California camping: How and where to do it right

California... No Doubt About It

California is one of the largest and most beautiful states in the country. She offers everything a camper could want, from sandy ocean beaches, to deserts, dense timber, and snow covered mountains. There is no greater diversity in any state and you can easily find the type of environment that suits you here; however, before you strap on your pack basket, shoulder your .54 caliber Hawken, and head out into the bush to enjoy a camping trip vis a vis mountain man style, there are a few things you should consider to ensure you don’t end up getting sideways with the law.

There are two types of parks in Cali, those that require you to make a reservation, and those that are first come first served. There are fees involved with all campsites, but fees for both are fairly modest, and there is a plethora of added amenities at different parks depending on the environment in which you wish to stay. Many offer horseback riding, biking, hiking, and kayaking. You only have to check the website in order to search which park would be best suited for your interests. Many state parks in California allow the hunting of mammals and foul, and even more allow fishing; however, others don’t even allow the possession of firearms in campsites and it is up to you to make sure that you are within the confines of the law when you make your choice of campsites. The good news is that the State of California makes the laws and regulations loud and clear on their website, and it is easy to verify whether you are within the laws or not.

Fires are allowed at almost all of the campsites, and fire rings or grills are provided, but there are stringent restrictions due to inclement conditions. Wood or charcoal fires are both permitted, but are only permitted when environmental conditions aren’t such that they are a risk of forest fire. As a rule they are usually banned from July to November, but could be banned at any time depending on the weather. It would be best to have a camp stove available as a backup means for coking food.

Tent sizes are mandated by the type of campsite you employ, the only rule being that the tent must fit on the campsite. Internet reservations can be made easily and you can request a site that corresponds with the number of people your tent was built to house in order to ensure that your tent will fit. Though commercial tents are available, many people find that used military surplus or army tents work best when camping at public sites, the reason being that they are often designed to give the maximum space and shelter while leaving the smallest footprint. All surplus military tents are made to exact specifications, and you will know exactly what space you will need when making your reservations.

Whether you end up glamping or camping, living rustic in a quickly made debris hut or setting up a “home away from home” in the wilderness, equipped with a feather bed, lampstand, and portable generator, take the time to explore the most beautiful state in the nation. You’ll be happy that you did.

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