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'Wild' Northern California Campgrounds!

In the northern part of California the Pacific Crest Trail veers west from Mount Lassen to link up with the Southern Cascades and on into Oregon.

It passes through Castle Crags State Park.


This spot is mentioned in the book "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. In fact, I had just finished reading it and was curious to see the post office where she picked up supplies and the small restaurant where she had a burger.

So I did.

PO Market

There is even a campsite here just for PCT hikers, number 25.


The park is located a few miles south of Mount Shasta. A trail leads to views of it and the Crags.

Castle-Crags-Trail Mount-Shasta Castle-Crags

They can both be seen from an accessible lookout.

At the same time.

With a very wide angle lens.


There are two sections at the campground.

The main section is west of Interstate 5 and holds 64 sites.

14 and 15 open to a small meadow.

Castle-Crags-Main_014 Castle-Crags-Main_015

26, 36, and 50 were some of my of other favorites.

Castle-Crags-Main_026 Castle-Crags-Main_036 Castle-Crags-Main_050

The Riverside Campground is east of the freeway on the bank of the Sacramento River.

Castle-Crags-Bridge Sacramento-River

There are just 12 sites but several are on the river, like 4, 5, and 7.

Castle-Crags-Riverside_004 Castle-Crags-Riverside_005 Castle-Crags-Riverside_007

Back at my site I tried making a fire but everything was still too damp.


Or maybe my log was just to big.


This was my last stop in California but I visited 5 other campgrounds before arriving here.

Salt Point State Park is alongside Highway 1 north of San Francisco.


There are 30 spots here just a short walk from the cove, which is a protected marine reserve.

Numbers 6, 7, 9, and 17 caught my eye.

Gerstle-Cove_006 Gerstle-Cove_007 Gerstle-Cove_009 Gerstle-Cove_017

I rambled down to the cove before leaving.

Gerstle-Cove-Picnic-Area Gerstle-Cove-View-2 Gerstle-Cove-View-1

Near the town of Guerneville you will find Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.


Inside that is Austin Creek State Recreation Area.


There was no sign so this is all you get.

Of the 24 sites I preferred 8, 13, and 21.

Austin-Creek_008 Austin-Creek_013 Austin-Creek_021

Site 24 is a massive tent site near Bullfrog Pond.


Speaking of Bullfrog Pond...


You could probably walk across the algae.

But the views are nice and the hiking is outstanding.


Back along Highway 1 about 70 miles north is Navarro River Redwoods State Park.

Once again you will find two different camping areas.

There is a primitive campground with 10 spots at the mouth of the Navarro River.


Ignore the sign as there is camping there, just very basic.


And a beach.


From there you turn inland along Highway 128, passing through five miles of redwoods to Paul M. Dimmick Campground.

Redwoods Paul-M.-Dimmick-Sign

There are 27 sites here but it didn't look like it had been open for a while. Check before you visit.

Sites 23, 25, and 27 were next to the river.

Paul-M.-Dimmick_023 Paul-M.-Dimmick_025 Paul-M.-Dimmick_027

Heading north on Highway 101, the first two campgrounds you will come across as you enter the redwoods are Standish-Hickey and Richardson Grove.


While I visited, they had a special Winter Rates deal - just $25 per night instead of the standard $35 for California State Parks. My favorite campsites sites were 16, 82 and 97.

Standish-Hickey_016 Standish-Hickey_082

Richardson Grove had some nice sites amongst the tall trees and some pretty nifty campsites.


I liked 23, 34, and 43 the best of the 76 sites I looked at.

Richardson-Grove_023 Richardson-Grove_034 Richardson-Grove_043

Both of these campgrounds also offer seasonal tent sites (sometimes) by means of temporary bridges over the Eel River.

From there I headed north to Castle Crags and then into Oregon.


I passed by the Rogue River and then turned left for the coast.


Highway 101 cruisers along the Oregon Coast and campers often overlook the county parks because they are not on the big reservation systems.

Take Coos County Parks for example. They offer a delightful gem called Bastendorff Beach County Park.


Just outside the city limits of Coos Bay near the quaint town of Charleston you will find 100 well maintained campsites, most with electricity. For just $20 off season. And free showers.

Check out 28, 46, and 59.

Bastendorff-Beach_028 Bastendorff-Beach_046 Bastendorff-Beach_059

Or try a cabin.


I could live there. Perfect size.


Rocky coastline to the left of me, Jetty's to the right.

(4 free tacos if you can name the song those words remind you of, lol.)

Regards and happy camping, Park Ranger


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