All Lake Campgrounds

davisatsunset

California Lakes A-Z

alphabetically listed; cross reference by lake or campground name. blue links lead to camp reservation services.

All Reservable Lake Campgrounds inside California

lake campgrounds

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

lakes mountains foothills camp  boating fishing hiking State Parks NFS

ACORN CAMPGROUND
New Hogan Lake, Valley Springs, Stockton CA

ALMANOR CAMPGROUND
Lake Almanor, Westwood, Chester, California

ANTELOPE LAKE – Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

Anthony Chabot Park
Lake Chabot Campground

East Bay San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, CA

ANTLERS CAMPGROUND
Lake Shasta, Lakehead, O’Brien CA, Interstate 5

ASPEN GROUP CAMP
Jackson Meadow Reservoir, Tahoe NF, Truckee, California

ASPEN GROVE CAMPGROUND NFS
Eagle Lake, Lassen NF, Susanville, California

ASPEN HOLLOW GROUP CAMP NFS
Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Park, Hume Lake

AUBURN SRA BOAT-IN CAMPING State Park
Auburn State Recreation Area, Gold Country, Folsom Lake, American Arm, Auburn, CA

lakes

BAILEY COVE CAMPGROUND
Lake Shasta, California

BASS LAKE – Sierra National Forest, South of Yosemite NP NFS

BEAR RIVER GROUP CAMP
Lower Bear Reservoir, Eldorado National Forest

BENBOW LAKE STATE RECREATION AREA State Park
Mendocino Benbow Lake, NorCal Redwoods US 101

BERGER CAMPGROUND NFS
Packer Lake @ Lakes Basin Recreation Area, Yuba River, North Gold Country California; Sierra City, Downieville CA

BIG COVE CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Feather River, Plumas NF, Portola CA

BIG SILVER GROUP CAMP
Union Valley Reservoir, US Hwy 50, Placerville, Gold Country

BLACK BUTTE LAKE – North Sac Valley, NorCal

BLACK OAK CAMPGROUNDNFS
Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, Eldorado NF
East of Georgetown, CA

BOCA RESERVOIR – Tahoe NF, Truckee, California NFS

BOULDER GULCH CAMPGROUND NFS
Kern Canyon, Lake Isabella, California

BRANNAN ISLAND STATE RECREATION AREA State Park
Sacramento River @ California Delta, Lodi CA

Indian Rock Beach, Bucks Lake California

BUCKS LAKE – North Sierra, Plumas National Forest

BURNEY FALLS STATE PARK CAMPGROUND State Park
Lake Britton SRA, Burney, California

BUSHAY CAMPGROUND
Lake Mendocino, California

coolsprings

BUTT VALLEY Reservoir – PG&E Campgrounds
West of Lake Almanor

BUTTE LAKE – Lassen Volcanic National Park NPS

lakes

Castaic Lake RV Park
North Los Angeles County, Castiac, CA Interstate 5

CHEKAKA CAMPGROUND
Lake Mendocino, Wine Country California, US Hwy 101

CHILCOOT CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Plumas National Forest, Feather River, Portola CA

Chowchilla Recreation Area
Eastman Lake, Central Valley, Fresno CA

CHRISTIE CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake, south shore; Plumas NF, Susanville, California

CLEAR LAKE SP – Wine Country, California State Park

CODORNIZ RECREATION AREA
Eastman Lake, San Joaquin Valley, Central Valley

COLLEGE CAMPGROUND
Huntington Lake, Western Sierra Nevada

CONVICT LAKE CAMPGROUND
Eastern Sierra, US Hwy 395, Mammoth Lakes

COTTONWOOD CAMPGROUND
Frenchman Lake, Feather River

CRYSTAL LAKE
Angeles National Forest, Azusa, CA

lakes

D.L. BLISS SP State Park
DL BLISS CAMPGROUND
DL Bliss State Park, Lake Tahoe, California

DINKEY CREEK
Dinkey Creek CA; near Dinkey Lakes Wildeerness Area
Sierra NF, south of Shaver Lake CA

lakes

EAGLE LAKE – Plumas National Forest, Susanville, California

EASTMAN LAKE – California Central Valley, Fresno CA

DE VALLE LAKE SRA Central Valley Reservoir

DONNER STATE PARK
Donner Lake, Sierra Nevada, Donner Pass @ I-80

CAMP EDISON @ SHAVER
EDISON CAMPGROUND
California Edison Campground
@ Shaver Lake, CA, Western Sierra

