Where to go Camping
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Where to go Camping
I have been dying to break out my tent (even pre baby) and I
recently found out that a friend of mine has had the same
itch. We've both been camping as kids and are used to the
'tent/roughing it' camping. However, I normally used to head
where we could dock our boat so I have no clue on where to
go. Here's what my ideal place would entail: I would like
our little girls (Both 4) to be able to play in the water
comfortably, we are both young(er) mothers with little girls
so I would like to stay somewhere that is safe (maybe 24hr
park ranger), we would be leaving from Oakland area and I
think it's safe to say that our girls could last for a 3
hour car ride, possibly even longer, and just an added
bonus-some sort of rented paddle boat would be the cherry on
top. So my question is: Does a place like this exist? It
would be great to hear advice from other Single Mothers who
have camped with little ones. Ready to Camp
I'm a single mom of twin 8 year olds. I have been camping
with them every summer since they were 6 months old. They
love Pinecrest Lake (30 minutes east of Sonora on Hwy 8).
The camp ground is on the lake. There is a small marina for
renting boats, a nice sandy beach, and great ranger programs
for kids. It is definitely car camping and can be loud and
smokey, but the kids adore it. There is a little grocery
store that sells ice cream and has an espresso cart so you
are not in any way roughing it. They have movies under the
stars at the ampitheater. It is low enough elevation that
there are no bears so food storage is a little easier (just
racoons). Wrights Lake is beautiful and is more rustic (but
still car camping). Its a jumping off point for Desolation.
I love Wrights Lake, but the kids prefer Pinecrest because
there are lots of kids there and more kids stuff to do.
We've really enjoyed both. Have fun!
When I was a single mom, I went with a single-mom friend and
camped somewhere on the Delta. I wish I could remember the
name of the place, but you should be able to google around
and find campgrounds there. It's not a long drive. As I
recall, we weren't on the beach, as I would have feared my
son wandering into the water on his own, but there was a
sandy beach nearby. Have fun! Linda
Hooray for you! We camped quite a bit with our little ones.
Lake Mendocino and I think they have a place to rent paddle
boats (be sure everyone has a good fitting pfd. We have
bought inexpensive ones at Big 5. The rental place might not
have kid ones and they can wear them splashing around in the
lake too). Samuel P Taylor Park is great for splashing in
the stream, but no boat rentals (or places to use boats).
Dela Valle Resevoir near Livermore is a very pleasant place
to camp, but you have to bring your own boats. Teaching good
safety is imperative with kids. Bring bug spray, lots of
sunscreen and a medical kit mostly stocked with bandaids,
tweezers, antibacterial soap, tecnu (for poison oak), & aloe
for sunburns. Maybe baby aspirin if you use it as kids can
get headaches from heat and dehydration. Keep hydrating
lots. Have fun. cocosar
Try Lake Siskiyou. We have been going there every year since
my first child was 2 y.o. (now 23). We all love it. Lake
Siskiyou is located in Mt. Shasta, about 5 hour drive. When
my kids were little sometimes we would stop half away but if
the kids can handle car ride you don't have to. The
campground have everything you described. It's beautiful,
It has a playgound, outdoor movie theater everynight,
beautiful lake w/ sand (beach), boat area, inflatable toys
for rent, pedal boats, kayaks, Kids love to bike around and
lots of places to explore nearby if you want to (waterfalls,
other lakes, fishing, etc.). It feels like you are in the
woods, secluded but you are not. It is very convenient for
first time campers with young children. near beautiful town
w/ shopping, cafes, bank, restaurants, library, etc. There
is also a restaurant place ran by volunteers that my kids
love because of the free game area for kids with books, ping
pong tables, pool tables, etc. a plus for us.
I am looking for a place to take my family car camping over
fathers day weekend. We need something toddler, we have a 1
1/2 year old, and dog friendly. My husband would also like
to fish. Other than those 3 requirements we are pretty
open. Oh and of course someplace that won't already be
booked up. Thank for any recommendations. Camp Mom
You asked for a camping/fishing location for Father's Day.
Try Lake Del Valle, just southeast of Pleasanton.
