A Guide To The Best Campgrounds For Your Northern California Teardrop Camping Adventure
As avid campers, we are always on the look out for those ‘unicorn’ campsites. You know the ones… breathtaking views, seclusion, convenience, and full hookups. Northern California has an overwhelming ABUNDANCE of camping options, whether you want to be in the mountains, at the beach or somewhere in between. Look no further, we have collected a list of our favorite campgrounds within a few hours of Sierra Teardrops‘ headquarters in Auburn, Ca. They are loosely categorized by type. Here are our suggestions for campgrounds!
Santa Cruz Redwoods– Has full hookups, including sewer. They have clean bathrooms, hot showers, well kept facilities and a great management team. It’s very family friendly with lots to do in the area. You can walk down to the San Lorenzo river, go for a hike, or trek into the quaint town of Felton. They have an all you can eat Pancake Breakfast in their Clubhouse on weekends. The Historic Roaring Camp Railroad is just across the river, and can take you to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is about a 20 minute drive away.
Meeks Bay at Lake Tahoe – Open May through October. There are two sides to this resort. One side has full hookups and pets are not permitted. The other side has no hookups, and pets are permitted. When we stayed here
brought our labradoodle Zoey and ‘accidentally’ dry camped as a result! We brought our paddle boards and enjoyed the Lake Tahoe bay with the crystal clear water. Within a short drive are some great lakefront dining and shopping.
NAPA VALLEY & WINE TASTING
Napa Valley is about 2 hours away from our facility. If you like wine tasting, golf, shopping, spas, and amazing culinary experiences, this is a great romantic destination. Bring your bikes, or unhitch & ditch the trailer for the day to go exploring. We go here every year for the annual Napa Valley Film Festival in November.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park – Located in the heart of the beautiful Napa Valley wine country, Bothe offers camping, picnicking, swimming, and
trails that go through stands of coastal redwoods as well as forests of Douglas-fir, tanoak, and madrone. There are no hookups here, so be prepared with fresh water and consider a generator.
Calistoga RV Park – This is truly just a parking lot with hookups and clean restrooms next to the fairgrounds. Do not expect ambiance here. The major upsides to this park are the convenient location and affordability. You can walk to charming downtown Calistoga, and enjoy all that there is to offer there including great dining, hot springs and spas. If you have your heart set on staying in Napa Valley, and if you can’t get into Bothe, Calistoga RV Park is a good enough alternative, and substantially more affordable than any hotels in the area.
There are several beach resorts within a 2-3 hours drive. Ocean front beach resorts seem to have some compromises in seclusion or hookups, but there is nothing like dozing off to the sound of crashing waves. Coastal communities always have a special charm about them too.
Costanoa – This KOA coastal resort in Pescadero is where you go if you to camp without actually camping. They have a spa, a restaurant serving California coastal cuisine, and full activity and events calendars from guided naturalist hikes, horseback riding, kayaking, art exhibits, and mountain biking. Their ‘comfort stations’ even have saunas! It is about a 1-mile walk to the beach. The most visible landmark is Pigeon Point Lighthouse, just three miles north. Of course their RV sites have full hookups, including sewer. Dogs are allowed at their RV sites.
- Bodega Dunes – While staying at this resort, one of our guests bought some fresh oysters, and was cooking them in the clamshell kitchen of Sofitel (Get it? Oysters, clamshell? HA!). The other resort campers came by with their lawn chairs and cocktails, and watched a movie with them outside. Very fun! This resort has 99 campsites available with hot showers, flush toilets, and a trailer sanitation dump station. No hookups, so bring water and a consider a generator. Leashed dogs are welcome at the campground, but not on the beach.
- Casini Ranch – While Casini is not technically in Bodega Bay, it’s only about 15 minute drive away along the Russian River. What sets Casini Ranch apart from other RV and Camping destinations is the “out in the country” experience. The best campsites are river front, and have full hookups. This resort is dog-friendly and has a solid wifi.
- Doran Regional Park – Doran Park has a 2-mile stretch of sandy beach and is a popular place for visitors to picnic, build sand castles, fly kites, surf, fish and stroll. A rock jetty at the harbor mouth provides access for fishing, crabbing and exploring sea life. Campgrounds at Doran and Westside regional parks in Bodega Bay offer sites steps from the beach and boat launches on Bodega Harbor. Dogs are welcome on a leash. There are 132 sites with showers, flushing toilets and dump facilities. No hookups, so plan ahead and bring water and a power source.
