Northern California Campgrounds

April 8, 2021

Real Estate

Scenic California’s Best Camping Grounds

map of camping regions of northern California
Click The Link Above To View The Most Recommended Camping Sites From
The Ascend Team

Northern California’s Most Popular Camping Regions

  • The varied regions of northern California offer a wide range of camping opportunities from rugged beaches to towering redwoods, from sparkling lakes to snow-capped volcanoes.
  • Choose a region to narrow your choices and we’ll guide you to the best camping spots in California. Discover the adventures that await you.

Donner – Jackson Meadows – Truckee

On the east side of Donner Summit are a variety of lakes with camping opportunities. Some sites are favored by waterskiers and anglers, others offer even more.

Jackson Meadows Reservoir,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Donner Memorial State Park – Camp close to one of the most beautiful lakes in California. Enjoy water sports and learn about the history of the ill-fated Donner Party.
  • Jackson Meadows Reservoir – Off the main road, Jackson Meadows is popular for fishing and waterskiing. Great campgrounds are found all around the lake.
  • Stampede Reservoir – Good campground facilities close to a premier fishing lake attract campers all summer and long into the fall.

Nevada County

Lakes around Nevada County offer some of the easiest to reach camping destinations from the greater Sacramento area.

Greenhorn Campground, Rollins Lake,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Rollins Lake – Easy access off I-80 at Colfax. Four campgrounds with RV and tent sites, all with boat launch ramps and marinas. Waterskiing, fishing, swimming.
  • Scotts Flat Lake – Tucked away in the mountains east of Nevada City, Scotts Flat Lake is a favorite with locals. Sailing, waterskiing, fishing.
  • Inn Town Campground – The newest camping destination in Nevada County, with tent and RV sites, along with Glamping (tents on platforms).

North Bay Campgrounds

Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Yolo, and Marin counties – wine country, lakes, coastal mountains, and beaches – campgrounds north of the San Francisco Bay Area have a wide variety of offerings.

Sonoma coast,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Lake Berryessa – Over 18,000 acres of great fishing. Campgrounds in transition as new management takes over, but sites like Putah Canyon and Pleasure Cove are available.
  • Lake Sonoma – A smaller lake with 97 campsites at Liberty Glen
  • Clear Lake – California’s largest freshwater lake entirely within the state. Camp at Clear Lake State Park.
  • Sonoma Coast Beaches – Enjoy the wild and rugged Sonoma Coast. Camp right next to the sand at Wright’s Beach or close to the bay at Bodega Dunes.
  • Salt Point – North of Sonoma Coast beaches is Salt Point State Park with two great campgrounds.
  • Sonoma Regional Parks – Great beach camping at Gualala, Doran, and Stillwater.
  • Pillsbury Lake – Find adventure at more remote lakes such as Pillsbury and Letts Lake.

Lake Tahoe Campground Highlights

Campgrounds along Lake Tahoe’s western shore range from quiet little gatherings tucked back among the trees to grand state parks with lake views and desirable amenities.

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe,  Northern California campgrounds
  • D. L. Bliss State Park – The premier campground along western Lake Tahoe’s shore. Great campsites, many with lake views, good amenities, and sandy beaches.
  • Sugar Pine Point State Park – A popular campground with many campsites set back from the lake. Day use area along the shore.
  • Fallen Leaf – Spread between Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake. Nice campsites, close to Emerald Bay and South Lake Tahoe.
  • Other campgrounds – Find campgrounds along the Truckee River (popular for rafting and fishing) and all the way south to a city run campground with full hook-ups in South Lake Tahoe.

Plumas National Forest

The vast Plumas National Forest has good campgrounds scattered across its woodlands, along dashing rivers, and around beautiful mountain lakes.

Sierra Buttes, Plumas National Forest,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Bucks Lake – West of Quincy this pretty mountain lake has good camping and excellent fishing.
  • Little Grass Valley Reservoir – Another beautiful mountain lake with an abundance of camping choices around its shores.
  • Sardine Lake – A spectacular mountain lake with good camping close by.
  • Plumas-Eureka State Park – Comfortable campsites in a park filled with gold mining history
  • Frenchman and Davis lakes – Each one a Mecca for fishing and boating.

Lake Oroville Area

Sprawling Lake Oroville along with nearby reservoirs such as New Bullards Bar provide visitors with great facilities for lakeside camping.

Lake Oroville,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Lake Oroville – Good lakeside campsites for boaters and anglers. A wonderful equestrian campground. Boat-in and unique floating campsites around the lake.
  • New Bullards Bar Reservoir – A smaller, quieter lake with excellent fishing and waterskiing. Well-organized campgrounds.
  • Collins Lake – For family fun camping, it’s hard to beat.
  • Englebright Lake – All the camping is at boat-in campgrounds along the shores of this long, winding lake.