Rise and Shine Campers
I'd like to get some recommendations for a group camping
destination within 1 - 1.5 hr of Berkeley. It will need to
be suitable for families with toddlers and we'd like to be
able to reserve it in advance. Thank you!
Check out Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin near
Lagunitas (recently saved off the list of state parks slated
to close July 1, btw!). We've been camping there every year
since our oldest was a couple years old, and we love it for
car camping - shady redwoods, a creek with easy wading,
paved loop in the campground where lots of kids ride bikes,
and close enough to town that it's not a disaster if you
forget something. Casual Camper
there are a few group sites in the anthony chabot campground
in the oakland hills. they do need to be reserved in advance
and they often book up for summer, at least on weekends, so
i'd call asap. it's a nice campground. anon
Samuel P. Taylor Campground in Marin. Once you're there,
it's only another hour to Stinson Beach. We love Camp
Go to ReserveAmerica.com and check out Alice Eastwood
campground. It is just over the GGB Gulia
In the East Bay Regional Parks District, I've done group
camping at Del Valle and Tilden Park. I really like the
Wildcat View campsite at Tilden, it has a nice covered
campfire area and lots of flat spots for tents. I've used it
a couple times for preschool camping trips, and it's great
for kids. It's near the Little Farm. There's lots of poison
oak, but the kids were totally happy playing in the grassy
area, and we didn't have any issues. Del Valle has swimming
and less poison oak.
EBRPD also has group camping at Lake Chabot and Coyote
Hills. I haven't used the group camps at either place, but
I've done the family campground at Chabot, and there was a
TON of poison oak. We had to lay down the law to the kids
about staying on trails and in open spaces (and teaching
them what poison oak looks like). Coyote Hills has a lot of
wetlands, which makes great birdwatching but may be
challenging with really young kids.
I did a camping birthday party for my daughter at Mt.
Diablo. There was less poison oak because we were at a
higher elevation. The racoons were very aggressive. A
racoon-proof box is provided. Use it, or lock things in your
Depending on your group size, you can also look at reserving
adjacent family sites. This has worked out well for us with
groups of up to 18 people. Carrie
I love the Russian River area!
I am looking for recommendations on great group camp sites
(25-50 people) that are accessible by car and have toilets
and water. Within a few hours of the east bay would be a
major plus. Thank you!
I'm hesitant to post this since it feels like a well kept
secret, but Anthony Chabot park is great for this. Super
close (I can get there from my house in under a half hour),
easy car camping and you can get a bunch of sites close
together. We camp there with a decent group each year -
about 5-6 families, each with 2 or more kids. You get the
full camping experience (including fun ranger programs in
the summer months for the kids) with the ease of flush
toilets nearby. There is a lake but no swimming.
check out Pinnacles National Monument a bit past Gilroy (we
camped with a large Boy scout Troop recently)Also, Mt
Diablo, Bodega Bay, Big Basin, Del Valle Reservoir
We have a group of about 9 families interested in camping
Memorial Day weekend. Last year we went to Portola State
Redwoods which was perfect. But, we didn't get reservations
this year before they sold out. Any ideas about other good
group camping locations? Thanks. group camper
The East Bay Regional Parks District has a number of group
sites: Tilden Park near the Little Farm, Chabot, Del Valle,
Coyote Hills, and Redwood. There are also group sites at Mt.
Diablo. I've stayed at group camps at Tilden (I like the
Wildcat View site), Del Valle and Mt. Diablo, and had a
great time at each. Coyote Hills has great birdwatching and
Farther afield, the campground at Pinnacles National
Monument has group sites. The sites aren't anything to
write home about (no trees, lots of gophers), but the park
is great. On our last trip, we all saw rabbits, quail and a
coyote, one group saw a bobcat.
How close to the Bay do you want?
Try Kirby Cove, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge and
other sites in the GGNRA. See....
At Mount Tam there is Alice Eastwood for groups. See...
Kirby Cove will knock your sox off!
Anyone know good places to go camping with kids and a dog?
