7 Best RV Campgrounds in Northern California
RV season is coming up again. As RV owners, we’re always looking for that hidden gem of an RV campground. You know what I mean. The perfect combination of location, amenities, and small crowds. I know what you’re saying, there aren’t any that fit this bill. But we’ve hit the RV forums, done some exploring, and we’ve uncovered what we think are the best RV campgrounds in Northern California.
Francis Beach Campground at Half Moon Bay
While many people choose to camp at the Half Moon Bay RV Park and Campground, just north is the more picturesque Francis Beach Campground. Sitting inside the Half Moon Bay Park, the campground backs up to gorgeous Francis Beach, and offers 52 individual sites, 34 of which have electrical hookups. Unfortunately, there is no water or sewer hookups at these sites, but they do offer a water filling station and dump station. Coin-operated hot showers are also available. Several of the sites are “premium” meaning they are the nearest to the beach. This site books up quite quickly in season, so you may have to put yourself on the notify list if something becomes available.
Another hidden gem is the Olema Campground. Just off Hwy 1 south of Point Reyes Station, this campground is about an hour north of San Francisco. With its proximity to the Point Reyes National Seashore, campers here have a multitude of activities at their fingertips including hiking, bird watching, trails, kayaking, or beach fun. Reviewers comment that this campground is low key and quiet but well-kept. The facility has 80 RV campsites, 26 full hook-up sites, and 54 water/electric sites. There are bathrooms and showers, as well as a dump station, free WIFI, playground, horseshoes, volleyball, shuffleboard and more. There’s even a laundromat on site.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras Big Trees State Park is located within the Stanislaus National Forest about 2 hours southeast of Sacramento. The park was created in 1931 to protect two groves of giant sequoias – the North and South Groves. The park has an abundance of natural attractions including the Stanislaus River, Beaver Creek, ancient volcanic formations, and natural meadows. The park has a plethora of trails to give you up close access to the beauty. A free, guided hike is given Saturdays by a knowledgeable docent or ranger. It also has a visitors’ center, campground center, and exhibit hall. Campsites are found in two areas – North Grove and Oak Hollow. Campsites are simple with fire ring and table, but no power or water. There are flush toilets and showers available.
If access to boating and fishing is important, you’ll want to check out Collins Lake Campground. Collins Lake is located about an hour north east of Sacramento and offers 1,600 acres of boatable water along with 12 miles of shoreline. The lake itself is restocked with 50,000 trout every year, ensuring that the fishing is always good.
The campground is massive with over 500 campsites. These range from standard campsites with no hookups to sites that have full power and water. The main camping season is from March through October, but off-season camping is allowed from November to February at reduced cost. There are also small and large cabins for rent as well as 4 RV trailers for rent.
The campground has everything you’d want in a top-notch facility. It has a large sand beach that’s good for swimming, a boat launch and marina where you can rent boats, a playground, picnic area, volleyball, a general store, laundry facilities and showers.
Morro Bay State Park
Morro Bay State Park is a beautiful park, just 13 miles north of San Luis Obispo. It’s situated next to the park’s marina with access via boat to the sand spit the separates it from the Pacific Ocean. The lagoon and bay that is created by this natural land barrier offer opportunities for sailing, fishing and bird watching. The bay’s signature landmark is Morro Rock, a mammoth, 581-foot volcanic rock. It marks the entrance to harbor and bay. Morro Bay State Park has plenty to do for everyone. There is a park museum that exhibits Native American history, oceanography, and geology. The park also features 18-hole Morro Bay Golf Course.
The campground itself features 134 campsites, 30 of which offer power and water hookups. Sites have the typical paved parking spot, table fire ring, and a food locker. The campground offers a campfire center, picnic area, bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. For RVs, there is an RV dump station as well as water faucets for filling up tanks. The Bayside Café is also adjacent to the campground.
Montana de Oro State Park
If views and natural beauty are of premium importance to you, and you’re willing to sacrifice some amenities, you’ve got to check out Montana do Oro State Park and set up your RV at their Islay Creek Campground. Located just south of Morro Bay State Park about 16 miles west of San Luis Obispo on the Pacific Ocean, Montana de Oro State Park is one of the more spectacular places to visit and camp. The topography includes sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, streams, coastal plains, hills, and canyons, as well as its signature Valencia Peak rising 1,347 above sea level.
Islay Creek Canyon, the park’s largest, is where you’ll find Islay Creek Campground, a smaller, 50-campsite enclave that is just inland from Spooner’s Cove, the main beach in the park. The campsites include the basics of a fire ring, table, and paved parking pad. But there are no water or electrical hookups. The good news is that each site is well-spaced so you won’t be on top of each other, which makes for a quiet camping experience. The camp makes a great starting off point for hiking the several trails in the area, including Reservoir Flats Trail, Islay Creek Trail, Bluff Trail, Hazard Peak Trail, Valencia Peak Trail and Oats Peak Trail.
Mystic Forest RV Park
Mystic Forest RV Park is a private RV resort located 5 miles north of the town of Klamath and 17 miles south of Crescent City, California. The key to this campground is its proximity to both the coast and to the Northern California redwoods. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is just 11 miles south on Hwy 101. And there are two great beaches are near to the resort. Wilson Creek Beach is two miles north and offers 3/4ths of a mile of gray sand and rock beach, typically strewn with driftwood. Hidden Beach is a secluded cove beach only accessible by trail. The easiest way to get there is a half-mile forested hike that starts across Highway 101 from the Trees of Mystery tourist attraction north parking lot.
The park offers 30 RV sites with full water, 30 amp electrical, and cable tv hookup. 16 of the sites are pull-through. The maximum length is 100 ft. The park has restrooms, showers, and laundry as well. There is also a shop selling gifts and groceries. The kids will have a great time playing on their miniature golf course and playground area. Horseshoes are also available. Guests comment how friendly the camp hosts are.
While there are many more great RV campgrounds in Northern California, we think the ones above will provide you and your family with a memorable camping experience while enjoying all that this part of the state has to offer. If you’re mapping out your summer RV trips, read our article Getting Your RV Ready for Summer.
About the Author: Derek Hines
Internet Marketing Specialist
Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Internet Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.