For anyone looking for the best family campgrounds, the north of California has some great options that are worth exploring. Whether you want easy access to beaches, hiking trails, national parks, or just want somewhere to enjoy some quality family time that doesn’t break the bank, camping is a great option.
There are excellent options for RV camping, tent camping, and even cabins that are perfect for family vacations.
This article will look at some of the best camping spots in the north of California to help you get a better idea of cost, amenities, activities, and nearby attractions. Or maybe you’re looking for camping ideas across the whole of California? Check out our handy guide to the best family camping spots and campgrounds in California.
- Here Are 17 Of the Best Family Campgrounds in Northern California
- 1. Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park Campground
- 2. Donner Memorial State Park
- 3. Lake Alpine Campground
- 4. Anthony Chabot Regional Park Campground
- 5. Wrights Lake Campground
- 6. Bodega Dunes Sonoma Coast State Park
- 7. Pinecrest Campground
- 8. Big Basin Redwoods State Park Camping
- 9. D.L. Bliss State Park Campground, South Lake Tahoe
- 10. Casini Ranch Family Campground
- 11. Upper Pines Campground
- 12. Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina
- 13. Woodside & Gerstle Cove Campgrounds
- 14. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- 15. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
- 16. Silver Lake West Campground
- 17. Sequoia Group Campground
- Final Thoughts
Here Are 17 Of the Best Family Campgrounds in Northern California
1. Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park Campground
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Campground offers visitors 86 sites and great amenities.
Up to 8 people are permitted per site, as well as one vehicle and one towed trailer or vehicle. RVs up to 25ft are permitted, and trailers can reach 31ft. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash and attended at all times. The cost is just $35 per night or $7 for hike and bike visitors.
The campground provides fire grills, food storage lockers, picnic tables, flush toilets, tap water, and showers.
Activities include trails through the beautiful woodland and fishing, canoeing, rafting, and kayaking in the river.
2. Donner Memorial State Park
Under 100 miles from Sacramento, you will find the Donner Memorial State Park Campground, located on Donner Lake. The 154 campsites accommodate tents, RVs up to 28ft, and trailers up to 24ft.
The campground is open from late May through to early October, but this is dependent on the weather.
Up to eight people are permitted per site and a maximum of two vehicles, though there is a charge for the second.
For $35 per night, you will also have access to a picnic table, food locker, and fire ring. The campground also has flush toilets, showers, and tap water.
There is a nearby museum and hiking paths to enjoy and lake activities, including swimming and boating.
3. Lake Alpine Campground
Lake Alpine Campground has just 25 campsites with a maximum of 6 people per site. You are permitted one vehicle with your booking and a second at an additional fee, and the maximum vehicle length allowed is 40 feet.
Open from late May up to and including October, camping at Lake Alpine will cost $27 per night. You will get a picnic table and fire ring at your site, as well as having access to tap water and restrooms with flush toilets. Visitors can access showers at Lake Alpine Lodge.
Lake Alpine Campground is great for active family vacations with excellent hiking trails and lake activities that include boating, swimming, and fishing.
Biking routes are also popular, or you can take a short trip to Bear Valley for some great shops and restaurants.
4. Anthony Chabot Regional Park Campground
Anthony Chabot Regional Park Campground in Oakland has incredible bike and hiking routes that will take you through the grassland and along Lake Chabot.
The campground hosts 75 campsites with 12 full hook-up sites for RVs and many tent facilities.
You will find hot showers, restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, and the Ranger station on site.
Activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and on-site recreational programs. You will also be close to local golf facilities, and you can rent boats, paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks nearby.
5. Wrights Lake Campground
Located in Eldorado National Forest, Wrights Lake Campground has 67 campsites that cost $28 per night. The sites allow up to 6 people and one vehicle, although an extra vehicle is permitted at a charge of $7 per night. The maximum vehicle length at Wrights Lake Campground is 50 ft.
Campsites include a picnic table, fire ring, and bear-proof food storage. There are no shower facilities at Wrights Lake Campground, but there are piped water facilities and vault toilets.
The lake offers boating, swimming, and fishing, and you will also be able to explore local wilderness trails. There is an equestrian trail as well as a four-wheel jeep trail that thrill-seekers can enjoy.
6. Bodega Dunes Sonoma Coast State Park
The Bodega Dunes Campground in Sonoma Coast State Park is a year-round site with 99 campsites available.
Up to 8 people are permitted, and dogs must be kept on a leash at the campground. As many as three vehicles are allowed, but there are additional fees beyond the first vehicle. The maximum vehicle length at Bodega Dunes Campground is 31ft.
Sites cost $35 per night, and campsites include picnic tables, fire rings, and food lockers. Tapwater, flush toilets and hot showers are also available on site.
