Best Campgrounds in Northern California

In this guide, we explore the best campgrounds in Northern California, with its diverse landscapes offering everything from towering redwoods and rugged coastlines to serene lakes and majestic mountains. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a first-timer, there's a campground that's perfect for you.
Best Campgrounds in Northern California
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Best Campgrounds in Northern California

Northern California offers a wide variety of campgrounds that cater to all tastes, with stunning landscapes and ecosystems that include redwood forests, picture perfect coastlines, tranquil lakes, and mountains that appear to touch the clouds. Whether you are interested in tent camping or RVing, this region has something for everyone including family-friendly campgrounds, pet-friendly sites, and off-the-beaten path secret spots.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • Why Northern California is a fantastic place to go camping.
  • The different types of campgrounds you can find, from basic tent sites to luxurious glamping spots.
  • Some of the top campgrounds in Northern California, each with its own unique charm.
  • A comprehensive camping checklist to ensure you’re well-prepared for your adventure.
  • Camping tips and best practices to make your trip safe, enjoyable, and environmentally friendly.

Key Takeaways

  • Northern California boasts stunning natural scenery along with plenty of outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
  • Yosemite National Park offers rock climbing trails, lake views and fishing opportunities while Lake Tahoe Basin provides hiking trails, biking paths and kayaking.
  • Redwood National State Parks is ideal for redwood forest explorations or kayaking on the Smith River. Lassen Volcanic National Park has hot spring treks and cinder cone exploring.
  • The best campgrounds in Northern California provide well maintained facilities and amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms with showers and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Campground Comparison Table

CampgroundLocationTypes of CampingNotable Features/Amenities
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park CampgroundNear Crescent City, CATent campingPicnic tables, fire rings, restrooms, and showers
Durango RV ResortRed Bluff, CARV campingFull hookups, spacious sites, clubhouse, pool and spa, fitness center, dog park
Desolation WildernessNear Lake Tahoe, CABackcountry campingSeclusion, minimal amenities, wilderness experience
Mendocino GroveMendocino, CAGlampingSafari tents, hot showers, modern restrooms, Wi-Fi in common areas
Yosemite National ParkNear Mariposa, CATent and RV campingScenic beauty, outdoor activities, wildlife
Redwood National and State ParksNear Eureka, CATent and RV campingMajestic redwoods, hiking trails, wildlife viewing
Lake TahoeNear South Lake Tahoe, CATent and RV campingWater activities, scenic beauty, hiking and biking
Lassen Volcanic National ParkNear Mineral, CATent and RV campingVolcanic landscapes, hiking, stargazing
Big Basin Redwoods State ParkNear Boulder Creek, CATent campingAncient redwoods, hiking trails, wildlife

The Best Campgrounds In Northern California

In this article, we will cover the best campgrounds in Northern California, including Yosemite National ParkLake Tahoe BasinRedwood National and State Parks, and Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

