Winter camping? You bet! But not all spots are created equal - choose wisely.
Camp Under the Redwoods in West Marin
Just 15 minutes from Pt. Reyes Station is Samuel P. Taylor State Park, an often-overlooked spot with more than 50 gorgeous campsites under the redwoods. There are plenty of amazing hikes around here, including the Barnabe Peak (more than nine miles roundtrip with 1,400 feet of elevation gain) and Devil's Gulch, a four-mile out and back trail with only 150 feet of elevation gain. If you're running low on supplies, head to Pt. Reyes Station and pick up some Mt. Tam cheese at Cowgirl Creamery. Learn more.
Insider Tip: What's the best way to warm up after a chilly hike? A hot shower. Good thing Samuel P. Taylor has 'em.
Camp on Mt. Tam
Drive just 45 minutes from San Francisco and you're in the heart of some of the best redwoods camping around. Patroll Campground in Mount Tamalpais State Park is open on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's the perfect excuse to take a Friday off in January and head up on Thursday evening. Bonus? Each of the 16 sites is equipped with a fire pit and a BBQ grill. Hello, s'mores. Learn more.
Insider Tip: These campsites are close to lots of hikes, including the Dipsea Trail — whose waterfalls are pretty spectacular after all this rain.
Stay in a Yurt in Napa Valley
In need of a getaway but aren't feeling quite ready to rough it in the chilly rain? Head to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, where you can stay in one of their brand new yurts complete with queen size beds, tables, chairs, and keyed access. After a long day of Napa wine tasting, relax next to the outdoor fire pit. Looking for some hikes? There are plenty to choose from, but we suggest you get some (relative) altitude and head up 1,170 feet to Coyote Peak, where you'll find lookouts over Napa Valley and Mount Saint Helena. Learn more.
Insider Tip: If you're feeling up to a Polar Bear swim, bring your bathing suit — the park has a spring-fed pool.
Creekside Camping in Big Sur
Make a reservation ahead of time or take your chances with the first-come, first-served campsites at Plaskett Creek in Big Sur. These parts get pretty crowded in the summer, so coming during the winter offseason definitely has its advantages — and it's not just the fire pits next to the babbling creek. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Plaskett Creek is close to Sand Dollar Beach, a beautiful beach tucked inside a secluded cove. Looking for some good surf? Look no further.
Backpack to Sykes Hot Spring
A classic NorCal backpacking trip, this 10-mile hike along the Pine Ridge Trail takes you to Sykes Hot Springs next to the Big Sur River. You can make it into a daylong trip if you hustle from Julia Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, but there's no need to rush the experience. Stay overnight and you'll be able to look at the stars from the natural hot tub. Learn more.
Insider Tip: Each of the three springs only fits four or five people comfortably. It gets crowded in the summer, but come in the winter and there's a much better chance that you and your pals will have the place all to yourselves.