ELLERY CREEK
McCloud Arm of Shasta Lake, California

EMERALD BAY SP State Park
South Lake Tahoe California

lakes

FALLEN LEAF CAMPGROUND 
South Lake Tahoe California

FASHODA CAMPGROUND NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, ElDorado NF

FAUCHERIE GROUP CAMP
Faucherie Lake, Donner Pass Area, Tahoe NF,  Truckee, California

FAWN CAMPGROUND
Trinity Highway 3, Trinity Lake CA

FIR COVE CAMPGROUND NFS
Ruth Lake, Mad River CA Hwy 36, Six River NF

FISH LAKE CAMPGROUND
Hwy 96, Six River National Forest, Orleans CA

FOLSOM LAKE SRA State Park
Folsom State Recreation Area, Sacramento CA

FORKS CAMPGROUND
Bass Lake, Sierra NF, South Yosemite

FREMONT CAMPGROUND
near Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara Camping

FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR – American River

FRENCHMAN LAKE – Plumas NF, Feather River, Portola CA

lakes

GLORY HOLE RECREATION AREA
GLORY HOLE CAMPGROUND

New Melones Reservoir
Angels Camp, California Gold Country

GREEN VALLEY CAMPGROUND NFS
Green Valley Lake, Big Bear Lake Area, San Bernardino NF

GRIZZLY CAMPGROUND
Lake Davis, Plumas National Forest, Portola CA

lakes

HAYWARD FLAT
Trinity Lake, NorCal Highway 3, Weaverville CA

HORSE CREEK
Lake Kaweah, South Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers CA

HUME LAKE – Kings Canyon & Sequoia NP, Hume Lake

HUNGRY GULCH NFS
Lake Isabella, Kern River, Kernville CA

HUNTINGTON LAKE – Western Sierra Nevada NFS

HUTCHINS CAMPGROUND
Bucks Lake, CA, Plumas National Forest

Bucks Lake Campgrounds

lakes

ICE HOUSE CAMPGROUND
Ice House Reservoir, US Hwy 50, El Dorado NF

ISLAND PARK
Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River, Sierra NF

JACKSON FLAT GROUP CAMP
Jackson Lake, Angeles NF, Wrightwood CA

jacksoncreek

JACKSON MEADOWS Reservoir – Tahoe National Forest, Truckee, CA

JUANITA LAKE GROUP CAMP
near Butte Valley Wildlife Area, Klamath NF, Weed CA

JUNE LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
June Lake Loop, Hwy 158, June Lake, CA Eastern Sierra

JUNIPER LAKE – Lassen Volcanic NP NPS

Lassen Lakes

KASPIAN CAMPGROUND
hiking trail to Barker Peak @ Lake Tahoe CA

KINGS BEACH SRA
State Recreation Area Lake Tahoe CA

lakes

LAKE ALMANOR – Northern Sierra Nevada

LAKE BERRYESSA – Wine Country California

LAKE BRITTON  Burney Falls Park State Park

LAKE CACHUMA – Santa Barbara Mountains

LAKE DAVIS – Plumas National Forest

LAKE EDISON – Sierra National Forest

LAKE ISABELLA – Kern River, South Sierra NFS

LAKE MENDOCINO – Wine Country California, US Hwy 101

LAKE OROVILLE SRA State Park
Oroville Lake State Recreation Area
Loafer Creek, Equestrian Camp, Feather River Oroville CA

LAKE PERRIS SRA State Park
Inland Empire, Southern California

LAKE PILLSBURY, Trout Creek Campground (currently closed)

LAKE SONOMA – Wine Country California, Geyserville

LAKE SPAULDING, PG&E Campground, Interstate 80

tahoe emerald bay

The Gem of the Sierra Nevada – Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE – Sierra Nevada Mountains State Park NFS

