Fall is here at the Preserve, which means cool evenings and nights and warm and even hot days. And, commonly crazy clouds add to the beauty of sunsets that can be quite magnificent at our hilltop vista point. The coolish evenings make that campfire at the visitor center feel sooo great. Mosquitoes can be out in full force or back off a bit, so definitely come prepared to do battle with them. Join us for a natural season of wildness and gathering at one of our yurts or tent campsites. Come stay in our 16 foot "Yurtastic" camping yurt tucked in a corner of the historic 1920’s tennis court surrounded by old acacia and native oaks with glimpses of the Napa River/Mare Island Strait from your cooking/eating area. The Navy’s oldest cemetery in the Pacific, founded in 1858 is a quiet neighbor, as are a few abandoned ammo bunkers. While you will still know urban life is nearby, you will experience the magic of the peaceful setting and delight with the roomy interior complete with a “Dory” themed floor covering, furnished with a queen, a full size and a twin bed, all made-up with colorful cotton linens and sweet, soft lighting. BE PREPARED: this time of year the temps are about 50 degrees at night. You'll love the convenient ample parking and options for additional tent camping close by. You could even add extra campers at this site with ample room to put up more tents and/or car camp. The Vista Garden History yurt with a full bed is a 1/4 mile away and the Cozy Caravan Style tiny house which sleeps two is a few yards away. An adjacent outdoor cooking spot includes all your cooking supplies, a camp stove, propane BBQ, ice chest, drinking water, a picnic table, (some are shared with our Preserve group picnic site) and seating and a mosquito-proof gathering tent. Osprey and great-blue herons nest nearby in spring and summer. Owls are night visitors. Our portable restrooms in the Preserve are always refreshingly clean. A campfire is allowed only at our visitor center, an easy quarter-mile walk.
Now, that it's Fall, here comes our Haunted House month every weekend night in October and Halloween night. Open from 5-9pm including historic tours of the nearby Naval Cemetery, paranormal investigation tours, ghost story tours and a bunch of fun nightly programming from a HearseCon to Horror movie night and live animal visits from bats, owls and reptiles. Search NightMARE Island Vallejo for the schedule and to purchase tickets.
Getting Here: The Mare Island Preserve is about 1.5 miles from the Mare Island terminal of the Vallejo Ferry with service from San Francisco and adjacent transit center with direct service from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station. Bikes are allowed on both the ferry and shuttle buses from BART. Feel free to call or text us for a ride.
What's there to do?: 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.
The yurt is set on the abandoned old tennis court, one of the historic sites in the Mare Island Preserve. Our volunteer team cleared overgrown trees and brush to discover the remnants of the tennis court with its net posts still intact. There’s room to maybe play a round of badminton. 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 and history to spark your imagination.
While the Preserve is a a vibrant and spectacular natural, scenic, historic and cultural land, it is not protected forever as parkland. Your stay helps us make a strong case for a permanent park on the 300 acres of wildlands of the Navy’s now closed oldest ammunition depot in the West, with 7-county panoramic views of the Bay Area. The Preserve is grassroots and volunteer-run with no funding from the owner, the City of Vallejo. We are so excited to share our second yurt campsite and, recently, we added a caravan style tiny house camp across the way from your yurt camp. Why not book both?! Your enthusiastic stays in our yurts and tent camp spots, help us protect and share our park with you.
- Check in: After 2PM
- Check out: Before 12PM
- Cancellation policy: Flexible
- On arrival: Meet and greet
- Minimum nights: 1 night
- Accepts bookings: 12 months out Weeknight discount: 20% off
The vibe at Old Tennis Court Yurt Camp
If you stayed here and have some insider info for us, let us know!
The Old Tennis Court Yurt was excellent and is definitely somewhere I will be coming back to. The Mare Island Reserve is tucked away on the south end of Mare island and is a historic piece of land, as there are many remnants of what was once the biggest naval shipyard on the west coast. The yurt itself is simple, yet it has more than enough with help feel like you are not quite roughing it. There are three cozy beds in the yurt, which easily fit our family of five.
The Old Tennis Court has several tables, benches, chairs and a long counter-like area next to the barbecue that is equipped with dishes etc to help make your stay a little more comfortable. The Old Tennis Court could easily fit 3 or 4 tents and there is enough room to park a couple more cars as well. We plan on coming back with friends and this would be a perfect spot.
There is a port-a-potty close by, but I will say that it is a larger one, and was definitely the cleanest I have been in. There is no potable water on site so you must bring your own in, which really isn't a big deal. If you don't want to barbecue, there is also a camp stove located under one of the beds, so you pretty much just have to show up with the basics and everything else is there.
The reserve itself is very interesting, beautiful, and also bit creepy in some ways. The old locked bunkers and naval graveyard that are now within a largely unspoiled section of land. The juxtaposition of any of these sites is worth the trip, but the view, seclusion and history make it a place that I can't wait to come back to.
