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The 12 best spots for camping near San Francisco

Reconnect with nature at one of these gorgeous spots for camping near San Francisco

White Gulch Beach, Tomales Bay
Photograph: Flickr/momboleum
By Lauren Sheber and Sarah Medina |
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Sometimes you just have to get out of the city. While the hiking in San Francisco is excellent, those who really want to experience the outdoors should pack up their bags and head to one of these awesome spots for camping near San Francisco. From national parks to island hideaways and redwood groves to mountainside escapes, these top Bay Area campgrounds offer something for everyone (including those who want access to showers and plumbing.) Best of all, they also offer some of the best views in San Francisco. So lace up your hiking boots, strap on your backpack and head one of these top spots for camping near San Francisco. 

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in San Francisco 

 

 

Best camping near San Francisco

1
Rope swing at Kirby Cove Camp
Photograph: Yelp/Jak Leroy D.
Things to do, Camps

Kirby Cove Camp, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

At Kirby Cove, you don’t have to trek miles into the woods to find a peaceful preserve; you just have to cross the bridge. Situated less than 10 miles northwest of the Golden Gate, these four secluded campsites are famous for their waterfront views overlooking the city. Shaded by Monterey cypress groves, the grounds are walking distance to a rocky beach, as well as a daytime picnic area. 

From $25/night

2
Wildcat Camp, Point Reyes National Seashore
Photograph: Yelp/Jonathan J

Wildcat Camp, Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore has four hike-in campgrounds: Coast, Wildcat, Glen, and Sky. Though the Coast camp is easiest to reach, Wildcat is beloved for its privacy (expect to lose cell service quickly) and sprawling ocean views. Though you’ll have to hike in 5.6 miles to reach the camp from the Palomarin Trailhead, it’s well worth the effort. Along the way, keep an eye out for elephant seals, dolphins, sea lions, and whales in the waves below.

$20/night

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3
A lovely lake view at Mount Tamalpais State Park
Photograph: Yelp/Ann S.
Things to do, Camps

Pantoll Campground, Mt. Tamalpais State Park

Late to book? Head to Mt. Tam, where Pantoll’s 16 sites are first-come, first-served. (If it’s full, try Bootjack camp nearby.) Pantoll’s Doug fir-shaded campsites are situated less than 500 feet from the lot, so you can drive in or hike to them along the Matt Davis trail. Though the sites are quiet and secluded, they offer comforts like drinking water, restrooms, and firewood. Once you’re settled, you’re centrally located for a wide range of hikes, with access to redwood groves and craggy cliffs. At dusk, veer toward the mountainside amphitheater, a spectacular spot to watch the sunset.

$25/night

4
Overview of Mount Diablo Park on a warm summer day
Photograph: Yelp/Candice G.
Things to do, Camps

Juniper and Live Oak Campground, Mount Diablo State Park

icon-location-pin East Bay

Mount Diablo State Park’s 20,000 acres contain a wide range of campsites—56 spots at Mount Diablo Group Campground and another 50 at Juniper and Live Oak Campgrounds—all of which include fire rings, picnic table, bathrooms, and drinking water. Your best bet is on the western edge of Juniper Camp, where the sites are farther apart and it’s easy to glimpse the wide-open, starry sky. (Free showers don’t hurt, either.) While some of the sites require a bit of a climb, the payoff is sweeping the views of the East Bay and Diablo Valley.

$30/night

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5
Quarry Beach
Photograph: Flickr/ Steve Pinnick
Things to do, Camps

East Bay Camp, Angel Island State Park

icon-location-pin Tiburon

This picturesque island is just a short ferry ride from Pier 41 or Tiburon. The 11 sites are divvied up into four camps: Ridge, East Bay, Sunrise, and Kayak. Be prepared to lug your gear up to 2.5 miles, depending on your pick. The Sunrise sites are more protected, closest to the Mount Livermore Summit, and offer 180-degree views of the East Bay; the Ridge sites are windier and provide panoramas of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Most are comfortably spacious—the lone kayak-accessible site accommodates up to 20—and include running water, pit toilets, charcoal barbecues, food lockers, and tables.