Preferably within easy driving distance of the Bay Area, but
other places that are particularly nice would also be great.
we have camped at lawson's landing up by tomales bay. huge
private campground right on the bay. wide open dune setting.
hiking, water, beach... great even in winter if you bundle
also, i highly recommend using airbnb.com to find affordable
accomodations in the amazingly dog friendly carmel. i
stayed in private cottage with my dog for a solo getaway.
lovely. took my dog to the beach (best dog park on the
planet earth), took her to dine with me fireside for dinner,
took her into every shop... most offered doggie biscuits
and water bowls.
it rained one day and it just didn't matter. we spent the
whole day outside walking, meeting others with dogs/kids...
fun stuff. almost felt like camping with the natural
i am on a tight budget so it is totally doable to have a
lovely time even though it is ritzy. oh, and carmel is
very, very safe to walk streets a night... crime is
practically non-existant in downtown ~~don't need to buy
gucci to feel rich in carmel... just breath in the air
I want to take my 4 year old son camping this summer.
Ideally to a place that has some water nearby for safe
swimming, tubing or kayaking. Open to tent camping, renting
a cabin or vacation rental. Thanks! Heather C
We've been going to Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin
every summer with our kids since the oldest was about 4 (car
camping with a tent). It's a relatively short drive from
Oakland/Berkeley. The campground is under the redwoods, so
it's nice and shady and cool. There's a paved loop road
through the campground where lots of kids ride bikes. A
short walk through the woods will take you down to a sunny
swimming hole where you wade in from a (rocky) beach (bring
your Tevas) - no strong current, plenty of shallow area for
kids to splash and play. And if, like us, you invariably
forget something or find yourself in need of a latte, the
town of Lagunitas is just down the road. Enjoy this gem of
a park while you can - it's one of the state parks slated
for closure because of the state budget deficit. Car Camper
Lake Siskiyou is great-near Mt Shasta. It's perfect for
swimming, the campground owns it. You can camp or rent
cabins. Look at
My family just returned from Lake Jenkinson in pollock
pines. It's 2.5 hrs from here in Sierra Foothills outside
placerville. An amazing lake with tons of Lakeside
campsites and swimming opportunities. We stayed up the
street at a rental (VRBO.com). Just gorgeous! Dani
We just spent a day at Manzanita Lake in Lassen National
Park with our almost 2 year old. We saw lots of wildlife
(including a mama duck with 5 ducklings who came pretty
close) and our daughter enjoyed tromping around on a sunny
sand bar in the water, playing with pinecones, and watching
the kayakers glide by. We stayed at a nearby cabin in Viola,
but Lassen has new mini-cabins as well as tent camping. Lots
of fun things to see and do! (And not too crowded). Happy
Am in need of a cheaper alternative this year to our annual
$40-$60/nt KOA camping excursions. Are there any free or low
cost (under $25/nt) tent camping locations out there within
3 hours of the Bay Area? Hoping to bring our beagle, have
running water and other families around but am open to
suggestions. Ideas? Debbie
Generally the campground managed by a County will be less
expensive. Of course, you generally get less services too.
Check this site for some options:
For about $5 you can get a wilderness permit and go
backpacking - you don't need to necessarily hike for many
miles and can find a place as close as it feels comfortable.
I believe that National Forests allow for free camping in
the wilderness. Areas under Land Management might do the
same e.g. Upper part of Lost Coast
Have fun out there!
Our family has been camping at San Mateo County Memorial
Campground since our son was a baby. It's much less touristy
than Big Basin up the road. We love it. Lisa in Oakland
There are many federal, state and regional park campgrounds
available for $20-25 per night--not free, but much less than
what you cited for KOA. You can find campgrounds on
http://www.reserveamerica.com/. And I found this nifty rate
schedule for the CA state parks system:
course, the really cheap ones are either primitive or hike-
In the immediate area, I have camped at Lake Chabot, Del
Valle regional park, Mt. Diablo state park, and Brannan
Island State Recreation Area. A bit further afield, I really
like Pinnacle National Monument. Even further afield, I have
stayed at at least three of the campgrounds at Huntington
Lake, which is in the Sierras above Fresno.
If you have a group and would be reserving more than one
campsite, it is worth looking at group sites. In the East
Bay Regional Parks district there a group camps at Tilden
Park, Coyote Hills, Redwood park, as well as Lake Chabot and
Del Valle (that's just off the top of my head; there may be
most ca state park camping is about $25/night. you can find
campgrounds with rate info on their website:
also, if you're up for a longer trip, oregon has fabulous
camping and a lot of it is free.