1. Yosemite National Park

Boasting near-perfect weather for most of the year and some of the best camping in Northern California, Yosemite National Park is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • The North Pines Campground is one of its top campsites because of its prime location near Merced River and Tenaya Creek.
  • For accommodation you can pitch a tent, reserve a cabins, hookup your RV trailer, or park your car overnight in designated areas.
  • Here is some information about the campgrounds in Yosemite National Park listed according to type:
  • Tent & RV Campgrounds:
    • Upper Pines: 238 campsites in the Yosemite Valley, tent and RV camping. The campground has flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. Reservations are required.
    • Lower Pines: 60 campsites in the Yosemite Valley, tent and RV sites. The campground has flush toilets, drinking water, and a trash station. Reservations are required.
    • North Pines: 81 camping areas located in Yosemite Valley, including tent and RV campsites. The camp has flushing toilets, water safe for drinking, and a refuse depot for trash. Reservations required in advance.
    • Camp 4: walk-in campground in the Yosemite Valley with 35 campsites for tents only. The campground has pit toilets, but no drinkable water. Reservations are not accepted, and campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Wawona: 93 campsites stationed near the south entrance of the park, including tent and RV camping. The campground has flush toilets, drinking water, and a dump station. Advance reservations are required.
    • Bridalveil Creek: 110 campsites near the Big Oak Flat, including tent camping and RV hookups. The campground has pit toilets and no running water. Reservations are not accepted, and campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Backcountry Campgrounds:
    • Little Yosemite Valley: Located between Half Dome and Clouds Rest. It offers 40 campsites, including tent sites only. The campground has pit toilets and no running water. Reservations are required.
    • Glen Aulin: Stationed along the Tuolumne River with 17 campsites for tent camping only. The campground has pit toilets, but potable running water. Reservations are required.
    • May Lake: Near the top of Tioga Pass. This. is a small area with only 10 campsites, including tent sites only. The campground has pit toilets, but no running water. Reservations are required in advance.
    • Sunrise: Located near Sunrise High Sierra Camp. It offers 5 campsites, including tent sites only. The campground has pit toilets and no running water. Reservations are required.
    • Merced Lake: Near Merced Lake High Sierra Camp. It offers 18 campsites, including tent sites only. The campground has pit toilets and no running water. Reservations are required.
    • Vogelsang: Based near the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, this small campground has 7 tent-only campsites. The campground has pit toilets and no running water. Reservations are required.
  • It’s important to note that reservations are required for most campgrounds in Yosemite National Park, and they can fill up quickly during peak season. Additionally, some campgrounds may have seasonal closures or restrictions, so it’s important to check ahead of time. The park has facilities for individuals with disabilities, including accessible campsites, restrooms, and trails.
  • Campgrounds offer beautiful scenery with rugged rock formations, grand sequoia trees, lush meadows full of wildflowers.
  • Wildlife in this area include bears, eagles and ospreys.
  • No matter your interest or skill level there are plenty activities to take part in such as backpacking , leisurely hikes rails, fishing , biking kayaking or rafting.

2. Redwood National and State Parks

Located in northern California, Redwood National and State Parks encompass a range of stunning natural features including towering coast redwoods, pristine beaches, dramatic headlands, wild rivers and lush foliage. Considered one of the top four best campgrounds in Northern California , it provides visitors with an abundance of outdoor activities for all ages.

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe

3. Lake Tahoe

The Lake Tahoe Basin is one of the best camping destinations in Northern California, boasting stunning natural scenery and an abundance of outdoor activities. The area is home to four campgrounds – Fallen Leaf Campground, DL Bliss State Park, Kaspian Recreation Area, and Camp Richardson Resort – each offering a unique dining and lodging options.

  • Tent, Cabin, RV Camping On the Water:
    • Meeks Bay Resort and Marina: Situated on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, with tent camping, RV sites, and cabin rentals. This waterfront campground has a marina, sandy beach, and hiking trails. Reservations are required.
    • Camp Richardson Historic Resort and Marina: Based along the serene south shore of Lake Tahoe, with tent camping, RV hookups, and cabin rentals. The campground has a marina, a beach, and even a restaurant. Advance reservations required.
    • Tahoe State Recreation Area: Tent and RV campsites located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The camping area has beach access, hiking trails, and a launch for boats and other aquatic vehicles. Reservations are needed in advance.
    • Emerald Bay State Park: Renown for its vistas of Emerald Bay on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe, this area has both tent and RV hookups, in addition to a beach, hiking trails, and a boat docking area.
  • Public Camping:
    • DL Bliss State park: This camp area is based on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, with tent and RV sites, along with beach and hiking trails. Advance reservations are required.
    • Kaspian Recreation Area: Situated on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, near Fallen Leaf Lake, this campground offers tent camping and RV hookups. Reservations required in advance.
    • Lake Forest Campground: Nestled on the east shore of Lake Tahoe, with tent and RV campsites, beach access and hiking trails. Reservations needed in advance.
    • Fallen Leaf Campground: Not directly on on Fallen Leaf Lake, but near it, this campground is on the southern shore of Lake Tahoe. The area has tent and RV sites, as well as hiking trails. 
    • Nevada Beach Campground: Based on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, with tent camping and RV hookups, in addition to hiking and beach access. Advance reservations required.
    • Zephyr Cove Resort RV Park and Campground: Lakefront campsite on the southeast shore of Lake Tahoe, with RV hookups and cabin rentals (tent camping not available). The luxury campground has a marina, beach access, and dining options. Reservations required.
    • William Kent Campground: Situated on the northern shore of Lake Tahoe near the town of Tahoe City, with hiking trails, tent camping and RV hookups. Reservations are required
  • RV Parks:
  • At these campgrounds, you can enjoy picturesque views of the lake as well as access to many biking trails, boat launches, kayak rentals and other recreational opportunities.

4. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is located in Northern California and features spectacular landscapes, varied terrain, and a range of campgrounds. With four established campgrounds, all offering something different to visitors, Lassen can provide the perfect camping experience for anyone looking to explore the area.

Manzanita Lake Campground has plenty of amenities such as picnic tables and fire pits; furthermore it’s close proximity to the lake makes it a great spot for fishing or other water activities.

Bestselling Backpacking Gear

SaleBestseller No. 1
Odoland Camping Cookware Stove Carabiner Canister Stand Tripod and Stainless Steel Cup, Tank Bracket, Fork Spoon Kit for Backpacking, Outdoor Camping Hiking and Picnic,Green
4,204 Customer Reviews
Odoland Camping Cookware Stove Carabiner Canister Stand Tripod and Stainless Steel Cup, Tank Bracket, Fork Spoon Kit for Backpacking, Outdoor Camping Hiking and Picnic,Green
  • Best Money Ever Spent: The 9 pieces camping cookware kit includes 1 mini stove + 2 aluminum non-stick pots + 1 spoon + 1 fork + 1 knife + 1 stainless steel cup (16oz) + 1 sillicone insulated cup protector + 2 Carry bag.
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  • Easy to Carry: Foldable handles on pot or stove can be folded to save space. Small size and portable, all the objects in this cookware set can be stored together in a mesh bag for convenient carry.
  • Enjoy Cooking Anywhere You Go: This awesome camp cookware set is designed for anyone loves outdoor camping cooking with families and friends! It is super-portable, making it much more convenient for camping, hiking, backpacking, picnic and other outdoor activities!
SaleBestseller No. 2
FROGG TOGGS Men's Standard Ultra-lite2 Waterproof Breathable Poncho, Carbon Black, OS
  • WATERPROOF – 100% waterproof, constructed super-lightweight and durable non woven Polypropylene material
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  • FEATURES – easy pull on, deep hood with adjustable cord locks and side snaps for added wet weather protection
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  • YEARS of PROTECTION – this poncho can be worn again and again and is perfect for rain emergencies, sports sidelines, theme parks, outdoor adventures and emergency kits
SaleBestseller No. 3
MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit for Backpacking Gear – Camping Cooking Set - Camping Pots and Pans Set - Backpacking Stove/Portable Stove Compatible - Camp Kitchen Equipment Accessories 1L Pot
8,138 Customer Reviews
MalloMe Camping Cookware Mess Kit for Backpacking Gear – Camping Cooking Set - Camping Pots and Pans Set - Backpacking Stove/Portable Stove Compatible - Camp Kitchen Equipment Accessories 1L Pot
  • ✅ BUILT TO LAST! Highest Quality Non-Toxic Anodized Aluminum Camping Cookset conducts heat quickly and is survival gear that is built to last and is perfect size for 1 youth scout or adult hiker backpacker.
  • ✅ ALL-IN-ONE COOKWARE MEGA BUNDLE: The 10 Piece Camping Campfire Cookware Mess Kit includes Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Pot + Pot Cover + Nonstick Pan + 2 Bowls + Folding Stainless Steel Spork + Soup Spoon + Wooden Spoon Spatula + Cleaning Sponge + Nylon Travel Bag Drawstring Pouch.
  • ✅ EASY CLEANING & STORAGE: The entire 10-piece mess kit collapses into small bundle for easy control and storage. Keep it all clean, keep it convenient
  • ✅ WORRY FREE WILDERNESS: Finally enjoy the great outdoors without second guessing if you packed everything to cook and serve your next meal with the lightweight, compact, and mobile design of the Camp Kitchen Set
