11 Glorious Campgrounds In Northern California Where No Reservation Is Required

Camping is a quintessential Northern California experience – but these days, it’s usually anything but spontaneous. With reservations often being accepted nearly a year in advance, sometimes your favorite spots get snatched up before you can even plan your vacation dates.

Luckily, there are some campgrounds in Northern California where reservations are not required. While that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a spot (they are first-come, first-served, after all), if you time your trip right, your odds will be good.

We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/nominate/

Okay, campers. Did we leave any of your favorite no reservation campgrounds in Northern California off our list? What’s your favorite spot for a good ol’ family Northern California camping trip? We’re always eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so leave them in the comment section below!

The OIYS Visitor Center

Campgrounds in Northern California

July 16, 2019

What are some of the best campgrounds in Northern California?

Here in Northern California, we’re lucky to have access to hundreds of excellent camping destinations that cover a variety of landscapes. For beach campgrounds, you’ll want to check out Patricks Point State Park, Clam Beach State Campground, Bodega Dunes Campground, and Russian Gulch State Park. For redwood forest camping, check out Jedediah Smith Campground, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Ramblin’ Redwoods Campground. For lake camping, check out Lake Amador Resort, Clear Lake State Park, North Shore Campground, and City of Lake Tahoe Campground. That’s just barely scratching the surface!

Are you allowed to camp in state parks?

Yes, most of California’s state parks feature seasonal or year-round campsites, and there is one suited for every type of camping style possible. Whether you’re the type of camper that likes to rough it in primitive tent sites or you consider yourself a ‘glamper’ who enjoys the cabin, airstream, and RV life, there’s a wide variety of state park camping to choose from. Check out all of California’s state parks and their camping situations, along with fees and whether or not reservations are required, by visiting the California State Parks website here. 

What are some of the things I need to take on a camping trip?

No matter what, always be sure to pack the essentials. Items like food, water, a first aid kit, knife, appropriate camping attire, sunscreen, and bug spray will always come in handy. If you’re tent camping, you’ll want to be sure to bring anything and everything you’ll need during your trip, including cooking utensils, camping chairs, sleeping bag, lantern/flashlight, etc. If you’re staying in a cabin, many of these items may be provided for you. Be sure to make a list ahead of time and plan accordingly to your camping situation, weather conditions, and campsite conditions.