Walk-In Camp Sites

MIneral KIng Walkin Camps

Walk-In Camps

Below are all developed campgrounds in California that have walk-in camp spots available. Vehicles are parked and you must carry your gear into the camp site (usually a short distance, but can be up to a half mile).

California Campgrounds with more than a 1-mile trek are not included in this list below. Areas such as – Catalina Island, Crystal Cove SP, Angel Island SP, Point Reyes National Seashore, indeed have many hike-to camps, but most are measured in miles (one way).

walk in campsites are perfect for –

  • people who wish not to see cars @ camp
  • people who prefer less noise while camping
  • physically fit folks, who want exercise
  • backpackers, who plan to hit the trails soon
  • avid hikers, who may be out day hiking
  • cyclists, just passing through
  • mountain bike campers
  • one nighters, travelers who only stay one night
  • late comers to the campground
    (hint: these are usually the last campsites to fill up)

NewMelones WalkIn Camps

Walk in campsites are often located away from car campers & RVs. Some camp sites may have more privacy, tucked away in trees, while others have shared community area with fire pits and/or barbecues. All camp sites will have picnic tables and a some kinda toilet nearby. Bear boxes may be available for storing food properly. Sharing the storage boxes with neighboring campers is common practice.

Campgrounds with walk-in sites range in elevation from sea level marshlands to high altitude alpine lakes. Most of these camps listed below are located inside developed campgrounds with overnight fees. Many are small campgrounds, while others are large hubs of activity. The most popular places can be reserved online, with the links provided.

Many parks can also have day use fees, so know where you park and what time span is allowed. Ask the campground host if needing assistance. Some campgrounds lock their gates at sunset and do not permit entry at night. Others may not allow campers to check in anytime after sundown. Know their rules before you make reservations.

If you plan on not making camp reservations; make sure to have a plan B or C choice camp – in case your desired campground is already full. Many popular destinations can fill up fast (by noon in the summer).

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

Walk In Camps in California

hikes campmtb

Andrew Molera State Park, North Big Sur Coast
Anthony Chabot Regional Park, East Bay San Francisco
Austin Creek SRA, Armstrong Redwoods, Guerneville CA

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
Black Rock Campground, Little Grass Valley Reservoir
Boise Creek Campground, Six River National Forest
Bottchers Gap Campground, North Big Sur Mountains
Butana State Park, Pescadero, Santa Cruz Mountains

Cherry Hill Campground, Butte Creek, Lassen National Forest
Chilcoot Campground, Frenchman Lake, Plumas NF
China Camp State Park, SF @ San Pablo Bay, San Rafael
Chula Vista Campground @ Mount Pinos, Los Padres NF mtb
Clear Lake State Park, North Wine Country, Kelseyville CA
Cold Springs Campground
,
Mineral King @ Sequoia NP
Cool Springs CampgroundPG&E Camp, Butt Valley Reservoirhike
Cottonwood Pass / Cottonwood Lakes on Horseshoe Meadow Rd, PCT Eastern Sierra @ Lone Pine

coolsprings

Dark Day Campground, New Bullards Bar Reservoir, N Sierra
Donner Memorial State Park, Interstate 80 @ Truckee CA
Dry Lagoon Walk-In, Humboldt Lagoons State Park

El Capitan State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast

Gaviota State Park Campground, North Santa Barbara Coast
Glory Hole Campground @ New Melones Reservoir, Gold Co
Granite Flat Campground, Truckee River @ Lake Tahoe
Gualala Point Park, Gualala River, Sonoma County Park

Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay
Headquarters Campground, Salton Sea SRA, Mecca CA
Henry W Coe State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
(wilderness permits required)

Intake Campground, Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

Jackson Flat Walk-In Camp PCT @ Angeles NF
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground, NorCal
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur Coast

