Winter camping in California


Can't stand the call of the wild? It seems like summer is too far to wait to hit the great outdoors? Many people think of camping as a summer activity, but for many of us, we just can't wait about half a year before going back outdoors. Fortunately, California has many amazing places to camp during the winter months. Winter camping is usually cheaper and less overcrowded than camping in the summer and you will also get to know California in a very different way.

California has blessed us outdoor enthusiasts with a variety of different landscapes and climates to experience. And while the high Sierras are covered with snow, the Mojave Desert and the Pacific Coast invite campers to come and experience their winter beauty. The beach is usually the best place to escape from the cold inland winters, thanks to the average temperatures experienced throughout the year. Of course, for real adventurers, there are also opportunities for snow camping at higher elevations, so why not pair your ski trip with a camping trip? No matter where you choose, these places are downright beautiful, yet few people have experienced this beauty in winter. They invite you to come and visit!

Angel Island – Northern California / San Francisco Bay

As a resident of the Bay Area, I am very fond of Angel Island … when it is not crowded. It's a quick trip to each of the Sacramento Bay areas and it has absolutely spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, including the San Francisco Sky Line, Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, and views of Tiburon and Sausalito. Rain and heavy fog are common in the winters of the Gulf, but relative to the rest of Northern California, temperatures are reasonably average. The last five years have been a very dry winter in the Gulf thanks to the terrible drought we are experiencing, but this year El Nino is already pouring rain in the state, so expect wet weather if you decide to visit Angel Island this winter. From December to March, daily highs average 56-61 degrees Fahrenheit and night lows average 41-45 degrees Fahrenheit, so there really isn't much difference between night and day. The east side of the island is better protected from the ocean shore, but the west side provides a front view of incredible sunsets under the Golden Gate Bridge. The sites at East Bay and Sunrise are located on the east side of the island, near Fort McDowell. The ridge and kayak sites are located on the west side of the island, near Reynolds Camp. For more information on camping, check out the brochure and park map from the park's website. Keep in mind that some of the information is out of date, but most of it is still relevant.

Getting to Angel Island is half the fun of the trip. Public ferries run from Tiburon via Angel Island Ferry and from Pier 41 and the San Francisco Ferry Building via the Blue and Gold Navy. Adult tickets cost $ 15 from Tiburon and $ 9 from San Francisco. These prices include the entrance fee for the park. Please note that during the winter months, these ferries only run on weekends, so the earliest you can get to the island is Saturday morning and the latest you can stay is Sunday late afternoon, unless you plan to stay all week . But there are other options! You can use your own private boat or borrow friends. Or if you're like me and don't own a boat, you can rent a private boat or take a Tideline Water Taxi. Tideline is a great option, it is quite expensive, but it is still cheaper than renting a boat and provides the most personalized schedule and service so you are not limited by ferry schedules.

Grand Sur – Central Coast

Big Sur on California's Central Coast is an absolute gem. It embodies all the beauties of California's rugged Pacific coast. From a hundred feet of red trees, backstage paths and miles of beaches, Big Sur has everything. And thanks to its proximity to the ocean, it remains relatively average in winter, with average highs from December to March ranging from 60-63 degrees Fahrenheit and average lows around 43 degrees Fahrenheit. As always, in winter you should be prepared for rain, heavy fog and ocean winds. Big Sur is very busy in the summer months, but in winter the crowds scattered, leaving you with miles of empty paths and beaches to explore.

Perhaps the most amazing part of winter camping at Big Sur is the chance to watch the majestic gray whales migrate between Alaska and Baja California. From December to early February, you can see whales migrating south, and from early February you can see them migrating north with their newborn calves. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Big Sur has many campsites that you can find here. For those of you looking for a little more warmth and comfort, I would recommend one of the cabins, such as Big Sur Camp Campings and Cabins or Riverside Campground. Both camps offer plenty of space for tents and RVs in addition to cabin spaces. Another recommendation for tent and RV camping is the Kirk Creek Campground. Kirk Creek is a beautiful campsite set on a huge bluff overlooking the ocean. Because of its open location, it is susceptible to high winds and humidity, so be prepared for it if you decide to stay there.

