Camping in state requires planning
The Sportsmanís Report
Bookmark and Share
By Bill Hanson   April 26, 2013 12:00 am

Camping in California requires some planning, depending on where you want to visit. For that family vacation of a week or more, you can drive to some incredible sites. 

North of Fort Bragg is the Lost Coast area, open to hiking and backpack camping. The Coast Highway turns inland and heads north to the 101 and reconnects to the ocean at Ferndale, 20 minutes from Eureka. A little less than four hours from Rohnert Park stands Avenue of the Giants, as redwood forests abound. There are excellent camping areas, including privately run sites for RVs and trailers, and some allow tent camping. A word of caution on private campgrounds – some are third-world slums you don’t want to visit. Expect to pay $30 or more per night.

If you plan on taking in the north coast and want dry, warm weather, camp in the spring and fall. Summers bring fog to the north coast, often for weeks at a time. Following 101 North past Eureka, there is a state park, Patrick’s Point, which offers coast side camping at its best. Although it is a ways to get to the store, the camp offers some incredible vistas and clean, fresh ocean air. Driving time from home is approximately five hours.

One thing that worked for my kids on longer drives was to let them know up front how long the drive will be on the dash clock. Give them an extra hour or less for your ETA to the campground. Once they have the concept down, the “are we there yet?” is answered by the clock. They will check it like a dog sniffs every bush on a walk. Like a good dog, they bound from the car and forget all about how accurate your ETA was.

If you search north to the Oregon border, you will find lots of camping to choose from and for the most part, it’s not too busy in the summer. The border is approximately an eight-hour drive from home, so plan accordingly.

If you want a warmer family camping experience, consider visiting the inland portion of the state west of I-5. One of my favorites is the Trinity, where lakeside camping is excellent. Nearby is the gold rush town of Weaverville. Wooden sidewalks, historical buildings and cool stores offer a respite from campground living. Those more interested in more remote camping should scour the Trinity Alps, Marble Mountain and Six Rivers National Forest. 

Annual morel camp

The San Francisco Mycological Society is planning its annual morel camp. This year there may be two events. Usually, there is a high Sierra trip, an excellent way to get to know this wonderful mushroom.  The outings are restricted to members, and the annual fee for a family is $20…not a huge investment. Go to for more details.


Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

Post Your Comments:
 *name appears on your post