Bear in California

California Black Bears

California Black Bears

Although the grizzly bear image graces the state flag, grizzlies were killed off during the gold rush days. Black bears are found in California mountains and foothills, down to lowest elevations in NorCal. California black bears come in more than one color –  light brown, cinnamon, dark brown, and of course, black. For the most part, bears usually stay away from people.

Some areas are more prone to bear problems due in large part to the overpopulation of tourists and abundance of food provided by them. Certain California National Parks are particularly notorious for their brazen bear populations. Concentrated bear problems are sometimes posted so be very aware.

Bear Habitat

Follow some simple rules:

  • Keep a very clean campsite
  • Clean up all dirty dishes & beverage containers (especially before bedtime)
  • Keep clothing & sleeping bags free of food odors or heavy scents
  • Never leave any type of food garbage outside of a cabin or mountain home
  • Store garbage properly inside a locked, sturdy container inside garage or a shed
  • Stay away from bear cubs, there is sure to be a mother in close proximity
  • Try not to hike alone. Make noise & sing on trails to scare away any unwanted animals.
  • Bear storage canisters are available at sporting good stores & at stores in most National Parks.

Proper Food Storage Outdoors:

Bear Boxes @ Campground

Store food in closed up automobile, not visible. Store food correctly: in trunk of your car, or hidden from sight; in campground food lockers when available.

Lock all food, beverages and coolers in the provided metal bear boxes or bear lockers where available.

Toothpaste, deodorant & anything that has a scent should be thought of as food and stored accordingly.

Bears are so strong they can rip your car door open (in places like Yosemite, where bears are problem and you can get cited for not storing food items properly)

Bears are so strong they can break open a garage door to get to the smelly trash inside, so make sure you utilize the curbside pickup service available in some mountain communities or take a trip to the dump once per week.

carcampers

DO NOT LEAVE FOOD OUT, UNATTENDED, outdoors…
during a picnic lunch, during a barbeque, or dinner at the campfire.
(Birds, dogs, squirrels and wild animals can move in quickly.)

Backpackers should hang food in nylon bag & drape over weak branch in high in tree: hang your food using the counterbalance method. Ranger who issues your wilderness permit can explain the hanging procedure;

2 stuff sacks (with drawstrings) for your food items, and 60 feet of medium weight cord. 2 carabiners make hanging much easier.

Bear Canisters

Bear Canisters

for your food
when exploring the wilderness

hikers tent campers mountains rivers picnic lakes

Bear Repellent / Bear Mace
Bear Pepper Spray

 

Additional Storage Tip

As for storing food inside cars:

When primitive car camping on a dirt road, which does not have campgrounds, nor bear lockers, it is possible to store food in the vehicle. BEST location is on the front floorboards with towel over it. With the car alarm set at bedtime, any ruckus should trigger a decent alarm. Any large animal trying to break in will get blasted with alarm siren & most likely will run away. The noise will wake you up as well, to deal with the intruder, if need be.

If a bear does get into your camp area:

  • Make as much noise as possible: yell, bang pots/pans, whistle, air horn and get your bear mace or pepper spray ready in hand
  • Raise your hands up to appear larger
  • Get your entire camp group together, join hands and spread out everyone at the camp should be outside the tents in order to be as effective as possible
  • Throw rocks & small objects
  • If possible, try to get to your car for protection & honk the horn
  • If a bear charges at you, drop to the ground and curl up in a tight ball. Cover your head, face and vital areas. Play dead.

If you encounter a bear on a hiking trail:

  • Make as much noise as possible while walking solo. Hum, sing, talk to the birds. Sing or talk to yourself – out loud.
  • Carry bear spray (mace or pepper) or a weapon for added protection
  • If a bear approaches: stand still, slowly retreat, say a few calming words in a friendly voice and never make eye contact
  • If a bear charges at you, drop to the ground and curl up in a tight ball. Cover your head, face and vital areas. Play dead.

bearcreek

California Camping River

map river | hiking river | map gorge

California River Maps

Tent Camp Yosemite Valley

There are many gorgeous rivers in California that are perfect for camping and fishing, but none are located in Southern California. None! Yep, you read that right. If you think about it, the golden state is about half desert! The majority of our natural water in our state is coming from the north – so take this as a warning: you might need to drive a few hours to find your ideal river camp.