LAKES BASIN CAMPGROUND NFS
Lakes Basin Recreation Area, North Gold Country

LAKESHORE EAST
Shasta Lake, Northern California

LAKESIDE CAMPGROUND NFS
Prosser Reservoir, OHV Camping, Truckee, California

LEWIS CAMPGROUND
French Meadows Reservoir, American River, W of Lake Tahoe

LIBERTY GLEN CAMPGROUND
Lake Sonoma, Wine Country California

Lake Davis Trails

Lake Davis Trails – hike, bike, horseback

LIGHTNING TREE CAMPGROUND NFS
Lake Davis, Plumas National Forest, Susanville, California

LOGGER CAMPGROUND
Hume Lake, Sequoia Kings National Parks

LONE ROCK NFS
Antelope Lake, Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

LONG POINT NFS
Antelope Lake, Plumas NF, Indian Valley, Greenville, CA

LOON LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
ElDorado NF High Country, Georgetown, CA

LOON LAKE CHALET NFS
ElDorado NF High Country, Georgetown, CA

LOS ALAMOS CAMPGROUND
Pyramid Lake, North Los Angeles, Interstate 5

LOWER TWIN LAKES NFS
Twin Lakes CA, BRIDGEPORT, Eastern Sierra

LUPINE
Bass Lake, Sierra NF, South Yosemite

lakes

MAMMOTH POOL – Sierra NF, South of Yosemite NP

MANZANITA LAKE – Lassen Volcanic NP NPS

MARY SMITH CAMPGROUND
Lewsiton Lake, Trinity River, Lewiston CA

MEEKS BAY
Lake Tahoe California, west shore

LAKE MENDOCINO
Lake Campground Mendocino, Ukiah CA, US Hwy 101

MERRILL CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake, Susanville CA

MESA CAMPGROUND
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, Cajon Pass L.A.

MILLERTON LAKE SRA State Park
Millerton Lake Campground, Fresno CA

MODESTO RESERVOIR REGIONAL PARK
Western Sierra Foothills, Modesto, Merced, Central Valley

lakes

NELSON POINT
Shasta Lake, Northern California

NEVADA BEACH CAMPGROUND
Lake Tahoe, south shore @ Nevada state line, US Hwy 50

NEW HOGAN LAKE – Valley Springs, Gold Country

NEW MELONES Reservoir – Angels Camp, Gold Country

NORTH FORK CAMPGROUND
Bass Lake, Sierra National Forest, Yosemite South

NORTH SHORE
Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino National Forest

lakes

OAK KNOLL CAMPGROUND
New Hogan Reservoir, San Andreas, Gold Country

OAK SHORES
Lake Berryessa, RV Camping in Wine Country

OH RIDGE
June Lake, California, Eastern Sierra

June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

lakes

PAHA CAMPGROUND
Twin Lakes, Bridgeport CA, Eastern Sierra

PARADISE COVE
Lake Isabella, Kern River California

PINECREST LAKE
Sonora Pass, Hwy 108, Stanislaus National Forest

PINE FLAT Reservoir – Kings River, Sierra NF

PINE POINT
Shasta Lake, Shasta National Forest

PINES GROUP SITE
Stony Gorge Reservoir, Sacramento Valley, NorCal

PIONEER POINT
Lake Isabella, Kern River, South Sierra

PROSSER Reservoir – Truckee OHV Camping

PYRAMID LAKE – North Los Angeles, Interstate 5
(no campground on lakeshore)

RUTH LAKE –  Mad River, Six River NF NFS

lakes

SAGE HILL
Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara Mountains

SALTON SEA SRA State Park
Salton Sea State Recreation Area, Imperial Valley Desert

SAN LUIS RESERVOIR SRA State Park
Central California, Interstate 5 @ Hwy 152

SARDINE LAKE
Lakes Basin Recreation Area, North Gold Country

SHASTA LAKE – Northern California NFS

SILVER LAKE CAMPGROUND NFS
June Lake Loop, Hwy 158, Eastern Sierra

SILVER LAKE EAST
El Dorado National Forest, Markleeville CA

SILVERWOOD LAKE SRA State Park
Cajon Pass, San Bernardino NF, Southern California

SOUTH SHORE CAMPGROUND
Lower Bear Reservoir, El Dorado National Forest

STONY GORGE Reservoir – Sacramento Valley, NorCal

SUGAR PINE POINT SP State Park
Lake Tahoe California, west shore

SUGARLOAF RIDGE SP State Park
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Santa Rosa, Wine Country

