Want to dip your toe into the camping pool, but not sure where to head? Fear not! We got the inside scoop from Paulina Dao, a San Francisco based adventurer, on the top 5 best campsites in the Bay Area, based on proximity to the Bay, accessibility, facilities, and quality of trails in the area. All of these places are 1-2 hours drive from San Francisco, much closer than Yosemite, Lassen, or Tahoe, but with "wow" factor nonetheless! New to camping and needing gear? Last Minute Gear is the only shop where you can buy, rent, or borrow camping gear!
1. Portola Redwoods State Park
This park is the gem of the Bay Area. Seldom used and often overlooked in favor of the much larger Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Portola Redwoods is the place to go if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
Portola Redwoods has 53 campsites with running water, showers, and campfire rings. If you want to be more off the beaten path, the park also has one backcountry trail camp about 3.5 miles from headquarters.
2. Uvas Canyon County Park
Located right outside of Morgan Hill, this small county park is another Bay Area secret. The park is small but houses some of the Bay’s most accessible waterfalls.
Uvas Canyon County Park has 25 campsites with running water, showers, and campfire rings.
3. Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is one of the largest and most popular state parks in the Bay Area. It’s also California’s oldest state park. This area boasts some of the best redwood trees in the Bay Area and Berry Creek Falls, one of the most majestic falls. The Skyline to the Sea trail passes through the park, offering visitors a chance to hike from the redwoods to Waddell Beach.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park has 142 bookable campsites along with 5 backcountry trail camps.
4. Mt. Diablo Park
Mt. Diablo is one of the Bay Area’s tallest peaks. On a clear day, visitors can see 35 of California’s 58 counties. You can drive up to Mt. Diablo or take a hike up to summit.
The park has 56 campsites with showers and flush toilets.
5. Mt. Tamalpais State Park
The North Bay’s most popular state park is Mt. Tamalpais State Park, affectionately called Mt. Tam. The park has 60 miles worth of trails which lead into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including Muir Woods National Monument.
Mt. Tamalpais State Park has 15 first come, first served campsites. Running water and flush toilets are available, but there are no showers.