Kings River Camping

Camping areas along Kings River, Sierra Nevada California

dirtroadskings

Kings is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada and very rugged and remote in most of the length. The Upper Kings is situated in the highest of elevation, granite alpine back country, with abundant small lakes and numerous Wilderness areas.

The tallest peak, Mount Whitney, drains this way – down waterfalls and whitewater, westward to California into the San Joaquin Valley. Agriculture and orchards of citrus. The mid section of this mighty Kings River runs close to Hwy 180 inside the Kings Canyon National Park.

The Lower Kings is popular among campers, fishermen, kayakers and rafters, accessible most of the year. Upper Kings River is located inside the National Park boundaries.

NPS Campgrounds near Upper Kings River

Inside Kings Canyon National Park:
Cedar Grove Village @ end of Highway 180

elevation 4600′

may be closed during winter months.
reservations recommended.
NPS

Sheep Creek Campground (111 sites)
Sentinel Campground (82 sites)
Canyon View Campground (37 sites)
Moraine Campground (120 sites)

Roaring River Falls, Sentinel Dome (9115′ elev)

hikes
Roads End Trailhead
backpack camping, from paved parking area.
NPS – wilderness permits required for overnight stays.

Kings Highcountry Topo Map

bridge kings

Camping near Lower Kings River

Open all year round. Outside the National Park boundary, westward in lower elevations, many more camping options are available.

NFS

NOTE: Sierra National Forest is located  on the north side, along the river shore in between Pine Flat Lake & Kings Cyn National Park. But Sequoia National Forest is located on the south side!

Lower Kings is best accessed via the paved roads, up behind Pine Flat Lake, California

river
Trimmer Springs Road #11S12: a paved access route, wraps around the northern shore of Pine Flat Reservoir. Very winding and long, with 25 mph curves; this main route continues east into the massive Kings River Canyon.

Google Maps may have this road crossing the river, toward the end. Proper signage is questionable in the area, since local rednecks love to shoot up signs. Trimmer route quickly peters out to narrow dirt roads, anywhere past the Mill Flat Campground area.

Lower Kings is NOT easily reached via the National Park – Kings Canyon Highway 180. Dirt road travel is required on Road #12S01, which can be steep and rocky at best. The drivable climb up to the highway may require 4 wheel drive in some sections, depending on weather.

Winter brings some snow and abundant rains (NOV – APRIL).

LANDSLIDES and ROCK SLIDES are common with ROAD CLOSURES usually posted on the Sierra National Forest, NFS web site.

big river kings

 

poppy

Wildflowers are abundant in this region for springtime. (MARCH-MAY)

camp

(north shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1100′

Sierra National Forest
fish

Kirch Flat Campground NFS (17 sites)

tables & toilets

both above are free camp spots: boondocking, primitive car camping, tent camping, RV camping, fishing, kayaking, rafting

Sierra Road #12S01 – primitive camping, few pit toilets; fishing access, some trailhead camps and RV spots along river. The northern most arm of this road is also referred to as Road# 12S001 Garnet Dike, on the NFS web site.

newbridge
Along paved routes, near bridges, some dispersed camping is also allowed. Campfire permits are required.

Sierra Road #9 is Big Creek Canyona side route, graded dirt road worth exploring for primitive camping options. The farther you drive up, the more vegetation you will find. Campfire permits are required.

BlackRock Reservoir Road #11S12, another side route (paved) climbs steeply in elevation, along a cliff edge. This spot offers a small NFS campground near a lake, and is located along the North Fork of the river.

kingsflow2010

click to enlarge

NFS

(south shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1000′

Sierra National Forest

Pine Flat Reservoir

elevation 952′

Lake View


CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

rafterskings

Map California Baja

Secret Beaches

Secret Beaches of Baja

2003 Baja Map

Baja Topo Map

Topographic Maps of California Baja
Baja California Almanac

BAJA MEXICO MAP

The mysterious topographic map maker, Landon Crumpton, is gone. Although his Baja Almanac book of the Mexican peninsula is still as popular as ever.

bajaalmaac

The Total Escape crew has been using this amazing topo map for Baja Mexico since our the very first excursions in 1990. Click below to read more about the famous, hard-to-find Baja Almanac publication.