  • ✅ PERFECT GIFT FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS: #1 Outdoor Cooking Backpacking Gear and Camping Backpack and Hiking Picnic Set for anyone looking for a high quality, great value product for the camping world or bug out bag to enjoy at the cookout with the people you love
Bestseller No. 4
Compression Packing Cubes for Travel - Luggage and Backpack Organizer Packaging Cubes for Clothes (Grey and Orange, 3 Piece Set)
  • EASY TO USE! Compression packing cubes help you with packaging your clothes for upcoming trips by compressing the air out of them. These are not your typical vacuum bags-these expandable cubes use a two zipper system to help eliminate the extra bulk when packing your luggage. The zippers literally compress your clothes together and eliminate wasted space. Skip the extra fees of a checked bag- eliminate the bulk and use a carryon instead!
  • LUGGAGE ORGANIZER! Compression packing bags are a packing essential for travel-especially useful as a backpack, luggage and suitcase organizer. Keep different outfits in separate compression cubes and always be ready for what’s next! Easily pack away clothing like raincoats/heavier jackets that are not used as often. Use empty cubes to pack dirty laundry in and keep your suitcase or backpack organized.
  • TOUGHER THAN THE OTHER GUYS! Our ripstop Polyurethane fabric stands up to nonstop travel. It is ultra lightweight and durable and as well as being more reliable than even nylon alternatives for packing cubes. Additionally, polyurethane fabric is water resistant to help keep moisture out of your clothes wherever they’re packed. Zipper on the packing cubes all have reinforced zipper stops. Zippers used for expanding/compressing function of bags have been reinforced with double stitching as well.
  • HOW MUCH DOES THIS SET HOLD? Each set contains a different assortment of packing cubes. Large bag holds a week worth of shirts/ medium holds a week worth of underwear/socks. Example: Large holds rainjacket, zip hoodie, Longsleeve tshirt, and a cardigan. Small will hold 5 womens size medium tshirts. Large Dimensions Compressed size: 14x10x1in Expanded Size : 14x10x4in Small Dimensions Zipped/Compressed size 10x7x1in Expanded Size: 10x7x4in Additional bag sizes shown in picture gallery.
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SaleBestseller No. 5
Frelaxy Dry Bag 3-Pack/5-Pack, Ultralight Dry Sack, Outdoor Bags Keep Gear Dry for Hiking, Backpacking, Kayaking, Camping, Swimming, Boating
  • Keep Your Gear Organized:A set of 5 ultralight Dry Sacks in Five Different Colors and Sizes (3L,5L,10L,15L,20L), so you can easily recognize the contents. Best design for food, clothes, hats, all of the outdoor gear.
  • Stay Dry on your Adventure:Pro-grade WATERPROOF Polyester with fully taped seam, combine with a Solid roll-top closure system provides a secure watertight seal. (Avoid full submersion)
  • ULTRALIGHT & DURABLE:Made of 210T high-quality Tear Resistant Polyester Material, Effectively balances LIGHTWEIGHT ( 3L-35g,5L-40g,10L-45g,15L-55g,20L-60g), and DURABILITY, keep your belongings dry and clean as barely adding any weight.
  • Considerate Design:1.The base of the sack is rectangular for space-efficient packing, and the black base is dirty resistant. 2. D-ring easy to clip to your backpack.
  • ULTIMATE VERSATILITY: Ideal for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, boating, camping, cycle touring, travel, and more. WORRY-FREE 12-MONTH WARRANTY & LIFETIME CUSTOMER SERVICE.
Bestseller No. 6
Loowoko 50L Hiking Backpack, Waterproof Camping Essentials Bag with Rain Cover, 45+5 Liter Lightweight Backpacking Back Pack
