Best Campsites in the Bay Area

Best Campsites in the Bay Area If you reside in the Bay area, camping can easily happen via car, foot, bike or public transit. Being beyond privileged here in Northern California, we can camp all year round and not need a ton of 'hard-core' gear to pull it off. Below is a list of a few of Alite's favorite camp spots that are close to the city. We love biking to China Camp, and we especially love heading over the bridge and walking down to Kirby Cove. No excuses folks, get your camp game on this summer and you'll never look back!

 

Samuel P Taylor State Park

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Distance from SF: 22.5 miles

Camp Website: SAMUEL P TAYLOR STATE PARK

Cost of Campsites: $35

Reservations: HIPCAMP    RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: Just an hour north of San Francisco lies the pristine state park of coastal redwood groves and open grassland. Access to trailheads are easy to come by and discover, for various levels of outdoor enthusiasts. We suggest going up during the coho salmon and steelhead trout spawning season! There's a total of 59 family campsites, several group sites, as well as cabins (more info here). Reservations can be made 2 days to 7 months in advance, and the standard campsites accommodate up to 6 people. It's open year round folks, make your reservation today!

Don’t Miss: 

  • Spotted Owl breeding season
  • Like mountain biking? Check out the paved Cross Marin Trail bike path
  • Hike to the top of Mount Barnabe
  • Lagunitas Groceries & Deli (7290 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Laguinitas)
  • Cruise to the quaint town of Point Reyes after and hike to the ocean from Point Reyes National Seashore

 

Angel Island State Park

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Distance from SF: Short Ferry Boat Ride

Camp Website: ANGEL ISLAND STATE PARK

Cost of Campsites: $30-$50

Reservations: HIPCAMP    RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: Camping on an island is pretty sweet, trust us. Especially, one with an extensive history and historic landmarks. The view of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge from Angel Island is breathtaking, and soaking up a sunset, island style, is the way to go. Taking the ferry over, and hiking around for the day is pretty epic, but if you have the opportunity to camp overnight, it's another level! Check out Reserve America, and make your reservation in advance, spots fill up quickly!

Don’t Miss:

  • Hike the North Ridge Trail (more info here)
  • Grab some island snacks from the Snack Bar
  • Picnic time at Fort McDowell
  • Peries Beach is a gem! Check it out!

 

Kirby Cove Campground

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Distance from SF: Underneath Golden Gate Bridge Marin-side

Camp Website: KIRBY COVE

Cost of Campsites: $25 

Reservations: HIPCAMP    RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: Once you've made it here, you'll understand why it's so damn hard to reserve. These campsites are truly epic, and you'll almost feel like you're on some tropical island while staying here. Being only 8 miles north of San Francisco, you literally could walk here! There are only 4 overnight camp-spots and one day use picnic site. The work you'll put into reserving a spot here is well worth it. The view, white sandy beach, and historic Battery Kirby are beyond crazy cool.

Don’t Miss: 

  • FYI the sounds of the foghorn is rather aggressive, don't be alarmed
  • Lots of wildlife - keep your eyes peeled for deer, coyotes, raccoons and bobcats!
  • Picnic snacks are a must (we encourage fresh oysters and chilled brews while relaxing on your Nipomo Blanket)

 

Presidio Rob Hill Campground

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Distance from SF: In the City

Camp Website: ROB HILL CAMPGROUND

Cost of Campsites: $125 a night (accomodates 30 people)

Reservations: ROB HILL CAMPGROUND

Cool Part: Attention beginner campers - this is the spot for you! This campground is close to the city, super clean and all the amenities you'll need are in close proximity to your tent setup. There are great walks to the beach and to viewpoints for sunset watching. We'll meet you there on our bikes! FYI this campground is great for events, and offers two sites open to the public that can hold a maximum of 30 people!

Don’t Miss:

  • Check out the amphitheater
  • Birders beware, this place is packed!
  • Endless nature exploration and hike trails accessible
  • Check out Marshall's Beach!