  • Baja California Almanac
  • Topographic Map Book of Baja California

  • National Geographic Baja Maps
  • NatGeo Baja California Mexico Maps

    Baja California Maps

  • Find more Baja Maps
  • Obscure Books & Maps, AAA Maps of Baja

    Baja Snack

    Driving on the Beach

    beach sunset

    Driving on the Beach in California

    Gone are the days of ‘beach blanket bingo’ where film crews glamorized California – the beautiful people, the nice vehicles, the sport of surfing and the glorious beaches. There are very few places left on the California coast that you can actually drive a vehicle on the sand, right next to the ocean. The military bases, oil corporations and the utility companies have the front row seats to the Pacific genocide, and the rest of the population is restricted with extreme limited access.

    Baja California has minimal regulations on coastal access with a car. No pavement, no signs, no cell phone signal, and no help for miles – something to consider if you get stuck south of the border in Mexico. Baja has numerous places to explore below Ensenada, but asking locals is always a favored approach. Pay attention to private property signs and always close the cattle gate (if you found it closed).

    Southern California, no beaches allow vehicle traffic. San Diego offers a sliver of sand @ Silver Strand SB, which is a developed campground for motorhomes and car campers, located right on the beach south of Coronado, CA. Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, San Diego allows driving on sand and a favorite among active dogs, but not camping is allowed. In Los Angeles you can park a motorhome at a sandy, paved campground for a hefty overnight fee. Dockweiler Beach, right near the Chevron plant and LA sewage treatment facility. Sounds delightful, not.

    Ventura & Santa Barbara Coastal Regions have many awesome State Beaches, but none allow vehicles on the sand.

    AWD on the sand

    Central Coast California:

    • Oceano SVRA – off road sand dunes and open camping on the beach. Day use or overnight camp fee required; near Pismo Beach, CA
    • Red, White and Blue Beach – nude beach w/ campground (now closed); north of Santa Cruz, CA

    Northern California:
    Lost Coast

    • Usal Beach Campground – redwood creeks and forests meets coast and cliffs. Camp fee for overnight use. Long dirt road access. No RVs!
    • Black Sands Beach (OHV 4×4 trail, now closed to all vehicles) near Shelter Cove, CA

    chico couple

    after-the-fun maintenance tip:

    Salt water and sand is very corrosive to metal – which will rust your truck or car badly. Now that you’ve had fun on the beach, we remind you to clean the underneath of your vehicle ASAP. Spraying powerful hose in your wheel wells and all underneath the vehicle. You might need to lay on the ground and get wet to do this job properly. Some car wash places might be able to do this service for you, but it will cost ya.

    Campgrounds Beach

    California Campgrounds –
    Camping at the Beach

    Costal Cliffs

    Autumn and Spring are often the best months to enjoy the (somewhat) uncrowded coastline of California. Kids are in school, summer vacation rush is over, and there is plenty of sunshine before those winter storms come rolling in.

    reservations are highly recommended

    Anything & any place along the coast is “much desired”, worthy of charging for. From seaside restaurants to convenient, paid parking lots – face it – California can be expensive.

    Beach camping is no different. Coast camping in California is abundant, but state run campgrounds will run you a pretty penny. Camping fees are well above $20 per night. If you want flush toilets in the bathroom and a level, paved spot for a big RV, it will cost even more. Make sure to reserve a campsite as far ahead as possible. Ask about off-season months to visit.

    Privately run campgrounds are often more expensive, but they might be a nicer facility and be in a better location. If you want free camping, then head to the northern part of the state – and take a dirt road to reach your seclusion. Both the Big Sur and Lost Coast both have excellent dispersed camping on backroads, at no charge, and a campfire permit is required for such camping.

    Campgrounds situated on a sandy beach or right on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean. Private cove camp sites, tent cabin rentals, yurt resorts, RV campgrounds; Several coastal canyons (from sycamores to redwoods) usually have creeks and abundant camping options.

