Scoring a Yosemite campsite is akin to winning the state lottery, both in odds and payoff. But plan ahead and you’ll be rewarded with the best camping in the state. First timers will appreciate the year-round Upper Pines campground that eschews solitude for an enviable locale on the valley floor, within walking or shuttle distance to big ticket attractions. Outside of the valley, the 304-site Tuolumne Meadows campground sits at 8,619ft elevation with The Sound of Music scenery and trails to Elizabeth Lake and the Cathedral Lakes. At the southern end of the park, Wawona features roomy sites spread along the Merced River with easy access to the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove. For the backpack-curious, book any of the five High Sierra Camps, which are strewn roughly 5-10 miles apart and provide hikers with tent cabins and family-style meals. East of the national park, at Inyo National Forest, Saddlebag Lake campground has the highest drive-to campground in California at 10,000ft.
There is so much to discover in California. Barely believable national parks. Unreal sunny weather (most of the time). Glistening vineyards and endless, sandy deserts. But if you really want to experience the magic of California, there is only one way to do it – and that’s camping. (Oh, and the ultimate California road trip is pretty cool too).
When you camp in California, you can completely immerse yourself in its national parks, hidden islands and wide open beaches. You can wake up to volcanoes, cliffs and lakes, and sleep under the stars. This is a side of California you’ll only see once you pack up a tent and start on that hike. And we’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s the best bit. From scenic redwoods to mountains and waterfalls, here are the best camping spots in California.