Klamath National Forest –
small campsite on river

  • East Fork (Salmon River @ Cecilville)
  • Lover’s Camp (Marble Mountain Wilderness)hike
  • Kangaroo Lake (NorCal PCT access)
  • Matthews Creek (South Fork Salmon River)
  • Shadow Creek (East Fork of Salmon River)
  • Sulphur Springs (Marble Mountain Wilderness)
  • Trail Creek (Upper Salmon River)

Liberty Glen Campground @ Lake Sonoma Recreation Area
Limekiln State Park Campground, Hwy 1 Big Sur Coastline

MacKerricher State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast
Macumber Reservoir,
PG&E Camp, West of Lassen NPfishing
Manresa State Beach Campground
, Monterey Bay
Marmot Rock Walk-In Camp, Courtright Reservoir
Mary Smith Campground
@ Lewiston Lake, Trinity River
Merced Recreation Area, Merced River, Mariposa CA
Mesa Campground, Silverwood Lake SRA, Cajon Pass
Mill Creek Campground @ Bucks Lake, Plumas NF
Mill Creek Campground, Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP
Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo mtb

Niagra Creek Campground, OHV 4×4 trails, Stanislaus NF
North Battle Creek Reservoir
PG&E Camp, West of Lassen
North Grove Campground, Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Oak Bottom Campground

Oak Bottom Campground @ Whiskeytown Reservoir SRA

Onion Valley CA

Onion Valley Campground, Eastern Sierra @ Independence, CAhike

Pantoll Campground, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground, Big Sur Coast
Pigeon Flat Campground, Stanislaus River, Dardanelle CA
Pomo Canyon Walk-In Camp, Sonoma Coast State Beach
Portola Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains
hikePrather Meadows Camp, Bunny Flat @ Mount Shasta
Providence Mountains SRA @ Mitchell Cavern, Mojave

Redwood National Park, NorCal Coast
(no reservations, no fees. open all year)

  • Flint Ridge Walk-In
  • Nickel Creek Walk-In
chulavistacamp

CHULA VISTA CAMP – Wild Iris Meadow at Mount Pinos

Refugio State Beach, North Santa Barbara Coast
Rock Creek Campground
, Eel River @ Standish-Hickey SRA
Roxie Peconom Campground, Bizz Johnson Trail, W Susanville mtb
Russian Gulch State Park Campground, Mendocino Coast

San Clemente State Beach, Orange County Coast
Sanborn Campground, Skyline County Park, Saratoga CA
Sand Flat Campground, Clark Fork, Carson Icerberg Wild
Silver Creek Campground, Truckee River @ Tahoe
Southwest Walk-In Camp
, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Squaw Leap Campground, San Joaquin River, Auberry CA
Stillwater Cove Regional Park, N of Fort Ross, Sonoma Coast

Tahoe National Forest
Donner Area Camping Lakes

NFS 530-265-4531

  • Carr Lake Campground
    10 miles north of Highway 20
    6,700′ elev
    5 walk-in campsites
  • Rucker Lake Campground
    6 miles north of Highway 20
    5,462′ elev
    7 walk-in campsites
  • Sterling Lake Campground
    9 miles north of Interstate 80
    7,000′ elev
    6 walk-in campsites

Toad Lake Walk In Camp, PCT @ Shasta National Forest
Tuolumne Meadows Camp, Yosemite National Park
(reservations & wilderness permits required)

Union Reservoir Walk In Camps, Arnold CA

Union Valley Reservoir – Eldorado National Forest

  • Azalea Cove Campground
  • Fashoda Campground

Van Damme Redwoods State Park, Mendocino Coast

Walker Pass Campground, PCT, East of Lake Isabella CA
Whitney Portal Trailhead Camp, Mount Whitney, Eastern Sierra
Woodside Campground, Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Coast

OnionValleyWalkIns

Walk in campgrounds are considered ‘tent camping‘, as opposed to ‘car camping‘, which is literally camping next to your vehicle. This type of hike-in camping may also be referred to as ‘trailhead camping‘, as many ideal hikes begin at these prime locations. Boat-in, bike-in or hike-in camp sites are also available at some of these locations.

