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14 Top-Rated Campgrounds near San Francisco, CA

Written by Brad Lane
Updated May 26, 2022

Excellent campgrounds surround San Francisco, showcasing the Bay Area's beautiful seaside location. Few legal camping options exist within the city, except the coveted Rob Hill group campground in the Presidio, but the surrounding Bay Area is home to a diverse amount of camping experiences.

Campgrounds are in every direction from San Francisco. From walk-in sites in the Marin Headlands to family campgrounds in the East Bay, these spots are accessible with less than an hour's drive from the city, depending on traffic conditions. Other popular spots to camp near San Francisco include the Santa Cruz Mountains south of the city and several overnight options up and down the coast.

Camping agencies also vary between campgrounds, just like the scenery. City parks, regional parks, state parks, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area all have overnight options near the city. Accommodations and logistics like reservations vary between these campground operators. However, one common attribute between all campgrounds is the feeling of escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For more ideas on how to escape the city, see our list of the best campgrounds near San Francisco.

1. Kirby Cove Campground, Marin Headlands

Couple walking on the beach in front of the Kirby Cove Campground
Couple walking on the beach in front of the Kirby Cove Campground

This tucked-away campground is in the Marin Headlands at historic Battery Kirby, on the immediate north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a relatively hidden gem of a campground, unknown even by some locals of the city.

Kirby Cove is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and its five available sites are accessible from a service road leading straight down from the north side of the bridge. This proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge leads to an unbeatable view spanning the bay, with the bridge prominently in focus.

The five sites at Kirby Cove can be reserved ahead of time, which is necessary throughout the weekends between March and November. Each site accommodates up to 10 people, and each group needs to pack in their own water and supplies. It's a short walk from the parking area to the campsites, and three cars are allowed per campsite.

An additional day-use picnic area at Kirby Cove can host up to 35 people and must be reserved ahead of time.

To the west of Battery Kirby and Kirby Cove Campground, closer to the Point Bonita Lighthouse, the Bicentennial Campground offers three additional sites with similar accommodations. Both Kirby Cove and Bicentennial Campground facilitate only tent camping.

Address: 948 Fort Barry, Sausalito, California

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/kirby.htm

2. Haypress Campground, Tennessee Valley

Tennesee Valley near the Haypress Campground
Tennesee Valley near the Haypress Campground | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

North of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands, the Haypress Campground has five hike-in campsites within the verdant Tennessee Valley.

It's a relatively flat, three-quarters-of-a-mile hike from the Tennessee Valley parking area to reach the Haypress Campground. Each campsite accommodates four tents, and a single group can reserve the entire campground. A vault toilet is available at the campground, but every overnight visitor needs to pack in their own water.

For a heartier hike-in campground in the Tennessee Valley, the Hawk Campground is also accessible from the parking area with a three-mile hike. The Hawk Campground has three sites with similar accommodations. Both Haypress Campground and Hawk Campground are free to use and must be reserved ahead of time.

Address: Marin Headlands, Sausalito, California

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/camping.htm

3. Back Ranch Meadows Campground, China Camp State Park

China Camp Village
China Camp Village | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

China Camp State Park is on the Marin County coastline adjacent to the city of San Rafael. It entices beachgoers, history buffs, and overnight campers. Indigenous cultures of the region first settled here and this coastal site later became a major Chinese fishing village following the California Gold Rush. Visitors today can see remnants of this once-bustling era at the historic China Camp Village within park boundaries.

The Back Ranch Meadows Campground at China Camp State Park features 33 developed sites that visitors must walk up to 300 yards to access. Wheelbarrows are available to haul gear from the parking area to the campsites. Potable water and flushing toilets are available at the campground.

Hiking is a popular activity at the state park, and campers can reach the China Camp Village and China Camp Beach with a six-mile hike on the Shoreline Trail from the campground. The park's roads also tend to be a popular thoroughfare for bicyclists enjoying the shoreline views.

Address: 100 China Camp Village Road, San Rafael, California

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=466

4. Francis Beach Campground, Half Moon Bay State Beach

Camping on the coastal bluffs of Francis Beach Campground
Camping on the coastal bluffs of Francis Beach Campground

Half Moon Bay State Beach is 45 minutes south of San Francisco on Highway 1, and it offers a good reminder of why it's nice to live near the Pacific Ocean. The coastal atmosphere at this state beach spreads out over five white, sandy beaches with calm surf and the feeling of a tropical getaway.

On the south end of the state beach, the Francis Beach Campground features 52 campsites just steps away from the shore. Many of the sites support RV and motorhome parking, though no hookups are available. Three grassy sites closest to the ocean are reserved for tents. Potable water, flushing toilets, and coin-operated showers are available for all overnight guests.

Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail
Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The city of Half Moon Bay has many seaside attractions to check out from the campground, including the big wave surfing at Mavericks located four miles north on the coast.

