Thursday, December 1, 2022

10 Campgrounds Near San Francisco: Know Your Best Options

With summer approaching, what’s your idea of indulgence? A beach vacation, local run, hiking trip, pool party, or creating popsicles – take your pick. Camping, however, is the best bet for anyone who lives by American traditions and family values. And, that’s where the campgrounds near San Francisco step in, providing tailormade venues to keep the tradition alive and kicking.  

Camping in the US is more than just a recreational activity. Rather, it is a time when families come together and traditions, alive. From pitching a tent, lighting a campfire, and roasting marshmallows to socializing, and stargazing – everything about camping is a part of the popular American culture.

What initiated as a pastime at the turn of the 20th century is now a preferred way to destress, soak in some fresh air, connect with nature, strengthen familial bonds, skill up, and break the monotony of daily life. With camping ingrained in the American DNA, more families are heading out more often.

  • Per STATISTA, over 47.94 million Americans opted to camp in 2018 and 1.4 million families did it for the first time.
  • The lure of camping holds strong across all age groups and ethnicities. Over 51% of non-white families participated in 2018, which is an upturn from 12% in 2012.
  • On the last count, the millennials accounted for all campers at 41 percent. Surprisingly, 48% of new campers were inspired by others to take up camping.

Besides motives, means are readily available, especially if you are a San Franciscan. Whether your idea of camping involves a tent, cabin, or RV, San Francisco has tailor-made campgrounds near San Francisco to keep you covered. Specifications vary, but they are typically accessible and afford a soothing ambiance and breathtaking views. Even walk-in and overnight options are available.

With all bases covered, the San Francisco campgrounds are calling. And, you must go. But before heading out, knowing your options is advisable for a camping experience like no other. So, fasten your seatbelts and join us on a whirlwind tour of the best campgrounds near San Francisco.

10 Campgrounds Near San Francisco

1. Kirby Cove Campground, Marin Headlands

Kirby Cove Campground, Marin Headlands

  • Address: 948 Fort Barry, Sausalito, California
  • Latitude: 37° 50′ 25.2600″ N / Longitude: 122° 29′ 20.0000″ W
  • Contact Number: (415) 331-1540
  • Official site: https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/kirby.htm
  • Overnight Camping Option: Available

Feast your eyes on the secluded sanctuary tucked away in Fort Barry, Sausalito amidst groves of pine, cypress, and eucalyptus. Upon navigating the one-mile-long dirt trail, you’ll come across five overnight camping sites to unwind and soak in the natural beauty scattered all over.

Not more than 10 individuals can occupy a campsite at any given time. And, each campsite is allotted parking space for a maximum of 3 vehicles. A picnic site is also available for up to 35 individuals. Mind you, prior reservation is mandatory for both, camping as well as picnicking.

  • Fees: Picnic Area: $75.00; Tent: $40.00

What to do?

Camping in non-electric tents and picnicking during the day are the biggest draws but there’s plenty more to indulge in at Kirby Cove for every age group and every taste.

  • Hiking: The Muir Woods National Monument and Mount Tamalpais State Park – both located in close vicinity of the cove – afford some great hiking avenues.
  • Beach access: With easy beach access, your recreation options include fishing, sunbathing, outdoor games, sand castle-making, and other activities. And, watching the sun go down is a special experience. A romantic walk with someone special on the beach is just a bonus.
  • Birding: San Francisco bay area is a birder’s delight with raptors like hawks, falcons, and more roaming the autumn sky. Their peculiar sounds, plumage patterns, and antics will enthrall you.
  • Views Galore: Golden Gate Bridge spanning the Golden Gate is profoundly visible from the campground provided there’s no mist. The historic Presidio is another sight to behold.
  • Historic Sites: Erstwhile a Spanish Fort, the Presidio is a fortified park area for public use just a few minutes’ drive from the cove. More history unfolds at the Battery Kerby and Battery Wagner.

Facilities:

  • Your convenience is well catered to with pit toilets, tent pads, picnic tables, personal food lockers, BBQs, and fire pits.
  • Parking space is just a stone’s throw from the campsites while campers with mobility issues can access a wheelchair.

Tips:

  • As bookings dry up quickly, it’s advisable to make reservations well in advance
  • Guests with mobility issues can request beach wheelchairs (Call (415) 331-1540)
  • Multi-layered clothing is advisable as the mercury can dip drastically
  • Since lifeguards aren’t available, venture out in the water carefully
  • Bring your water and supplies to err on the side of caution
  • Burn carefully in line with the Recreational Fire Regulations
  • Pets aren’t allowed. Sorry pet parents!

