California offers many different environments for whatever type of camping you’re searching for. You can sleep on a beach, among giant trees, in a desert, the list goes on. While the summer allows for endless opportunities across the state, winter camping options in California do become more limited. Popular spots in northern California, such as Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mount Shasta area, and many more, close down for the season in late fall, early winter. But there is still great winter camping in California to be experienced! Here is our list of best places to camp in the Golden State.
Camping in California: Best places to camp in fall and winter
- Agua Caliente County Park: This regional camping park just west of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a popular spot in the winter, and with good reason. Known for its geothermally heated springs and desert hiking, this park offers camping cabins, RV hook-ups, tent sites, and a caravan area for large groups. Campsites are open Labor Day weekend until Memorial Day. For more information about the park, call (760) 765-1188.
- Angel Island State Park: This isn’t your traditional surrounded by woods and nature type of camping spot. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still offer a great experience. Set in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, camping on this island offers spectacular views of the skyline, Marin Headlands, and Mount Tamalpais. For more information about camping on the island, call (415) 435-5390.
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park: When considering winter camping in California, don’t forget about the state’s oldest park! Lace up your hiking shoes and enjoy miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, animals, and redwood groves. Each season brings different park joys; wet winters will bring views of intense green mosses contrasting with the colors of lichens and mushrooms while the transition from winter to spring can bring rushing waterfalls and gorgeous wildflowers. For more information about the park, call (831) 338-8860.
- Death Valley National Park: As far as winter camping sites go, this park is popular. To avoid the crowds, try camping at the Mesquite Springs Campground, located at the north end of the valley. With an elevation of 1,800 feet, this site will also leave you with cooler temperatures. For more information about camping here, call (760) 786-3200.
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: If solitude is what you seek, consider camping in this park. With only two campsites available, it will feel like just you and the tall redwoods as the sun sets and the stars start shining. Discover the park’s backcountry, 80-foot waterfall, and various sea animals that can be found in the park’s cove. For more information, call (831) 667-2315.
- Mojave National Preserve: The 35 RV and tent campsites at Hole In The Wall campgrounds are first-come, first-serve. At 4,400 feet in elevation, you’ll rest easy surrounded by sculptured volcanic rock walls, with plenty of hiking trails to explore once you wake. But just remember: At 1.6 million acres, Mojave National Preserve is the third largest unit of the park system in the contiguous U.S. Take the time to plan ahead and ensure a safe adventure. For more information about the park, call (760) 252-6100.
- Mount Tamalpais State Park: Located north of the Golden Gate Bridge, campers can find themselves nestled among the trees while exploring views of the Farallon Islands, Marin County hills, San Francisco Bay, and Mount Diablo. The park offers hiking, wildlife watching, and bicycling. Expect cool temperatures in the 50s and fog during winter months. For more information about camping at this park, call (415) 388-2070.
Depending on where you are in the country, winter doesn’t always mean bundling up. If you find yourself in California, grab the camping gear (and sure, some extra layers) and get out and explore. Across the state, there are many camping sites just waiting to be discovered. And if tent camping isn’t your thing, there’s always dispersed camping!