California is so vast, with so many different climates and ecologies that it’s almost impossible to sum up the camping experience in this massive state. There is literally every kind of camping you could be looking for, from snow-capped mountains to red-hot deserts to cool beaches and Redwood forests, this state has a camping spot for everyone.
It’s hard to know where to begin, because so many things are iconic, but let’s start with the Redwoods. Camping in the Redwoods is truly something you can’t comprehend until you get onto those narrow roads winding between mammoth trees that have stood 300 feet tall for 2000 years. And when you get out hiking in that old-growth forest, it’s like stepping into another world.
Turning our attention east, and we have the majestic Sierra Nevadas. Tough, rocky bluffs and cliffs that made life very hard for the pioneers and gold rushers headed to the coast, there is camping, whitewater rafting, fishing, boating and swimming. And in the winter, there’s snowshoeing and cross-country skiing not to be missed.
Of course no discussion of camping in California would be complete without mentioning California’s most iconic camping spot: Yosemite National Park. Best known for its massive waterfalls and sheer cliff that are extreme climbers’ dreams, the park is well traveled and, even though it may be crowded, must be seen to be believed.
But let’s head west to the coast, down Highway 1. Monterey Bay in Big Sur has been called the Serengeti of the Sea because of the massive amounts of sea mammals and fish that congregate in these preserved waters. But there is camping on dozens of beaches in the Central Coast, where you can wake up in the morning to the sound of water lapping the shore and sea lions barking in the distance.
Want something completely different? Let’s go way down south and shed the water and trees in exchange for the exotic beauty of the desert. Death Valley can be gorgeous, but you’d be best served to camp in the winter, spring or fall, because in the summer it can still be 100 degrees at midnight. Visit the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Dantes View, or the Keane Wonder Mine.
As you can see, there’s plenty to see and do when camping in California. Something for every taste, something for every interest. And we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface here. This state is one that deserves some camping exploration.