At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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If you’re a traveler who loves to explore the great outdoors, camping near San Francisco is an excellent option for your next adventure.

Camping in San Francisco is an incredible experience with a unique combination of natural beauty and urban amenities. With a wide range of camping options available, from primitive sites to fully-equipped campgrounds, there’s something for every type of traveler.

You can hike the rugged coastal trails, explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, or simply relax and soak up the stunning scenery. Camping near San Francisco is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the region’s culture and natural beauty.

So pack your tent, grab your backpack, and let’s set off on an unforgettable adventure in one of the most beautiful regions of the United States.

San Francisco Skyline, California

Is San Francisco A Good Place To Go Camping?

San Francisco itself is not necessarily the best place to go camping, as it is a densely populated city with limited camping options within the city limits. However, the surrounding areas offer some great camping opportunities.

Within a couple of hours’ drive from San Francisco, you can find several national and state parks, such as Yosemite National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Mount Tamalpais State Park, that offer camping facilities.

These parks provide a variety of camping experiences, from backcountry camping to spots for RV campers with full hookups.

Mount Tamalpais in California

8 Top Camping Spots Near San Francisco

From coastal trails to redwood forests, the San Francisco Bay Area offers a variety of camping spots. Whether you prefer backpacking or camping in your car, or full amenities, there’s a camping spot near San Francisco that’s sure to suit your style.

Here are some of the best off-the-beaten-path camping spots to consider.

Read before you go: Is San Francisco safe?

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Rob Hill Campground

Rob Hill Campground in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park offers a unique camping experience right in the heart of the city. It features four group sites that can accommodate up to 30 people each and one youth group site that accommodates up to 50 people.

Each site has picnic tables, fire pits, and easy access to restrooms and showers. The campground is situated on a hill and boasts incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city beyond it.

You can enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and stargazing. The campground is also located near several popular San Francisco attractions, such as the Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Reservations for Rob Hill Campground are required, and there is a fee to camp. Additionally, the campground is only open seasonally from April to October, so plan accordingly.

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Camping at night in a National Park

Pantoll Campground

Pantoll Campground is a stunning redwood forest campground located in Mount Tamalpais State Park, just north of San Francisco.

Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, and food storage lockers, as well as flushing toilets and hot showers. If you’re traveling with pets, they can camp here, too, as long as they are kept on a leash.

At $25 per night for a single campsite, Pantoll Campground is affordable and can accommodate up to eight people and two vehicles. You can reserve your campsite online or give them a call — don’t leave this to the last minute because spaces fill up fast.

The campground offers a variety of activities, such as hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. Trails like the Dipsea, Matt Davis, and Steep Ravine Trail offer fantastic views of the area. Muir Beach and Stinson Beach are nearby if you’re looking for more adventure.

Note: There is no potable water available, so campers will need to bring their own or filter water from a nearby stream. Also, there are no electricity or RV hookups, making it ideal for tent camping and backpacking.

Kirby Cove, California

Kirby Cove Campground

For a truly unique camping experience, consider Kirby Cove Campground, located on the Marin Headlands. The campground offers just four rural campsites, each with breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline.

The campsite amenities include picnic tables and fire rings, with flush toilets and drinking water available for campers to use. Campers can enjoy several activities, including hiking, beachcombing, and birdwatching, with nearby hiking trails.

Access to Kirby Cove is via a steep one-mile hike or a four-wheel drive shuttle, and it is important to note that the campground is not pet-friendly.

Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, with a cost of $25 per night. As with most of these sites, you need to reserve your spot to avoid disappointment.

Mt. Tamalpais in California

Steep Ravine Environmental Campground

Steep Ravine Environmental Campground is a popular camping destination located in Mount Tamalpais State Park, just a few miles north of San Francisco, California.

This picturesque campground offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and stunning hiking trails that lead to majestic vistas. Amenities include fire rings, picnic areas, food storage lockers, restrooms with flush toilets, and running water.

Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, including hiking, swimming, fishing, and exploring tide pools. The campground is also located near popular attractions like Muir Woods National Monument, Stinson Beach, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The cost of camping varies depending on the season and type of site. A standard tent site costs $35 per night, while a group site costs $100 per night. Reservations are required and can be made up to six months in advance through the California State Parks website.

NB: Steep Ravine Environmental Campground is an undeveloped campground with no showers or electricity, and larger RVs or trailers may have difficulty getting to the site.

China Camp State Park, California

China Camp State Park

China Camp State Park is a 1,500-acre park located in San Rafael, California, just north of San Francisco. It features stunning views of the San Francisco Bay area, hiking trails, a campground, and a historic Chinese fishing village.

The park’s campground offers amenities for tent campers and backpackers, including a 30-site campground with restrooms. Several group camping sites are also available.

There are many activities to enjoy at the park, such as hiking, biking, swimming, and picnicking.

History enthusiasts can visit the historic Chinese fishing village, established in the late 1800s, which features restored buildings. Dogs are allowed in the campground and on some of the trails.

It’s important to store food properly due to the presence of bears, and there is no potable water available at the campsites, so bring water or be prepared to filter water from the creek.

It’s recommended to make reservations well in advance, especially during peak season.

Camping Tents in Nature

Butano State Park

This hidden gem offers a peaceful and rejuvenating camping experience that’s perfect for those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Butano State Park offers a range of camping options that cater to everyone, from families to solo travelers. The secluded campsites are nestled among towering redwoods and lush ferns, providing a serene environment to relax and unwind.

Wake up to the sounds of nature, take in the fresh mountain air, and enjoy all the amenities that the park has to offer, including fire pits, picnic tables, hot showers, and potable water.

Butano State Park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing all within easy reach.

The park’s many hiking trails offer a chance to explore the stunning natural beauty of the area, with towering trees and rushing creeks providing a breathtaking backdrop. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, raccoons, and a variety of bird species, all of which call this park home.

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Camping fees start at just $35 per night, making Butano State Park an affordable destination for those seeking a peaceful and rejuvenating getaway.

Point Reyes, California

Point Reyes National Seashore

This stunning wilderness area offers a range of camping options, from car camping to backcountry camping, that allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of the California coast up close.

The campgrounds are nestled among towering redwoods and lush foliage, providing a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, and potable water, and some campsites even come with a fire pit.

The park features over 150 miles of hiking trails, including the famous Point Reyes Lighthouse Trail and the Tomales Point Trail, which offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding hills.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy activities like kayaking, birdwatching, and stargazing.

Wildlife lovers will enjoy the chance to see elk, deer, foxes, and a variety of birds, while ocean enthusiasts can take in the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean or explore the tide pools along the shore.

Fees for tent sites start at $20 per night.

Half Moon Bay, California

Francis Beach Campground (Half Moon Bay State Beach)

With over 50 campsites, Francis Beach Campground caters to everyone from seasoned campers to first-timers.

Amenities include fire pits, picnic tables, hot showers, restrooms, and potable water. Additionally, this pet-friendly campground offers easy access to hiking and biking paths, fishing spots, and water sports.

Whether you’re needing a relaxing weekend getaway or an action-packed adventure, Francis Beach Campground has something for everyone.

Spend your days exploring the tide pools, hiking along the bluffs, or taking in the stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean. If you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a kayak, go surfing, or take a horseback ride along the beach.

Rates for tent camping start at just $35 per night, making this campground an affordable option for budget-conscious travelers.

Camping near the Golden Gate Bridge

Camping Near The Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco boasts a diverse range of camping sites for different interests and preferences. Whether you prefer the rugged outdoors or a more luxurious camping experience, San Francisco has something to offer.

From the scenic Marin Headlands to the charming Half Moon Bay, the city’s surroundings have numerous options for camping enthusiasts.

But keep in mind that camping in San Francisco requires careful planning, especially during peak seasons. With the right preparations, camping in San Francisco is a great way to get outside and explore some of the more natural beauties surrounding the city.

Camping Near San Francisco - 8 Off the Beaten Path Spots for Outdoor Enthusiasts
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