Marin is not a typical county, and neither is the camping. Here you don’t get your basic flat, nondescript campground with some trees and visits from an occasional deer or skunk. This is camping with an edge, or even on the edge. Marin camping means you can be perched on a cliff listening to crashing waves, on an island admiring twinkling city lights, or among refreshing redwoods and lush ferns. There are adventures for all tastes and levels right in your own backyard.
415.435.5390 | www.angelisland.org 11 sites (including one for kayaks, one disability accessible), max. 8 people/site
Hop aboard the Angel Island ferry at Tiburon and spend the day hiking the many trails that traverse the island. Start with the Perimeter Road for the overview, then go up to Mount Livermore for the panorama. After the day-trippers go home, you’ll feel like you own your own island, complete with commanding city views (San Francisco and East Bay), serenades by foghorns and whispers of ships passing in the night. Happy camper tip: the ridge sites are the most sheltered and have the best views.
Access Arrive by ferry (angelislandferry.com) or kayak/boat, hike 2 miles to campsites.
Facilities Pit toilets, BBQ (charcoal), picnic tables, food lockers Water Yes Fires No Pets No Cost $20/night plus ferry
Reservations reserveamerica.com or 800.444.7275
415.331.1540 | nps.gov.goga
There are not many major cities where you can hike to the ocean’s edge and hear the sea
lions, climb mountains for sweeping vistas, descend into flower-filled valleys and still get back in time to go to the city for dinner. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), the Marin Headlands are an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city they overlook. There are four campgrounds in the Headlands that each offer a distinctive escape:
1. HAWKCAMP 3 sites, max. 4 people/site
Located above the Gerbode Valley, this is the most remote site of the GGNRA campgrounds and therefore for the more serious hiker/camper. Hike through valleys full of wildflowers and possibly spot a bobcat or roaming deer.
Access 3.5 miles from Tennessee Valley, 4-mile hike from Marin Headlands Visitor Center Facilities Portable toilets, picnic tables, food lockers Water No Pets No Fires No Cost Free
Reservations 415.331.1540, Marin Headlands Visitor Center
2. HAYPRESS 5 sites, max. 4 people/site
In Tennessee Valley, this is a family-friendly site featuring a nice sheltered spot for a group and a large pasture for the kids to run in.
Access Walk-in .75 mile Facilities Portable toilets, picnic tables, food lockers Water No Water No Pets No Fires No Cost Free
Reservations 415.331.1540, Marin Headlands Visitor Cente
3. KIRBY COVE 4 sites, max. 10 people/site, max. 3 cars/site
Nestled in a grove of eucalyptus and cypress trees, this site is barely half a mile west of the Golden Gate Bridge and one of the most popular, given the unique view under the bridge. The foghorn can blow you out of your sleeping bag, but the view and easy beach access are worth it. Happy camper tip: sites are available to book 90 days in advance and fill up very quickly, so book right away.
Access Walk-in approx. 100 yards Facilities Pit toilets, picnic tables, food lockers
Water No Fires Yes (in ring, bring wood) Pets No Cost $25/night Reservations 877.444.6777 or recreation.gov
4. BICENTENNIAL 3 sites, 2 people/site
A lesser-known campsite in the GGNRA, this one is perched on the cliffs near the Point Bonita Lighthouse and has beautiful views of the Farallons and city on clear days. Visit the lighthouse (open Sat, Sun, Mon 12:30–3:30 p.m.) and test your acrophobia on the
Access Walk-in 100 yards Facilities Pit toilets, food locker, BBQ nearby Water Yes, 1 mile Fires No Pets No Cost Free Reservations 415.331.1540, Marin Headlands Visitor Center
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
415.488.9897 | parks.ca.gov 60 campsites, max. 8 people/site
Samuel P. Taylor came to California during the Gold Rush and struck it rich. He built a paper mill along the creek here and later opened one of the first campsites in the United States at this site in the late 1800s. Now a great place for bikers and hikers alike, this campground has something for everyone in the family. Keep cool under the coastal redwoods, picnic in the grasslands of Devil’s Gulch or ascend Mount Barnaby for some bird-watching. Happy camper tip: the gentle, paved bike path, which follows an old train route, is great for the kids.