From $25/night

6
Waterfall at Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Photograph: Flickr/Christian Arballo
Things to do, Camps

Sempervirens, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Nature lovers come to Big Basin to commune with the redwoods, which tower over the campgrounds. The Sempervirens camp is most convenient, as it’s close to the highway and you can pull you car right up to your site, whereas the Huckleberry and Wastahi camps feel slightly more secluded. All sites include picnic tables and fire rings. Since it’s nestled among the scenic Santa Cruz mountains, the park is a boon for hikers and cyclists.

$35/night

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7
White Gulch Beach, Tomales Bay
Photograph: Flickr/momboleum

White Gulch Beach, Tomales Bay

At Tomales Bay, you can kayak in to one of 20 dispersed campsites dotting the western shore. White Gulch is the best of the bunch, situated in a sandy cove and well protected from the wind. Tomales Bay is known for its wildlife, including legions of birds, tule elk, and seals. Meanwhile, fall is the best season for a bioluminescence tour (from $95 for 4 hours). On moonless nights, the water takes on a glowing, otherworldly hue as you paddle through their phosphorescent trails.

From $20/night

8
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Photograph: Flickr/Steve Dunleavy

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park may be the farthest spot from SF on this list, but it’s also the most highly coveted. You’ll find no rowdy groups or loud music here: There are just two hike-in sites, making it one of the most intimate and unspoiled camping destinations around. Perched on a coastal ridge overlooking the Pacific and shaded by Monterey cypress trees, both sites tend to book up six months in advance, so plan accordingly. The Park also includes beautiful hiking trails. 

$30/night

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9
Campsite at Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Photograph: Yelp/Shirley M. J.
Things to do, Camps

Camp Taylor, Samuel P Taylor State Park

One of the oldest campgrounds in the country, Camp Taylor is a perennial favorite with a steady stream of regulars. It’s undeniably lovely—nestled among redwood groves and rolling grassland—but still relatively easy to snag a site. You can pitch a tent at one of the 59 campsites (most with easy access by car), or book one of the rustic cabins. The grounds include hiking and biking trails populated by wildflowers and wild turkeys, picnic areas, and the burbling Lagunitas Creek. 

$35/night

10
A lovely lake view at Mount Tamalpais State Park
Photograph: Yelp/Ann S.
Things to do, Camps

Steep Ravine Cabins and Campground, Mount Tamalpais State Park

For a slightly less rugged excursion, book one of Mount Tam’s 10 cabins, each over 75 years old. The small wooden cottages are perched on a pretty bluff overlooking the Pacific. Though dated, they’re well maintained: each includes a picnic table, benches, sleeping platforms, and an outdoor barbecue for grilling. (Water faucets and firewood are available nearby.) Hike downhill from the cabins to reach an uncrowded beach and hidden cove. Nearby, the popular Steep Ravine trail meanders along the coast.

$25/night

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11
View of the north bay from Mare Island
Photograph: Flickr/USFS Region 5
Things to do, Camps

Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve, Vallejo

icon-location-pin Vallejo

Mare Island was, once upon a time, a thriving naval base. Over 100 years later, the Vallejo Bay Peninsula (yes, Mare Island is actually a peninsula, not an island) is dotted with large-scale art installations. Mare Island offers only three campsites—two yurts and one tent-only site—which makes the park perfect for those seeking peace and quiet.

From $45/night

12
Cabin at Rob Hill Campground
Photograph: Yelp/Rob Hill Campground
Things to do, Camps

Rob Hill Campground, San Francisco

icon-location-pin Presidio

The only campground within the city limits of San Francisco, Rob Hill serves as an urban getaway for locals and visitors alike. Perched above Baker’s Beach, Rob Hill is surrounded by groves of aromatic cypress (especially striking when shrouded in early-morning fog). Each site offers fire pits, free-standing barbecue grills, picnic tables and flushable toilets.

$125/night

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