SUMMIT LAKE – Lassen Volcanic National Park NPS

SUNSET CAMPGROUND NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, El Dorado NF, US Hwy 50

SWEETWATER CAMPGROUND NFS
Mammoth Pool Reservoir, Sierra NF, North Fork CA

Mammoth Pool Reservoir

lakes

TAHOE SRA Campground State Park
Tahoe State Recreation Area, Lake Tahoe California

Tahoe Valley Campground
large private campground, South Lake Tahoe, CA

TANNERY GULCH NFS
Trinity Lake, Shasta Trinity NF

TRIMMER CAMPGROUND NFS
Pine Flat Reservoir, Kings River, Sierra National Forest

Trinity KOA Kampground
Trinity Lake, Hwy 3, Northern California

TRINITY LAKE – Shasta Trinity NF, Weaverville CA NFS

TROUT CREEK CAMPGROUND (currently closed)
Lake Pillsbury, Mendocino National Forest

TRUMBULL LAKE
Virginia Lakes, US Hwy 395, Eastern Sierra

TURLOCK LAKE SRA State Park
Turlock Lake State Recreation Area, Central Valley

TUTTLETOWN RECREATION AREA
New Melones Reservoir, Angels Camp, Gold Country

TWIN LAKES – Eastern Sierra, Bridgeport CA NFS

Twin Lakes, Eastern Sierra

Twin Lakes, Eastern Sierra

lakes

Union Valley Reservoir – El Dorado National Forest NFS

UPPER STONY CREEK NFS
Hume Lake, Sequoia NF, Sequoia Kings Canyon NP

VERMILLION NFS
Lake Edison @ John Muir Wilderness,
Sierra National Forest, beyond Huntington Lake CA

lakes

WARM SPRINGS PICNIC & RECREATION AREA
Lake Sonoma, Wine Country, Geyserville CA

WENCH CREEK NFS
Union Valley Reservoir, Desolation Wilderness;
ElDorado NF. Placerville, Gold Country

WEST EAGLE CAMPGROUND
Eagle Lake Recreation Area, Susanville CA

Oak Bottom Campground

Oak Bottom Campground, Whiskeytown

Whiskeytown NRA (closed due to fire 2016)
Whiskey Creek Group Area, Oak Bottom Campground
Whiskeytown Lake, Redding, Old Shasta

WHITEHORSE CAMPGROUND NFS
Bucks Lake, Plumas National Forest

Wilderness Lakes RV Resort
Inland Empire, Temecula, Menifee, Southern California

WILLIAM KENT CAMPGROUND
Lake Tahoe CA, west shore @ Tahoe City CA

WISHON @ BASS LAKE NFS
Bass Lake Campground, Sierra National Forest, South Yosemite

WOLF CREEK
Union Valley Reservoir, Eldorado NF, Placerville CA

WOODCAMP NFS
Jackson Meadow Reservoir, Tahoe NF, Truckee, California

WOODWARD RESERVOIR REGIONAL PARK
Stanislaus County Park, Modesto, Stockton

WRIGHTS LAKE NFS
near Ice House Reservoir, Eldorado NF

WRIGHTS LAKE EQUESTRIAN CAMP
near Ice House Reservoir, Eldorado NF

WYANDOTTE CAMPGROUND
LGVR, Little Grass Valley Reservoir, La Porte Road

Little Grass Valley Reservoir

Tioga

Tioga Lake Tent Camping, E Yosemite

lake campgrounds

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

Campfires in California

Campfires on the Back Roads

Campfires on the Back Roads: shovel & water bucket required

When & Where – Campfires in California

California has many different National Forest districts and each region has their own fire restrictions. State Parks & BLM also manages recreation areas & camping in the Golden State. Each agency & region has different rules, so blanket answers cannot apply to general questions on campfires.

CAMPFIRE PERMITS
Campfire permits are required for fires outside of designated recreation sites (not during fire restriction period). Campfire Permit are available from Forest Service, CalFire or BLM offices or online, http://www.preventwildfireca.org/

Current Fire Restrictions:
California suffers more from wildfires now than ever before. Drought conditions or record winter rains, the huge population means fire danger. By mid summer we have usually have several wild land fires burning, which means campfire restrictions are usually in place before JULY 4th weekend. When this happens – No open campfires are allowed in the backcountry or on the back roads.