Booking Info

  • Booking site: https://www.recreation.gov/
  • Booking Window: 3 months in advance
  • Max Booking Duration: 3 Nights consecutive
  • Max Concurrent Stay: 3 Reservations for a night
  • Max Total Bookings: 3 current or forthcoming
  • Max Bookings per Transaction: Not more than 3 at any given time
  • Cancellations: Refunds are available but a cancellation fee is applicable

2. Back Ranch Meadows Campground, China Camp State Park

Back Ranch Meadows Campground, China Camp State Park

  • Number of Campsites: 33
  • Open: All Year round
  • Latitude: 38.007189; Longitude -122.495079
  • Address: 100 China Camp Village Road, San Rafael, California
  • Managed By: Friends of China Camp (FOCC)
  • Contact Number: 415 488-5161
  • Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=466
  • Overnight Camping Option: Available

Perched on the San Pablo Bay shoreline, the China Camp State Park is a big draw for beach enthusiasts, campers, picnickers, and history buffs. The park spans 75 acres on a site that once housed a Chinese shrimp fishing village, and hence, the name. Concealed on the park’s northwest is one of the best campgrounds near San Francisco, the Back Ranch Meadows Campground. It has 33 campsites, each accommodating 8 individuals and open for overnight tents-only camping.

Camping Sites

You’ll be covering up to 300 yards on foot from the parking lot to access the campsites. A couple of sites near the parking lot are reserved for visitors with mobility issues. A relatively horizontal trail will lead you to the Glade Sites (1 to 30). Likewise, the Hill Sites (16 to 30) are accessible upon navigating a fairly steep slope. If you prefer to hike or cycle your way into the campground, two dedicated sites are on offer. Even if you arrive in an RV, expect en-route camp for a night at a dedicated site.

Picnic Sites

The 3 picnic sites in the park attract families and groups looking for some quality time in seclusion. The two sought-after picnic sites – Weber Point and Buckeye Point – feature BBQs, picnic tables, and toilets, while offering mesmerizing views of the waterfront. If you need more space for a big clambake, Miwok Meadows is for you. It has similar amenities but can take in over 200 people.

  • Camping Fees: $35 per night
  • Parking Fees: $5 per day

What to do? 

There’s a lot more to Back Reach Meadows than just camping and picnicking.

  • Explore nature: Hike your way into the meadows, woodlands, salt marshes, intertidal, and more via a network of trails that also support mountain biking. Also, enjoy a rendezvous with squirrels, deer, coyotes, foxes, bats, and a variety of birds, including some endangered species.
  • Fun day at the beach: Thanks to the beach access, the park is ideal for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, windsurfing, sunbathing, beach combing, and more.
  • History: Visit the Chinese fishing village nestled in the park to get a sneak peek into the bygone era. The relics of the historic hamlet are preserved in the museum situated within the village.
  • Hike & Bike and more: The park features a network of well-maintained trails tailormade for leisure walking, hiking, and mountain biking. Also, horse riding is an option.

Amenities: 

  • One of the best campgrounds near San Francisco comes equipped with picnic tables, restrooms with shower and flush toilets, tables, a visitor corner, an equestrian trail, a boat ramp, and a pay phone.
  • Even if you are keen on a braaivleis, there’s easy access to BBQ grills, fire pits, fire rings, and firewood ($8 a bundle) available. Also, feel free to request a beach wheelchair.

Tips: 

  • Even though unreserved sites are available, you are better off with advance booking to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • Pets are allowed, subject to conditions. Take them along on the paved area but on a leash.
  • Use food lockers to keep food and other storable items away from raccoons infesting the area.
  • Show a placard to use the parking space reserved for guests with a disability.
  • Feel free to request a cart to portage your stuff into or out of the campsite.
  • Avoid smoking at all times. It’s prohibited and might attract penalties.

Booking, Parking & Other Info:

  • Booking Window: 48 hours (Unreserved sites available)
  • Max Duration: 7 Nights consecutive and 30 Nights in a Calendar year
  • Parking: One vehicle per campsite
  • Booking site: http://www.reservecalifornia.com

3. Bootjack and Pantoll Campgrounds

Bootjack and Pantoll Campgrounds

  • Number of Campsites: 30 (15 each)
  • Address: 3801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley, California
  • Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov
  • Contact Number: (415) 388-2070
  • Latitude: 37° 54′ 14″ north; Longitude: 122° 36′ 14″ west
  • Open: All Year round

Your hunt for the best trailhead ends with Bootjack and Pantoll Campgrounds, nestled in the southwestern part of Mount Tamalpais State Park. While you’ll be covering half a mile to get to Bootjack, the Pantoll Campground is just a stone’s throw from the trailhead. The nearness speaks for the latter’s popularity. But when it comes to amenities, these two are like the Bobbsey twins. Both accept walk-ins and offer first-come, first-serve camping and picnicking opportunities.