Address: Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, California

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=531

5. Juniper Campground, Mount Diablo State Park Campground

Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Diablo State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The summit of Mount Diablo is home to one of the best hikes near San Francisco and features a view that stretches for hundreds of miles across the East Bay. And the Juniper Campground, near the Summit Visitor Center, has 32 campsites that make it easier to enjoy the sunset from this stunning vantage point.

It's a long and winding drive up to Mount Diablo and the Juniper Campground, not recommended for large trucks and/or trailers. The route is also a certified favorite for Bay Area cyclists, and visitors should pay attention to the many signs denoting bike passing lanes.

Campsites can be reserved ahead of time at Mount Diablo, and reservations are recommended on busy summer weekends. All overnight guests have access to flushing toilets, potable water, and coin-operated showers.

Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Diablo State Park

The other campground at Mount Diablo State Park, Live Oak Campground, features 22 additional sites with similar accommodations. Five group campsites are also available at Mount Diablo State Park with sites that can host up to 50 people.

The Summit Visitor Center is a good place to head for historical information about the park, as well as access to the one-mile Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail that leads to the 3,849-foot top of Mount Diablo.

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=517

6. Bootjack and Pantoll Campgrounds, Mount Tamalpais State Park

Flowers in Mount Tamalpais State Park
Flowers in Mount Tamalpais State Park

Encompassing over 6,000 acres in Marin County north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais State Park allows visitors to truly escape the city. The park is popular for its redwood grove hiking trails, like the Steep Ravine Trail, as well as Muir Woods National Monument within its borders.

Mount Tamalpais also offers two first-come, first-served campgrounds, each with 15 sites available. They both are on Panoramic Highway, less than six miles from Muir Woods. Overnight visitors must make a short walk from the parking area to either campground. Potable water and flushing toilets are available, and firewood is also available for purchase.

At the coastal end of the Steep Ravine Trail, the state park also offers eight rustic coastal cabins at the Steep Ravine Cabins and Environmental Campground. These cabins are located within vicinity to Stinson Beach and cater to a remote experience.

Address: 3801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley, California

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=471

7. Rob Hill Campground, San Francisco Presidio

Crissy Field, below the Rob Hill Campground
Crissy Field, below the Rob Hill Campground

Rob Hill Campground is one of the few campgrounds in the city of San Francisco. It's situated above Baker Beach and Crissy Field in a stunning location on the highest point in the Presidio on the city's northern tip. Only group camping is available at the campground.

Two large group sites at Rob Hill accommodate up to 30 people each, and both have separate picnic and barbecue areas. RVs and trailers are not permitted at the Rob Hill Campground. Reservations are highly competitive and required for spending the night.

Address: 1475 Central Magazine Road, San Francisco, California

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/prsf/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

8. Anthony Chabot Family Campground, Anthony Chabot Regional Park

Golden hills at Anthony Chabot Regional Park
Golden hills at Anthony Chabot Regional Park

Twenty miles from downtown Oakland in the East Bay, the family campground at Anthony Chabot Regional Park features 53 standard sites and 12 RV sites with full hookups. An additional 10 walk-in campsites are available exclusively for tents.

The popular Honker Bay Trail leads from the campground to Lake Chabot, which is frequently stocked for a great fishing opportunity. All overnight visitors to Anthony Chabot have access to flushing toilets, potable water, and hot showers.

Northwest of Anthony Chabot and connected by a hiking trail, Redwood Regional Park is also operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. With dense forests of giant trees, Redwood Regional Park features three different group sites to spend the night, available by reservation only. These group campgrounds, like the Fern Dell Group Campground, accommodate up to 50 people.

Farther east and outside of Fremont, Lake Del Valle Family Campground is also operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. Lake Del Valley Campground features 150 individual campsites that are just over an hour away from San Francisco.

Address: 9999 Redwood Road, Castro Valley, California

Official site: https://www.ebparks.org/parks/anthony_chabot/default.htm

9. Angel Island Environmental Campsites, Angel Island State Park

The Golden Gate Bridge seen from Angel Island
The Golden Gate Bridge seen from Angel Island

Angel Island State Park encompasses the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay and is only accessible by ferry or personal boat. The island is sparsely populated and has 13 miles of trails, making for a day hiker's dream. The routes include one up to Mount Liverpool, the highest point on the island.

Along the island's trail system, three environmental campgrounds allow campers to have the whole place to themselves throughout the night. The environmental campgrounds on Angel Island comprise three individual campsites, and campers need to hike in their own gear to each spot. Water and vault toilets are available at the campgrounds.

Angel Island State Park also features a small beach with an additional environmental campground reserved exclusively for those traveling by kayak.

