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Where to Camp in Northern California in 2019

stone lagoon
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The search for a good campground can be daunting, but luckily for us, California is host to a paradise of fun, peaceful and beautiful camping spots. For our summer travel series, "California Coastal Trail," we recommended some of the best campgrounds from three of the state's northern coastal countys — Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte. Here, we've compiled five of the most stunning places to pitch your tent or sleep under the stars (or in some cases, under old-growth redwoods) in 2019. Make your reservations soon — some of these destinations fill-up fast!

Mill Creek Campground

Courtesy of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Courtesy of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Mill Creek Campground is a perfect introduction to camping in northern California's Redwood Empire. The campground, complete with 145 sites and amazing amenities like hot showers, is breathtakingly remote, even though it's only 7 miles south of Crescent City. Fall asleep under some of the tallest trees in the world, then have a full day to explore the 8-mile long coastline of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. The campground is only open during the summer, but make sure visit this State Park year-round and hike the stunning Damnation Creek TrailVisit here for more information.

Shelter Cove on the Lost Coast

shelter cove
Shelter Cove |  Rene River/Creative Commons

One of the only campgrounds with amenities along the legendary Lost Coast hiking trail, Shelter Cove is considered the gateway to Northern California’s remote coastline. Amenities here include showers, bathrooms, fire pits, and even a general store and deli. While the ocean views are remarkable, the real allure are the destinations readily accessible nearby. Make sure to explore the tidepools below the campground, head north to the gorgeous Blacks Sands Beach, or if you’ve really prepared, set out to hike the exceptionally rugged Lost Coast hiking trail. Visit here for more information.

Russian Gulch State Park

russian gulch state park
Waterfall, Fern Creek, Russian Gulch State Park  |  Steven Bratman/Creative Commons

Few campgrounds exist in a state park park as diverse as Russian Gulch. A short drive north of Mendocino Village, this park features 15 miles of hiking trails (5 miles open to bikes), a 36-foot waterfall enveloped by redwoods, picnic areas on coastal headlands, and a sandy beach featuring an impressive sea cave called the Devil’s Punchhole. 26 standard campsites, 4 equestrian sites, and 1 group site await lucky campers. Visit here for more information.

Humboldt Lagoons State Park

stone lagoon
Stone Lagoon |  phoca2004/Creative Commons

This state park in Humboldt County has the coveted charge of protecting one of the largest lagoon systems in the country. Big Lagoon, Stone Lagoon, Freshwater Lagoon, and Dry Lagoon are hotspots of wildlife sightings, including elk, woodpeckers, and whales. Campers will be treated to a paddle-in and hike-in campground at Ryan’s Cove across from Stone Lagoon. Kayaks are available for rent at Stone Lagoon Visitor Center. Visit here for more information.

Patrick’s Point State Park

patrick's point state park
Patrick's Point State Park |  Kirt Edblom/Creative Commons

Patrick’s Point State Park is no bigger than one-square-mile, but its commanding position over the Pacific makes it an larger-than-life attraction. This lush headland packs a forest of pine, red alder, fir, and spruce that are interspersed with meadows of wildflowers, all looming above plunging cliffs that look out onto an cove of imposing sea stacks. Pitch a tent at one of the park’s three campgrounds, including Agate Beach, where you can go searching for the mesmerizing semi-precious stones that give this stretch of coast its name. Visit here for more information.

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