Campsites

Expect 15 well-equipped sites at each campground, offering an overnight camping option. While campsite 2 at Pantoll is for disabled campers, campsite 3 only accommodates hike & bike campers. If privacy is a priority, you should go for sites 9 and 10. Plus, an overnight cabin stay by the beach is available in 8 cabins at the Environmental Campground, in proximity to the Steep Ravine Trail.

  • Camping Fees: Zero
  • Parking Fees: $25 per night; $8 for daytime

Amenities: 

Both campgrounds offer fire rings, BBQ grills, picnic tables, food lockers, and firewood, alongside flushing toilets. You need not carry drinking water as it’s available on-site. Plus, the amenities are ADA-friendly.

What to do? 

  • Hiking: Both campgrounds offer plenty of hiking avenues. Hike into the redwood groves of Muir Woods, Steep Ravine, and Stinson Beach, or conquer Mount Tamalpais – it’s up to you.
  • Wildlife: Venture into the wilderness of Mt. Tamalpais to have a glimpse of deer, predator cats, and over 150 species of birds. If lucky, you might spot the grey whale in the Steep Ravine waters.
  • Biking: Mt. Tamalpais invites you to a mountain biking experience like no other. Just navigate the rough terrain and long winding road to get to the summit. Avenues for road bikers are also there.
  • Fishing: If you have the patience and skill to fish, a sumptuous dinner is around the corner. From bass and bluegill to crappie, and catfish, the options are plenty.
  • Horseback Riding: Just saddle up for a wonderful experience. On a bright sunny day, the views of the Sierra Mountains and Farallon Islands will look more pleasing on a horseback.
  • Climbing: Is climbing your passion? Well, then Mt. Tamalpais is calling you. The climb is challenging but the views from the top will make up for the effort and risk.

Tips:

  • Though no entry fee is applicable, you’ll be paying for the parking. Credit cards are accepted only in Pantoll but for Bootjack, keep some cash handy. Parking after closing hours attracts fines.
  • Stay aware to avoid confrontation with rattlesnakes and mountain lions.
  • Avoid smoking and burning at heights when hiking. Use firepits when camping.
  • Both campgrounds allow dogs. However, avoid taking them on paved pathways.

Cons:

  • Dusty and dreary campgrounds
  • Lack of privacy due to excessive footfall.
  • No scenic vistas visible from any campsite
  • Limited campsites and amenities

Booking, Parking & Other Info:

  • Overnight Camping Option: Available
  • Booking Window: Walk-ins accepted
  • Parking: One vehicle per campsite

4. Francis Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay State Beach

Francis Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay State Beach

How about relaxing on the ocean coast away from the cacophony of San Francisco? Just take Highway one and head straight to Half Moon Bay State Beach, a tropical paradise on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. An ambient of four beaches – Dunes Beach, Francis Beach, Venice Beach, and Roosevelt Beach – the beach caters to surfers, beachgoers, picnickers, swimmers, and campers.

Campsites

Francis Beach is home to one of the sought-after campgrounds near San Francisco. It is expansive enough to accommodate 52 tent camping sites, some of which even offer RV camping as well. While electricity and sewer hookups aren’t there, a dump site and water filling station are available. A vast picnic area is also there for day use. Take a stroll on the paved ramp to get to the white, sandy beach from the campground. Unfortunately, your canine friends aren’t allowed in the beach area.

Amenities: 

  • All sites feature BBQs, picnic tables, fire pits, flush toilets, and paid showers.
  • Feel free to purchase firewood if you wish to indulge in a bonfire or BBQ.
  • While a majority of sites are ADA-friendly, 3 sites are open only to campers with disability.
  • An all-terrain beach wheelchair can be availed at zero cost upon furnishing documents.
  • Most RV campsites feature electrical hookups, but water and sewer hookups aren’t available.
  • A dump station is available, incurring $10 additionally.

What to do? 

  • Relaxation: A majority of campsites are away from the highway and closer to the sea. There lies your chance to unwind in a tranquil ambiance with the only disturbance being that of the waves.
  • Beach Activities: Besides relaxation, the campground extends an array of excursions to further your experience, including swimming, boating, surfing, sunbathing, and more.
  • Hiker & Biker Camping: Make the most of the Hiker & Biker Enroute camping if you prefer hiking or pedaling your way into the campsite. Picnic tables, fire pits, and food lockers are available.

Tips: 

  • Visit in May for the Memorial Day Weekend celebrations, featuring guided hikes, campfires, and Junior Rangers. Or consider a visit in September during the Labor Day Weekend celebrations.
  • For group camping, the Sweetwood Group Camp is ideal. Situated nearby Francis Beach, it can take 50 campers and 12 vehicles. RVs aren’t allowed, however. Reservations costs $165 per night.
  • To avail H&B camping, arrive either on foot or by bicycle. Arriving by a vehicle will rob your eligibility. Also, as these campsites are allotted on a first-come, first-served basis, turn up early.