Lake Almanor

Anglers from around the state know Lake Almanor is one of the top fishing destinations in Northern California.

Lake Almanor,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Lake Almanor – Around the lake are Forest Service, private, and PG& E campgrounds, all with wonderful facilities.
  • North of the Lake – A couple of less-known campgrounds north of the lake are well worth investigating.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park makes for a wonderful camping destination. All around the park are interesting sites from caves to volcanoes, from lakes to steaming mud flats.

Lassen Peak,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Manzanita Lake – The best campground in the park with a great lake for kayaking, hiking trails, and abundant facilities.
  • Juniper Lake – Remote and beautiful. Very good campground with scenic views of the lake and distant Lassen Peak.

Northern Region

The best campgrounds in California’s northern region are spread over a large area, but for those who make the drive, the camping is great.

Burney Falls, Northern California campgrounds
  • McArthur-Burney Falls State Park – Gaze upon one of California’s most beautiful waterfalls, swim and boat in Lake Britton.
  • Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park – Explore this unique area of underwater springs, lakes and streams spread across the Fall River Valley basin. Canoe in to one of three primitive campsites.
  • Lava Beds National Monument – Explore long, winding lava tube caves on your own. More than 700 caves plus Native American rock art and historic battlefields in this high desert setting.

Mendocino Beach and Forest Campgrounds

Mendocino County is known for its spectacular coastline dotted with pocket beaches and for its magnificent forests spread across the coastal mountains.

Mendocino coast,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Hendy Woods Redwood State Park – For anyone seeking a quiet redwood park with lots of streams and trails for children to explore, try Hendy Woods.
  • Russian Gulch and Van Damme Beach – These two coastal state parks offer camping near the ocean close to the picturesque town of Mendocino
  • MacKerricher State Park – Just north of Fort Bragg, MacKerricher has great coastal camping with lots of nearby attractions.

Redwood Empire

Some of the best campgrounds in California are scattered through the coastal redwood region known as the Redwood Empire.

redwood empire,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Standish-Hickey, Richardson Grove, and Humboldt state parks – Camp among the redwoods, wade or swim in the Eel River, stroll through redwood groves, drive the Avenue of the Giants.
  • Grizzly Creek State Park and Van Duzen County Park – Enjoy restful camping along the Van Duzen River. Hike among redwoods or swim in the river.
  • Patrick’s Point State Park – One of the most beautiful spots along the northern coast. Camp among the trees, hike along the rugged coast, and lounge on Agate Beach
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods – Camp among the trees or down on the beach. Watch for small herds of Roosevelt Elk
  • Jedediah Smith State Park – One of the best parks and campgrounds in the Redwood Empire. Tour nature trails, swim in the Smith River, and enjoy interpretive programs.

Shasta Lake

Enormous Shasta Lake has miles of shoreline along several long, twisting arms. Campgrounds are easy to find and offer good places to relax after a day on the water.

Shasta Lake,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Sacramento Arm – Antlers Campground and the community of Lakeshore
  • McCloud Arm – More remote campgrounds along the arm all the way up to McCloud Bridge
  • Pit River Arm – Lower Jones Valley Campground, close to several great marinas

Whiskeytown Lake

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has only a few campgrounds along the shore of Whiskeytown Lake.

Whiskeytown Lake,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Oak Bottom Tent Campground – Camp beside the lake in a tent-only site close to swimming and other features. A separate RV camping area is nearby.
  • Primitive Campgrounds – These 6 campgrounds have limited facilities and are at least a mile from the lake. They offer quiet, more secluded camping opportunities

Trinity Lake

Scenic Trinity Lake is surrounded by thick forests. Camping here is among the best in Northern California. The lake is popular for fishing, boating, and waterskiing.

Trinity Lake,  Northern California campgrounds
  • Stuart Arm – A number of campgrounds are set along the Stuart Arm. Some have outstanding features such as beaches, launch ramps, and RV hook-ups.
  • Alpine View Campground This campground has upgraded features great for those with handicaps and for children.
  • Hayward Flat Campground Some campsites are close enough to the water that boats can be moored nearby.

Trinity River

The beautiful Trinity River is dotted with a number of small campgrounds which make great bases from which to enjoy the river. Anglers, rafters, kayakers, and those who just love the outdoors seek out these less-well-known little treasures along the river.

Six Rivers National Forest

Six Rivers National Forest stretches along Northern California’s coastal mountains, including portions of popular rivers such as the Eel, Klamath, Trinity, and Salmon. Small campgrounds are found along the rivers and at scenic Ruth Lake.

Klamath National Forest

The Klamath National Forest is a favorite destination for outdoor adventurers, providing access to several wilderness areas as well as campsites along the Klamath, Scott, and Salmon rivers.

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