Lake Tahoe – Northern California / Sierra Nevada

For those who want to truly experience the winter, then the snow campsite on the shore of Lake Tahoe is right for you. During the summer months Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular camping destinations in the world. During the winter months, it is one of the most popular ski destinations in the world. Basically Lake Tahoe is great and everyone wants to go there no matter what month it is.

Sugar Pine Point State Park on the west shore of Lake Tahoe offers the best of both worlds. The camp is one of the only campsites in the region open to snow camps during the winter months, and is conveniently located just minutes from some of the largest alpine ski resorts in the world. Homewood Resort (8 minutes), Squaw Valley Resort and Alpine Meadows (32 minutes), Heavenly Mountain Resort (45 minutes) and Northstar California Resort (50 minutes) are an hour's drive away. Sugar Pine camping is also a great choice for first-time snow campers, as it is not far off the cross-country trail, so all services are available nearby.

Sugar Pine Point State Park also offers some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails the Lake Tahoe region has to offer, all with easy access to the campsite. In fact, it was these tracks that were used for biathlon and cross-country skiing during the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics.

And if you're not already up to the tent camping in the snow, you can always find some amazing local cabins to stay at. Airbnb is your best bet to book one of them.

Mt. San Jacinto State Park – Southern California / San Jacinto Mountain

Snowmobiling is also easily accessible in Southern California in the beautiful mountains. San Jacinto State Park. Idyllwild Park offers year-round camping. Tent camping and RVs are welcome first / first service November through March. The campsite is located less than three hours from both Los Angeles and San Diego, making it a great option for those looking for an escape over the weekend from city life. Snowmobiling and sledding are very popular activities in the park during the winter months.

There is a lot to do in and around State Park. Including a visit to various parts of the National Monument of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains or hiking on part of the Pacific Ridge Trail. You can even spend the afternoon taking the world-famous Palm Springs Air Tram, which takes you from Chino Canyon near Palm, springs nearly 6,000 meters to the Mountain Station.

Death Valley National Park – Southern California / Mojave Desert

The valley of death is pretty incredible. On July 12, 2012, Furnace Creek at Death Valley National Park broke the heat record when the fever was 103 degrees Fahrenheit, setting the world record for the highest low for one day. Then on July 10, 2013, Furnace Creek broke another 134-degree Fahrenheit heat record (!!!), broke the American record previously set in 1913. Needless to say, you earned those damn temperatures in the winter months, in fact, the valley of death is quite pleasant in winter. Average highs from December to March range from 67 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit, with average lows ranging from 38 to 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because the valley of death is in the middle of the desert, it is susceptible to large fluctuations in temperatures, with nighttime lows falling below freezing. This is where winter desert camping differs most from winter beach camping. In the desert, temperatures can fluctuate dramatically from day to night, while near the ocean, temperatures remain relatively stable.

A tent and RV tent is available at Furnace Creek RV Park and Fiddler & # 39; s Campground for $ 18 / night or at Mesquite Spring for $ 12 a night. Both camps have RV dumps and toilets. For tent camps, you can stay at Emigrant or Wildrose Campgrounds. (note: Wildrose accepts all vehicles below 25 feet; The expat is on a tent only at a campsite)

Joshua Tree National Park – Southern California / Mojave Desert

Another great camping destination in Southern California is Joshua Tree National Park. The park is easy to access, only about 2.5 to 3.5 hours from Los Angeles (depending on traffic, of course). Like the Death Valley, Joshua Tree is set in the middle of the desert, so while it can bubble hot in the summer, it is very pleasant in the winter. With average highs from January to March ranging from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures from 35 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit. For a list of all campsites in Joshua Tree National Park, see here. For camping in the north of the park, I recommend the Jumbo Rocks Campground, which costs $ 15 per night and is a first-come, first-served service. There is no water at the Jumbo Rocks campsite and only pit latrines, so be sure to be prepared. For those looking for camping in the south of the park, I offer Cottonwood Campground for $ 20 / night with landfill, water and lavatories.

By now, you realize that camping in California is both summer and winter time. There are many incredible places to escape in the winter, even if there is snow on the ground. Take advantage of cheaper fees, shorter booking times and deserted camping while you can before the winter is over. Camping in California never breaks for the seasons!

Now is the time to get out there and experience what winter camping in California has to offer! Stay warm, stay safe and stay camping in California!