The easy-to-access waterways are found mostly along highways in the Sierra Nevada – or way up in NorCal. Deep granite gorges carved out by glaciers, surrounded by forested peaks is only half the appeal. High elevation lakes, waterfalls, big trees, abundant wildlife, and the alpine villages are all part of the Sierra Nevada experience.  Raft, kayak, fly fish, hike, bike or just camp out next to a big, rushing, flowing river. Our selection of California maps will get you narrowed down to a specific region, so you can find that perfect river campground, or explore and discover the back roads – for the most seclusion.

NorCal Rivers:

EEL RIVER
KLAMATH RIVER – Klamath NF Map
MAD RIVER – NFS Campground
MATTOLE RIVER
McCLOUD RIVER
NAVARRO RIVER
NEW RIVER
NOYO RIVER
PIT RIVER
RUSSIAN RIVER
SACRAMENTO RIVER CAMPING
SALMON RIVER
6 RIVERS NATIONAL FOREST
SMITH RIVER
TRINITY RIVER
VAN DUZEN RIVER

Sierra Rivers:

AMERICAN RIVER – El Dorado NF Map
CONSUMNES RIVER – Stanislaus NF Map
FEATHER RIVER Recreation Map
FEATHER RIVER – Plumas NF Map
KERN RIVER – Sequoia NF Map
KAWEAH RIVER – Sequoia
KINGS RIVER
KINGS RIVER – Sequoia Kings Canyon Map
KINGS Cyn NP
MERCED RIVER – Sierra
MERCED RIVER – Yosemite Map
MOKELUMNE RIVER – El Dorado NF Map
OWENS RIVER – Inyo NF Map
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER – Sierra NF
SOUTH YUBA RIVER Recreation Map
STANISLAUS RIVER – Sonora Pass
STANISLAUS RIVER – Stanislaus NF Map
TULE RIVER – Sequoia
YUBA RIVER – Tahoe NF Map

LOCAL TIPS for RIVER DESTINATIONS

calmrivers

KERN RIVER: The Kern River is one of the most popular of all the Sierra rivers due to its proximity to SoCal. Hurried, stressed-out, Angelinos (LA) can be at this destination in under 3 hours which makes it a very busy place most warm months. So, let it be told, that summer is not the best time to enjoy the Kern. If you do plan a summer outting, make sure you head for the Upper Kern (10+ mi N of Kernville & Lake Isabella) or the North Fork of the Kern (out in Monache Meadows) where 4×4 is often needed.

The Lower Kern River has only 2 developed campgrounds: Hobo (closed for winter) and Sandy Flat (open all year). Numerous primitive camp spots are available along Old Kern Canyon Rd, which parallels the Hwy 178 on the south side. None of which are located at the rivers edges. Fire danger is great in this area, so pay extra close attention to signs and fire restrictions.

Beer at River

YOSEMITE RIVER: Take note, this is the most popular park in the whole state. The majority of campers want to stay right on the river when they visit Yosemite National Park, but that is just plain old impossible, since reservations go fast and there is only so much room for everyone in this enclosed, narrow, precious valley. This particular park has some major floods (1997 & 2005) that wipe out bridges, the road ways, all the old wooden cabins (at Yosemite Lodge) are gone and only half of the campgrounds are still available. Yosemite has had 11 winter floods since 1916 that have caused substantial damage to property. Reservations are taken for camping and cabins – far in advance; like one year. No joke!

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

3 Yosemite Campgrounds are located next to the Merced River (inside spectacular Yosemite Valley)

hikehike

Way up in the Yosemite high country which is only open a few months outta the year, the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows Campground is located next to lush meadows and the scenic Tuolumne River. All Yosemite campsites must be reserved well in advance, so click the links above – if you are serious about a Yosemite camping trip.

Mokelumne

STANISLAUS RIVER: The Sonora Pass, the fishing is very decent way back in this granite gorge. The highway 108 is only open a few months outta the year, due to snow & rock slides – so time is of the essence. Summer time that is. Several campgrounds are located right on the river, or on the major feeder streams. Or you can opt for secluded primitive camping on the back roads. Find Sonora camping in Stanislaus National Forest.