 

Point Reyes National Park

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Distance from SF: 40 miles from SF

Camp Website: POINT REYES CAMPGROUND

Cost of Campsites: $30-120

Reservations: HIPCAMP    RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: The geography of this place is spectacular, there's no denying it. Bordered by the San Andreas Fault, Point Reyes campground has sandy beaches and hillside grasslands. This peninsula IS something to write home about. We love camping here, and there is something for everyone. There are five campgrounds available for reservations (four hike in or bike in, and one kayak/canoe/boat in). Point Reyes is only 1.5 hours away from SF too! The drive (or ambitious bike ride) is incredible!

Don’t Miss: 

  • Tons of wildlife! Including the tule elk, black-tailed deer, the northern elephant seal and California sea lions!
  • OMG whale watching! Keep your eyes peeled for Pacific gray whale sightings
  • Fun in the tide pools! Check out Sculptured and Palomarin beaches
  • Experienced kayakers welcome!
  • Over 1,500 species of flora and fauna! 
  • Want to learn more about the history of the area and how it has become protected? Watch 'Rebels With a Cause' to learn more!
  • More activity info HERE

 

Big Basin State Park

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Distance from SF: 65 miles from SF

Camp Website: BIG BASIN REDWOOD STATE PARK

Cost of Campsites: $35

Reservations: HIPCAMP    RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, Big Basin is full of big redwoods. You will have to see for yourself just how big these trees are, it's truly amazing. Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire ring and most have wooden storage cupboards. Big Basin is located just 65 miles south of San Francisco, and 25 miles northwest of Santa Cruz. Heads up - all roads into Big Basin are curvy and may require a brown bag (for all you sensitive ones …).

Don’t Miss: 

  • Enjoy moderate hiking? Check out the Sequoia Trail
  • Enjoy strenuous hiking? Check out Berry Creek Falls
  • Soak in some local knowledge: learn about some of the plants the Ohlones Natives used for food, tools and medicine
  • Coffee Talk and Crafts: come to the Sempervirens Room next to Park Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate on Saturday, June 21 from 9:30-12:30

 

Mt Diablo State Park

Distance from SF:

Camp Website: MT DIABLO STATE PARK

Cost of Campsites: $30-$165 

Reservations: HIPCAMP    RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: As you begin the trek through Mt Diablo you will find rocks over 12 million-years-old! With a summit of over 3,800 feet, under a night sky you will find a glistening forest of stars. One of Mt Diablo’s biggest attractions is that it is said to hold the second best vista in the world! Right behind Mt Kilimanjaro! From Concord to the Golden Gate Bridge to the Santa Cruz Mountains on a clear day it is all visible from the mountain.  There are many camping areas to explore.

Don’t Miss: 

  • Juniper Campground -  A beautifully landscaped campground for those times when roughin’ it is not in the cards (kid friendly, see pictures HERE)
  • Hike, bike, horseback ride or camp
  • Boy Scout Rocks and Sentinel Rock - popular places near Rock City for rock climbers
  • Hike to Rock City (near Live Oak campground) - huge rock formations to climb and small caves to explore

 

Lake Chabot

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Distance from SF:

Camp Website: LAKE CHABOT REGIONAL PARK

Cost of Campsites: $25-$35

Reservations: RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: Just 20 minutes from downtown Oakland, FOR REAL! This is a beautiful campground that is open year-round for all of our enjoyment, and trust us, we've enjoyed it on more than one occasion.  This campground is in an ideal location, especially if you're into hiking, bike trails, observatories, horse back riding, and golfing.

Don’t Miss:

 

Lake Del Valle

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Distance from SF:

Camp Website: LAKE DEL VALLE REGIONAL PARK

Cost of Campsites: $25

Reservations: RESERVE AMERICA

Cool Part: This spot is a hidden gem in our eyes, and it is so close to downtown San Francisco you won't believe it! You'll sleep tight in this valley, which is surrounded by magical oak covered hills. Del Valle Regional Park is open year-round for camping, and the proximity to the lake is definitely walkable. We suggest making a weekend out of it, and renting a pontoon boat for the day! Check availability here: http://www.reserveamerica.com/camping/del%20valle/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=EB&parkId=110003

Don’t Miss:

  • Rent a boat for the day and go fishing
  • Kayaking in Lake Del Valle
  • Hiking in this section of the East Bay Regional Park District offers a variety of hikes for all levels

Tags: Camp