With literally hundreds of rivers running through California, picking a great camping spot can be hard… but well, considering we like you so much we’ve given it a shot. This list covers a number of river camping spots from the luxurious “glamping” sites to the bare-basics there is sure to be a spot to suit your needs and budget!
1. Fraser Flat Campsite at Stanislaus River
Open from April through to November this beautiful campsite is located on the south fork of the Stanislaus River, an area known for its beauty. There are 25 sites offered on a first come first served basis, each with picnic tables and access to hiking and fishing spots. It’s worth noting that this campsite cannot be booked in advance and accepts cash only.
Fraser Flat Campsite
Address: 24695 CA-108, Mi-Wuk Village, CA 95346
Website: Fraser Flat Campsite
2. Auto Camp at Russian River
Just 90 minutes north of San Francisco is this luxury airstream camp ground in the heart of Sonoma’s Wine County. This camp is surrounded by awe-inspiring Redwood trees and offers canvas tents, suites and airstreams for those looking for a more glamous way to camp. There are excellent on site facilities including a clubhouse which is always stocked with local food and drink, a fire pit for late night fun and a connected adventure booking desk for the thrill seekers.
Address: 14120 Old Cazadero Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446
Website: Auto Camp
3. Salmon Creek Camp at North Yuba River
There’s lots to do whilst staying at Salmon Creek Camp, from the extensive network of over 30 miles (48 km) of walking trails to swimming, boating, fishing and even canoeing. The site only offers 5 tent spaces in total so be sure to arrive early to snatch the best view! There’s not much luxury here so be sure that you want a rough and ready style camping experience.
Salmon Creek Camp
Address: Calpine, CA 96124
Website: Salmon Creek Camp
4. American River Resort on the American River
This campsite offers an all encompassing experience, a hark back to the old style camping trip with in-house entertainment, bookable adventure tours and clubhouses. There are RV sites that are more than just a space with electricity hook up - they have picnic tables and even a fire pit! The tent spaces are varied in location styles, if you want a “glamping” experience then check out their cabin tents which offer a luxurious camping option. Our favorite thing is that they even offer onsite cooking for you - no longer do you have to sit over a fire pit waiting for your bacon to cook - now someone else will do it for you!
American River Resort
Address: 6019 New River Rd, Coloma, CA 95613
Website: American River Resort
5. D.L. Bliss State Park Campground at Lake Tahoe
One of our favorite spots in the summer but you’ll need to book in advance, this camp isn’t the type where you can just “turn up and hope for the best”; slots go quickly! So what is it that makes D.L. Bliss State Park Campground so popular? Firstly it is right on the shore of Lake Tahoe and so has beach access, it provides excellent facilities, is a hub for plenty or adventures and has an all-round great atmosphere.
D.L. Bliss State Park Campground
Address: 9881 CA-89, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Website: Bliss State Park Campground
6. Schoolhouse Canyon Park at Russian River
Nestled in an ancient Redwood forest this small campsite has everything you need for a simple camping trip. It doesn’t have high tech facilities so expect to play some traditional games such as charades and boardgames, making it great for families.
Schoolhouse Canyon Park
Address: 12600 River Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446
Website: Schoolhouse Canyon Park
7. Island Acres at Colorado River State Park
Island Acres offers basic camping and RV spots along the Colorado River. There are a number of locations to choose from so be sure to have a look around and find the perfect spot for you! On site facilities include coin operated showers, and in the summer months laundry. Perfect as a no-frill camping holiday.
Address: 361-32 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81504
Website: Island Acres
8. Wakalu Hep Yo Campground at North Fork Stanislaus River
The Miwuk people have lived in this area for over 2,000 years and so in their traditional language Wakalu means river and Hep Yo describes an unstoppable force of nature. This site is also offered on a first come first served basis and so with not many spots available we would recommend getting there early.
Wakalu Hep Yo Campground
Address: Arnold, CA 95223
Website: Wakalu Hep Yo Campground
9. River Ranch Campground at North Fork Tuolumne River
This camp site, which is situated on a meadow near the confluence of Basin Creek and the North Fork Tuolumne River, is part public and part private so make sure to double check where you can and can’t set-up. Sites are offered on a first come first served basis and are fairly basic. You can have a campfire for cooking food and staying warm but it is recommended that you get a permit ready just in case.
River Ranch Campground
Address: 20900 Fish Hatchery Rd, Twain Harte, CA 95383
Website: River Ranch Campground
10. Buckhorn Campground at Three Rivers
Here 38 campsites nestle into a forest of pines and cedars. There are a plethora of hiking trails to choose from including the popular Buckhart Trail. At 6,300 feet (1,920 meters), be careful of bear activity during the hours of dusk and dawn!
Address: Angeles Crest Hwy, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
Website: Buckhorn Campground
Just around the river bend...
Whichever spot you choose, maybe it’s from this list or one that you’ve found yourself, camping by rivers can be such a relaxing activity. Grab a few friends, a few snacks and get ready to get back to nature.
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