I love camping with my family, but very uncomfortable with the idea of
sharing the campsite with bears. Is there a place in Northern
California that does not have that problem, or where bear are kept
under control? I know, they don't hurt, must keep your food away,
etc... but still would rather not wake up in the middle of the night
with a gigantic bear sniffing my head (from the outside of the tent) as
it happened last time. So please don't tell me what to do in the event
it happens, or that camping is not for me. I was raised in the Italian
Alps and camping with my kids is what I love the most.
Try the Coast Camp site at Point Reyes National Seashore--a lovely 1-mile backpack
even doable for young kids and right on the sea--bear free and a beautiful spot. If
your kids are older and can do a more challenging longer backpack in, Wildcat Camp
at Point Reyes is stunning.
I've camped all over Northern California with nary a bear sighting (even in
Yosemite, though I've never camped in the Valley). I would suggest the Coastal
Mountain ranges -- there are apparently some bears in the northern stretch, but not
many. The campgrounds don't even have the secure bear lockers like Yosemite.
So -- Henry Cowell or Portola Redwoods near Santa Cruz, Salt Point in Sonoma
County, farther north to Mendocino or Humboldt Counties.
Or you could try the Eastern Sierras around Mammoth.
IMO bears are only a problem in campsites that are heavily frequented by humans.
More remote campsites are probably less likely to be visited, simply because there
aren't as many people throwing food scraps around there.
Just pick a campsite that is not even in bear territory--like anywhere along the
coast, Napa/Sonoma, or outlying Bay Area like Sunol Regional Park.
never been bothered by a bear
You'd have to research it to be sure I'm correct, but I would think camping along
the coast would solve this problem. I have camped in Santa Cruz and Morro Bay and
haven't worried about bears. California has a ton of coastal camping, as does
Bears Freak Me Out , Too
I am looking for a camp ground recommendation no farther than 1
to 2 hours from the East Bay. It will be the first time camping
with four kids ranging from 2 - 5 yrs old. So, any advice is
also welcome. We'd love to stay 2 nights and would like a camp
ground that offers car camping AND feels semi-private. Quiet,
starry nights. We also would love to be able to access some
points of interest either from the site or very nearby --
redwood trees, river, lake, trails, hot springs, etc... Thanks!
Our family loves camping at Henry Cowell Redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains.
The campsites are large and some are quite private (the ones on the outer
perimeter offer more privacy than the campsites in the middle). There are hiking
trails, redwoods, and a shallow river to splash and play in. You're also right
near the roaring camp railroad - taking the train to the beach at Santa Cruz is
fun for the kids. (Or it's a quick drive to the beach if you want a break from
the moutains). You also have good food options in the nearby town of Felton if
you don't feel like cooking every night that you're camping. We've had many fun
trips there over the years - it's a good family oriented campground and not too
long a drive.
Try Lake Del Valle in Livermore
Try Spring Lake in Santa Rosa. The camp sight is not too big and it is right up
against a lake that you can swim at. This was the first place we went camping
When my children were younger we camped many times at Cassini Family Ranch in
Duncans Mills. It is on the Russian River just a few miles from the ocean, and
there is Armstrong Redwood park nearby. It is mostly families and it is nice and
clean. Only some of the sites are somewhat private, but you reserve the site you
want ahead of time.
We live in Oakland and we had a great time with our son camping at San Mateo
County Memorial Park. It has redwoods and creeks, and it's very peaceful, located
just there on the peninsula a 2-hour drive away.
The other campers were very mellow and it was definitely NOT a
rowdy-drinking-loud music type of park.
The best thing about it is that its' first-come-first-served, so as a local you
have a real advantage of arriving nice and early and picking your favorite
camping spot. We'd definitely go back.
I've promised to take my 14-year-old son camping this summer, though it's something
our family hasn't done since before he was born. It will be the two of us and one
of his friends. I'd like suggestions for somewhere to go that will satisfy both of
us. He didn't like the campgrounds I suggested, because they were too big.