YUBA RIVER: The biggest play time river in the northern Gold Country, this runs along Hwy 49 near Downieville and also has a major South Fork for the best swimming holes and primitive camping in this region. Tubing, rafting, kayaking, fishing, camping, gold panning, you name it, Yuba has it. Look for more on the South Yuba Recreation map, or Plumas National Forest map.

FEATHER RIVER: The top fishing river in the Lassen – Lake Oville area. Chester and Lake Almanor in the upper reaches. High Bridge Campground is nice paved-camp-site camping; a forested spot where you can fish 2 rivers on the same day. A Plumas NF or Lassen NF map would be quite helpful for this region. Lower down the mountain, lower Feather Rivers which include all 4 forks which feed Lake Oroville – West Fork, North Fork, Middle Fork Feather, and the South Fork. Lots of waterways to explore in between Chico and Quincy.

KINGS RIVER: This one particular river is the longest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, pulling snow melt from the upper reaches of the High Country and Mount Whitney. The river area just to the West of the National Park, over to Pine Flat Reservoir, is all prime for outdoor recreation. Several river rafting companies work this stretch of river.

CAMP FOUR & A HALF CABIN RENTAL
NFS KINGS RIVER
NFSrangers

hikehike

Kings River Rafters

Humboldt Beach Camping

Humboldt Camping Sites

dscn0088

The sheer beauty of real weather, the clashing storms and ocean with the land. Cold and wet half the year (or more), Northern Cal has less people and more scenery. More nature, more land, more forests, more view points, more wild beauty – than the rest of the California coast.

Maybe more hippies too!

The fantastic coastlines of Northern California are forested, rugged, rocky and they receive a lot more rain than the rest of California. Coastal fog or deep cloud layers are common, even in warmer months.

Tall cliffs, large lagoons, rural towns, and foggy beaches. Beaches filled with small rocks. No sand? Minimal access to the coast in some areas.

Super tall, coastal redwood trees thrive along this oceanfront wildness. They are located just a skip away from the sea. Most groves located miles inland, near US 101 highway. Close enough, but not out there on the windy beach, exposed with the elements.

redwood101

NorCal Coast Campgrounds are located generally along river ways, near redwood forests and near paved roads. Redwood Campgrounds are all over up here. Literally, everywhere. Some camps are better suited for RV campers than others. A few parks have walk-in or hike-in access to camp sites.

Several redwood parks are 20 miles from the coast, so know the exact location before you book a campsite online. Driving “over to coast for a quick day trip” is no easy task, since routes can be narrow backroads with many curves. Pavement, if you’re lucky.

listed below:
camps actually located at the coastline are labeled in bold text

When the weather is warm and sunny, people – flock to the hidden coves, rugged beaches, or they float, kayak, fish or raft on the rivers, or the enjoy long day hikes.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

blue links lead to camp reservation services.

NorCal Redwoodsstate parks
State Parks 
& Campgrounds

Humboldt Lagoon State Park

  • Stone Lagoon Campground
  • Dry Lagoon Hike-in Sites

Humboldt Redwoods State Park & Campground camp

Little River State Beach Campground

Patricks Point State Park Campground  camp

Prairie Creek Redwood State Park camp

  • Butler Creek Walk-in Camp
  • Elk Prairie Campground
  • Gold Bluffs Campground

Richardson Grove State Park camp

humboldtSP

Some redwoods parks are open year round, others only in summer months. Reservations for campgrounds is common along this desired vacation region of California. River kayakers, mountain bikers, tent campers, avid hikers, road trippers and RV campers.

camps actually located at the coastline are labeled in bold text

California Redwood forests are found along the NorthCoast; coastal redwoods. And in the Sierra Nevada mountains; those big redwoods are called Sequoias.

see more big, old trees

redwood parks

Humboldt County Parks with Camping

 

Lost Coast Camping BLM BLM camping

USA Lumber Company

USA Lumber (historic site) & Campground

Usal Beach Campground
(on the border of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties)

Flint Ridge Campground
(on the border of DelNorte and Humboldt Counties)

 

redwood parks

Black Sands Beach, California

Humboldt towns along the coast –

(listed from south to north)

 

Lost Coast Drive Dirt Roads

Lost Coast: Drive Dirt Roads – USAL ROAD# 431, this road is the hard left off HWY 1, just as it peels away from coast and heads into redwoods and US 101. Follow this dirt and gravel scenic wonder drive out to Usal Beach Campground, Sinkyone Wilderness and Shelter Cove. The pavement picks up again near Honeydew, a rugged 30-something miles north. Real 4×4 may be needed in wet weather.