California Wildflower Blooms

Lupine Oroville
Wildflowers in California 

Wildflowers bloom all over California – from the desert in winter months, to the High Sierra in mid summer.  Remember that the timing is everything, since most of these precious, delicate beauties only last a week or so. Out there alone, all day in the bright sunshine, whipping in the seasons strongest breezes. Flora!Ocotillo Joshua Tree

The higher the elevation, the later the bloom.
Lower elevation deserts begin to show as early as February and higher elevation peaks thaw in May. Wilderness meadows and flowers can be found in the mountains in summer. Generally in California, Springtime – between MARCH and JUNE is the best viewing time.

Places to find Wildflowers in California

West coast wildflower blooms in relation to elevation; Order of bloom is typically

  • low deserts (FEB)
  • high deserts (APRIL)
  • river canyons
  • central valley
  • mountain foothills (MAY)
  • coastal foothills
  • mountain forests (JUNE)
  • high altitude meadows
  • mountain lakes
  • mountain peaks (JULY)

some recent finds:

Carrizo Plain Super Bloom – W of Taft, CA

Klipstein Canyon, Kern County @ Hwy 166Gorman Post Road

Cottonwood Canyon
W of New Cuyama, CA

School House Canyon
W of New Cuyama, CA

Figueroa Mountain Rd – Los Padres NF @ Santa Ynez, CA

Table Mountain – Cherokee Road, N Oroville, CA

 

Box Canyon @ Mecca, California

Turtle Mountain Road, Needles, CA

Mill Creek, Lassen NF

Lassen Peak Lupine Way HikeNPS
Lassen NP (mid-to-late summer)

Lassen Peak Lupine Summer Hikes

more pages on wildflowers –

California Wildflowers

California Golden Poppies

Poppy Reserve Antelope Valley, LA Co.

Poppy Stompers

popstrollin

Anza Borrego Desert Wildflowers

Mojave Desert

California Fire Lookout

Dome Land from Bald Mtn, KERN

NFS Fire Lookout Towers

Cabin Rentals in California National Forests

Ready to see wide and wild terrain? Views for 100 miles out and the best scenery California has to offer. Be prepared to off road or hike to reach one of these destinations.

Below is a list of historic look out towers & cabins used for spotting wildfires. Some are located on steep granite peaks, ridge lines or dirt roads. 4×4 may be recommended to reach a few. Road conditions can change w/ harsh mountain weather, so be prepared to rough it. Thunderstorms are common on these mountain ridges.

Several of these places are cabins, some are stone houses, but most fire lookouts are basic metal towers – with high climbing staircases, so you must be in decent physical strength to haul your ass up this high.

rangers cabin mountains hikers vacation

Cabins are also called guard stations, huts, bunkhouses. Most are located on mountain tops, but a few exist in desert regions. Some are refurbished & available for overnight rentals. Bare bones furnishings, so forget the frills. People come up here for the thrills. To be outside w/ epic views, way away from the urban grind & to feel on top-of-the-world.

Coon Creek Cabin

 

NFSlogoSee the full list of overnight accommodations on mountain peaks & ridges, some near meadowsNational Forest Cabin Rentals

 

El Dorado National Forest:

Cuyama Peak

Cuyama Lookout is a rough road up. Off Hwy 33, in Los Padres NF

Los Padres National Forest:

  • Cuyama Peak Lookout Tower (pictured above) off Hwy 166 & via Santa Barbara Cyn, 4×4 recommended. Sorta near jct w/ Hwy 33

San Bernardino National Forest:

Sequoia National Forest:

Sierra National Forest:

cabin rentals

BEWARE:
California is the land of wildfires!

Always check for local fire conditions at nearest ranger station, obtain a free campfire permit when camping outside of developed campgrounds, and always practice fire safety when visiting our public lands. You can be held liable for wildfires. Outta control campfire, cigarettes, idling vehicles on tall, dry grass. Be very cautious with fires on the often dry, west coast.