He'd like to feel like we're living in nature, and he's more into the experience of
sleeping in a tent and cooking outdoors than he's into the destination or the
scenery. I have some mobility limitations and can't backpack anymore, but a short
walk -- yards not miles -- from a parking space may work. We'd like to avoid
campgrounds that attract parties or other noisy groups (e.g. lots of slamming RV
doors or people up at the crack of dawn to go fishing) and places that would make us
feel unsafe. We can do without showers, but I prefer piped water. Northern or
Central California would be good, but we could drive a little further. We'd prefer
cooler rather than hot weather. And we'll need something that will be available for
3-5 nights sometime in mid-summer; weeknights are ok. Can anyone recommend specific
campgrounds or destinations? Thanks!
I would recommend that you take a look at the book ''Easy Camping
in Northern California: 100 Places Anyone Can Camp This Weekend''
by Tom Stienstra
It's an informative book, and I know you'll find what you are
looking for inside its pages.
My family has used this book for the past few years and the
author's recommendations are spot-on.
Good luck and have fun.
Big Sur would be a good option to camp. It has everything you
asked for, like scenic, location(you asked for central or northern
california), campground to put tents and cook outside.
It also has camping cabins in case you change your mind :) There
are many scenic trails to keep you busy at daytime. You have to
make reservations way ahead of your vacation time, because it is
Good on you! We LOVE to camp and hope our kids grow to share the
Close by, I recommend Butano and Big Basin State Parks - their
campsites have a good amount of space which can give you that good
We love the Desolation Wilderness area which has two campgrounds -
one at Fallen Leaf and one at Wright's Lake.
These are beautiful areas with lakes and rivers right in the
campground. Family friendly, no crazies.
Any of the national forest campgrounds around the Trinity Alps
area would be great too. Even peak summer you can find a spot to
drive in without reservations. Like most NF campgrounds, there
aren't showers but there are outhouses and piped water at most
I'm interested in the other responses you get!
Try Butano State Park. It's gorgeous and very ''back to nature''.
It's near Pescadero
in the redwoods at the coast. Cool and pretty quiet during the
week. It may
already be full for the summer but it's worth a try. No showers
we had a wonderful time there (plus you can drive down to the
ocean and play at the beach).
Yes, I have a suggestion! Try the Lost Coast, the area between Ft.
Bragg and Eureka. It's a good 5 hr drive from here, but it just
gorgeous. I stayed in the Nadelos campground, which is a very
short walk from Wailaki. Nadelos has 8 sites, Wailaki 13, but when
I was there, only 3 sites in all were taken. I was able to get a
rather secluded site all to myself + 2 dogs. There is a vault
toilet and potable water, but that's all for amenities (plus
picnic table & fire ring at each site).
There are other sites in the King Range as well, and it's cheap as
heck. From the campsites, you can hike up to the trail that gives
you a fantastic view. It is more cool than hot and the coastline
itself can get fogged in easily. I also drove down to Shelter
Cove, which was charming (but dangerous for swimming). On the way
back, saw a small group of people by the side of the road. It
turned out, they were watching 3 elegant elk in the field by the
road. An unforgettable trip.
Re: Rustic rental resort camp for 5 families
Big Basins Redwood State Park is only 2-3 hours away, but feels
nice and remote. Has nice campgrounds and also cabins (cabins are
minimalist, only contain cots, but useful if you don't have a
tent; eating and cooking is outside, like camping).
Don't want to drive to the Sierras
Big Basin in Santa Cruz. Poison oak, wooded, creek, drive to beach and
Bodega Dunes. Ocean beach, sand dunes.
Bothe in Napa. Poison oak, but we spent the time at the pool, so it was OK.
Butano State Park
A FAVORITE place of ours is Butano State Park, just south of Half Moon
Bay and very close to Pescadero. Redwoods and lovely trails. Very
good place for children and adults (and even our teenagers love this
place). Phipps Ranch is about a mile away -- has small animal farm
(pigs, ponies, bunnies, birds, rabbits, goats) to walk through as well
as strawberry and ollalieberry fields where you can "pick your own."
Small roadside market sells beans and fresh vegetables and local honey
China Camp in San Rafael. Marsh hikes, drive a little way to "private" bay
beach and the China Camp museum.