There are lots to see and do on the Sonoma Coast, including historic sites, sandy beaches with tide pools, and excellent hiking and equestrian trails.
Whale watching is popular at nearby Bodega Head, as is windsurfing and kiteboarding at Bodega Bay. The Russian River offers opportunities for fishing and kayaking, and there is a great golf course at Bodega Harbour.
7. Pinecrest Campground
Pinecrest Campground is one of northern California’s most popular campgrounds, thanks to its excellent location near Pinecrest Lake.
There are 196 campsites that allow up to 6 people and two vehicles at a maximum length of 40 ft at $36 per night. One vehicle is included in your booking, and there is a fee for an additional vehicle.
Campsites include a picnic table and fire ring, and campground amenities include flush toilets and tap water, but there are no hot showers.
During the summer, you will want to visit the amphitheater in the evenings for Ranger talks and movies, and during the day, there is lots more to see and do.
Visit Pinecrest Lake for swimming, fishing, and boating, or head out onto the nature trails to see the incredible scenery and wildlife.
8. Big Basin Redwoods State Park Camping
Big Basin Redwoods State Park Camping offers visitors several campgrounds to choose from, including Blooms Creek Campground near the center of the park, Huckleberry Campground along Semoervirens Creek, Sempervirens Campground near Sempervirens and Blooms Creek, Wastahi Walk-in Campground for tents, Sky Meadow Group Camos for campers, and Sequoia Group Campground.
With so much choice, visitors will be able to select the perfect campsite for their needs. Whichever you choose, you will be able to enjoy the park facilities. This includes a general store, gift shop, museum and the Park Headquarters, where you will find information and trail maps.
9. D.L. Bliss State Park Campground, South Lake Tahoe
Tahoe is popular among visitors and campers, and the D. L. Bliss State Park Campground, located on the west shore, is a great place to take in all t has to offer.
Opened from mid-May to October, there are 140 campsites that allow up to eight visitors and one vehicle ($10 per night for an additional car.) The maximum length of RVs allowed is 18 ft and 15 ft for trailers.
You will be able to choose from standard campsites at $35 per night or $45 for lakefront sites. There are also hike and bike options available at $7 per night.
Sites include a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker, and campground amenities include flush toilets, tap water, and coin-operated showers.
Visitors will be able to enjoy the sandy beach, paddle boarding and kayaking, trail hiking, bike riding, and fishing.
10. Casini Ranch Family Campground
The Casini Ranch Family Campground on the Russian River offers its guests picturesque views, great activities, and fantastic amenities.
You will find tent camping, full and partial RV hook-up sites, as well as cabins, cottages, and bunkhouses.
The large, sweeping, swimming beach located on a river bend has fishing and boating and a bonfire site. You will be able to rent equipment on the beach, and there is even WiFi access in some areas of the park.
There are fenced-in dog parks, a general store, sports areas for soccer, volleyball, and softball, playgrounds for kids, basketball courts, movie nights, hiking trails, and much more, all within walking distance for family fun for all ages.
11. Upper Pines Campground
Upper Pines Campground in the Yosemite Valley has 238 campsites and is open all year round as long as the weather allows it.
You can have two vehicles per site and up to 6 people. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times and can’t be left unattended. A maximum vehicle length of 35ft for RVs and 24ft for trailers are also in place.
For $36 per night, your site will also include a fire ring, picnic table, and bear-proof food storage locker. Camp amenities include flush toilets and tap water, and there are shower facilities in Housekeeping Camp and Curry Village nearby.
Visitors will love the wilderness and trails around the area, and the free shuttle bus service that takes you to all valley sites is a great addition.
Interested in Upper Pines Campground but not sure when to go? We created a handy guide that explores the best time to visit Yosemite National Park to help you plan your next trip.
12. Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina
By the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson Campground offers easy access to the lake and hiking trails and has unbeatable scenery.
Camp Richardson Campground charges $45 per night for tent sites and $60 for RV sites during the week, and $65 at weekends with water and electricity hook-ups. For full hook-ups, it is $65 and $70.
There isn’t a maximum vehicle length stated, but there is a limit of 6 people per site.
Tent sites include bear-proof food lockers, and all sites have a picnic table and fire ring. The camp also boasts flush toilets, tap water, and hot showers. There is also a snack bar, dining marina, ice cream parlor, coffee shop, and grill.
Visitors will have lots to do with beaches and tide pools, hiking and biking trails, boating, and paddleboarding.
13. Woodside & Gerstle Cove Campgrounds
Woodside & Gerstle Cove Campgrounds are located along the diverse Sonoma County Coast that sees rugged coastline, caves, coves, and beautiful beaches and tide pools.
