What are some of your all time favorite camping spots in California?
Every year I tent-camp in the East Sierra Nevada mountains just north of Bishop off the 395.
There is a lake called Rock Creek Lake up there. You turn left on "Crowley Lake/Rock Creek Dr" or more commonly known as the Toms Place exit. You follow the road up about 7 miles or so to get to the rock creek lake.
On the way up there are many campgrounds available. We usually camp at the East Fork Campground. There are sites right next to the river. They have heated bathrooms and they are always very clean. The campgrounds are beautiful, the lake is even better. Also, you ARE PERMITTED to have fires, which is the ONLY way I will camp. If I can't have a fire, there is no point. This is why I don't camp in Big Bear, CA.
On the way up to the lake there is Rock Creek Resort if you want to stay in a cabin, and they have the Rock Creek Lodge also that has food, supplies, pies, and a small cafe. They even have showers!
As far as the lake goes, the fishing is really slow. But even spending all day there not catching fish, it's very peaceful.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to camp or RV in a designated campground. It's worth the drive.
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Our favorite spot when we lived in the Bay Area was always Wright's lake, in fact we went there this summer on vacation. Just a 15 hour drive now.
It's off Highway 50 in the El Dorado National Forest, just west of Meyers you turn off and go up about 5,000 feet on a real fun winding road. It rarely opens before mid July due to the snow since the lake is at 8,000', and you do need reservations.
Plenty of trout if you are a clever fisherman, the water is really clear.
My absolute favorite spot in California is Big Basin in the Santa Cruz mountains. I remember going there as a kid and I have yet to bring my son there for a trip but it's by far the best camp ground I've ever been to.
lots of good times there. great trails for hiking, waterfalls, and if you feel the urge to go into the city you can go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
I do some camping in Big Bear area but you are right the only place you can have a fire up there is in a campground you are not allowed to make a ring of rocks in the forest and have a fire. We also go down to the desert areas like Ocatillo Wells in the winter time but I would love to camp up north I haven't done that since I was a kid.
I can't relax in a big "campground". Too much like city life. Pinecrest Lake in Tuolumne County looks like Coney Island on a Sunday. Too many $#@*&% PEOPLE. My favorite camping place is in Plumas County (won't say where). Very rustic, very secluded. 7 campsites only. 1.5 hrs from home.
Philbrook Lake in Butte County or the High Lakes near Humbug Summit
If I'm taking wife & kids gotta go up around Lassen Park/Hat Creek/Burney Falls.