If there’s one silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the positive effects on the environment. Nature is quickly restoring itself and wildlife is brazenly taking back its territory with a newfound freedom to roam.
However, being cooped up has my friends and me thinking about where we are going to go when we can hike, bike, swim, and spend the night in the great outdoors again. A few people have asked me for recommendations, so when it’s safe to travel and explore, I’m recommending people head to these top three Northern California camping spots:
Patrick’s Point State Park: Trinidad, California
There’s something about the Northern California coast, between the ancient Redwoods and the ocean fog, that releases a special kind of energy and makes it a truly magical place. In the Trinidad area where the forest meets the water sits Patrick’s Point State Park, otherwise known as my special paradise. Some of my favorite experiences in this area include taking in the scenic view from the top of Wedding Rock, dipping my toes in the water at Agate Beach, and following the 2-mile Rim Trail over the coastline to Ceremonial and Lookout Rocks. I remember being a little kid casing the beach looking for agates with my yellow bucket—and going back as an adult is just as exciting.
Lundy Canyon: Eastern Sierra
I love coming here in the autumn September-October months after the kids have gone back to school and before the snow starts falling. Things are a little bit quieter this time of the year, especially in the Hoover Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra. It’s a little bit off the beaten path but within the same vicinity of Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road entrance, which means the scenery is just as beautiful and it’s less crowded.
When my boyfriend and I went to Lundy Canyon a couple of Octobers ago, we were the only ones in the campground, surrounded by quaking aspens and next to a babbling creek. We hiked the 8-mile out-and-back Lundy Canyon Trail, stumbling upon some old mining equipment and passing through creeks, waterfalls, and wildflowers. Then we went back and hiked straight past Lundy Lake (a popular fishing spot next to the Lundy Lake campground) towards the entrance to the Saddlebag Lake Loop, admiring the painted Indian rock and glassy clear ponds.
Yosemite National Park
As one of the most defining features of California, especially for hikers, rock climbers, and Pacific Crest Trail trekkers, Yosemite is one of a kind in awe-inspiring natural beauty. Half Dome is its most iconic monument, consisting of a gigantic rock with a sheer granite face reaching up towards the sky at a peak elevation of 8,844 feet. This huge park takes at least three hours to drive through (nonstop), so if you want to partake in any of the hikes, then camping here is a must. Camp 4 within the park is close to Yosemite Village and one of the most popular places to spend the night; for a little quieter experience, stay in Wawona or Tuolumne Meadows.
If you’re planning a trip specifically to Yosemite, it’s also worthwhile to check the park’s website and sign up for its email list to receive campground updates.
There are so many great places to camp in Northern California that it’s hard to list just three, but if you are itching to go on an outdoor adventure in a relaxed, quiet place, then consider planning your next Northern California camping trip to one of these serene campgrounds.