8 Must-Visit Campsites in Northern California

From Humboldt County to the Salton Sea, California is a state full of beauty. Some areas that often get overshadowed, however, are those in Northern California. Like the rest of the state, these areas contain much divergent splendor—especially that of the outdoors variety.

There are many unique and enthralling sights to see in the northern part of the Golden State, and a camping trip in this region is an experience everyone should enjoy at least once.

Here’s a list of some of the best campsites in Northern California:

1. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. The striking beauty of this volcanic activity is exciting to watch, and the curious visitor can see all four types of volcanoes (cinder cone, shield, composite and lava dome) in the national park.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

2. Lava Beds National Monument

Similar to Lassen Volcanic, this area has been forged by the violent eruptions of this planet’s past. More unique to this monument, however, are the ample lava tubes and caves (over 700) winding and spreading beneath the earth’s surface. You could spend countless curious hours wandering these clandestine caverns with nothing but a head torch and a keen sense of adventure.

This area is also replete with cultural history, including the former happenings of Native Americans, homesteaders, ranchers and cave explorers. There’s one campground in the park, but there are also options in the nearby areas of Juanita Lake and Little Mt. Hoffman Lookout.

Lava Beds National Monument

3. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

If you enjoy the sight of cascading waterfalls, you won’t want to miss this state park. Located just off of Interstate 5 on Highway 89, this park offers a great place to rest for the evening while enjoying the serene ambiance of the encompassing forest. You can camp within the park and make reservations up to seven months in advance.

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

4. Redwood National and State Parks

This group of parks contains the tallest trees on the planet, and also offers prairies, river ways and a coastline often associated with that of Oregon. There are several camping options available, but you may want to consider staying at a state or national park to support the park systems. Of the many places to visit in this area, starting with Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park is always a great option.

Redwood National and State Parks

5. Sonoma Coast State Park

Similar to Big Sur, this park has beaches, natural arches and secluded coves. It’s a great place to escape the inland heat to relax and sunbathe, try your luck at fishing, or to simply watch the summer fog roll in and out of the craggy coast. There’s one campground here and reservations can be made seven months in advance.

Sonoma Coast State Park

6. Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

With just one look at this lake, you’ll quickly understand why it has attracted the level of fame that it has. Unfortunately, this level of fame also comes with a significant amount of visitors, and weekends can become so busy that the place starts to lose its charm. Luckily, the lake is huge, and once you become familiar with the area, you can avoid the crowds. The Hope Valley Campground in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the Fallen Leaf Campground on the south side of the lake are great options.

Lake Tahoe Campgrounds

7. Chico Campgrounds

This location is a city center, but it’s an exciting region to camp near. Over the years, Chico has developed with outdoor adventure at the heart of its societal integrity. This can be observed when visiting Bidwell Park, strolling the downtown area or taking a tour of the Sierra Nevada Brewery.

Fun camping options in the area include Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area (great for fishing), Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area (great for bird watching) and Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (featuring “floating campsites”).

Chico Campgrounds

8. Mount Shasta Campgrounds

Once Mount Shasta comes into sight, you simply can’t divert your eyes. It’s the fifth highest peak in California at 14,179 feet. The area is exceptional for backcountry skiing, mountain climbing and hiking. At the base of the mountain is the quaint town of Mount Shasta, and this is surrounded by various national forests. Some great places to camp in this region are the Camp 4 Group Campground (which includes 3 waterfalls), Castle Crags State Park (which has stunning views and ample outdoor activities) and Girard Ridge Lookout.