Often in the driest of years, no campfires are allowed even inside the campgrounds.

tent camping

If you love to primitive camp outside of developed campgrounds, you need to plan more road trips for Spring time & early Summer. Or go desert camping during winter months.

No concise, easy-to-read list or online map exist on which forests are allowing backcountry campfires and which ones are not. It seems to change so often and they aren’t great about updating those .gov web sites.

Best just to call each forest individually and ask rangers about current fire conditions. If you can speak to a field ranger, they can tell you more on dispersed camping. Or you can navigate the USDA web site to find current ALERTS & RESTRICTIONS.

Here is a Total Escape page with all of the California National Forests listed w/ phone numbers
http://www.totalescape.com/active/campstuff/NF/NFS.html

Narrow down a specific region by checking out where fires are active today and selecting a region well away from big fires.
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/?state=5

See more on this topic –

Fire Safety
Camping without a Campfire
Firewood Dealers

Camp Fires Correctly

Go Solo

Traveling Alone
Camping Solo

Sierra Hiking Path

it’s the way to go… slow & solo

enjoying quality time alone is not weird, wrong, or unnatural, no matter how many strange looks you get from friends & envious co-workers

Solo Outdoor Trips

Stop waiting for someone to do things with. Quit thinking that your best friend or partner will one day magically suggest an outdoorsy road trip, or day hike, or mountain bike ride. YOU are the one who craves the wildness of the earth, the unexplored, the secluded. The time is now for you to start living the life you want, outdoors, in California – today!

If you’ve just about had it with the pressures of everyday stresses, the wifi city life and the busy pace of civilized society is starting to get to you. Get a clue fast – before you loose your marbles. It’s time for much needed rest and relaxation. Nature is the best place to relax and reconnect with yourself and mother nature.

A change in scenery. A fresh perspective. A real break from the norm. No shopping, no errands, no phones, no television, no computers, nobody around. No one, except you.

and they might call you anti-social…

Travel Solo

alone, by yourself

away, distant, solely, detached, free, independent, unique, individually

The Call of the Wild


Unplug yourself from the hectic rat race and go exploring. Give yourself time to fully unwind: time to think, time to enjoy the outdoors and really find that special place of peace that comes only from earth. Yes, all by yourself.

VISION QUEST

Call it an annual primal ritual, or a first time experiment, traveling solo can be a blessing in disguise. Learning to be alone outdoors, become more aware of the physical world and enjoying yourself is an important key to a balanced life. Whether you seek a quick refresher course for the weekend or a full blown month long road trip, seeking a new comfortable destination and the art of basic relaxing is the main focus for this trip.

Camping Alone

slow going

When you travel alone, it’s easy to take your own sweet time. Going slow is something we don’t usually do in our busy city lives. Time is so precious, so you may as well stretch that vacation out as long as possible. Savor the moments.

Take as long as you like for – photography, picnicking, hiking, stretching, yoga, cooking and stargazing. Firewood collection becomes the biggest chore of the day, and it could take hours. Walking from camp, every direction will lead to a new adventure. Driving back roads at 20 mph is luxurious. No one to be your back seat driver. Sleep in every day if you want. No pressures, no schedules, no big worries. Sunlight, food, heat, weather, cooking and cleaning. Sit back and learn to really relax. Enjoy a secluded camp site for a full week, and get to know the wildlife on a first name basis.

Boy Camping

Follow the back roads to seclusion, or reserve several days at a unique campground. Imagine night after night of peaceful rest, with the sounds of nature surrounding you & the stars of the heavens dancing across the darkest skies.

Explore new terrain every day & move to a new camp every night. Or make it a “stay put” week-long meditation, in one spot. Whatever fits your needs. Either way, you’ll enjoy the solitude & the healing powers of nature. Answering to no one but yourself, you may feel guilty or kinda selfish the first few days, but this will fade as you learn to embrace the solo journey.

And it doesn’t hafta be all about roughin it either. While backpacking into the almighty wilds of the true wilderness has its good points – along with life threatening dangers possible every day, a simple quick weekend trip to a nearby small inn, fishing lodge,  or a bed & breakfast could work for the pampered types. Choose something different and unique, yet know your own limitations (on comfort & on a physical level). Make sure your destination choice is surrounded by some nature and preferably wilderness. You won’t miss the television one bit!