  • COST EFFECTIVE HIKING BACKPACK - Loowoko hiking pack has obvious advantages at the cost performance, reliability and quality. You can get a great quality hiking bag of the same quality as a hundreds dollar without spending too much money.
  • COMPREHENSIVE UPGRADED VERSION - Compared with the same style backpack on the market, you will find that this back pack has some differences. Yes, we have made a comprehensive upgrade based on customer feedback. Better fabric, stronger straps, and more durable zippers make this a better camping bag.
  • NO INTERNAL FRAME - This lightweight & comfortable hiker backpack is specially designed for outdoor enthusiasts. Breathable mesh shoulder straps with plentiful sponge padding help relieve the stress from your shoulder. Widened and thickened S-type shoulder straps and high elastic breathable back support for best ventilation and easing burden, gives you more comfortable experience.
  • RAIN COVER INCLUDED - Made with high quality tear Polyester and nylon fabric, tear resistant, anti-scratch, wear resistant. Come with extra waterproof rain cover pouch on the bottom pouch, prevent the water and dust into the backpack, protect your valuables from heavy rain and keep everything dry.
  • CAMPING ESSENTIAL GEAR - With 50 liter large capacity but only 2.1 pounds weight, it's enough for 3-5 days travel or outdoor adventure. Fits women and men and meets size requirements for most airlines. A must have daypack for hiking, camping, backpacking, trekking, mountaineering and traveling.
Bestseller No. 7
Clostnature Tent Footprint - Waterproof Camping Tarp, Heavy Duty Tent Floor Saver, Ultralight Ground Sheet Mat for Hiking, Backpacking, Hammock, Beach - Storage Bag Included
1,018 Customer Reviews
Clostnature Tent Footprint - Waterproof Camping Tarp, Heavy Duty Tent Floor Saver, Ultralight Ground Sheet Mat for Hiking, Backpacking, Hammock, Beach - Storage Bag Included
  • A MUST FOR TENT: An extra tent tarp doesn't just give you extra waterproofing, it used as ground cloths under tents to prevent the wear and tear. Ther's no question that an insulated tent footprint is a great idea to help protect your investment, definitely the choice to extend your tent’s life
  • HEAVY DUTY: A tough groudsheet that can be easily overlooked but it make all the difference when setting up the campsite. It made out of ripstop 210T Poly with superior waterproof coating and designed to not only be lightweight but also to be waterproof and powerful
  • LIGHT&COMPACT: Size 86'' x 31'', weighing a mere 6.3 oz, it isn't going to add a lot of weight to your pack. Impressed compact and able to fold into the drawstring storage bag, just a size of cellphone
  • MULTIFUNCTIONAL: This multi-purpose tarp could work for your specific needs. While the main focus most of the time will be working as a tent footprint you can also use this for a sunshade, beach picnic setup, hammock rain fly, or even as a general tarp shelter
  • This footprint fit to Clostnature 1 person tent. Clostnature is an innovative brand that continuously works to improve your outdoor and sports experience. We aim to provide high-quality and inexpensive product to satisfy our customers. So we offer a 100% money back for your risk-free purchase
SaleBestseller No. 8
Camping Sleeping Pad, Ultralight Camping Mat with Pillow Built-in Foot Pump Inflatable Sleeping Pads Compact for Camping Backpacking Hiking Traveling
1,523 Customer Reviews
Camping Sleeping Pad, Ultralight Camping Mat with Pillow Built-in Foot Pump Inflatable Sleeping Pads Compact for Camping Backpacking Hiking Traveling
  • 【Extra Wide & 4" Thick】 This self-inflating camping pad is up to 79*27.5*4 inches, after inflating keeps you away from the uneven ground and hard rocks. The extra thick air cells and built-in pillow are designed to relieve back and neck pressure, ensuring maximum comfort and warm for your sleep all night!