Booking, Parking & other Info:

  • Reservation Link: www.ReserveCalifornia.com
  • Open: All Year Around
  • Phone Number: (650) 726-8819
  • Trailers and Motorhome specifications: Only RVs up to 40 Feet allowed
  • Booking Window: 6 months in advance (latest within 48 hours)

5. Juniper Campground, Mount Diablo State Park Campground

Juniper Campground, Mount Diablo State Park Campground

  • Number of Campsites: 32
  • Campsite Types: ADA, Group, RV, Tent, Trailer
  • Elevation: 2,550
  • LAT / LONG: 37.8731, -121.9246
  • Address: Walnut Creek, California 94598
  • Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=517

Juniper Campground is a go-to option, if you crave an exciting camping adventure in the Bay Area. Sitting pretty in Mt. Diablo State Park, the campground treats you to some verdant, expensive views of the San Francisco Bay Area, provided you opt for the right campsites. Also, savor the spectacular views of the Half Dome, Mt. Lassen, and other landmarks, alongside the stunning sunset and sunrise.

Campsites

Juniper Campground offers 32 reservable campsites amidst mature oaks and dense scrub overgrowth. Each site is open for a maximum of 8 campers and 6 vehicles. Available for tent, RV, trailer, and ADA camping, it is one of the few catch-all campgrounds near San Francisco. However, cabin camping is unavailable. Two other well-equipped campgrounds are available in Mount Diablo State Park, Live Oak, and Junction. The former accommodates 22 campsites while the latter, 6.

What to do? 

  • Rock Formations: The characteristic rock formations in the state park are a sight to behold even if you have nothing to do with geology. Inspecting them is a hands-on learning experience.
  • Hiking: Hike your way through the 7-mile Juniper Trail that goes around Mt. Diablo and treats you to some amazing vistas all the way up. The trail can also be covered on a horseback.
  • Visitor Center: When you conquer the Mount Diablo summit, a tower housing the Visitor Center greets you with a diorama, models of mountains, artworks, a gift shop, and an observation deck.
  • Wildlife: The park’s diverse flora and fauna make for wonderful wildlife exploration. Expect an interaction with amphibians, mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes in their natural habitat.
  • Cycling: Cycling to the park entrance is also a popular activity. Plus, the campground has what it takes for wonderful family and group picnics, from expansive spaces to BBQ grills and tables.

Amenities: 

Juniper Campground affords all standard facilities for overnight tent camping and day-time picnicking, including picnic tables, fire rings and grills, potable water, flush toilets and paid showers. However, no RV hookups are available. Mind you, alcohol is prohibited within the premises.

Tips: 

  • Campsites 10 through 16 make perfect sense if privacy is a priority for you. Besides offering solitude and shade, these sites are the vantage points for some great vistas of the Bay Area.
  • While dogs are allowed, ensure they are kept on a 6 feet leash and away from trails
  • Since firewood isn’t provided, you are better off carrying some with you.
  • Carry enough water and snacks when hiking.

Cons: 

  • Since the shade is limited, be ready to endure the scorching summer heat.
  • Some sites do offer shade but lack privacy due to ingress from adjoining camps
  • Located on the edge of the plateau, the winters are chilly and too windy.
  • The scrub overgrowth blocks views from a majority of campsites.

Booking, Parking & other Info:

  • Online Bookings: Reserveamerica.com
  • Contact Number: 925 837-2525
  • Managed by: California State Parks
  • Season: Year Round
  • Check in / Check Out : 2:00 pm / 12:00 pm
  • Fees: $30.00 per night

6. Camp Taylor: Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Cam Taylor Samuel P Taylor State Park

  • Established: 1945
  • Camping Types: Tent, RV, Trailer & Cabin
  • Number of Campsites: 50+
  • Coordinates: 38°1′42″N 122°43′0″W
  • Address: 8889 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Lagunitas, CA 94938
  • Open: All year round

If redwoods are your true calling, head to Camp Taylor, one of the top-rated campgrounds near San Francisco. The campground has the best location on the Marine Coast, tucked away from the bustle of San Francisco and surrounded by the majestic second-growth redwoods. This green ambiance is accentuated by the serenity, making it ideal for unwinding on a solo getaway or a family camping vacation. The open woods invite you to bask in the wilderness or explore the exotic flora and fauna.

