Northern California offers breathtaking views and numerous opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to go camping all year round. While summer is widely considered the best season to camp, some campers may prefer the solitude and serenity of the off-season.
However, it is important to note that camping in NorCal during winter can be quite chilly. The temperature drops drastically, and many campsites are closed during this time. Therefore, early summer offers the best conditions for camping, as most campsites are open, and the weather is warm enough to enjoy the outdoors and indulge in activities like swimming.
For those who are still determined to brave the winter months, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons of camping during the colder months.
Spring is a beautiful time to go camping in California, as the weather can be pleasant and refreshing. With early-season weather, there is a chance of enjoying comfortable temperatures during spring camping trips.
However, it’s essential to be aware of the elevation differences between California’s northeast corner and the coastal regions. The higher elevations may still have snow lingering in the spring, making it essential to check the weather forecast and ensure that you have the necessary gear for your trip. Despite this, camping during the spring season can be a memorable experience for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure in California.
If you’re planning a camping trip in Northern California, early summer is the ideal season to experience the best weather. However, keep in mind that bugs will be active during this time, so it’s advisable to bring a screen house to keep them at bay. Additionally, towards the end of summer, you may have to contend with fire season. It’s worth noting that summer is also the busiest season for camping, so expect larger crowds and plan accordingly.
The autumn season is an excellent time for camping in Northern California, as it offers a peaceful retreat with fewer crowds. However, it’s important to note that fall is also peak fire season in California, which can put a damper on your plans. Unfortunately, wildfires can quickly disrupt even the most carefully planned vacations. Therefore, it’s advisable to plan cautiously during this season and consider having a backup reservation in a different region, just in case. With proper preparation and caution, you can still enjoy a memorable camping experience in NorCal during the fall season.
For those seeking solitude and peacefulness, winter is a great time to camp in Northern California as it is the quietest season. However, it’s important to note that camping during winter requires proper winter gear and that many campsites are closed during this season.
Securing a camping spot in Northern California during any season can be challenging, and it can feel like winning the lottery when you do get one. However, whether you plan to camp in summer or winter, it is crucial to always check the weather and fire conditions before setting off on your adventure.
It’s also a good idea to book campsites at least 3-6 months in advance, no matter what season you decide to camp (but especially summer).
Best Northern California Campgrounds
If you’re looking for the best campgrounds in Northern California, look no further! We’ve rounded up three top picks that offer stunning views and plenty of amenities for a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.
First on the list is Angel Island Campground in Angel Island State Park. This is the largest island in San Francisco Bay, and it offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline. There are only 16 primitive campsites on the island, which are hike-in and can be reserved online. Amenities include pit toilets, potable water, and picnic tables.
Kamp Klamath RV Park
Next up is Kamp Klamath RV Park and Campground in Klamath, California. This family-friendly campground is located 1.5 miles from the mouth of the Klamath River and offers tent and RV sites. Amenities include fire rings, picnic tables, hot showers, free WIFI, RV hookups, a general store, laundry facilities, and lots of games and activities. The campground is close to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, offering plenty of hiking trails and redwood groves.
Castle Crags State Park Campground
Castle Crags State Park Campground in Castella, California. This state park is most noted for its towering granite cliffs and proximity to beautiful Mt. Shasta. The campground offers 76 sites for both RVs and tents, as well as flush toilets, potable water, and a general store. There’s also a smaller walk-in campground adjacent to the main campground with 12 sites. The park is a great basecamp option for exploring the mountain or Shasta Trinity National Forest, and the nearby Sacramento River offers fishing and other recreational opportunities.
Indian Well Campground
Looking for a last-minute camping spot in Northern California? Check out Indian Well Campground, located in the Lava Beds National Monument. With 43 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s one of the few campgrounds in the area associated with a national park without a reservation system. Plus, Lava Beds National Monument is known for its unique lava tubes, which you can explore with a headlamp.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
For a true redwood forest experience, head to Burlington Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This campground is situated right on the Avenue of the Giants, a thoroughfare famous for tall trees in a spectacular redwood forest. With 57 sites and basic amenities, it’s a great option for those looking to be surrounded by nature.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious camping experience, check out Mendocino Grove. Their safari-style canvas tents come with queen-sized beds, heated mattress pads, fire pits, and more, all nestled in a redwood forest. This glamping experience is definitely worth the splurge.
South Lake Tahoe
Fallen Leaf Campground, located in South Lake Tahoe, is perfect for lakeside camping. Not only is it just minutes away from Lake Tahoe, but it’s also situated right on Fallen Leaf Lake. With tent and RV sites available, plus six yurts to rent, it’s a great option for families. And if you’re interested in ranger talks, the Taylor Creek Visitor Center is just across the street.