  • 【30s Inflate & 1s Deflate】Save your time and efforts! Built-in pump needs only 30-60s to fully-inflate the camping mat, just simply step or press on it. No longer needs to inflate with your mouth or a pump. Only 1 sec to quickly deflate. The upgraded air release valve has double-layer valves. Never worry about air leaking!
  • 【Durable 40D Nylon】 Camping sleeping pad made of outdoor-grade 40D nylon and inner TPU sealing coating. Durable, hard wearing, no tearing and easy to clean. Ergonomic design allows you to sleep comfortablely even in rough outdoor environments. Our inflatable camping mattress have undergone strict quality inspection, so please use them with confidence.
  • 【Ultralight & Easy to Carry】 The ultra-light self inflatable sleeping pad is weighed and sized only like a water bottle. Inbuilt pillow saves you the trouble of carrying an extra one. This air mattress can easily fit in your backpack, perfect for hiking, camping, backpacking, traveling, climbing, hiking and other outdoor activities.
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SaleBestseller No. 9
Membrane Solutions Gravity Water Filter Pro 6L, 0.1-Micron Versatile Water Purifier Camping with Adjustable Tree Strap Storage Bag, Survival Gear and Equipment for Group Camping Emergency Preparedness
898 Customer Reviews
Membrane Solutions Gravity Water Filter Pro 6L, 0.1-Micron Versatile Water Purifier Camping with Adjustable Tree Strap Storage Bag, Survival Gear and Equipment for Group Camping Emergency Preparedness
  • Extra-Large Capacity: After the survey, 6L capacity is the most appropriate solution for group water needs. Our water filter camping can provide you with enough reliable sources of pure drinking water at any time and anywhere. SGS certificated, Test Report NBF21-004693-01
  • 4-Stage Filtration: Our camping water filter is made up of 0.1-micron hollow fiber ultrafiltration membrane, coconut shell GAC filter, and double PP fiber filter. Removes minimum 99.99999% of escherichia coli, odor, iodine, chlorine, heavy metals, filters up to 5,000 liters outdoors water
  • Superior Backwash Solution: Detachable mouthpiece connects with the common bottle for backwashing, no need for an extra syringe. No cumbersome fittings and lightweight. Easy carrying gravity water filter when putting all the parts in the storage bag
  • Versatile Use Ways: More ways you can find besides the gravity water filter system, like using as a water filter straw direct, or adding an extension tube on water straw for more distance using, even connecting with water bottles. Backpacking water filter offers you clean drinking water anywhere, anytime
  • Easy to Hang on Trees: Adjustable tree strap fits the most trunks, minimum length: 22.5 inches and maximum length: 41.5 inches. No worry about losing, thanks for the one-piece design. Besides, our water filtration system camping meets with food-grade, BPA-free
Bestseller No. 10
Combat Wipes ACTIVE Outdoor Wet Wipes - Extra Thick Camping Gear, Biodegradable, Body & Hand Cleansing/Refreshing Cloths for Backpacking & Gym w/Natural Aloe & Vitamin E(2 pack, 25 wipes each)
  • DESIGNED WITH BATTLE-FIELD EXPERIENCE: Stay fresh & clean while on your adventures with outdoor wet wipes developed by elite military soldiers. Unlike regular wet cleaning wipes that easily tear and never give you a clean feel, COMBAT WIPES ACTIVE are extra thick, conveniently large (7.1” x 8.3”), have a unique textured cloth design for a thorough wipe, and are extensively lab-tested for a superior clean
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Mendocino Grove
Mendocino Grove

