Kings River Camping

Camping areas along Kings River, Sierra Nevada California


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.

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.

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)

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.


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

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.


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


(north shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1100′

Sierra National Forest

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.

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

Sierra Road #9 is Big Creek Canyon
a 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.


click to enlarge


(south shore)
Lower Kings River

elevation 1000′

Sequoia National Forest

Pine Flat Reservoir

elevation 952′

Lake View



Kern Flats Camping Free

chamise flat

Dispersed Camping Kern River

primitive camping
undeveloped sites


Located north of the small community of Riverkern and south of the Johnsondale Bridge, numerous flat camp spots adjacent to the rivers edge can be found.

johnsondale bridge @ KERNAnt Canyon Dispersed Area
Brush Creek Campground
Calkins Flat Dispersed Area
Chamise Flat Dispersed Area
Chico Flat Campground
Corral Creek Campground
Springhill Dispersed Area


Kern River Road
Sierra Way in Kernville travels north along the Upper Kern River & becomes Mountain Hwy 99 – which eventually connects with the Western Divide Highway in Giant Sequoia National Monument.

California NFS Kern RVing kern campgrounds open camping


Dispersed Camping Areas along the Kern River

Open Year Round! These FREE camp areas are called dispersed camping sites. No pavement, no picnic tables, no bathrooms, no piped water. Portable toilets & trash bins may be available in the busier summer months. Campfire permits are required for all campfires, BBQs, and camp stoves. Fire restrictions are common in extreme dry conditions. 14 day limit on camping.

Mountain Biking Kernville kern hiking fishing Kern snow Kern

camping, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, rafting

Many flats are signed w/ small brown signs, while others are not. Some are actually flat and easy to access, while others are steep, eroded dirt trails unsuitable for RV travel.

Kelly’s Hole, overgrown, unknown, well-known or burnt beyond recognition? Roads End is no more.

Camp sites listed on this page are dispersed camping areas around the Kern River Area. Not all camp spots are listed, cuz many are unnamed. Bring your GPS to mark your favorite camp sites and you can arrive in the dark, late at night, anytime, (avoiding city traffic after work).

chamise pre-wildfire

Several spots known as “dirt flats” are easy accessible right off the pavement of Sierra Way. Primitive river camping, fishing spots and raft launch areas north of town. Vault toilets might be available during busy summer months, but you’re on your own the remainder of the year. Bring a shovel and take a hike, away from the water flow. And if that sounds like too much work for a potty break, maybe you are not cut out for the primitive kinda camping style. No garbage service either: pack it in, pack it out.

Wildflowers are abundant in the Kern Canyon nearly every Spring season (April & May), which is a popular time to enjoy this region. Autumn brings minimal fall colors to this dry, desert mountainous landscape, but the fishing is decent at that time of year.

campfiresCAMPING OUTSIDE OF CAMPGROUND means you must obtain a free fire permit from the local rangers. Sometimes these dispersed spots are fire-safe areas, and you are allowed to have camp fires. Other times campfire restrictions are in place w/ wildfire dangers too extreme and no fires are allowed, anywhere. (Not even inside a developed campground!)

Kern RV spot

river Kern WILDERNESS NOTE: The USDA National Forests web site states that “Camping and campfires within 25 feet of the water’s edge is prohibited due to the Wild and Scenic Designation”, but that doesn’t seem to stop some from setting up right on the fragile rivers edge. Doubtful that this rule is being enforced by the rangers, but consider yourself warned unless they start to get serious about this restriction. Many believe that the free camping along the Kern river is destroying it, so don’t be surprised if these areas get closed or barriers placed at the flats.

Caulkins FLAT has some new boulder barriers put in place which prevent cars from reaching certain ideal camp spots (right at the waters edge). Tough luck. Now we have to hike more.

California rivers

kern flat camping

Upper Kern River
North of Kernville, CA

all camps below listed from south to north

ALL CAPS = developed campgrounds managed by US Forest Service, w/ links to Kern River Campgrounds. California NFS


Both Halfway & Thunderbird used to be dispersed camps, but they were converted to reservation-only Group Campgrounds by the National Forest in 2014

Chico Flat
2500′ elev
Just south of Hospital Flat Campground.
This camp area is known as “Chico Flat Campground” on GoogleMaps.


Corral Creek
3200′ elev
Hike to Corral Creek Beach & Picnic Area.
This camp area is known as “Corral Creek Campground” on GoogleMaps.

Spring Hill
This camping area is marked as “Upper Springhill Campground & “Lower Springhill Campground” on GoogleMaps.


Ant Canyon
Just north of Goldledge Campground, along the Upper Kern River.
South of Salmon Creek; Hike to Salmon Creek Falls.

Chamise Flatchamisespot
12 miles north of Kernville, CA
This camping bluff could be the most forested of all the ‘kern flat’ camping areas, but river is a short hike down a very steep cliff. Fishing is excellent in this stretch.

