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A Guide to Camping at Point Reyes National Seashore
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A Guide to Camping at Point Reyes National Seashore

Find all the information you need to plan an unforgettable camping trip at Point Reyes National Seashore in our detailed guide.

Palig Dzadourian

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5 min read

May 12, 2022

A land of contrasts, brimming with wild natural beauty and absolutely breathtaking sights, Northern California always has something to offer, whether you are looking for an exciting outdoor adventure, a relaxing getaway, or want a taste of the fine dining experience of the never-ending list of restaurants, you will definitely be spoiled for choice.

Located just an hour north of San Francisco, Point Reyes is a strong contender for one of the best locations for a fun trip, being one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Pacific Coast, it is sure to leave a lasting impression on whoever decides to visit the cape rich with history and culture. Point Reyes camping is a popular activity to do around the area, being one of the best campgrounds around San Francisco.

Boat-in Beach Camping in Tomales Bay

Get your paddles out and start your adventure!

Point Reyes National Seashore is a natural sanctuary, with its stunning sandy beaches, vast grasslands, and verdant forests, it’s no wonder that camping in Point Reyes would be something that attracts a lot of visitors. And while you can’t just set up a tent in just any spot on the seashore as dispersed camping isn’t allowed here, there are a few Point Reyes campgrounds that are well worth your time. All in all, there are about four designated hike-in/bike-in campgrounds in the southern area and twenty boat-in-only campsites on Tomales Bay and Marshall Beach, all being backcountry campgrounds. Overnight parking and car camping facilities are not available.

The Point Reyes camping rules state that they do not go by the first come first serve any longer, you will have to get your camping permits by getting reservations online on the official website: Recreation.gov. The camping fees start from $30 a night for about 6 people to $90 for a large group of 15-25 people. Once you get to the designated site, no need to check in, just show your printed-out email confirmation to any available rangers on the beach.

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The fun begins at the very start because the only way to get to the Tomales Bay camping site is by boat or kayak! The journey along the will get you right in the mood for a small adventure on these beautiful beaches. After setting up your tent, get ready for some fun, as there are so many things to do around the campsite, like hiking, fishing, and paddling with the kayaks that brought you there.

Coast Camp

Set up your tents and experience the beach camping life, the ocean is right next door!

Coast Camp is nestled within a small coastal valley, vast grassy lands just 220 yards away from the beach itself. Despite it being one of the most frequented Point Reyes campgrounds, it still gives off a feeling of privacy and seclusion, with 12 regular sites and 2 group sites, each site has a series of amenities available, from BBQ grills to picnic tables and even toilets. While you cannot go to the site by car, RV or boat, you can reach the Coast Camp campgrounds by bicycle, horseback, or by foot, the shortest route is the hike up the 1.8 miles long Laguna and Fire lane trails. Enjoy the untamed nature of the site, and find caves, waterfalls, and lakes.

Glen Camp

Just a 5-mile hike away from Bear trail valley, Glen Camp is the hidden gem of the Point Reyes Park camping, which is a good thing for people looking for a relaxing site to set up their tent without a lot of crowds in the area, although despite it not being as popular as the other Point Reyes National Seashore campgrounds, it still fills up quite easily on Friday nights and Saturdays. Sheltered away in a meadow surrounded by lush green coastal woodland, and although it is the only spot in Point Reyes without an ocean view, Glen Camp is a great backpacking campsite, as it gives off a feeling of security and coziness. With 12 campsites, four of which are found in the meadow, another four can be seen under the trees at the very edge, and the last four are located in the woods itself, there are amenities provided within each one of them, including potable water, toilets, and picnic tables.

Sky Camp

Drakes Bay will be right underneath the steep mountain, enjoy the views from the top.

True to its name, the Sky Campground offers spectacular panoramic views of the ocean and the surrounding nature around it. Located in the western part of Mt. Wittenberg, 1025 feet in the air, the catch of the Sky campground is that to be able to experience the scenery the mountain offers you will first have to go up the moderately steep hike up the Sky trailhead, but it will all be worth it once you finally reach the top. The site has 12 basic walk-in tents with a bunch of other resources available for your stays there, like drinking water, tables, and toilets. With a sweeping view of Drakes Bay and the remaining gorgeous landscape of Point Reyes, you are sure to return home with some unforgettable memories from a gorgeous weekend getaway in Point Reyes.

Wildcat Camp 

The Alamere Falls will leave you speechless, an impressive sight to see indeed.

Among all the Point Reyes national seashore campgrounds, Wildcat is arguably one of the more impressive ones, as it is a very convenient spot to experience Point Reyes’ most popular attraction, the Alamere Falls, a stunning waterfall found deep within the Phillip Burton Wilderness. Water cascades down from an impressive 40-foot-tall cliff, onto the southern part of Wildcat Beach. Being a tourist attraction magnet, it’s no surprise that booking the Wildcat Camp is quite difficult to do, as it is always fully booked. With no trees or hills surrounding it, the campsite is a completely open field, however the tents are well separated and evenly spaced out from each other, so privacy will be no issue here either, especially with the 4-foot-tall scrub helping divide everyone. There are fewer sites here than in the other spots, a total of four regular sites, which also explains why it is so hard to get reservations.

What’s so great about the Wildcat Camp is that it is right next door to the Pacific Ocean, almost as if you’ll be camping on the water itself, just a mere 2 miles away! The ultimate Point Reyes Camping experience. The site can be accessed from three different trails: The Bear Valley trail, which is considered to be the easiest and most convenient trail to take, since you already need to come to the Bear Valley visitor center to get things sorted out for your adventure, it is a 6.6 mile and 1100 feet of hiking up the Glen Trail. 

The second option is the Five Brooks Trailhead, 6.0 miles and 1370 feet of climbing through the Greenpicker Trail, this one is supposed to be a bit of a more difficult hike than the others, but quite pleasant nonetheless, as there are fewer people using this trail.

The last trail available is the Palomarin Trailhead, the easiest yet most crowded trail of all.  5.8 miles and 1060 feet of climbing each way up the Coast Trail, if you don’t mind busy routes, this trail is a walk in the park, offering great ocean views along the way. Whichever one you decide to take is completely up to you!

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