  • FARM STAYS & GUEST RANCHES
  • BED & BREAKFAST INNS
  • NFS FIRE LOOKOUTS & CABINS
  • TENT CABINS & YURTS
  • CA LAKES & RESERVOIRS
  • WILDERNESS AREAS
  • SMALL TOWNS IN CALIFORNIA
  • Spend One Full Day a Week Outside in Nature

    Good California Maps are a must have! Don’t rely on digital cell service or count on online maps being readily available. The hard-copy versions are always the best back up plan. Old paper maps are the very best, cuz they can often show more hidden waterfalls, trails and old mines than the newer maps.

    National Forest maps are best for getting and staying away from the tourist crowds. Visit Destinations to decide what kinda place you wanna explore this season.

    California has it all – A to Z

    which is why the golden state population always seems to be increasing, right? Helping you get away from your normal routine and the masses is what we do best here at Total Escape. Discover the thousands of pages, photos and links on this site to create your very own unique retreat.

    The mountains, deserts, coastal, rolling oak countryside & even urban escape inside city villages, are perfect starting points for planning your little escape. Desert Retreats California

    Desert camping in autumn, winter and springtime months is perfect timing for any kinda soul searching, catching up on a good book, or just gazing out at the vast vistas. Meteor showers fall within the latter part of the year, so stargazing and camping is excellent with the new moon. Temps start to drop come September, so be warned. Mountain cabins drop to their off season rates after summer, but be prepared for chilly temps and get proper outdoor gear.

    camping destinations
    lakes in calif
    California State Parks
    hiking trails
    BLM camping
    back roads
    usda nfs
    mountains of California
    California National Parks
    stargazer
    desert in cali

    Desert Sunsets in Winter

    SAFETY TIPS: Give your schedule to someone. Any bit of info is helpful. A map or written itinerary given to a neighbor or close friend will help ensure your safety and timely return. Bring your cell phone, plenty maps, bear mace and emergency supplies for additional security.

    Camp Fires Correctly

    desert bonfires

    Deserts & beaches are the only places for bonfires.

    kill your television

    Camp Fires
    The heat source, the light source, the cook source, the sock drier, the night supplier, the outdoor LIVING ROOM. The campfire is the center stage for all entertainment, true tales and ghost stories alike.

    Since the beginning of time humans have gathered around the campfire at dark. This nightly ritual is built into us on the deepest level. We miss this today. We miss the real conversations, the community, the bonding, the stories, the soul searching. We miss the connection with nature, the fresh air and the great outdoors. The night sky filled with stars and maybe a meteor shower, a hot drink and the glow of the campfire coals. Enjoying the wilderness requires certain skills. FIRE is only ONE skill – for survival, for cooking, for warmth, for safety.

    Total Escape is dedicated to those who yearn to camp, often.

    In Certain Circles

    photo – Charlie Sweeney 2010

    Some folks cannot imagine camping without a campfire, but we better get used to it here on the West Coast. Weather patterns swing from years of super-dry drought to deluge and drenching – as we’ve seen of recent in California. Dry conditions means high wildfire dangers, tight camp stove and strict campfire restrictions.

    Each California region, National Forests and State Parks have their own fire restrictions, so call ahead to rangers for current fire conditions on the place you wish to visit. Certain mountain locations will ban fires in the back country, fires on the back roads and sometimes in extreme conditions, no fires allowed even inside a developed campground.

    Campfire Basics

    Campfire Restrictions

    fire

    California is well known for its unforgiving drought conditions and its seasonal wildfire danger. Always know the fire conditions in the area you plan to camp. Most Southern California regions have banned ‘open campfires’ in forested areas, due to wildfire threat and population density. Call ahead to get an update on road closures and current campfire restrictions. Find California BLM offices & NFS ranger stations

    Campfire Permits

    If you plan on camping outside of a developed campground, you will need to get a free “camp fire permit”, which can be obtained at the local rangers office.

