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Activities | Camp


California - The Golden State, where there are so many beautiful places to camp! But here is the real deal: California population has exploded in recent decades. Most of the super scenic spots are so popular now, reservations for camping may be required. Gone are the days when you could waltz into a prime campsite at 8PM on a Friday night. With population growing & tourist still flocking in, you best make your reservations or be prepared to rough it, way out in the boonies.

Total Escape can show you smaller campgrounds, deeper in nature, and most are FREE. DanaMite gives serious, first hand knowledge on primitive camp sites on the backroads, from Baja to Shasta. You will need good back road maps to find these remote camp spots, a capable vehicle and maybe even a 4WD rig.

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California Camp Destinations

Oak Hills 

Everyone dreams of that stream side camp site with a meadow & towering pines. A quiet place to really escape from society, A perfect camp spot where you will not have any distractions from anyone else. Most people also want the flush toilet and a 2-3 hours drive from home. Welcome to the real world. This is ever popular California!

If you want seclusion, we can show you how & where, but you will do without all the amenities of a modern campground. Prefer toilets & showers at your camp? Then you are gonna pay a price - reservation, cash & give up privacy.

Cabin Rentals - RV Parks - Tent Camp - Car Camping - Small Campgrounds - Free Camping - 4x4 Camps - Backpacking Trailheads

staying in style - larger campgrounds, RV park w/ hookups, store, laundry, fishing marinas, cabins, cottages, camper trailers, hot spring resorts, bed & breakfast inns, small hotels, yoga retreats, yurt rentals. Open all year.
Campgrounds, Cabins & Yurts, RV Parks, Lodging

Cabin Camp, Private Campgrounds, RV Parks
Reservations common.

Some people weren't made to rough it & that is where these modern camping grounds come in style. If you hafta geta shower daily, this is your place. Drive a half a million dollar chrome diesel pusher? - then you will most likely end up here.

Close to town, wifi at camp, general store, laundry or morning coffee -- are just some of the luxuries you can find within walking distance. Riverside, lakeside marina or maybe near a golf course.

Guest ranches, fire lookouts & cabins will fall under this selection. Local accommodations - motels & cabins - can also be found under this heading.

suitable & sufficient - regular campgrounds, 12 or more camp sites, RV spaces, very popular, reservations common
Developed Campgrounds, National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, State Parks, State Beaches

Developed campgrounds, family campgrounds, tent camping, RV camp sites. Reservations common.

Highway Campgrounds. For the camper who wants a paved camp site with a toilet & a level tent site. Picnic tables and fire rings are standard issue. These campgrounds are in prime scenic spots, cost money and most even accept reservations.

Typical family campground. Large spots to accommodate groups are common. Most full size RVs can call this place home for atleast 14 days.

Most of these campgrounds are located close to a popular recreation area & found along highways or main through roads. Fire rings, picnic tables & flush or vault toilets are provided. Many have piped water. These places tend to fill up quickly on weekends.

Most National Park & State Park campgrounds are this category.

roughin' it  - primitive style, smaller campgrounds, under 15 camp sites, usually located on back roads, minimal to no facilities
Small Campgrounds
BLM & NFS Campgrounds
Lesser Known Camps

Secluded camp grounds with less than 15 sites

For the camper who wants camping without the crowds. Most of these places are a low cost, some are FREE of charge. Many are on narrow side roads, well off the highways & may require a good map to reach them (before dark). Most will not have cell phone coverage.

Fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilets or vault toilets are often provided. A few might have piped water. Nope, no reservations. These spots tend to fill up quickly on weeekends. Don't be bummed if the place is full on a Friday night. Have a plan B & C ready. It is always nice to have another option to turn to, quickly, when daylight is short.

National Forest Service, County Parks & BLM will have mostly these type of campgrounds.

primitive sites bare minimum. a clearing for a fire ring. no toilet, no fees; dirt road access (or hike-in access). campfire permits required
Free Campsites
Dispersed Camping
Open Camping

Undeveloped campimng areas. Remote Primitive camping options. For the self-contained camper who wants some seclusion. Backpacking trailheads and trail camps.

Back roads to privacy! Dirt roads lead avid campers to the best out-of-the-way camp sites. National Forest & BLM lands require a free fire permit. Sites may have picnic tables or just a metal fire ring, but usually NO toilets. Don't sweat it. Solution: Camp Potty

Some camp sites as bare as a rock fire ring in a small clearing. Campfire permits are a must. A detailed backcountry map is always advised. Cell phone coverage is unlikely. A high clearance or 4x4 vehicle may be needed to reach come of these secret spots.

Wilderness Permits & Passes may be needed. Theyellow-post sites in SoCal's National Forest lands are among these listed.

Backpackers trailheads often have camp sites. Dirt roads leading to trailheads can have primitive camp sites along them.

State Park / National Park / Forest
... What's the Difference?

Highway Restrictions

length limits & winter closures
Look for this RV symbol throughout our parks pages for alternatives to typical motorhome parks

Don't forget our CampHelp section to get you prepared. Or if you really have no idea where to begin, start off with Camp Clueless.

get your firewood

The true Total Escape "concept of camping" is about getting away from the crowds & really enjoying the solitude. Enjoying what nature has to give in a peaceful setting without the distractions of a typical campground. We offer you information on out-of-the-way spots that are sometimes hard to reach. Many of these may be time consuming to find, but you will be blessed with a nice setting, with a small campground or a pristine primitive back roads camp spot. Find specific primitive camping options under Campsites and Campspots.
Southern California / SOCAL AREAS: Yellow post sites & primtive camps are located in remote secluded areas. They may require an SUV, 4x4 or high clerance vehicle to reach. You also need to obtain a free campfire permit. Current fire conditions may not allow for open campfires during the warmer months. Check with the local National Forest Rangers Office, the BLM offices or a CalFire station for latest camp fire restrictions.
Central California / SIERRA NEVADA MTS: free fire permitsThe western Sierra foothills and coastal mountains of California both experience annual wildfires, so tight restrictions on open campfires can be assumed in late summer through the winter months. Dispersed primtive camps are located in higher elevations inside National Forest, many on dirt, forest roads. RV campers should stick to paved routes and avoid narrow dead end roads. Many backroads and 4x4 routes can lead to ultimate seclusion. The harder to reach, the more privacy and more nature you can experience. A private creek, maybe a mini-waterfall can be yours with a shovel, a water bucket and a free campfire permit from the nearest ranger station.
Northern California / NORCAL: Lush and greener than the rest of the state, primitive camping is more common than campground camping in Nor Cal. Hunters and fishermen abound, so you will see plenty of foot and vehicle traffic on the muddy, dirt, back roads. Secluded camping is plentiful on six, enourmous National Forests, while most lakes and rivers are busy with recreation, rafting, kayaking and RV parks. Campfire restrictions apply in a dry autumn months, but are usually lifted with the first good rain later in the year. You will need a free campfire permit

California Free Camping

California Car Camping

CA Redwoods Camping

Total Escape California Camping


California Weekends

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