My husband and I took our niece and daughter to China Camp State Park in
Marin County to camp overnight a couple of years ago for a "dry run"
before we went to Yosemite. We all loved the place. Campers must walk in
which eliminates nearly all of the nuisances generally associated with
drive in campgrounds ie. RV's charging generators, loud radios, etc. The
facilities were top notch including flush toilets and hot showers that are
cleaned regularly. This was a plus for the girls who are pretty fussy
about those things. The campsites are spaced generously apart in oak
woods. We swam one day in the bay at the China Camp Beach where there are
historic buildings and displays about the Chinese Americans who settled
there and commercially fished the bay for shrimp. If you are interested
in going to the beach, make sure to wear foot coverings because the
beach is made up of small stones (great skippers) and are tough on the feet.
We saw lots of animal life in the campground after sunset several deer, a
gray fox, a family of raccoons, and a skunk. You can make reservations
I am thinking of going camping in Death Valley this winter
(Jan/feb/March) with spouse and 3 year old son. Is this a good idea
or bad? If good, any ideas for campsite? Is Furnace creek good...if
so what site? What activities should we think of doing? Hiking or
Thanks for your help!
Death Valley is our favorite desert and I have been there many
times. When our child was born we purposely stopped going,
because the desert experience is about the beauty of silence and
that doesn't mesh with young kids. Although we love to go camping
several times per year, we were not about to do that with our
routine-dependent toddler, chancing her to keep an entire
campground awake and us stressed out and embarrassed. So we took
her camping since she was 5. Perfect age and we had great camping
experiences with her and she developed her own deep connection
with nature. At the age of 9 1/2 we thought she had desert
maturity and we took her to Death Valley. What a great time we
had as a family and as individuals. It was so worth the wait and
we created some beautiful memories there!
Let me answer your questions: The nights are very cold in the
winter. I have seen countless campers over the years, hanging out
in the diner for pure warmth and light after 5pm. I would
certainly not go camping there with a toddler before March. Check
if they get any snowfall in March. April is better for camping,
but too hot in the daytime and because of that you may also
encounter scorpios and rattlesnakes looking to cool down & hide
in your tent or motel room (told by motel staff who lives there
year-round). We prefer to go in December and we usually check
into the Stovepipe Motel. Once we splurged and paid for Furnace
Creek and it was great too. After playing all day in the desert,
I want to be able to clean up and feel comfy at night. Just adds
to a better experience. If you have the easy type of kid that
goes along with everything you do, count your blessings. If you
have a kid with distinct preferences, for the three year old I
suggest visiting the sand dunes, Scotty's Castle and walking into artist palette right before sunset to
admire colorful rocks. Zabriskie Point is stunning and even nicer
to hike down into, but I don't find that suitable for the
comprehension and condition of a three year old. He will probably
be more interested in walking on the barrier than enjoying the
view. Death Valley has great hikes and sites for adults or
emerging adults from Mosaic Canyon, Ubehebe Crater, Natural
Bridges and more. You could take your toddler to Salt Creek and
Bad Water and the Nature Center, but many things will be lost on
him. He'll be happier playing with his hot wheels and you could
be having the time of your life in this desert without him if you
had a relative at home with your son for 3 days. That's my honest
take on the situation - but it totally depends on what your
expectations are for a trip like that. I love camping in many
places, but in Death Valley I want a motel.
Ever since reading about them in a novel, I've wanted to go to
the Grand Tetons. I'd like to camp there Summer 2006, maybe for a
week. Has anyone done this? Do you have campgrounds to recommend?
Other things to know? How much bearproofing do you need to do
when you're in a campground? My son is 5 and we love to hike and
paddle in our inflatable canoe (Tahiti K). Also, I'd like to do
this as cheaply as possible. Thanks!
We took our 17 month old to Grand Teton NP last July and it was
great. We camped at Jenny Lake campground which is really nice
and pretty centrally located. According to books we read, it's
hard to get a site there but we cruised in on a Tues/Wed?
mid-morning and found what we later realized was one of the ''best
sites'' in the place, though many were great. It's near a boat
launch which crosses Jenny Lake so many hikers stay around there
before taking off for overnites. Oh, it's tent only which is
much nicer if you are in a tent. Sunrise at the lake was
magical. Take the boat across the lake and hike Cascade
Canyon-one of our favorite spots on a month long trip through the
As for bears, they have bear lockers in each site AND they let
you keep food locked in your car. We were surprised when they
told us we could keep it in our car (we're used to the Sierras
where that's a no-no) but I guess it works for them.
