.


1. What is the Most Popular Campground in California?

It’s difficult to determine the most popular campground in California since there are so many great options. Some of the most popular campgrounds in the state include Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Big Sur, and Lake Tahoe.

These campgrounds offer stunning natural scenery, plenty of outdoor activities, and excellent amenities for campers.

However, popularity can also vary depending on the season, weather conditions, and other factors. Researching different campgrounds and making a reservation in advance is always a good idea, especially during peak travel times.

2. Why is It So Hard to Find Campsites in California?

It is hard to find campsites in California due to the high demand and limited availability of campsites. California is a popular destination for camping due to its numerous national parks, forests, and beaches.

 And the state is home to a variety of different climates, terrains, and ecosystems. This means the number of campsites available in the state is limited, so they are often booked quickly.

 3. Is California Good for Camping?

Yes, California is a great place for camping! It has various landscapes ranging from beaches to redwood forests and mountains. There are many campgrounds and camping sites throughout the state, and many of them offer excellent amenities.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or an adventure-filled destination, California has something for everyone.

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