Tent Camping 

Camp Taylor offers virtually all types of camping, from tent and RV to cabin and group. Here, over 50 tent sites are up for grabs, each accommodating 6 campers. However, the availability of medium and large groups sites sets it apart from other state park campgrounds near San Francisco. The medium-sized sites allow for up to 15 campers while the large ones are tailored for up to 50.

Cabin Camping 

Five cabins are also there for the taking if tent camping isn’t your cup of tea. With just a couple of bunk beds and no separate sitting areas and attached bathrooms, these cabins aren’t that comfortable. Each of them is, however, tidy and comes equipped with electric heaters.

RV Camping 

When it comes to RV camping, RVs up to 31 feet and trailers up to 27 feet are eligible. The parking areas are extra-long though, any hookups are sorely missing.

  • Day use parking Fees: $8
  • Standard Campsite Fees: $35

What to do?

  • Biking: Explore the 3-mile biking trail, stretching from the state park to the Golden National Recreational Area. It’s challenging but treats you to some stunning vistas.
  • Hiking: Hike into the massive redwood groove through a thriving network of easy-to-moderate hiking trails. Depending on skills and experience levels, opt for either a 2-mile loop (The Pioneer Trail) or a 9-mile round-trip loop to Mount Barnabe.
  • Wildlife: Get up close and personal with trees like oak, madrone, live oak, laurel, and Douglas fir, and flowers, such as buttercups, milkmaids, Indian paintbrush, and so on. Also, expect to encounter black-tailed deer, raccoons, skunks, and grey foxes.
  • Equestrian Camping: Spanning 2700 acres, the state park has several equestrian-friendly areas and trails, allowing you to explore nature on a horseback.

Amenities: 

All standard amenities are available for tent camping and picnicking, including toilets with showers, and picnic tables. Campfires are permitted and so are pets, provided you keep them on a leash at all times. On the downside, electric, sewer, and water hookups aren’t available for RVs. However, you can consider traveling to the nearby Olema RV Resort & Campground if hookups are a priority.

DKG Tips:

  • Be mindful of the poison oak, as any bodily contact can cause rashes and pain.
  • Bring your own bedding and mattress if you prefer cabin camping.
  • For RV camping, go with the number 44 site for more privacy.
  • Mercury can drop drastically during fall and winter. So, wear plenty of layers.
  • Adhere to biking guidelines. Don’t bike on walking trails

Cons: 

  • The closely located tent campsites compromise privacy
  • Cabins are cramped for space and lack comfort features
  • Wheelchair access is unavailable for the most part
  • No hookups available for RVs and trailers

Bookings & other info 

7. Haypress Campground, Tennessee Valley

Haypress Campground, Tennessee Valley

  • Camping Type: Tent Camping
  • Number of Campsites: 5 (each accommodating 4 campers)
  • Group Campsite: Available (Suitable for up to 50 campers)
  • Address: Marin Headlands, Sausalito, California
  • Official Website: https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Nine miles from downtown San Francisco lies the Haypress Campground – one of the go-to campgrounds near San Francisco for backpackers and slack packers. It’s a secluded sanctuary perched in the Tennessee Valley amidst towering eucalyptus trees, lush meadows, and rolling hills. The cool breeze and fog accentuate the quaint settings, transforming the campground into misty heaven. However, the wilderness can be overwhelming with no connectivity and civilization.

Campsites

Haypress Campground features five tent campsites, each allowing for a maximum of four campers. Group campsites are also on offer, accommodating up to 50 campers. Though no fees are applicable for camping and picnicking, prior reservations can ward off unpleasant surprises. Even though the sites are well-spaced, privacy is hard to come by as each site is visible from every other site.

Amenities: 

Pets and campfires are a no-no, while potable water and cell phone connectivity aren’t available. However, you can expect picnic tables, tent pads, beer baskets, and food lockers within your site’s premises. The group campsite comes with two picnic tables. With no wheelchair access, the campground isn’t that ADA-friendly. In lank of a trash disposal system, you have to pack it out.

What to do? 

Haypress Campground is tailored for hiking though, there’s more you can indulge in here.

  • Hiking: In summer and fall, you can take on the 3.4-mile Land’s End Lookout trail. Taking 90-odd minutes to complete, this moderate trail treats you to some stunning views of the Golden Gate bridge from different angles. Also, feast your eyes on some iconic stopovers, such as Mile Rock Lighthouse, Point Lobos, San Francisco Memorial, Sutro Baths, and Land’s End Point.
  • The Muir Woods is another hiking option taking you through the incredibly tall redwood trees. If the woodsy ambiance isn’t impressive enough, the prolific views will soothe your soul. Feel free to hike to the Marine Headlands to get mesmerized by massive gun batteries that once defended the area. You’ll cover 3-quarters of a mile on foot from the parking lot to get to the campground.
  • Paddling: Add another dimension to your camping experience with a paddling excursion in Golden Gate. With awe-inspiring vistas spread around, your time on the water is unforgettable.
  • Wildlife Watching: The Golden Gate may exude an urban feel but there’s no dearth of wildlife to be explored – Sea Lions, harbor seals, otters, mountain lions, monarch butterflies, and snakes.
  • Beach Access: The coastline running parallel to the recreation area affords avenues for surfing with Fort Point and Stinson Beach being the best breaks. If kiteboarding is on mind, head straight to the Crissy Field shoreline. Activities like swimming and sunbathing are just a bonus.

