Coastal California Campsites

by Helen Chen Marston 08/25/2019

When you think of northern California, what comes to mind may be the impressive Redwood Forests with the famous drive-through trees. California is also home to part of the Yosemite National Park system. You can find Napa Valley, famous for wineries and natural hot springs, just north of San Francisco. Travel inland and find Death Valley with the highest ambient air temperature recorded in the world. But along the coast, you can find many tent camping options that are family-friendly, pet-friendly and full of exciting activities. This coastline has a wide range of geological aspects to explore and discover. These three below are all along US 101 north of San Francisco.

Clam Beach

This camping site is 288 miles north of San Francisco, just about a five-hour drive. If you're coming from the Medford, Oregon area, you'll travel approximately three and a half hours or about 176 miles. This is a county-maintained park and is open year-round. You can enjoy the beach by taking your pooch for a quick run along the coast (dogs are allowed off-leash on the wave slope but need to be on leash on dry sand), build a beach fire to go along with clam digging or enjoy horseback riding against a Californian sunset. You will find fifteen sites with a first-come first-serve, three-night maximum stay policy and a $25 camping fee. And it's worth every penny!

Salt Point State Park

Head south, just over 200 miles, and you can find Salt Point State Park. This park is one of the first underwater preserves in California with a raw and rugged feel. Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire pit, drinking water and restroom facilities without showers. There are 30 ocean-side sites and 79 across the highway on the east. If you're over the age of 16 and have a fishing license, you'll be able to enjoy local fishing holes on a solitary venture or while relaxing with friends and family. There are also scuba and free-diving areas along with kayaking trails and tide pools. Non-aquatic trails are available for hikers and equestrians, as well. Reservations are highly recommended during the peak season, which falls between March and October.

Steep Ravine

Just under 80 miles south of Salt Point, within Mount Tamalpais State Park, you can camp at Steep Ravine. This is very close to the Bay area and open spots fill up fast, so make your reservations at least six months in advance. Once you get there, you'll experience the simple yet rustic sites. After you've settled in, take some time to take advantage of the beautiful hiking trails and experience the serene camp grounds. Depending on the time of year that you pitch your tent, you may even witness a whale or two migrating.

When traveling along the northern coastline of California, be sure to make a pit stop at any of these three campgrounds.

About the Author

Helen Chen Marston

Helen Marston has been a member of WSGVAR since March 2009. She graduated from Peking University and received her MBA from California State University, Los Angeles. After becoming a REALTOR®, she has earned a variety of NAR designations and certifications: CRS, GRI, SRES, CIPS, GREEN, MRP, SFR, etc. Working at Keller Williams Realty Arcadia, she leads as Associates Leadership Council while providing a Mentor role for new real estate licensees. Outside of her real estate business, Helen is an advocate for community service. She currently serves as Chair of the Planning Commission for the City of Temple City, General Chair of the 74th Temple City Camellia Festival, and is also actively involved with different organizations in the community and the local schools. Helen was honored as Congresswoman Judy Chu’s "Woman of the Year” for Temple City in 2016 and was selected as one of the "Make A Difference” Honorees, awarded by the State Assembly Member, Ed Chau, in 2016.