Coastal trail at Gerstle Cove, Salt Point State Park. (Photo Courtesy of Aron Bosworth).

A Guide to Bay Area Camping

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There's no better way to experience endlessly beautiful landscapes than sleeping in the great outdoors.

With popular landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge or its namesake urban park and a host of other urban attractions, camping typically isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about exploring the San Francisco Bay Area. Well, we're here to tell you it should be.

In a state that is home to nine national parks such as Yosemite and the Redwoods, camping competition can be fierce. Yet those familiar with the unique coastline and impressive diversity of public lands around the Bay Area know full well that proximal camping options rival some of the most coveted campgrounds in the state. Whether you're traveling through or residing in the Bay Area and simply looking for a nearby outdoor overnight, one need drive no further than a few hours drive from the urban core. In many cases only a fraction of that drive time is necessary to access campground gems set among scenic coastal backdrops, redwood groves and rolling oak savannah hills.

Below is a list of some of our favorite Bay Area campgrounds located within a 100-mile radius (as the crow flies) stretching from the Sonoma Coast to northern Big Sur, oriented north to south. While most campgrounds listed below are accessible by vehicle, some require a short walk or a hike in. Note that reservations are recommended during weekends and holidays where applicable. —Aron Bosworth, Outdoor Project

Large redwoods tower over Sempervirens Campground.

(Courtesy of John Cody)

// See a full list at outdoorproject.
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