Calkins Flat
15 miles north of Kernville, along the Upper Kern River. Just south of Fairview (McNalley’s). Sign at the location reads a different spelling of “Caulkins Flat”. Kayak and rafting put-in spot. One of the best sites for large groups. Area is also known as simply “Lower Campground” on GoogleMap.

free kern river camp



Brush Creek
3600′ elev
Just south of Sherman’s Pass Road turnoff. This place also serves as a Day Use Area, where Brush Creek meets the Kern. Kayaking put in spot. Popular fishing area. Large open dirt parking lot with a vault toilet.



California rivers

Lower Kern River
Southwest of Kernville, CA

Lake Isabella has some shoreline camping with wide open access to the lake. Paradise Cove perhaps?

Historic Keyesville – “off-roaders camping paradise” along the river, but no swimming is allowed due to the extremely dangerous section of river. OHV trails lead (west) down river for many miles. Dirt bikes love the rugged boulder-scapes and steep hills. FREE camping; BLM Kern.

SANDY FLAT CAMPGROUND (NFS) – Open all year long! Terraced & paved hillside with numerous camp sites and plenty of room to spread out. RV campers like this location, due to the proximity to Hwy 178. elev 2300



Remington Hot Springs can be a zoo at times w/ the amount of people who love to stop here. A busy dirt parking lot, right across from the Remington trailhead sign. Many vehicles park here daily for day hikes, hot springs, fishing – and people also like to camp out, although camp sites are on slopes (not ideal), only a few and they fill up fast (before sunset).

Total Escape TIP: The very best camps at Remington are actually the ones you hafta hike down to. Less than a half mile down to the rivers edge to find a private mini beach. Pack light and arrive prepared to walk several miles (back & forth, several times).

Old Kern Canyon Road parallels Sierra Highway 178 and sits well above the river, so any flat spots you find will have great views w/ minimal river access.

Lower Kern River

Lower Kern River has very limited camping options.

Sacramento River Camping

The Sacramento River of Northern California

The Main Artery from the North; the Big River of California

Sac River California

Mighty Mount Shasta snowmelt flows south, bound to meet the giant Lake Shasta, which merges with the Pit River and numerous other major waterways, becoming the big Sacramento River. Running right down the center of the North Sacramento Valley to merge into the California Delta. Shipping channel links the State Capital city of Sacramento with the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Agriculture and wildlife depend on this river heavily.

tent camping camp sites, campground camping, RV camps, dump stations, marinas, bait, gasoline, public boat ramps, boating, fishing, kayak rentals

Campgrounds near these freeway close cities: None are located on the Sacramento River.

  • Redding
  • Anderson
  • Redding Winters

    CAMPGROUND PARKS below listed from NORTH to SOUTH

    Wildlife Refuge
    Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge
    Willows, CA
    ~ Camping is not permitted on the Sacramento NWR. Along the Sacramento River, camping is permitted on GRAVEL BARS for up to 7 days during a 30 day period. For waterfowl hunting, overnight stay is permitted in a vehicle or RV in designated areas. Tents are prohibited. No person may build or maintain fires except in portable gas stoves.


    Chico Area

    Lake Red Bluff Recreation Area
    Red Bluff, CA

    Driftwood RV & Fishing Resort
    @ Mill Creek Park
    Los Molinos, CA

    Hidden Harbor Marina & RV Park
    Los Molinos, CA

    River’s Rest Resort
    Los Molinos, CA

    Woodson Bridge RV Park
    Corning, CA

    State Parks
    Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area
    Historic State Park w/ Campground
    South Avenue (A9)
    Corning, CA

    Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park
    Chico, CA

    Colusa Landing & RV
    Butte Slough Road
    Colusa, CA

    State Parks
    Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area
    Colusa SRA Camping

    California Delta Region

    State Parks
    Brannan Island State Park
    Rio Vista, CA

    Sandy Beach Solano County Park
    2333 Beach Drive
    Rio Vista, CA

    Vieira’s Resort
    California Delta
    Isleton, CA

    State Parks
    Old Sacramento State Historic Park
    Sacramento, CA

    Sacramento Hostel, see more budget lodging

    Lake Tahoe Campground

    Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

    sierra buttes California

    Lake Tahoe California
    Lake Tahoe area campgrounds:
    blue links lead to camp reservation services.

    campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
    Bayview Campground 6000′ 10 pines vault Emerald Bay
    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
    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.

    primitive camp spots


    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. areas included – Donner Pass, American River, Yuba River, Northern Gold Country; Lakes Basin Recreation Area; Small lakes and reservoirs with excellent fishing, all surrounded by lush forests.


    Campgrounds with mid (5000′) to high-elevation (8000′) locations close annually for winter snow. Most only open for 3 short summer months.

    Listed below are Tahoe Campgrounds located away from the Lake Tahoe Basin; 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 Hwy 20
    Hampshire Rocks Campground 5800′ 31 pines vault piped fishing camp
    Independence Lake 6900′ 20 pines vault piped fishing
    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 none 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

    Tahoe National Forest

  • TAHOE National Forest MAP USDA