Between the two campgrounds, there are 109 campsites that cost $35 per night. Up to 8 people can use the site, and the maximum length for RVs is 31ft; for trailers, it is 27ft.
There are no hot showers, but there are flush toilets and tap water, and each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring.
Horseback riding, trail hiking, and mountain biking are popular around this location, as is scuba diving.
14. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Just 5 miles north of Santa Cruz is the wonderful Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground. Set amongst oak trees and close to the ocean, this is a popular campground during the summer.
There is a reservation fee of $8, and it costs $35 per night for up to 8 people and two vehicles. Trailers can be as large as 31 ft, RVs can be a maximum length of 35 ft.
Campsites at this campground have a food locker, picnic table, and fire ring, and other camp amenities include flush toilets, tap water, and showers.
There are great hiking trails to explore nearby as well as summer programs, or you can travel to Santa Cruz Beach, which is a short drive away.
15. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
The dramatic waterfalls at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park are worth visiting for tourists. The site is also popular among hikers on their way along the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs for 2,650 miles.
There are 102 campsites available here, and the site is open all year round. Up to 8 guests are welcome per site, and vehicles can’t exceed 32 feet.
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park costs $35 per night, and camp amenities include showers, flush toilets, tap water, and a general store. Sites have a food locker, fire ring, and picnic table.
As well as the falls, there is a bike trail, hiking trails, and easy access to Lake Britton, where visitors can swim, fish, canoe, and boat.
16. Silver Lake West Campground
On the north shore of Silver Lake, you will find Silver Lake West Campground, which has 42 campsites that allow up to 6 people per site and one vehicle.
Silver Lake West Campground costs $30 per night, but there are discounts available for seniors, military personnel, and the disabled, where the cost is $25 per night.
No showers are available on-site, but there are vault toilets and piped water. Campsite benefits from storage boxes for bear-proof food lockers, fire rings and grills, and a picnic table.
There are lots to keep you busy at Silver Lake West Campground with boating and fishing at Silver Lake and Caples Lake. Mountain biking and other summer activities are available at Kirkwood, or you will be able to explore the local hiking trails.
17. Sequoia Group Campground
Open all year round, Sequoia Group Campground offers two campsites that can accommodate between 9 and 50 people and 18 vehicles.
Pets are not permitted at this site, and it will cost $335 per night with check-in from 2 pm and check out at noon.
Campground amenities include tap water, flush toilets, and showers, with picnic tables, a food locker, and a fire ring also located at the sites.
This is an excellent option for group traveling or multiple families that want to enjoy a vast section of the forest to themselves.
There are excellent hiking trails, a visitor center, a museum, and nature trails where you might see deer, woodpeckers, or quails if you are lucky.
There are programs including the Junior Rangers for kids from 7-12 and the Big Basin Nature Club for younger kids aged 3 to 6.
What is the difference between Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park?
Though they are classed as separate parks, they are administered together along the northern boundary of Sequoia National Park, which was established 50 years before Kings Canyon National Park in 1890.
Are dogs allowed at Lake Alpine?
Dogs are allowed at Lake Alpine Campground but must be kept on a leash and can’t be left unattended at any time.
Is it possible to swim at Casini Ranch?
There are plenty of great options for you to get in the water at Casini Ranch. You will be able to swim or rent a kayak from the campground.
Does Pinecrest Campground have WiFi service?
One of the best things about going camping is getting away from the TV and the internet. However, it is always good to check in on everything and even upload some vacation pictures.
You will find WiFi is available at Pinecrest during specified hours and is available close to the kiosk.
With all these options to consider, it is clear that for family camping, Northern California has plenty to offer. If you’re still unsure, check out our guide to the best family campgrounds in Southern California to help you make up your mind.
There is no avoiding the fact that family vacations can be expensive, especially if you are visiting California with kids. With so many world-famous attractions, you are bound to want to visit some of them.
That is why camping vacations can be the perfect solution. The money you save on accommodation will help make your vacation more affordable, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise.
The campsites suggested above accommodate tents, RV camping, and trailers and offer a great range of amenities, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice creature comforts. They also offer unparalleled access to some of California’s natural beauty, including sweeping ocean vistas, camping on the doorstep of National Parks and State Parks like Prairie Creek State Park, and the awe-inspiring wilderness beyond. Are you new to camping or just want to brush up on your knowledge? Have a read through our top tips for your first family camping trip.
More about our TFVG Author
Caitlin is one of The Family Vacation Guide's long standing contributors. She enjoys taking vacation to busy, vibrant cities and has stretched her traveling legs out towards Europe in recent months, enjoying new experiences in Barcelona in Spain, and Nice in France.