Coy Flat Campground

Coy Flat Camping
Giant Sequoia National Monument

Camp Nelson California

se Campground

Southern Sierra mountains and the Giant Sequoias, inside Sequoia National Forest. In the Camp Nelson area, south of the busy National Parks.

GIANT SEQUOIA HWY 190 – Western Divide Highway is the 7000′ ridge line that separates the Upper Kern River from the great Central Valley to the west.

From the San Joaquin Valley – get to Porterville or Springville, continue up the mountain on the main highway, to the paved road turn off (Road #22S94) on the right side of the highway;

After Pierpoint Springs and before Camp Nelson. This quiet campground is located off the highway more than a mile, so traffic noise will not be an issue for the light sleepers. (Unless of course, a loud 4×4 rig screams by at midnight headed to the backwoods, or a horse trailer cruises by at 5am). This camp does border the Tule River Indian Reservation.

Western Divide Campground
Western Divide Highway 190
Giant Sequoia Campground

Sequoia Road #22S94 is a loop road leading to many forest meadows, groves, primitive camps and trailhead destinations. Bear Creek and Coy Creek flow near CoyFlat Campground, which both merge north into the Middle Fork of the Tule River @ the highway.

Belknap Grove is nearby, with Black Mountain Grove a few miles further on the dirt back road (Road #22S94) as it continues to Bateman Ridge and Road #21S12, near the Tule Indian lands. Mountain biking, rock climbing, backpacking and hiking all great in this region. 22S94 continues in forest to 8500′ elevation @ Windy Gap, where the Summit National Recreation Trail intersects road. Popular trail among horse riders. 22S94 connects back to Western Divide Hwy, in between Ponderosa and Trail of 100 Giants. Awesome loop drive for those seeking seclusion on the dirt roads, away from the tourists and RVs. Call ahead to make sure that the dirt roads and gates are open, before you plan a weekend vacation around it.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

COY FLAT CAMPGROUND camping

Elevation: 5,000′
Number of Sites: 20
Camping Reservations: YesCoyFlat Campground Sequoia NF
Sites Available: First come, First serve
Vehicle Accessibility: Vehicle 22 ft. max.
Length of Stay: 14 Days
Water: Piped; Seasonal creek nearby
Toilet: Vault
Season: Closed for winter months
Fee: Yes
Operated By: National Forest Service
Closest Town: Camp Nelson, Califronia

Sequoia National Forest
Giant Sequoia Ranger Station
559-539-5230

Due to the spread of invasive insects, firewood from outside the area is not permitted. Help protect our forests by purchasing or collecting firewood at or near your camping destination and burning it on-site.

CoyFlat Sequoia

CoyFlat Campground – Giant Sequoia

Tahoe Camping

Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

tahoe camping

Lake Tahoe California
Lake Tahoe campgrounds – located right near the lake. Most of which accept campground reservations in advance online. blue links lead to camp reservation services.

