This charming mountain town is a great year-round base for adventures.
Towering more than 14,000 feet, snow-capped and volcanic Mount Shasta dominates the landscape of Northern California. On its southwestern slopes, the town of Mount Shasta makes for an ideal base with amenities for visitors both spiritual and adventurous. Year-round outdoor recreation opportunities include hiking, mountaineering, caving, biking, waterfall chasing, boating, fishing, camping, and a wide range of winter sports. The area is surrounded by several state parks and national forests, including the state’s largest, and campers will find plenty of overnight options, from developed lakeside and riverside campgrounds to dispersed campsites in the mountains.
Private campground options allow you to stay in a tent, RV, or cabin close to town, while developed forest service campgrounds at McBride Springs and Panther Meadows allow campers to stay on the slopes of Mount Shasta itself. Several public lakeside camping options can also be found nearby, including at Lake Shastina, Castle Lake, Gumboot Lake, and Toad Lake, while a private resort around Lake Siskiyou is full of amenities. Further south, Castle Crags State Park offers developed and environmental sites.
Shasta-Trinity is the largest national forest in California and known for its many rivers and streams. Not surprisingly, many campground options can be found along a river or creek, including the McCloud River, Upper Sacramento River, Trinity River, and Eagle Creek. In Klamath National Forest, campers have options along the Klamath River, Scott River, and North Fork of the Salmon River, while equestrians can bunk down at Hidden Horse and Carter Meadows campgrounds near the Pacific Crest Trail.
Less than an hour away, California’s largest reservoir is a hotspot for all things water related. More than 30 public campgrounds can be found around the lake’s three main arms, including developed, group, boat-in, and dispersed shoreline campgrounds. Popular options include the Sacramento River Arm’s Lakeshore East Campground, the McCloud River Arm’s Bailey Cove Campground, and the Pit River Arm’s Jones Valley campgrounds. Private campgrounds and RV resorts offering more extensive amenities can also be found around the lake.
Southeast of Mount Shasta, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park offers an epic waterfall and a campground, while PG&E runs several campgrounds around Lake Britton. Nearby Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park offers a unique boat-in campground on Big Lake. Several lakeside and riverside campgrounds can be found in the Hat Creek and Almanor ranger districts of Lassen National Forest, while Lassen Volcanic National Park offers a surreal landscape of volcanic and alpine terrain, pretty lakes, and eight campgrounds.
Summer is the best time for camping and hiking in the region. Popular campgrounds fill up early, especially over weekends and holidays. Most hiking trails are closed in the winter, but outdoor enthusiasts can go sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and even downhill skiing at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park. Waterfalls will be at their fullest in spring, while spring and summer are the best times for wildflowers.
Free dispersed camping is available in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest surrounding Shasta Lake. Keep in mind that Leave No Trace principles should always be followed when camping in these areas. Some popular free camping spots include Hirz Mountain Lookout, Packers Bay, and Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area. Be sure to check current regulations and restrictions before heading out, as conditions and rules may change. For more information on camping in the Shasta Lake area, visit Hipcamp.