Tips:

  • On the Land’s End Lookout trail, visit the German Tourist Club for exotic beers in great settings.
  • Nearby iconic attractions like Alcatraz Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Union Square need to be in your bucket list.
  • With so much to do, plan at least a two-day camping trip to make the most of it.
  • Temperature can dip drastically. So, carry layered clothing even in summer.
  • Since campfires aren’t allowed, you are better off carrying a gas camp stove.

Cons:

  • A limited number of campsites
  • Lacks privacy despite well-spaced sites
  • Lacks essentials, other than restrooms
  • No cell phone connectivity
  • No pets allowed
  • ADA-unfriendly

Bookings & Other Info

  • Fees: None
  • Contact Number: (415) 331-1540
  • Reservation Window: Up to 30 days ahead
  • Restrictions: 3-night maximum stay in a calendar year

8. Rob Hill Campground, Presidio

Rob Hill Campground, Presidio

Overnight camping sites are nonexistent within San Francisco, give or take the Rob Hill Campground. The tent-only campground is nestled in the San Francisco Presidio, ensuring an unforgettable, fun-filled camping experience for group campers, scout troops, school field trips, and small gatherings. The quaint ambiance, vast stretches of wilderness dotted by eucalyptus grooves, and easy access to Baker Beach further your experience, opening up some excellent opportunities for relaxation and recreation. It’s not for nothing that we rate it among the best campgrounds in San Francisco for group camping.

Rob Hill Campground greets you with four decently-equipped campsites. However, only two of them – Ishman and Yunahia – are open to the public. And, to access the rest, you need to be a part of the “Camping at the Presidio” program. The public sites are suitable for a small group of 30. Only four parking permits are issued for each campsite. With the quiet hour policy in place, expect complete calmness from 10 pm to 6 am. All sites are accessible upon completing a 200-feet walk up a relatively flat and paved road from the parking.

Amenities:

As the top campgrounds near San Francisco, both public campsites cater to campers’ convenience with a free-standing BBQ grill, fire pits, food lockers, and four picnic tables. A common room is there but off-limits to the public. Only members of the Camping at the Presidio can use it for educational purposes. Feel free to ask for buckets if required. And, make sure to return them before you leave. Moreover, you need to share potable water, toilets, a scullery room, and bike racks with fellow occupants. The ADA-friendly toilets feature running water but lack showers. The campground doesn’t allow vehicles, pets, firearms, generators, booze, and smoking.

What to do? 

  • Boating: Just visit Stow Lake within the national park to indulge in boating. Whether you prefer a rowboat or a paddleboat, both can be rented locally.
  • Biking: Mountain and road biking options are readily available, thanks to some gorgeous biking trails running through the Golden Gate National Park.
  • Fishing: Keep your bait ready. Who knows you might end up catching white croaker, pile surfperch, brown smoothhound, and more.
  • Wildlife viewing: From mountain lions and sea lions to harbor seals, river otters, and monarch butterflies, there’s a lot to explore and spot in this national park.
  • Hiking: Take on some of the coveted trails in California that treat you to gorgeous views, historical and cultural sites, and more. Land’s End Lookout and Muir Woods are your best options.
  • Others: Make the most of your time with excursions, such as equestrian camping, kiteboarding, sunbathing, swimming, and surfing among others.

 Fees: 

Fees per site and per night vary depending on the day of the week.

Sunday – Thursday Friday & Saturday
$87.00 $132.00

Military personnel retired and serving can reserve at a discounted price of $75.00 per site, per night. Eligible candidates need to furnish the required proof to claim the rebate.

DKG Tips: 

  • As the use of live, downed, and dead wood is proscribed, carry your own firewood for campfires. Don’t forget to carry charcoal and grilling supplies also.
  • Avoid washing dishes in toilet sinks or disposing of food in the open. Instead, use the scullery room, which features massive compost bins.
  • In case of an emergency, head straight to the west of the toilet building. Just use the emergency call box to get in touch with the U.S. Park Police dispatch.
  • Bring your own lock if you wish to use the bike rack.