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Bayview Campground 6000′ 10 pines vault Emerald Bay, SLT
Camp Richardson Tahoe 6500′ 330 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe
Campground by the Lake 6000′ 157 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe
D.L. Bliss State Park 6000′ 168 pines flush piped Westshore, Lake Tahoe
Eagle Point Tahoe 6100′ 100 pines flush piped California State Park
Emerald Bay State Park 6000′ 16 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
Fallen Leaf Lake Campground 6737′ 205 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
General Creek Campground 6000′ 175 pines flush piped Westshore, Lake Tahoe
Kaspian Campground 5800′ 20 pines flush piped Westshore, Homewood CA
Lake Forest Campground 6300′ 21 pines flush piped Northshore, Tahoe Vista CA
Meeks Bay Campground 6000′ 17 pines flush piped Westshore, Tahoma CA
Mount Rose Campground 8500′ 24 pines flush piped in Nevada @ Tahoe
Nevada Beach Campground 6200′ 54 pines flush piped Nevada Lake Tahoe
Pope Beach Campground 6000′ 49 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
Sandy Beach Campground 6300′ 44 pines flush piped Northshore, Tahoe Vista CA
Silver Creek Campground 5800′ 26 pines vault piped Truckee River fishing
Sugar Pine Point SP 6200′ 30 pines flush piped Westshore, Tahoma CA
Tahoe Pines Campground 6000′ 49 pines flush piped Meyers California
Tahoe Valley Campground 6000′ 413 pines flush piped South Lake Tahoe CA
Tahoe Campground SRA 6200′ 16 pines flush piped West shore, Tahoe City
William Kent State Park 6300′ 95 pines flush piped Westshore, Tahoe City
Zephyr Cove Campground 6200′ 170 pines flush piped boat rentals Tahoe NV

All Tahoe Campgrounds charge a fee; Many require advanced reservations. Nightly rates vary per park. Most campgrounds are closed during the winter due to snow. Check with the ranger districts listed here.

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

camp RV camps NFS hikes fishing mountain biking camps river fishing

Tahoe National Forest encompasses a large region of the Sierra Nevada mountains surrounding the north portion of Lake Tahoe. American River, Yuba River, Northern Gold Country; Plus many small lakes with excellent forests, including Lakes Basin Recreation Area.

Below are Tahoe Campgrounds located away from the Lake Tahoe Basin; Most small camps are on a first come, first serve basis. blue links lead to camp reservation services.