Access Drive-in, RVs ok Facilities Flushing toilets, showers, picnic tables, BBQ, food lockers Water Yes Fires Yes Pets Yes on leash, no on fire trails Cost $25/night includes 1 vehicle, $6 for extra car Reservations 800.444.7275 or reserveamerica.com. Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Lagunitas
415.456.0766 | parks.ca.gov 30 campsites, max. 8 people/site
Located on the site of a historic Chinese fishing village, China Camp provides access to gentle bay waters bordered by oak woodlands, all within a stone’s throw of civilization. Weather is dependably warm. Miles of trails and extra amenities like a snack bar, a nice beach, a museum and showers make it a great place for those who like to camp in relative comfort.Happy camper tip: you can fish off the pier without a license.
Access Walk or bike-in, 50 to 300 yards Facilities Flushing toilets, showers, picnic tables, BBQ pit, food locker, snack bar, beach, fishing Water Yes Fires Yes, in rings Pets Yes, only in developed areas Cost $25/night Reservations 800.444.7275 or
reserveamerica.com. , 4 miles east of San Rafael on North San Pedro Road.
415.388.2070 | parks.ca.gov
The unofficial symbol of Marin County, “Mount Tam” has over 60 miles of trails to challenge any level of hiker, camper and biker. These connect to additional trails contained within adjacent public lands such as the Marin watershed and the GGNRA. Terrain ranges from the 2,571-foot peak with sweeping views to the rocky marine coast to the damp redwood forest to sparkling lakes and open oak woodlands. Mount Tamalpais State Park, Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley. For special events, check
mttam.net. The following camping spots are the most popular:
1. PANTOLL 16 sites, max. 8 people/site
At the intersection of nine trailheads, Pantoll is an ideal central spot to branch out and enjoy many of the trails and sights of Mount Tam. Sites are bookable only in person, so arrive early to claim your spot. Happy camper tip:this camp is Wi-Fi enabled for those who can’t bear to leave the laptop at home.
Access Walk-in 100 yards Facilities Flush toilets, picnic tables, BBQ, food locker Water Yes Fires Yes, wood available at site ($5) Pets Yes Cost $15/night Reservations In person, at Pantoll ranger station
2. STEEP RAVINE 1 mile south of Stinson Beach, 10 cabins, 7 tent sites, max. 5 people/site
Originally built in the 1930s as a getaway for the family of local congressman and landowner William Kent, these spartan cabins are perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. The quintessential “room with a view,” each cabin has a small woodstove and sleeping platform. Happy camper tip: cabins are in high demand and open up seven months in advance for booking. Be persistent and keep checking for openings.
Access Walk-in 100 yards Facilities Outhouse toilets, picnic tables, BBQ, fire pit, food locker Water Yes, nearby Fires Yes, wood available at site ($5) Pets No Cost $75/night for cabins, $15/tent Reservations 800.444.7275 or reserveamerica.com
Point Reyes National Seashore
Pristine coastline punctuated by a dramatic lighthouse and flanked by historic working ranches, oak woodlands and open grasslands will keep you occupied for days. The 140 miles of trails will also help you escape civilization. Obtain your camping permit at the Bear Valley Visitor Center in Olema and find out the day’s events, pick up maps and familiarize yourself with the park’s history. For all campgrounds below the following applies:
Access Hike or boat in, varying distances Facilities Pit toilets, water, picnic tables, food locker, charcoal grill Water Yes Fires No (except at beaches with permit) Pets No Cost $15/night for up to 6 people, call for larger groups Reservations 415.663.8054, Bear Valley Visitor Center, 415.464.5100
1. COAST CAMP 12 individual sites, 2 group sites (2.7-mile hike in) This camp is located in a small grassy valley with easy beach access.
2. GLEN CAMP 12 individual sites (4.6-mile hike in) One of the more protected camps in a wooded valley, farther (2.5 miles) from the beach.
3. SKY CAMP 11 individual sites and 1 group site (1.4-mile hike in) Over 1,000 feet up on the side of a mountain, this camp has views of Drakes Bay and the coastline.
4. WILDCAT CAMP 5 sites (3 that allow only 4 people max.) and 3 group sites. Situated on a coastal bluff, this camp is one of the most popular in the area because of the short walk to the beach.
5. TOMALES BAY 20 permits issued/day