Olema – This family and dog friendly resort is located next to the Point Reyes National Seashore, just north of San Francisco, Olema is an ideal place to enjoy different outdoor activities like bird watching, hiking, kayaking or just relaxing on the beach. 187 campsites equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. They offer laundry facilities, as well as bathrooms and hot showers. Hookups are available at some sites. This is another favorite destination for local T@B Rallies!
Big Sur – This is a bit further away from us at about a 4 hour drive. However, at Big Sur you get the unique combination of forested campgrounds right on the coast.
- Kirk Creek – The campground is located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, at an elevation of about 100 feet. It offers fantastic views of the
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park – Over 1,000 acres of redwood, oak, chaparral, and meadow areas. Hikers can enjoy 8 miles of hiking trails within the park and over 200 miles of trails in the Ventana Wilderness (USFS) which borders the park. Overlooks provide views of the Big Sur Valley and the Big Sur River Gorge. Hookups are available at many of their sites. There is no coastal access from this park, but at the nearby
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park you get to see a waterfall dropping 80 feet over a cliff and into the Pacific Ocean. The coastal trails at this park are some of the best in the state and provide dramatic coastal views.
Turtle Rock RV Resort – For our guests who are considering a drive along the Oregon coast, this resort is a great stop along that route. This Good Sam Club resort is in Oregon roughly 8 hours from our facility, very close to the California border in Gold Beach. We stayed in a river front spot with a view of the ocean, and walked along the shore in the morning. They offer full hookups, clean bathrooms, and a friendly staff. Their Wifi is great and pets are welcome.
Yosemite has 10 campgrounds that can accommodate RVs and trailers. Electrical, water, and sewer hookups are not available in Yosemite, although dump stations (with fresh water) are available at Upper Pines Campground (all year), near Wawona Campground (summer only), and near Tuolumne Meadows Campground (summer only). Generator use is allowed, but only between 7 am and 9 am, noon and 2 pm, and 5 pm to 7 pm. Generator use is not allowed at other times. You can see a list if all of the Yosemite campgrounds that accommodate RVs along with their opening and closing dates here. Campgrounds requiring reservations are usually full from around April through September. You should make a reservation as early as possible.
Admittedly, we don’t fish, so we have to take recommendations from those who do. The following lakes are about an hour or two from our facility. Many of our local residents visit these lakes and enjoy them a lot.
Jackson Meadows Reservoir – Anglers will find rainbow and brown trout at Jackson Meadows Reservoir. The best bites occur in the early morning for rainbow and brown trout beginning in June. 10,000 rainbow trout in the 10 to 12 inch class, and 15,000 brown trout are planted per year, until the lake’s water level begins to drop. Other species of fish taken at Jackson Meadow Reservoir include German, and brook trout, and brown bullhead. The reservoir produces good numbers of rainbows for trollers and bank fishers.
Rollins Lake – During peak summer days the lake can be busy with recreational boaters, but early morning or late afternoon anglers find still in which to fish for brown and rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, and bluegill. Quiet waters can be found all day long in the coves where the speed limit is 5 MPH.
Collins Lake – More than 50,000 trout are planted every spring, which means Collins Lake has the largest private planting program North of Sacramento. Thousands of these trout are trophy sized, planted at 3 to 8 pounds and growing even larger. They have also built habitat areas for bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish them to keep them plentiful and to keep Collins Lake among the best fishing lakes in the Northstate.
- Snowflower Resort, at Collins Lake – Visit Snowflower in the winter, and have an amazing, snowy getaway. Visit Snowflower in the summer, and experience outdoor adventure at its finest. Their beautiful, wooded campground offers some of the best outdoor recreation in California, no matter the season. This family-friendly resort boasts a ton of amenities, including a clubhouse with a game room, store and library, swimming pool, wifi, lots of hiking and nature trails, restroom/shower/laundry facilities. Pets are welcome, and waterfront sites are available.
Rancho Seco – Campsites are open April through October. Rancho Seco’s 160-acre lake now hosts both migratory birds and weekend anglers, but was developed to support a nuclear generating facility built in the ’70s. The closed plant’s empty towers remain. Of the 18 RV sites, each has a barbecue, fire pit, picnic table, drinking water and electrical outlets. This fresh-water lake is home to bass, bluegill, red ear sunfish, crappie and catfish, and is additionally stocked with rainbow trout January through March.
Do you have a favorite Northern California campground to recommend? Leave us a comment and we will be sure to check it out on a teardrop trip soon! Happy Camping!