campground elev. spots veg toilet water notes
Ahart Campground 5300′ 12 pines vault American River
Alpine Meadows 5900′ 25 pines vault Martis Creek
Bear Valley Campground 6600 10 pines vault piped OHV trails, Sierraville
Berger Campground 5900 7 pines vault lake Packer Lake, fishing
Big Reservoir Campground 4000 18 pines vault piped non motor lake, Foresthill
Boca Campground 5605′ 26 pines vault boat launch
Boca Rest Campground 5605′ 25 pines vault piped on Boca Reservoir
Boca Spring Campground 5800′ 17 pines vault piped horses
Bowman Lake 5585 7 pines vault lake Donner area
Boyington Mill Campground 5680′ 12 pines vault Boca Reservoir
Cal-Ida Campground 2000′ 21 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Canyon Creek Campground 6000′ 20 pines vault creek Donner area
Carlton Flat Campground 2200′ 21 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Carr Lake Campground 5900′ 5 pines vault lake Carr Feeley Lake
Chapman Creek Campground 6000′ 29 pines vault piped Yuba River
Chute Hill Campground 3400′ 30 pines flush piped Malakoff Diggins SP
Cold Creek Campground 5800′ 13 pines vault piped Sierraville
Cottonwood Campground 5600′ 24 pines vault piped Sierraville
Dark Day Campground 2200′ 16 oaks vault piped Bullards Bar Reservoir
Diablo Campground 5800′ 20 pines vault  Yuba River
Donner State Park Campground 5850′ 154 pines flush Donner Lake
East Meadow Campground 6100′ 46 pines flush piped Jackson Meadows Reservoir
Fiddle Creek Campground 2200′ 15 oaks vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Findley Campground 6100′ 14 pines flush piped Jackson Mdws Res
Fir Top Campground 6100′ 12 pines vault flush Jackson Mdws Res
French Meadows Campground 5300′ 75 pines vault flush French Meadows Reservoir
Garden Point Campground 2000′ 19 variety vault fishing boats
Giant Gap Campground 3700′ 30 pines vault fishing boats
Goose Meadow Campground 5800′ 24 pines vault piped fish Donner
Grouse Ridge Campground 7400′ 9 pines vault Bowman Lake
Hampshire Rocks Campground 5800′ 31 pines vault piped fishing camp
Independence Lake Campground 6900′ 20 pines vault piped fishing, Sagehen Forest
Indian Springs Campground 5600′ 35 pines vault piped fishing, Yuba River OHV
Indian Valley Campground 2200′ 17 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Jackson Creek Campground 5600′ 14 pines vault creek
Jackson Point Campground 6100′ 8 vault boat access Jackson Mdws Res
Lakeside Campground 5700′ 41 vault boat ramp Prosser Reservoir
Lake Spaulding Campground 5000′ 24 vault boat ramp PG&E Campground
Laiser Meadow Horse Camping 6200′ 11 vault piped High Sierra PCT access
Lewis Campground 5300′ 40 pines flush piped French Meadows Reservoir
Lindsey Lake Campground 5900′ 7 vault lake
Lodgepole Camping 5800′ 18 vault Lake Valley Reservoir
Loganville Campground 6000′ 29 vault piped Yuba River, Sierra City
Logger Campground 6000′ 252 pines flush piped Stampede Reservoir
Long Ravine Campground 2300′ 28 pines flush piped Rollins Reservoir
Lower Little Truckee 6000′ 15 vault piped Truckee River fishing
Madrone Cove Campground 2000′ 11 vault Bullards Bar Reservoir
Meadow Lake Campground 7200′ 15 vault Sierra fishing camp
Meadow Lake Shoreline 7200′ 10 vault High Sierra Nevada
Mumford Bar Campground 5300′ 5 vault Foresthill Road
North Fork Campground 4400′ 17 vault piped American River
Onion Valley Campground 2300′ 5 oaks vault Sierra fishing camp
Orchard Springs Campground 2300′ 15 oaks flush piped Rollins Reservoir, Colfax
Pack Saddle Campground 6000′ 15 pines vault pump Packer Lake
Parker Flat OHV Camping 3900′ 7 pines vault off roading trails
Pass Creek Campground 6100′ 30 pines flush piped Jackson Mdws Res
Peninsula Campground 2300′ 58 pines flush piped Rollins Reservoir
Pine Aire Campground 2700′ 75 pines flush piped South Yuba River Camp
Poppy Campground 5300′ 12 pines vault French Meadows Reservoir
Prosser Campground 5800′ 29 pines vault Prosser Res.
Ramshorn Campground 2600′ 16 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
River Rest Campground 2700′ 105 pines flush piped South Yuba River Camp
Robinson Flat Campground 6800′ 5 pines vault well
Rocky Rest Campground 2300′ pines vault Yuba River, Downieville
Rucker Campground 5800′ 10 pines vault Rucker Lake fishing
Sagenhen Campground 6480′ 10 pines vault
Salmon Creek Campground 5800′ 32 pines vault fishing Lakes Basin Recr
Sardine Campground 5800′ 29 pines vault Sardine Lake fishing
Schoolhouse Campground 2200′ 56 oaks flush piped Bullards Bar Reservoir
Scott’s Flat Campground 3200′ 86 oaks flush piped Scotts Flat Reservoir
Shirttail Creek Campground 3700′ 30 pines vault Sugar Pine Reservoir
Sierra Campground 5600′ 16 pines vault Yuba River, Sierra City
Silver Creek Campground 5800′ 27 pines vault Truckee River fishing
Snag Lake Campground 6000′ 12 pines vault Gold Lake California
South Yuba Campground 2700′ 16 pines vault South Yuba River Camp
Sterling Lake Campground 6500′ 6 pines vault lake
Talbot Campground 5600′ 5 pines vault American River
Union Flat Campground 3400′ 11 pines vault piped Yuba River, Downieville
Upper Little Truckee Camp 6100′ 26 pines vault Truckee River fishing
Webber Lake Campground 6800′ 60 pines vault lake Sierra fishing
White Cloud Campground 4200′ 46 pines flush piped biking, Nevada City
White Rock Lake Camp 7800′ 8 pines none High Sierra Nevada
Wild Plum Campground 4400′ 47 pines vault piped waterfalls, Sierra City
Woodcamp Campground 6100′ 20 pines flush piped
Woodchuck Campground 6300′ 8 pines vault creek
Yuba Pass Campground 6700′ 12 pines vault piped Yuba Pass, Hwy 49

towns surrounding Lake Tahoe

towns in the Tahoe region

Tahoe Views