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=468

10. Coast Camp, Point Reyes National Seashore

Tent pitched at Coast Camp, Point Reyes
Tent pitched at Coast Camp, Point Reyes

Point Reyes is the only designated national seashore on the West Coast. It encompasses a sprawling coastal peninsula approximately an hour drive north of San Francisco. No car camping or RV camping opportunities exist at Point Reyes National Seashore, but the park does offer four hike-in campgrounds.

Located 1.8 miles from the nearest trailhead, the Coast Camp at Point Reyes is popular for its vicinity to the beach and ocean. With 12 individual sites and two group sites available, Coast Camp provides a vault toilet and water faucet. Reservations are required to stay at any hike-in camp at Point Reyes.

Sky Campground, Point Reyes
Sky Campground, Point Reyes | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The other hike-in campgrounds at Point Reyes include Glen Camp, Sky Camp, and Wildcat Camp. Point Reyes also has a boat-in camp at Tomales Bay, where 20 permitted vessels can beach camp in designated areas.

Address: 1 Bear Valley Visitor Center Access Road, Point Reyes Station, California

11. Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Samuel P. Taylor State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, the hills of Marin County offer some of the fastest getaways from the city. Samuel P. Taylor State Park is one of many excellent campgrounds in the region. It's on the other side of Highway 1 from Point Reyes National Seashore and accessible from San Francisco with approximately a 30-mile drive.

The campground at Samuel P. Taylor has about 60 non-electric sites, catering to both tents and larger recreational vehicles. All overnight guests have access to potable water and flushing restroom facilities with coin-operated showers. Reservations are recommended throughout the summer season, particularly on the weekends.

Nature abounds at Samuel P. Taylor, and specifically, many of the campsites sit beneath towering redwood trees. The park's many hiking trails offer excellent views of these tall surroundings. The park is also a great jumping-off point for exploring the rest of Marin County, including the nearby Point Reyes.

12. Portola Redwoods Campground, Portola Redwoods State Park

Amphitheater in Portola Redwoods State Park
Amphitheater in Portola Redwoods State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Portola Redwoods State Park is south of San Francisco within the Santa Cruz Mountains. The park is accessible with approximately a 55-mile drive and turnoff from Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35). The final six miles into Portola steeply descend a curvy road leading into the park's secluded 2,800 acres.

In combination with the towering trees all around, the descent into the quiet forest makes for a true getaway from the city. This tranquility permeates the campground, with more than 50 family campsites available. These sites spread out near Peters Creek and offer basic amenities like picnic tables and fire rings.

All overnight guests also have access to potable water and flushing restrooms. Coin-operated showers are also available. Because of the winding entrance road and skinny sites, Portola is best suited for tent camping or small recreational vehicles like camper vans.

Address: 9000 Portola State Park Road, La Honda, California

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=539

13. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

For those in San Francisco wanting to camp in Sonoma County, head for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. This 4,000-plus-acre park is home to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek and is only 20 miles up the road from the city of Sonoma. This makes it a popular campground for tents and RVs looking to explore the region.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park has 49 sites available by advance reservation. The sites are along one large loop and spur near Sonoma Creek. Each site has matured trees and shrubbery at its borders, adding a nice sense of privacy. No electric hookups are available, but each overnight guest has access to flushing restrooms and coin-operated showers.

The state park is an excellent basecamp for adventure. The park itself has 21 miles of trails and other unique visitor amenities like the Robert Ferguson Observatory with public stargazing available. Also nearby is Jack London State Historic Park, home to the ranch of the famous author and his grave.

14. Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin Redwoods State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the oldest state park in California and is under a two-hour drive south of San Francisco. It's home to the largest grove of ancient redwood trees south of the Bay Area and has four different campgrounds, with 146 total campsites available.

Campsites at Big Basin accommodate both RVs and tent and also has group sites, tent cabins, and backcountry hike-in campsites spread throughout its massive forests.

Overnight visitors to the four developed campgrounds at Big Basin have access to flushing toilets, potable water, and coin-operated showers. Two of the campgrounds, Huckleberry Campground and Sequoia Campground, are open throughout the year.

Over 80 miles of hiking trails navigate throughout the park, including the Skyline to the Sea Trail, which spans from the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Editor's Note: The 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire tore through Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Much of the park is closed throughout 2022. Only small sections of the park's coastal region have reopened to the public. The state park maintains up-to-date information regarding the park's regrowth and rehabilitation.

Address: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, California

Official site: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=540

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imageMore to Explore in San Francisco: After spending the night at a great campground near the city, the best way to spend the day is exploring one of the best hiking trails near San Francisco. After getting your fill of San Francisco's natural wonders, in-city attractions like the Palace of Fine Arts and Golden Gate Park are just a few of the top-rated tourist attractions in San Francisco to check out in the city. For a great hotel after time spent camping, our guide to Where to Stay in San Francisco covers all types of travelers.

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