This campsite was fantastic! The yurt was cozy and had a queen, double & twin bed with small table, chairs and some small lights and a big lantern. There was a ramp to the door so should be accessible to most. Right out the door on the cement tennis courts were several picnic tables a dining table with umbrella and chairs. Also outside there was a large meal prep area with a high counter top, two burner propane camp stove and large propane grill. All kinds of cutlery, water, cooking tools and supplies, trash cans, etc- were provided. There was plenty of parking for our group of 12 and places to set up tents on the court with a few trees coming up between. The restroom was a short walk or you can go in the outdoors, especially when it gets dark. There are great views and the site is right along the road. Plenty of space but not entirely private. We where there for Halloween weekend and the visitors center was a haunted house and there were guided cemetery tours and lots of fun all around so lots more people than usual that weekend I think and we still did not see that many people. Tons of easy hiking along dilapidated old rods and bunkers for poking around in and exploring. Views from the island were great!
This is a special piece of land that is being lovingly restored.... both back to nature and to showcase the history of the land. There is lots to explore and great trails to hike. Myrna is a very welcoming and lovely host.... be sure to hang out by the camp fire at night to get to meet her! My son and I were there on Thanksgiving and were welcomed to dinner with the family. And Nitro (the dog) hikes with the two of us all over the place making my sons' day!
What an amazing way to bring in the New Year. Upon arrival, I wasn't sure what to expect, considering it is an old naval base. It wasn't your typical beauty I've come to expect when camping, but the more I explored, the more I fall in love with the place. We stayed in the Yurt on the Old Tennis Court. There was a very old graveyard behind our site, which added to the beauty. The Yurt isn't like any camping I've ever done before. This is like camping on steroids! There are 3 beds inside and it is absolutely adorable inside. We stayed on NYE, and it got a bit cold, but Myrna provided a portable heater and lots of cozy blankets for us. We had a full set-up kitchen outside....everything but running water. There were even wine glasses! But the best part of our trip was Myrna. She greeted us in style. She gave us flowers in a vase and a bottle of wine, this was probably because it was NYE. Myrna is amazing. We sat around a campfire (at the visitor center) with all of the volunteers and Myrna told us the best stories. If you get a chance, I highly recommend staying a night....or two.
I loved this place. Myrna was the most gracious host. It had all the convenience except for a shower. I was amazed at the cleanliness. It is in the middle of a nature preserve and still spotless, even the porter potty! it's close to the city and also perfectly cut off from the city. It comes with the convenience of generator for charging, good road access, stoves, clean water, cozy beds. Perfect for a girls getaway into nature.
I'm definitely going to stay here again.
Our weekend at Mare Island was a spur of the moment getaway for the family as our recently grown children and college-attending son made their way home for the weekend at the same time. To celebrate being together and my daughter's birthday, we decided to try out a "glamping" adventure as first time yurt visitors! The yurt was both cute and comfy (with the warmest, colorful blankets ever), and perfectly fit our family of five. The fully stocked dining and stove area made it very easy for some family meals without the hassle of hauling everything in ourselves. A very clean port-a-potty was a short distance away. Myrna was there to give us a friendly welcome, too, and prepared everything we needed (including plenty of water, a bottle of wine, and lawn chairs.) Turns out...All we needed to bring was our curious selves.
The preserve proved to be a unique, historical, and easy way to get outdoors for some interesting day hikes. There was just enough balance between feeling like we "owned the place" and sharing space with day visitors, but the tennis court was tucked away to give us the comfort of some solitude, too. The slice of history while adventuring along the trails was an interesting break in the otherwise monotony of other nature hikes. The only downside of our weekend adventure, and of this we all agree...the recent rains made the mosquitoes way too plentiful. Myrna left us a good supply of mosquito repellent, but the girls, in particular, were still eaten alive. We'll be back, but next time I'm sure the girls will be dressed in whatever mosquito armor they can find. Despite the little winged onslaught, we all had a great time.
Wonderful experience! The place was very clean! When we arrived, Myrna was on her knees, even, scrubbing the floor to ensure there was no residual dust. She even had 2 lovely pink rugs for us to put by our beds so our feet wouldn't get cold if we were to get up in the morning or in the night.
Everything is stocked, ice and water was provided, and Myrna had loads of history to share with us when we asked.
I saw jack rabbit, beautiful butterflies that landed right on my backpack and hung out for a while, geese, both on the ground and flying overhead, and many other birds.
I stayed there for both the experience, but mainly because no hotel/motel in Vallejo had decent reviews.
I am definitely coming back! My only regret is that we did not have time for the campfire.
We had a wwonderful Sunday evening here before work. Honestly was the best way to avoid the Sunday scaries :). The yurt came equipped with everything we needed to make a delicious meal, a separate tent for us to eat our dinner while still enjoying the outdoors, and easy access to a bunch of trails for a nice evening stroll :). Myrna was so accommodating and helped us figure out the best way to take the ferry in the morning so we could get to work. Honestly was a great way to start the week and couldn't have asked for a better micro adventure spot in the Bay Area <3
Myrna is a fantastic host!
The yurt was set up with 3 very comfortable beds which easily slept 5 adults. The kitchen setup had everything we needed and more, including a brand new ice chest full of ice a bottle of wine! Lots of picnic tables and camp chairs were provided. This campsite is very good for groups. A campfire is allowed at the visitors center, which is about 1/4 mile walk from the campsite.
Book this campsite and support the Preserve, truly a hidden gem!