    Find more on FREE camp fire permits

    DSCN3700

    California Camp Fires

    • RULE # 1 – Never leave a campfire unattended
    • Build campfires in designated rings. Always try to use an existing ring when possible. If you must build a new rock fire ring, follow the guide on FireSafe
    • You will need water source & bucket, plus a decent shovel for building, maintaining and controlling a campfire. BRING enough water & tools with you to control a fire.
    • A ten foot clearance – all around, down to the bare dirt is the best practice. No brush close to the ring, no bushes, no leaves or pine needles. No dry over-hanging tree branches.
    • You might need to clean trash out of the fire pit, so bring heavy duty trash bags, or a spare old box. Shovel comes in handy here.
    • Kindling is key to getting a good fire going fast, so gather more of the small stuff. Wood gathering away from camp is usually better pickens.
    • Use environmentally friendly fire starters (with damp wood, if you must); not the BBQ lighter fluid or gasoline
    • Building fires up against a big boulder scars them w/ black soot, and although it can reflect heat back to you, it is seldom worth the unsightly damage
    • Bring chainsaws or hand saws for cutting your own campfire wood in the forest
    • Gathering wood for fuel — use only dead and down wood
    • A ranger issued “wood cutting permit” is required if you plan on cutting a full cord
    • Firewood page – buying locally, in California
    • Never burn plastics, batteries or other toxic materials in campfires
    • Tossing beer bottle caps into a campfire only litters site for future campers
    • While glass bottle smelting is a real treat among boys at night, which one is actually gonna get their hands dirty & clean up broken glass out of the campfire the following morning?
    • Do not leave any hot coals during the day (if you are away from camp). Winds could pick up.
    • Always douse campfire with water completely when breaking camp. Stir it, feel for heat, and drown it more if you hear sizzling or see bubbling.
    • Read more wild fire / campfire info on our FireSafe page

    Drown Fires

    Last Final Step

    The Final Step of Breaking Camp

     

    Campfire Pits & Fire Containers

    Campfire Pits & Fire Containers

    Stormproof LIghters

    Stormproof Lighters

    Yellow Post Campsites

    yellowpost

    Yellow Post Camping


    Yellow Stake Camp Sites / Back Roads Camping NFS
    near Cajon Pass, Big Bear & Idyllwild CA

    YELLOW POST CAMPS are dispersed camping sites on the back roads in Southern California, where fire danger is greatest. Forest authorities have designated certain spots as ‘fire safe’ for remote, open camping options around Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin and the Idyllwild mountain area.

    If you prefer to stay out of the developed campgrounds, you will be the minority. But you must know how to read a map well to reach these beauties.

    Map Big Bear

    SoCal camping doesn’t have to mean crowded campgrounds. Seek your seclusion on the dirt back roads, where there are no fees, minimal noises & a private site waiting just for you. These are usually on a first come, first serve basis. A high clearance vehicle (SUV, truck or 4×4) may be needed to reach some of the premium camp spots, but there are also sites accessible by passenger cars. And, of course, a fire permit is required.

    HeartBar14

    In the San Bernardino National Forest there are several back woods ‘fire safe’ camping spots, that are noted with a single yellow post & some may require reservations in busy summer months. You can find out more on reserving from the Big Bear Discovery Center, 909-382-2790

    campfires bannedExtra caution should be used when winds are high, camp fires are often banned due to wildfire danger. Check with local rangers for up to date conditions and always get your campfire permit.

    No restrooms, no water, no facilities. Just a dirt road, a fire ring & a single picnic table. Hopefully your table will not be shot up, by the local rednecks who ‘get off’ doing stupid stuff like this. Pick up any litter & leave the place better than your found it.

    Yellow Post Camps

    These backroad camps are perfect for the 4×4 group, stressed out social club, church group w/ rugged van, or the city SUVer who wants to get away from the crowds. The most sought after camp spots are nearest to the lake or a site accessible by RVs and horse trailers, but there are many more excellent camp sites to be discovered. USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised to reach these remote areas. There are rugged dirt roads that lead to some of these spots. A passenger car is sometimes not suitable for all dirt roads. Wet weather changes everything on dirt roads. Often routes close for winter w/ locked gates.

    Big Bear Back Roads Camping

    download PDF maps
    on Big Bear Yellow Post Sites

    Campsite7

    Big Lots

    Cajon Pass Camping near I-15

    Idyllwild Dispersed Camping

    thomas camp
    Topo maps, Wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –