Which California Campgrounds Are Open Right Now?
If you plan to spend Memorial Day weekend (or any time this summer) sleeping in the great outdoors, there are a few things you should know.
A few campgrounds are slowly reopening, like those in Joshua Tree National Park, which opened earlier this week (with some restrictions). Group campgrounds are closed in the park, but all of the regular family sites are available. Admission to the park is still a thing ($30 per vehicle), and the National Park Service says rangers will only accept credit card payment to aid with social distancing at the entrance.
The campgrounds inside Joshua Tree are mostly available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you'll want to have a plan B and C in case they fill up quickly. Some are closed due to summer heat. The forecast on Memorial Day predicts highs of 93 degrees, and jumping to 99 by Tuesday, so prepare for instense weather if you're heading out there.
Here's what's open in Joshua Tree:
- Black Rock Campground: Sites 40–60 and 66–99 are closed from May 25 to September 3. All other sites are first-come, first-served until Sept. 4, when they'll be reservation only.
- Cottonwood Campground: Loop B is closed May 25 to Sept. 3. All other sites are first-come, first-served until Sept. 4, when they'll be reservation only.
- Hidden Valley: All sites are first-come, first-served, year 'round.
- Indian Cove: Sites 40–101 are closed until Sept. 3. All other sites are first-come, first-served from May 25- Sept. 4, when they'll be reservation only.
- Jumbo Rocks Campground: All sites are first-come, first-served from May 25- Sept. 3
SO CAL NATIONAL FORESTS
The San Bernardino National Forest, which include places such as Big Bear Lake and Wrightwood, has also opened some campgrounds. Shower facilities will be closed, however. Here's the list (all require advanced reservations, unless noted):
- Barton Flats Campground
- Big Pine Flat Family Campground: first-come, first-served only
- Crab Flats Family Campground
- Dogwood Family Campground
- Green Valley Family Campground
- Hanna Flat Family Campground
- Heart Bar Family Campground
- Holcomb Valley Campground:first-come, first-served only
- Jenks Lake Day Use Area
- North Shore Campground
- Pineknot Family Campground
- San Gorgonio Family Campground
- Serrano Campground
- South Fork Family Campground: first-come, first-served only
- Wildhorse Equestrian Campground
Note: On Friday when campgrounds re-opened, rangers reported all of them were at full capacity, and some roads had "significant traffic delays."
Developed campsites in the Angeles National Forest are closed this weekend, but back country campsites are open for hikers. Park officals said they don't expect campsites to open until the end of May, at the "absolute earliest."
"Many of our sites will not be ready until later in the season. Due to the pandemic, our staff was unable to perform required maintenance," park officials posted on Twitter.
State park campgrounds across California remain closed, but check webpages for updates, as things are changing frequently.
OTHER NATIONAL PARKS
The Channel Islands remain open to visitors, but boat transportation is cancelled. (Current access is only avail by "private vessel," so find yourself a wealthy friend.) Death Valley is fully closed, incuding campgrounds and trails, until Stage 3 of reopening. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are also closed until at least June 1.
Sequoia National Forest near Kernville, is open, however.
During quarantine, while they weren't allowed to lead rafting trips, a few bored guides at Kern River Outfitters learned to code...and they managed to make a website that's a lot more user friendly than Reserve America (not hard to do because that website is the worst, but impressive nonetheless). The tool allows users to search open campsites in Sequoia National Forest, near the Kern. And while you can't go on guided rafting trips right now, you can still wade in the river or bring your own kayaks.
Officials say no matter what park you're headed to, make sure to double check the rules online before you go.