Cons: 

  • A limited number of campsites
  • Tent-only camping option available
  • Showers unavailable

Bookings & Other Info

9. Anthony Chabot Family Campground, Anthony Chabot Regional Park

Anthony Chabot Family Campground, Anthony Chabot Regional Park

  • Address: 9999 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, California
  • Official site: https://www.ebparks.org/parks/anthony_chabot/default.htm
  • Contact Number: 888-327-2757
  • Latitude / Longitude: 37.73528, -122.09611
  • Campsite Types: ADA, Group, RV, Tent & Trailer
  • Number of Campsites: 75
  • Number of RV Hookup Campsites: 12
  • Open: Year Round
  • Booking Window: At least 48 hours in advance but not before 12 months
  • Gates Open/Close: 8 am & 10 pm
  • Elevation: 800
  • Pets: Allowed

If a quick getaway by the lake is a priority, Anthony Chabot Family Campground makes sense. Nestled on a ridgetop in the Anthony Chabot Regional Park amidst eucalyptus grooves, it houses a staggering 75 sites to support all camping aspirations, from tent and group to RV and trailers. Even ADA-compliant sites are also there for the taking. As one of the top campgrounds in San Francisco, the Anthony Chabot Campground is a secluded sanctuary spreading across 3000 acres with over 70 miles of hiking trails.

Campsite Breakup:

  • Drive-In Tent Only: 53
  • Walk-in Tent Only: 10 
  • RV & Trailer: 12 
  • Group: 07
  • ADA: 01 

RV Sites

Expect 12 expansive campsites specifically designed for RVs and trailers at the Anthony Chabot Family Campground. However, anything above 35 feet isn’t allowed. Large trailers would find it hard to negotiate the narrow and winding roads leading to the campground. You have the option of two pull-in and pull-thru sites (5 and 6) in case you are looking for easy access and exit. The ADA site (6) would require furnishing a placard for access.

Walk-in Sites

Just cover 250 yards down the ridge from the parking lot to access 10 walk-in campsites. Perched in the grassy clearance and surrounded by towering eucalyptus trees, these sites aren’t as well-spaced as the drive-ins. With each site profoundly visible from any other site, privacy is hard to come by in the majority of sites. Only two sites (13 and 14) afford some privacy. That’s thanks to the hillock that separates these campsites from others.

Tent & Group Sites

An overwhelming majority of sites allow only tent camping. The flat ground invites you to pitch the tent and enjoy a wonderful experience alone or with family and friends. Each tent site is spacious enough to accommodate up to eight campers. Parking permits for up to six vehicles are issued per site. The group sites, on the other hand, are designed for 35 to 300 campers. However, you can reserve any of them for a minimum of 9 campers.

Amenities 

Each site, save for the walk-ins, has standard amenities like fire pits, charcoal grills, picnic tables, and paved parking pads. The sharable amenities include potable water, flush toilets, hot showers, and an amphitheater. Campfires are allowed with firewood available for purchase. However, generators are prohibited. All RV campsites feature electric, water, and sewer hookups. An RV dump station is located on the campground premises.

Fees: 

  • RV: $40 per RV, per night
  • Walk-In Sites: $25 per camper, per night 
  • Dogs: $2 per pet, per night 
  • Extra Car Parking: $8 per extra car, per night 

What to do?

  • Hiking: With dozens of easy-to-moderate hiking trails, you are spoilt for choice. Take on the trails surrounding the lake if you are a beginner. They are easy with plenty of shade and stunning views of the lake area. Relatively cramped and steeper, the cliffside trails are for seasoned hikers. And, for pros, there’s the 31-mile Skyline National Trail, which covers the entire topography of the regional park.
  • Horseback Riding: if hiking isn’t your cup of tea, prefer to explore the park on a horseback. Choose from any of the seven-horse staging areas suit your needs. New to horseback riding? Breathe easy, as training is readily available here, courtesy of the Chabot Stables and Skyline Ranch Equestrian Center.
  • Paddling: When San Franciscans feel like kayaking, they turn to Lake Chabot. Try it on your next camping trip if you haven’t already. Bring your own equipment or rent it here – it’s up to you. With the waters being calm for the most part, the paddling is easy and enjoyable. However, avoid confronting the wildlife when paddling.
  • Fishing: Provided you have the inclination for it, fishing could be a great way to fill your time when camping at the Anthony Chabot Campground. The catch would just be a bonus. Just park yourself on the sandy shores of the lake and expect to get hold of channel catfish, bass, trout, crappie, bluegills, and more. And, if your catch is big enough, you might see your image on the Lake Chabot Whopper Club pin.
  • Boating: The expansive lake also offers boating experiences throughout the year. You can rent a motorboat or a small canoe depending on your needs. Also, feel free to book a sightseeing tour on the “Queen Tour Boat” to get up close and personal with the serene surroundings and exotic wildlife.
  • Biking: Even bikers have so much to cherish and admire, thanks to multiple biking trails. Both road and mountain biking avenues are available with varying difficulty levels. Whatever your biking aspirations are, the park keeps you covered.

