Boondocking in California

Last updated on June 9th, 2021 at 02:43 pm. Originally published on March 3rd, 2021

There are so many beautiful spots to explore in California that you will want to go boondocking there very soon. There are terrific spots in or near national parks, like Yosemite and Joshua Tree. This state’s diverse terrain means you can go boondocking in California in a variety of areas, including forests, beaches, and mountains. There are also great spots near popular tourist attractions like Disneyland, Balboa Park, and Universal Studios Hollywood. The diverse elevations and climates found in California mean you can almost always find a warm sunny spot to go camping. 

The sun shining on the road through Kings Canyon and Sequioa National Park.

Boondocking Sites in California

Chimney Creek Campground

If you are looking for free camping in California, consider Chimney Creek Campground. This facility in the high desert is near the town of Lake Isabella. Numerous hiking trails lead under pinon trees to the Chimney Peak Wilderness. This campground offers easy access to Mojave National Preserve and Sequoia National Forest. 

Orr Lake Campground

Soak in the stunning views of Mt. Shasta while camping at Orr Lake Campground. Catfish, trout, and bass are often biting in the lake at this campground located in Klamath National Forest near Bray. The path around the lake is a fantastic place to go camping. You can find many things to do in the national forest, including biking, hunting, scenic driving, swimming, and tubing. 

American Girl Mine

American Girl Mine is a popular spot to go boondocking in eastern California. This former mine site near Whitehaven offers easy access to the Mexican border. Spend a fun day playing on the sand dunes or explore Yuma, Arizona, which is located about 10 miles away. During the Gold Rush, this was one of the largest mines in the state. 

Beaver Creek Campground

Beaver Creek Campground is near Klamath River. This Klamath National Forest campground is under tall shade trees on Beaver Creek’s shores and accommodates sites up to 28 feet long. Enjoy playing in nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park and exploring the national forest when camping at this location. 

Chamise Flat Dispersed Campground

If you are looking for a great fishing spot while boondocking in California, Chamise Flat Dispersed Campground in the Sequoia National Forest may be perfect. There are many flat dirt spots near the river where you can park your RV at this location near Kernville. Vault toilets and trash bins may be available in the warmer months. Besides fishing, you can find outstanding trails to hike, and the river makes a great place to go rafting. 

Calkin’s Flat Dispersed Campground

Another fantastic option in Sequoia National Forest is Calkin’s Flat Dispersed Campground. This campground, located about 15 miles north of Kernville, is a great place to go hiking in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. It is also an excellent place to go fishing, especially in the fall. Since this area has a higher elevation than many California spots, it makes an ideal mountainous location to go camping during the hot summer months. 

Ash Creek Campground

Ash Creek Campground in the Modoc National Forest is a fantastic place to go camping. Wildlife officials stock Ash Creek, making it a terrific spot to go fly fishing. The trailhead for Red Tail Rim Trail is at this campground, and it is available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. RVs must be shorter than 22 feet to park at this campground located north of Canby. 

Black Rock Campground

Black Rock Campground in the Ishi Wilderness is a great place to hike. Each campsite at this campground in Lassen National Forest near East Tehama comes with a picnic table and grill. Go for a hike along Mill Creek or go fishing in Deer Creek. 

Where to Boondock in California

You can find many boondocking sites in California located within the national forests. Others sit on lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management. You can find locations along the Pacific Ocean, especially in the Big Sur area. This state’s great diversity with its mountains, ocean, and desert makes it a great place to explore, depending on the time of year and your interests. 

Need help finding the perfect campground? is a free resource for California campers and outdoor enthusiasts who like to have fun and enjoy life. The parks listed on this website are members of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

Free Camping in California

When preparing for your boondocking trip to California, consider your destination. Some options are in high mountain locations where winter often arrives early, whereas others are in desert locations, where there may be little water. 

Always let someone know where you are going because cell phone reception can be problematic in remote areas. National parks and forests and many communities have visitor centers with helpful staff who know the area intimately. 

Remember that you must camp at least 25 feet from any water source if you are camping in a national forest, including away from a stream or a river. Keep in mind the potential for the weather to change quickly. Consider how you may need to protect your food during your camping trip because bears, raccoons, and other animals may want to share with you. 

Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking. The blog is filled with helpful tips to make your free camping in California trip even more enjoyable. 
There are many great places to go boondocking in California, so set the dates for your trip very soon. With so many things to see and do, you will want to stay as long as possible. A great way to make this trip is in an RV. If you do not have one, then you can easily rent one on RVshare. When you rent an RV, you are covered by 24/7 roadside assistance should you have any problems along the way.

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