California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald

Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

  • Alta Sierra
  • Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
  • Big Meadow Road #22S12, Dome Land
  • Big Meadows Road #14S11
  • Butte Meadows
  • Camp Nelson
  • Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Drakesbad Ranch, Warner Valley – Lassen NF
  • Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Rd
  • Eastern Sierra Canyons
  • Gold Lake
  • Green Creek Road
  • Holey Meadows Group Camp, Western Divide
  • Horse Meadow Campground, Road #22S12
  • Horseshoe Meadows Road
    w/ Cottonwood Lakes Campground (10,000′ elev)
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Jackass Meadow – way up behind North Fork
  • Kennedy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, Sonora Pass
  • Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Lakes Basin Recreation Area
  • Lake Tahoe CA
  • Lassen National Forest
  • Leland Meadow, Pinecrest, CA
  • Little Shasta Meadow Botanical Area, east of Yreka, CA
  • Long Meadow Campground, Sequoia NF
  • Mammoth Lakes
  • >Manter Meadows>, Dome Land
  • Meadow Valley rural btwn Quincy & Bucks Lake
  • Mendocino NF names these Glade, instead of meadow
  • Mill Potrero Highway, Pine Mountain CA
  • Mount Pinos Recreation
  • Monache Meadows
  • Mountain Home State Forest
  • Panther Meadows Campground, Mount Shasta
  • Plaskett Meadows Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Ponderosa, California
  • Red’s Meadow Campground, Mammoth Lakes
  • Red’s Meadow Resort & Pack Station
  • Redwood Meadow Campground, Giant Sequoia
  • Rock Creek Road: Iris Meadow & Big Meadow Campgrounds
  • Powell Meadow, Sequoia NF
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Shaver Lake
  • Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Thousand Lakes Wilderness
  • Toiyabe National Forest
  • Troy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Highcountry
  • Upper Summer Meadow Road, off Green Creek Rd
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Lupine Drive

    Rules of the Meadow

    Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

    No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

    Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires on the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading.

    Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas.

    When hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

    Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

    Snow Mobiling

    Tent Cabins in California

    tent cabin rentals

    Merced Lake is one remote destination along the High Sierra Camp Loop, Yosemite Wilderness.

    Tent Cabins & Yurt Rentals
    around California

    Tent cabins are made up of wooden floors, canvas walls & a canvas roof – a combination between a tent & a rustic cabin. Most have sleeping cots for beds; some have heaters, wood burning stoves or electrical outlets. A shared community bathroom is close by. Yurts are round versions of this same concept, with a wooden floor, real beds and usually some nicer decor. Often these places request that you bring your own bed linens and towels, but each resort is different so check the web links for detailed info.

    Hike-in locations in the wilderness, rural river resorts or an easy drive to campground right off the freeway. These popular lodging accommodation are often marketed as GLAMPING, as in Glamour Camping – for the (luxury loving) princess who likes to try out nature – in a very controlled setting. Just watch out for mountain lions and bears.

    Below are unique places in California that offer tent cabins, tree houses and yurt rentals.

    Big Basin Redwoods Tent Cabins
    Boulder Creek, CA
    408-338-8860
    Santa Cruz mountains

    Big Sur Pfeiffer Campground
    Big Sur Coast Cabins
    831-667-2315
    California Central Coast

    Cachuma Lake County Park
    Yurt Rentals & Campground
    Lake Cachuma, CA
    805-568-2460
    Santa Barbara Mountains

    Carmel River Yurt
    Songbird Refuge overlooking River
    Carmel, CA
    California Central Coast

    Costanoa Coastal Lodge
    Pescadero, CA
    650-879-1100
    Santa Cruz Coastline

    coloma river resort

    Coloma Resort
    Hwy 49 @ American River
    800-238-2298
    California Historic Gold Country

    Creekside Yurt Retreat
    near Mt Shasta
    Single Vacation Rental
    Weed, CA
    NorCal Mount Shasta