Have a GREAT time (you will).
Olema Family Campground
My children and I have spent many a weekend at the Olema Family
Campground and have really enjoyed it. It isn't a beautiful, scenic,
out of the way place, but it is right next to Pt. Reyes which is.
There are hot showers, a playground, small store, and nightly campfire
entertainment (stories and singing) right there. A laundromat,
another store and deli as well as a great restaurant are all within
short walking distance.
They can be reached at (415) 663-8001. They have a web
site at www.campgrounds.com/olemaranch.
I'll be heading to Olympic National Park w/my husband and twin
3.5 year olds. Our plan is to tent-camp 4 nights. I've never
been there and would like to get an idea of a good place to stay
and things to do (short - 1 hour long hikes). I'm intrigued
with the rainforest area, but would love to hear any
recommendations about all of the park
There are good car camping sites in the Hoh Rainforest and at Kalaloch.
Both areas have short hikes. The Hoh has a great junior ranger
program. Kalaloch is on the beach. We have spent time there every
spring since my daughter was about 2 years old; we both love the area
very much. Have a great trip!
We'd like to go camping around the Pinnacles in the fall.
1)How's the weather there in Sept.?
2) I've heard the West entrance is more kid-friendly and you can
see more without hiking long distances. Do you agree?
3) There's no camping within the parks, but a few campgrounds
not far from the park. Any advice re: which campgrounds are
nice? We're looking for somewhere quite, with firepits, ideally
with toilets/showers, kid-friendly.
4) How long is the drive, from your experience?
www.pinncamp.com is your campground. Their website will tell you
which campsites have morning or afternoon shade and you can see
on the map how far they are from the showers (pay showers, near
the pool) and camp store. PinnCamp does allow dogs, but dogs
aren't allowed on Pinnacles trails though so leave your pooch at
home. Pinncamp limits your campfires to charcoal and duraflame
logs during the fire season to cut down on the chance of a wild
fire, so plan your meals and evening time with that in mind.
Most sites have a firepit and picnic table but not necessarily a
BBQ grill. The sites are mowed weeds, this is NOT a KOA. The
creek does not flow, so don't pick you site thinking the kids can
play in it. There are wild boars, racoons, deer, quail and
hares. The boars are only out at night, I've never had a problem
with them but roll up your car windows or you'll have a raccoon
inside. As to hiking in the park itself, I see lots of young
kids up at the reservoir (no wading or swimming allowed) and
that's a decent hike. It can be hot in Sept, plan to take shady
breaks and bring full water bottles. There's plenty of Poison
Oak so teach your kids how to identify.
a rock climber at Pinnacles
Pomo Canyon Environmental Camp
Another camping suggestion (almost car-camping):
We camped at the Pomo Canyon Environmental Camp (part of the California
State Park system), near the coast and the Russian River, a few weekends
ago. There weren't a lot of kids around, but our 3-year old daughter loved
it (and so did we!) It's a walk-in campground, which we consider the best
of both worlds--almost as convenient as car camping, but much nicer because
there are no vehicles in the camping area. (Though you need to pack
slightly efficiently if you don't want to walk back and forth a million
times to bring in your stuff.) Many, but not all, of the sites are quite
The drive was a little over 2 hours. (To get there, you turn off of route 1
onto Willow Creek Road, which is just before the Russian River. It's about
3 miles down the road to get to the Pomo Canyon camp.)
Here's the (true) description (found at
"Pomo Canyon Environmental Camp - $10 per night, $5 day use. 20 campsites
with fire rings, picnic tables, pit toilets and running water
nearby. Campsites are within 1/4 mile from the parking lot, one is disabled
accessible. Camps are set in a beautiful redwood grove among the
ferns. A three mile trail to Shell Beach takes off from the campground,
crossing seasonal streams and rising up into the grassland with marvelous
views of the river and finally the ocean. To protect the wildlife, no dogs
are allowed. This campground is not on the reservation system."