DKG Tips: 

  • If you opt for tent camping, sites 43 through 45 are your best bets. Cramped for space though, they are the most secluded campsites in the campground.
  • Go for tent site 70 for the best views
  • Visit the campground in person for group site bookings. Online bookings aren’t allowed for group sites.
  • If you plan to fish, a California fishing license is a must. Also, buying a daily fishing permit is necessary. No need to bring bait and tackle with you. Both are available at a local café nearby the lake.

Cons: 

  • Toilets are too far from tent-only sites
  • Privacy is hard to come by on most sites
  • Being a suburban park, be ready to cope with the sounds of airplanes or BART trains

The Best RV Campgrounds Near San Francisco

So, your idea of overnight camping involves an RV. Campgrounds are typically catch-all, supporting all camping needs – tent camping, car camping, and RV Parking. However, not all campgrounds are well-equipped to handle a pop-up camper, a travel trailer, or a home on wheels. Breathe easy, as San Francisco has a handful of options tailor-made for all things RV camping. Here’re the top RV campgrounds in San Francisco with essential hookups.

10. Giant Redwoods RV

Giant Redwoods RV

  • Address: 400 MYERS AVE #83, MYERS FLAT, CA 95554
  • Website: https://giantredwoodsrv.com/
  • Contact Number: 707-943-9999
  • Email: emailinfo@giantredwoodsrv.com
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.262351 -123.877525
  • Number of Campsites: 4
  • Check-in: 1 pm (RVs); 3 pm (cabins)
  • Check-out: 11 am for all
  • Maximum Duration: 28 days consecutive (long-term sites aren’t available)
  • Booking Window: Up to 2 years in advance
  • Cancelations: Available

Keen on basking in the coastal redwoods of California? Well, the Giant Redwoods RV keeps you covered. It’s spread across 17 acres of wilderness close to the “Avenue of the Giants,” which features the loftiest redwood trees. The Eel River crisscrossing the entire park area furthers the ambiance. The RV campground offers some stunning avenues to camp in your RV. It could be Type A, B, C, or Trailers with towed or towing vehicles also covered.

Space for Big Rigs measuring 110 feet is also readily available. Note that, Giant Redwoods RV is exclusively an RV campsite with no tent camping or car camping provided anymore. You have the luxury to choose from four RV campsites – River Bluff & FHU, Big Rig, Back in, and Pull Thru. The prices and hookups vary accordingly. Lately, the campground has also been offering a fine selection of well-equipped cabins for different tastes and budgets.

What to do? 

There’s plenty to indulge in, thanks to the ideal location and amenities on offer. The Giant Redwoods RV private beach affords swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Just venture into the wilderness for a first-hand experience of the diverse flora and fauna. Volleyball, badminton, and tetherball can also be pursued for some sports vibes. Wanna try your luck? Feel free to wager at Bear River Casino located nearby in Loleta. Great meals are also there to satiate your taste buds. Activities like stargazing and cloud-watching just come by default.

Prices: RV Camping 

The prices are season-specific. You’ll be paying a bit more during the peak season.

RV Campsite  Summer Pricing (April to Sep) Winter Pricing (Sep to March)
River Bluff & FHU $85 $75
Big Rig $75 $70
Back in $70 $65
Pull Thru $70 $65

The charges are applicable to up to six campers, three dogs, and two RVs per site. Any additional person, dog, or RV will incur $5, $2, and $5 respectively.

Cabin Pricing: 

Spring / Summer Pricing (April to Sep) Fall / Winter Pricing (Sep – March)
$165 per night $135 per night

The charges are applicable to four campers per cabin.

Hookups: 

Giant Redwoods RV caters to RV campers with portable water, 20, 30 & 50 AMP electricity, cable TV, and Wi-Fi. Put your sewerage worries to rest with a dump station and honey wagon service. Propane is also available just a quarter of a mile from the park.

Conclusion:

The arrival of summer opens up avenues for camping. And, if you are a San Franciscan, both means and motives for camping are readily available. Dunia Ka Gyan took it upon itself to compile a list of the best campgrounds near San Francisco for all needs, tastes, and budgets. So, take your pick, pack your gear and embark on a camping experience like no other. And, don’t forget to narrate your feedback in the comment section below.

Happy Camping!

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Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar
Passionate about content quality and attention to detail, Rohit has penned over 15,000 copies for some of the leading online and offline publications in his eight-year career. Currently heading the content team at Dunia Ka Gyan, he believes in team spirit, ingenuity, and reader satisfaction.

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