    El Capitan Canyon
    N of Santa Barbara
    Hwy 1 @ El Capitan
    866-352-2729
    805-685-3887
    North Santa Barbara Coast

    Fallen Leaf Campground
    6 Yurt Rentals @ Campground
    Lake Tahoe Basin, CA
    Sierra Nevada Mountains

    Hat Creek Resort
    Yurts near Fishing Creek
    12533 Highway 44
    Old Station, CA
    530-335-7121
    Lassen National Forest

    High Sierra RV Park
    Yurts near Yosemite NP
    Oakhurst, CA
    559-683-7662
    Western Sierra Nevada

    Hotel Nipton
    Nipton Road @ NV stateline
    760-856-2335
    Mojave Desert National Preserve

    Keough Hot Springs Resort
    Hwy 395, Bishop, CA
    Eastern Sierra High Desert

    Lupin Lodge
    Clothing Optional Resort
    20600 Aldercroft Heights Rd.
    Los Gatos CA
    408-353-9200
    Santa Cruz Mountains

    Middle Fork Ranch
    NorCal Smith River
    15 acre retreat, Hwy 199
    Crescent City, CA
    707-457-3477
    Northern California Coastal Mountains

    Mother Lode River Center
    6280 Hwy 49, Lotus, CA
    530-626-4187
    California Gold Rush Country

    Oz Farm Retreat
    41601 Mountain View Rd
    Point Arena, CA
    Mendocino Coast

    Premier RV Resorts
    Cabin & Yurt rentals (in town)
    Redding, CA
    888-710-8450
    Northern California

    Rancho Cicada Retreat
    Plymouth, CA
    209-245-4841
    877-553-9481
    California Gold Rush Country

    River Park Resort
    River Rafting Trips w/
    Yurts next to American River
    Coloma, CA
    California Gold Rush Country

    Santa Margarita Lake KOA
    Santa Margarita, CA
    805-438-5618
    800-562-5619
    San Luis Obispo Backcountry

    Shasta Lake Yurts
    Lakeshore East Campground
    Lake Shasta, CA
    530-275-8113
    Northern California

    Strawhouse Resort
    31301 State Hwy 299
    Big Flat, CA
    530-623-1990
    NorCal Trinity River

    Treebones Resort
    Ocean view yurts
    Big Sur Highway 1 @ Gorda, CA
    805-927-2390
    877-424-4787
    Big Sur Coastline

    Vermillion Valley Resort
    via Kaiser Pass Road
    Edison Lake, Lakeshore, CA
    559-259-4000
    High Sierra, John Muir Wilderness

    Virginia Creek Settlement
    70847 Highway 395
    Bridgeport, CA
    760-932-7780
    Eastern Sierra Nevada

    Yosemite Lakes Resort
    South Fork of the Tuolumne River
    31191 Hardin Flat Rd
    Groveland, CA
    209-962-0121
    800-533-1001
    Western Sierra Nevada

    Yosemite Pines RV Park
    20450 Old Highway 120
    Groveland, CA
    209-962-7690
    Western Sierra Nevada

    tuolumne cabins

    HSC: HIGH SIERRA CAMP

    Yosemite National Park Tent Cabins:
    (advanced reservations required)
    hikes

    DustMites and AllergiesALLERGY NOTE: Most tent cabins are constructed out of heavy canvas material (fabric), which can mold when exposed to moisture (rain, fog, snow). Often they get dismantled, cleaned and stored properly over each winter season, sometimes not; All depends on weather, terrain difficulty and individual resort practices. If you suffer w/ allergies, moldy tent walls and dust mites can trigger asthma or other allergic reactions. If in doubt speak to the innkeeper or caretaker ahead of time.

    Central Coast California

    San Simeon SP. Central Coast of California

    Rent a Treehouse

    Post Ranch Inn
    Tree-House Rentals in California
    Big Sur, CA
    Big Sur Coastline