5. Mendocino Grove

For those looking for a glamping experience, Mendocino Grove is a great choice. This campground offers fully-outfitted safari tents

6. Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin is California’s oldest state park and it’s perfect for campers who want to be surrounded by ancient redwoods.

7. Desolation Wilderness

The name says it all. Desolation Wilderness offers backcountry camping with over 130 miles of trails and dozens of lakes.

What Makes These Campgrounds Stand Out

From stunning natural scenery to a plethora of outdoor activities for all ages, these top campgrounds in Northern California offer something special that you won’t want to miss.

Stunning Natural Scenery

Northern California is home to a wealth of majestic and awe-inspiring natural landscapes. From the snow-capped peaks located in Yosemite National Park, to the desert beauty of Joshua Tree and Red Rock Canyon State Park, Californians can explore untouched wilderness on any budget and for any season.

Popular camping locations such as Lake Tahoe Basin offer stunning views that extend beyond human comprehension – serene crystalline waters that sparkle like diamonds surrounded by salt sand panoramas set beneath a azure sky with majestic mountains providing an epic backdrop.

The same breathtaking landscape also awaits visitors at Redwood National & State Parks, whose cedar giants soar up into heights unimaginable from below; amongst these ancient trees are quiet among vibrant understories where light shines down in gentle swaying beams or dances off luscious ferns during refreshing showers.

Abundance Of Outdoor Activities For All Ages

Northern California is home to some of the most picturesque and varied campgrounds in the United States. From Yosemite National Park to Lake Tahoe Basin, adventurers have plenty of activities with which to indulge.

Popular outdoor pursuits include hiking, swimming, nature watching, cycling and exploring waterfalls and wildflowers. All four campgrounds — Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe Basin, Redwood National and State Parks and Lassen Volcanic National Park — offer a variety of experiences that cater to individuals of all ages appropriating a wide range of skill levels from beginners up to seasoned experts – no matter your age or experience you’ll be able to find something both exciting and fulfilling at one these top camping sites.

Well-maintained Facilities And Amenities

The best campgrounds in Northern California are distinguished not only by their breathtaking views and outdoor activities, but also by the well-maintained facilities they offer.

Facilities can range from full-hookup graded sites to spacious clubhouses with complimentary Wi-Fi hotspots or even group campsites that can accommodate up to 60 people.

But the common thread between them all is that they’re newly refurbished, clean and comfortable. Amenities like fishing spots, fire rings, picnic tables as well as restroom areas with showers provide extra convenience for visitors who want a more luxe camping experience.

These features help make camping trips much more enjoyable than the traditional tent in the woods adventure of yesteryear.

Types of Campgrounds

When it comes to camping, different campers have different needs and preferences. Some people need access to modern conveniences, while others want to leave every aspect of modern civilization behind. That’s why there are various types of campgrounds in Northern California. Let’s explore some of them:

Tent Campgrounds

Tent camping is the classic way to experience the outdoors. It’s simple and places you directly in nature. Here’s what you can expect at tent campgrounds:

  • Basic Amenities
  • Close to Nature
  • Affordable

RV Campgrounds

RV Resort
RV Resort

If you have an RV (Recreational Vehicle), you’ll need a campground designed to accommodate larger vehicles, including hookup stations and more amenities:

  • Full RV Hookups
  • Spacious Sites
  • Extra Amenities

Backcountry Campgrounds

Desolation Wilderness
Desolation Wilderness

For the more adventurous campers, there are backcountry campgrounds. These are usually located in more remote areas and require a bit of hiking to reach:

  • Seclusion
  • Minimal Amenities
  • Wilderness Experience

Glamping Sites

If you love the idea of camping but aren’t keen on roughing it, glamping (glamorous camping) might be for you. Glamping sites offer a more luxurious camping experience:

  • Comfortable Accommodations
  • Luxury Amenities

Camping Activities

Outdoor ActivityCampgrounds
HikingJedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, Manzanita Lake Campground, Russian Gulch State Park Campground, Castle Crags State Park, McArthur-Burney Falls, Sonoma Coast State Park Camping, Lake Siskiyou, Point Reyes National Seashore
Beach ActivitiesSonoma Coast State Park Camping, McArthur-Burney Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore
FishingLake Siskiyou, McArthur-Burney Falls, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lake Tahoe
Water SportsLake Siskiyou, Lake Tahoe, Mendocino coastline
Wildlife ViewingJedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mendocino coastline
Rock ClimbingCastle Crags State Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park
BikingLake Tahoe, Mendocino coastline
StargazingLassen Volcanic National Park, McArthur-Burney Falls
Camping Gear Best Campgrounds in Northern California

What to Bring When Camping

Camping requires some planning and preparation if you want everything to go comfortably and smoothly. One of the most important aspects is knowing what suppplies to bring.