    Pismo Clear Winter Day

    Campgrounds Beach: a popular search phrase for camping near the coast in California. The best months to camp along the coast depends on what part of California you wish to visit – at what time of the year. With 700 miles of ocean front there is a lot to choose from – RV parks w/ small marina, 4×4 camps, hike-in only sites, and plenty of California State Parks & Beaches.

    Much of the coastal camping is NOT “on-the-sand” beach camping. Most of the coastline in California is rugged, some forested and usually full of ‘wildfire prone’ chaparral. Cliffside campgrounds, redwood canyons with creeks, green grassy lawns w/ shade trees and paved camp sites, US 101 busy, freeway campgrounds; all are close enough to the shore to be considered COASTAL camping.

    Even in winter, the coast can be quite mild in Southern Cal, so the campgrounds are open all year long. NorCal Coast gets the brunt of WET & COLD winter weather, so those camps are open seasonally, during warmer, drier months (APRIL-OCT).

    JUNE GLOOM is a cloud layer that covers the coastline in the early part of summer. Weather is warm to cool with clouds, or the weather can be bright and sunny – if the marine layer ‘burns off’ by mid-day. Consider these local weather patterns, May Gray & June Gloom, when planning a vacation to the beaches of California.

    listed from south to north

    Southern California Beach Camping

    Coronado Island
    San Diego Beach Camping
    Encinitas
    Carlsbad
    Orange County Beach Camping
    San Clemente
    Dana Point
    Laguna Beach

    Los Angeles Beach Camping

    Bolsa Chica State Beach
    Doheny State Beach
    Malibu Creek State Park
    Ventura Coast Camping

    Coast Campgrounds

    Central Coast Beach Camping

    Santa Barbara Beach Camping
    Pismo Beach Camping
    Morro Bay Camping
    Big Sur Campground

    Monterey Bay Camping

    Monterey Bay Camping
    Half Moon Bay
    Santa Cruz Camping
    Santa Cruz Redwoods

    Angel Island

    San Francisco Camping

    Angel Island State Park
    Point Reyes Camping
    Marin Redwoods Camping
    Sonoma Coast – Camping Jenner

    Northern California Coast Camping

    Mendocino Coast
    Kings Range
    Lost Coast: Shelter Cove
    NorCal Redwoods Camping
    Crescent City Camping

    Stairwell to Beach

    Mendocino Beach Camping

    Mendocino Coast Campgrounds

    villageoncliff
    Tent camping directly on a sandy beach can be found at USAL BEACH – on remote reaches of the rugged Lost Coast, via long dirt roads (not recommended for RV or camper trailers). Numerous small, cheap, forested campgrounds can be found on the Kings Range (dirt) roads. The area is also known as Honeydew or the Emerald Triangle. The “emerald” comes from the color of the main economic staple, cannabis.

    The remainder of camp accommodations are State Parks and State Beaches on the Mendo coast, offering developed campgrounds and most are first come, first serve.  There are no campgrounds inside the popular, historic village of Mendocino, CA , but two state parks are within a mile to the north and south side of town: Van Damme Campground & Russian Gulch Campground. Local KOA and a few private RV parks make up the rest of the scenic coastline.

    Lost Coast Camping BLM

    Kings Range National Conservation Area

    camp on the sand

    Lost Coast Bridge

    Westport Union Landing State Beach

    MacKerricher State Park

    • Pinewood Campground
    • Surfwood Campground

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    dscn0083

    Fort Bragg, California Campgrounds

    Cleone Campground

    Hidden Pines Camp & RV Park

    Jug Handle Creek Farm & Campground

    Pomo RV Park & Campground

    Sportsmans RV Park

    Woodside RV Park & Campground

    Caspar Beach RV Park Campground

    Camping Mendocino Village Area

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    Mendocino Coast Village

    Mendocino Coast –
    Albion, Pt. Arena & Gualala

    camp

    Manchester State Park

    Manchester KOA Campground

    Anchor Bay Campground @ Fish Rock Beach

    Gualala River Redwood Park

    Redwood forest

    Mendocino Coast towns:
    Albion
    Caspar
    Elk
    Fort Bragg
    Gualala
    Little River
    Mendocino