When you think “San Francisco,” camping doesn’t usually come to mind. If you’re from out of town, it might surprise you to learn that area is actually home to many state parks and camping opportunities! Just beyond the city’s towering skyscrapers, giant redwoods blot out the sky. You can camp in the shadow of these mighty trees, pitch a tent on the beach, or sleep on an island. There are so many options, your only problem will be deciding which campsite to pick!
Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Over a hundred years ago, this park was established to protect nature from the ever-expanding San Francisco metropolis and provide a place for people to breathe fresh, clean air. When you camp here, you’ll be surrounded by giant redwoods, as well as California’s other flora and fauna! The park has over 80 miles of trail, so you can hike endlessly without ever retracing your steps. This park is extremely strict about respecting wildlife, so be sure to read up on visitor expectations and be prepared to meet them. There are several campsites in the park. Your best option is Blooms Creek Campground, which features showers and restrooms.
Taylor Camp at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Samuel B. Taylor State Park is another wonderful place to enjoy the redwoods. In this park, you can also bike the trails and enjoy the creek. You’ll be able to watch the salmon in the water and just might catch a glimpse of other interesting wildlife, as well. Don’t forget to take a hike—the views are magnificent! There are multiple campsites in the park, ranging from private cabins to huge group campsites.
Angel Island. Angel Island is certainly a unique San Francisco experience. If you want to get away from the city but not too far away, this is the place for you. You’ll be secluded on a real island, so you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of nature. If you look toward the coast, though, San Francisco burns brightly just a short distance away. There are 11 different camping sites on the island. Each one offers something different to enjoy: great views of the big city, or a beach, for example. When you’re planning a trip to Angel Island, keep in mind that it’s all backpacking. So you’ll need to carry everything in yourself.
Bicentennial Campground. Across the bridge from San Francisco is Sausalito, where you’ll find the Bicentennial Campground. This camp is not very private and you have to book it a whole month out, but that’s OK, because it’s free! You can’t beat that, right? But wait, there’s more. The sites at Bicentennial Campground offer the feel of staying in the woods while giving you an amazing evening view of the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. If you’re traveling on a budget and enjoy the great outdoors, this is a perfect place to stay.
Angle Point Reyes National Seashore. This location offers beautiful, remote camping opportunities. To get to the campsites at this park, you’ll need to be willing to hike or bike in. To get to Glen camp, you have to hike at least four and a half miles! If you really want to get into the middle of the wilderness, there’s no better way to do it. Coast Camp is not quite so far away from the main road, with a hike less than two miles. Plus, it’s on the beach, so you can stroll down to the water in the mornings.
Redwood Regional Park. This is another lovely park with giant redwoods. You can stay in one of several types of campsites, including group sites, traditional “family” sites, or even equestrian sites! If you have a horse, you should definitely consider taking advantage of one of the equestrian sites. The 40 miles of trail in the park are perfect for horseback riding, as well as hiking and biking. The park also offers plenty of activities from golfing to archery.
Mount Diablo State Park. Mount Diablo is so beautiful that it’s little wonder the Native Americans regarded it as sacred. The view from the top of the mountain is considered to be one of the best in the world—you can even see Yosemite’s Half-Dome from there! Naturally, the park surrounding Mount Diablo makes an excellent campsite for hiking enthusiasts (and anyone else who loves nature). There are many campsites in the park catering to any size of group. You’d have a hard time finding a better campsite than Mount Diablo.
By Breana Johnson