Camping checklist table

Shelter and BeddingTent
 Sleeping bag
 Sleeping pad or air mattress
Clothing and FootwearClothing (including warm clothing and rain gear)
 Sturdy shoes or boots
 Water shoes
 Comfortable shoes
Food and Cooking SuppliesFood
 Stove and fuel
 Cookware and utensils
Personal ItemsToiletries (including biodegradable products)
 First aid kit
 Sunscreen and bug spray
Miscellaneous GearCamping chairs
 Lantern, headlamp or flashlight
 Maps and compass
 Trash bags
Fun and GamesCamera
 Outdoor games
 Books or music

Here’s a detailed breakdown of camping essentials that you should consider packing for your trip:

1. Shelter and Bedding

2. Clothing and Footwear

  • Clothing, underwear, socks
  • Hiking boots, water shoes
  • Hat

3. Food and Cooking Supplies

  • Food
  • Ice Cooler
  • Camping Stove and Fuel
  • Cookware and Utensils.
  • Water for Cooking and Drinking

4. Personal Items

Don’t forget these personal items when packing for your camping trip:

  • Biodegradable, eco-friendly toiletries, travel-sized shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray
  • Medications

5. Miscellaneous Gear

6. Fun and Games

  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Outdoor Games
  • Books or Music

Remember, this is a general list and you might need to adjust it based on your specific needs, the location, the weather, and the activities you plan to do. Camping is a great way to connect with nature and make lasting memories, and being well-prepared can make your camping trip even more enjoyable.

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Camping Tips and Best Practices

Camping is a great way to connect with nature and make unforgettable memories. But to ensure that your camping trip is safe, enjoyable, and respectful to the environment, it’s important to follow some best practices. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your camping adventure:

1. Plan Ahead

Good planning is the key to a successful camping trip. Here’s what you should do:

  • Research Your Campground: Find out what facilities are available, what the rules are, and how to get there. Check if you need to make a reservation.
  • Check the Weather: The weather can greatly affect your camping experience. Check the forecast and pack accordingly.
  • Plan Your Meals: Think about what you’ll eat each day. Remember, you’ll need to store and cook your food.

2. Set Up Your Campsite

Setting up your campsite properly can make your stay more comfortable:

  • Choose the Right Spot: If you can choose your campsite, look for a flat spot that’s not too close to water or the restroom. Check for overhead hazards like dead tree branches.
  • Set Up Your Tent: Make sure your tent is secure. It’s a good idea to practice setting up your tent at home before your trip.
  • Organize Your Campsite: Keep your cooking area, sleeping area, and storage area separate.

3. Respect Nature

When camping, it’s important to respect nature and leave no trace. Here’s how:

  • Don’t Feed Wildlife: Feeding wildlife can harm their health and change their behavior. Keep your food secure and dispose of your trash properly.
  • Stay on Trails: When hiking, stay on designated trails to protect the vegetation and prevent erosion.
  • Leave What You Find: Don’t pick flowers, move rocks, or disturb historical artifacts. Let others enjoy them too.

4. Be Safe

Safety should be your top priority when camping

Camping Resources

  1. California State Parks: This is the official website of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. It provides information about all the state parks in California, including those in Northern California.
  2. Leave No Trace: This website provides information about the Leave No Trace principles, which are important for campers to follow in order to minimize their impact on the environment.
  3. Visit California: This is the official tourism website for the state of California. It provides information about various tourist destinations, including campgrounds in Northern California.


Camping is more than just a fun time. It’s a chance to connect with nature, learn new skills, and make lasting memories. Whether you’re roasting marshmallows over a campfire, hiking through a redwood forest, or sleeping under the stars, camping offers experiences that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Kristina M.

Kristina M.

Kristina Meyers is a dedicated blogger based in Southern California. With a background in architecture and urban planning from the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University, and multi-media from the London College of Communication (formerly the London College of Printing), Kristina's passion for promoting fair trade, sustainability, and eco-friendly practices led her to create Fair Trade Finder. Kristina's passion for sustainability extends to her love for travel. She is an avid explorer who has embarked on camping and hiking journeys across stunning landscapes in Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland. With an understanding of the importance of ethical choices in all aspects of life, Kristina brings her travel experiences to Fair Trade Finder. She curates a purposefully chosen assortment of fair trade products, with a particular emphasis on outdoor gear. Her ultimate goal is to empower fellow conscious consumers to make ethical and sustainable choices for their outdoor adventures.

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