It's early Summer, so still a little coolish and blustery or warmish here at the Mare Island Preserve. The clouds and sunsets at our hilltop vista point can be magnificent. The campfire at the visitor center still feels sooo great. Mosquitoes are definitely around...we admit it, so come prepared. Join us for a natural season of wildness and gathering at one of our Walk-in campsites. Tent camp spots on the Navy’s oldest ammunition depot in the Pacific, are guaranteed to be eclectic and unique! Campsite #3 is the loading dock of a small bunker. It has recently been super graffitied...kind of a boo. Is what it is. Campsite #4 is located in a ravine under the canopy of the island's largest coast live oak tree and her relatives. very sacred and special.
The route to these 2 sites is a pretty steep but short 1/3 mile hike up the hill from parking. If you want to DRIVE-IN, then you MUST, register for our Bunker Bay View campsites 1 & 2. BE PREPARED: this time of year the nighttime tents are about 50 degrees. And, the Porta potty is the hike back down the hill near your car. Our portable restrooms are always refreshingly clean. Good news is that we don’t really have any people neighbors, so making music or being a little noisy here is cool. While you will still know urban life is nearby, you will experience the magic of the peaceful setting. Osprey, great-blue herons, great egrets, red-tailed hawks and white-tailed kites nest nearby in spring and summer. Red-shouldered hawks scream by in the neighborhood. Owls are night visitors.
We usually recommend using our cooking facility at the visitor center for these tent campsites. A campfire is allowed only at our visitor center, an easy quarter-mile 5 min walk from parking for these campsites. The Mare Island Preserve is 1.5 miles from the Mare Island ferry terminal with daily service from San Francisco. Direct bus service from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station to the Vallejo Transit Center lands you a little over 4 miles away from the Preserve. Catch your favorite taxi service or call/text us to pre-arrange a pickup. Bikes are allowed on both the ferry and shuttle buses from BART. Once you’ve settled in, hop on one of our bikes for a jaunt around the strangely quirky and kinda abandoned, sort of not, former Naval shipyard, the Navy’s oldest installation in the Pacific, founded in 1854. You will stop often to photograph both the beauty and the decay of a 160 years of maritime and marine industrial history. Hike and jog our 4-mile roundtrip San Pablo Bay Trail and even golf or visit Vino Godfather tasting room, a WWII landing craft support gunboat, St. Peter’s Chapel (by appt) or a museum of Navy history.
Our 16 foot Old Tennis Court yurt camp is situated on the old tennis court near where you park. It can be reserved along with our 12 foot Garden History yurt a 1/4 mile up the trail through our separate listings and now we have a "Caravan Style" tiny house right near your trailhead.
Our policy for our Preserve is to “do no harm before you do good”, making a valiant effort to leave the precious place as we found it; we’ve pruned the native oaks and cultural landscape trees a bit and cleared the weeds, but we think we’ve left plenty of wildness to reconnect you with nature and nurture your soul and there’s ample history to spark your imagination. Your enthusiastic stays in our yurts and tent camp spots, help us protect and share our park with you.
Important: Upon arrival, please specify that you are at the walk-in sites, and not the drive-in sites.
- Check in: After 2PM
- Check out: Before 12PM
- Cancellation policy: Flexible
- On arrival: Meet and greet
- Minimum nights: None
- Accepts bookings: 12 months out
The vibe at Napa River View Walk-in
If you stayed here and have some insider info for us, let us know!
This is definitely the most private site on Mare Island because it can't be accessed by car and it's on the opposite end of the other sites. Blackberries and fennel were in full bloom while we were camping here, so it also smelled incredible.
From the Old Tennis Court Yurt, where we parked, this site is a steep, 5-minute hike-in. You'll get to a fork about 3 minutes in--turn right to access the bunker. Pitch a blanket on the outer part, set up some chairs, and enjoy the view of twinkling Vallejo lights. (Don't forget your instruments--the acoustics inside these things is crazy.)
For a more nature-y view, walk 2 minutes to the west and watch the sun dip down behind Mt. Tam. Ahh.
Amazzzing view. Lovely sunsets and sunrises. A magical hike around campsites filled with natural wildlife and fauna. Camp guide Myrna is most courteous and knowledgeable. I'm certain to come back and bring more friends.
Hidden gem and unique camping experience. Felt like staying at a hostel in the middle of a scenic ghost town. The hostel piece: the visitor center does a nightly fire and we enjoyed hanging out with the 2 yurts and other campers after dark. Clean facilities include a shared kitchen and several maintained portables. If you want to feel worlds away, try it out. Great views. And, proceeds go to helping the preserve sustain. We'll be back.
We arrived after dark, and Myrna was super helpful and responsive in helping us get settled.
We had mixed feelings about our stay here. First, the positives. Myrna and the rest of the folks who run the preserve are incredibly nice. Our first night, we arrived after dark and Myrna let us stay near one of the unoccupied yurts since our campsite would be hard to get to in the dark. The second night, we stayed at site 1, which was incredibly private. It's a unique site, and would be a great place to stay with a group of friends. We did have issues finding the site because there is no signage for any of the campsites. This not only confused us, but also a group who couldn't find campsite 2. The steep trail up to the site is also not the most well maintained. We got a few scrapes from a particularly aggressive, spiked bush that jutted out onto the trail. It's not the quietest either since you hear city noises all night, and I would recommend not going during October if you want any peace. With NightMARE island going on, we heard screams all night and it was very busy near the visitors center. That being said, if you are into creepy places, Mare Island in general has a very creepy vibe with so many abandoned buildings. Overall, not the most peaceful but I would recommend it to anyone wanting a unique, possibly creepy, camping experience.
Had a lovely stay at the Preserve on (Night)Mare Island! This was a super unique and beautiful spot, and Myrna and Eric were great hosts. My boyfriend and I had a quick stay here on a week night. We left SF at 3pm, took the ferry over (went to Vallejo Ferry Terminal), then took a 10 minute Uber ride over to the Preserve. We ended up camping down by the visitor center since it was getting dark when we arrived, but Myrna was able to give us a ride up to the Napa River View Walk-in where my boyfriend and I hung out at night for a few hours cooking dinner, checking out the bunker, and taking in the gorgeous views of the city and stars. We hiked back down to the visitor center (1.5 miles), hung out by the fire Myrna and Eric had set up for us, and drifted off to sleep shortly after. Definitely recommend this spot and hope to be back with more time next time! Both sunset and sunrises here are not to be missed. :)