We went up early on Friday, arriving at the campground around 3 pm. Of 21
sites, there were only 4 left at that point. Everything was gone by 4 pm.
The hike to Shell Beach was also wonderful, but make sure to bring lots of
water, and be sure you (and any kids that are walking) know how to identify
poison oak. (None of us got poison oak but we definitely had to be aware of
where we were walking and what we were touching for large portions of the
hike; there was no poison oak in the camp area.)
Van Damm State Park
we went to Van Damm State Park which is near mendocino. It was a really
nice camp ground and with lots of hiking. It's also just across the
street from the beach. We took our son who had just turned 8.
More places to camp with kids
Two places I like to camp with kids. Its car camping
Del Valle in Livermore
Caswell Memorial state Park in Ripon, CA (1.5 hours from Oakland, right
outside of Tracy). Swimming in Stanislaus River, great camping sites, hot
showers, just really nice and shady..
Places to camp with children and dogs
Is there anywhere around here--within a few hours, say--where I
can take my dog camping and actually go on trails? There are
some places dogs are allowed in campgrounds, but not on trails,
which doesn't do me any good. I went to www.dogfriendly.com but
it wasn't helpful. Anyone?
Most places along the coast are picky about dogs. We head
inland with ours. Most of the Sierra's are dog-friendly. Lake
Tahoe is a good one, or any of the national forests. Our
favorite areas are along RT 108 in the Sierras (Sonora Pass).
LOTS of camping and hiking and it's all dog friendly. If you
like car camping, there's Pinecrest Lake. If you want
something more private there's lots of that too. Google
Sonora Pass camping. OH - and it's not foggy there.
This may be pushing the ''few hours'' mark, as it'll take 4
or so depending on which trailhead you choose, but Mendocino
National Forest is my favorite place to camp with the pup. I
can't wait until my son is old enough to head back up there.
This is not to be confused with Mendocino - it's inland, not
too far from Ukiah. You'll need to visit a ranger station to
get a campfire permit. You can actually camp in a large
campground near one of the ranger stations the first night
and then hike out from a trailhead in the morning, as one
option. The area we frequent is more pleasant in the spring,
but it's a huge park so I'm sure that varies. You can get a
detailed trail map at REI. Wherever you end up, please enjoy
it a little extra for me!
Jealous (and my dog is too)
check out www.bluelakesrental.com . 2 hours from here,
springfed lake, not pricey. hiway 20 is across the lake and
is a buzz, but we traded that for privacy, dogproof house and
hiking nearby, plus the fish are huge and there are a lot of
birds.- no power boats- not like the big lake at all.
I'm considering going on a long , 2-4 week camping trip with my 1 year old,
3 year old, and 2 dogs.
I'm looking for somthing within maybe 3 hours of the bay area. I'm trying
to avoid a typical campground
because I would like to be able to let my dogs run around. Any suggestions?
Have you seen the website for DogFriendly.com, which gives campgrounds,
all sorts of travel info.
If you want to car camp outside of a campground you can camp freely on
national forest land.
Try some of the dirt roads in the forests. Some need four wheel drive but
not usually. Some
places I have camped at are: the road to Levitt lake off the top of Sonora
pass ( highway 108
in the Sierras). It has a small river which comes out of the lake you can
camp along. The lake
is beautiful at 11,000 ft but to cold for swimming. Also the road to
Virginia Lake on the eastern
side of the Sierras off of hwy 395. Here we camped in the trees below the
lake along a meandering
stream and meadow. You can hike past the lake to the upper valleys and more
lakes. People fish in
Virginia lake but it's not much for swimming. Another closer place is near
Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus
National Forest. This is a beautiful setting but more crowded with great
swimming and fishing. There
are other reservoirs in the immediate area as well ( Union I think). All of
these are at least three hours
or more from Berkeley. They are all much better for dogs than a campground.
Get a Northern California
"DeLorme" (spelling?) map from REI. Look for small roads within national
forests land, near streams and
lakes, go explore. You will need fire permits. Keep it clean. I have also
looked for very short backpack
trips which I have taken my kids on and know some of those if you are
looking to get away from the crowds.
this page was last updated: Sep 13, 2012
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