Categories: CampingDestinations

The Best Group Campsites in California, From the Redwoods to the Desert

It may come as no surprise—getting outside is one of our favorite ways to spend time with friends and family. But if you’re looking to avoid the crowds and have enough space for the whole crew, it can be tough to find the right spot. The good news? Whether you want to be truly off the grid or just a few miles from the city (but feel further away), we have something for every group. Here are twelve of the best large group campsites where you can unplug and enjoy nature in good company on your next California camping excursion.

Northern California

Photo by Lauren Kelly

1. Masterson Group Campground, Mendocino National Forest

About one mile from Lake Plaskett, this dog-friendly camping spot is ideal for a summer retreat, offering canoeing, kayaking, and good fishing. Bountiful in birds and wildlife, it’s also a great spot for photography.

Book here: Masterson Group Campground

  • Capacity: 75 people
  • Amenities: Picnic tables, vaulted toilet, water, pets allowed
  • Why you should camp here: Masterson Campground is only accessible via a combination lock, meaning you’ll have plenty of seclusion and privacy.
Photo by Danielle Niakaros

2. The Lost Platform near Humboldt Redwoods State Park

This remote, 8-acre property with three campsites is just a 15-minute drive away from Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Take a short hike into the redwood forests from the campsite and you’ll get views of the Pacific Ocean, too. 

Book here: Lost Coast Retreats

  • Capacity: 22 people
  • Amenities: Picnic table, water, pit toilet, pets allowed off-leash, private firepit with firewood provided, tent camping platform, rentals (pop-up shade structure, bicycles, camp chairs, propane BBQ, 4-person tents)
  • Why you should camp here: The best of the Golden State can be found at this off-grid spot with incredible campsite views of the surrounding mountains and ocean. Hikers and bikers will love the opportunities for exploring during the day, while sky-searchers can settle in for stargazing at night.

3. Alice Eastwood Group Campground, Mount Tamalpais State Park

Set in the North Bay Area, these two tent sites can be rented together and serve as some of the best campsites in the region. Snag the spot for an ideal getaway from the hectic energy of the city.

Book here: Alice Eastwood Group Campground

  • Capacity: 25 people
  • Amenities: Picnic table, water, restrooms with flush toilets
  • Why you should camp here: The main draws include the site’s proximity to San Francisco and its panoramic views.

4. Juniper Lake Group Campground, Lassen National Park

Juniper Lake’s two waterfront campsites are prime for fishing and swimming. You’ll also find miles of Lassen Volcanic National Park hiking trails in the surrounding area— nearby Mount Harkness is particularly popular.

Book here: Juniper Lake Group Campground

  • Capacity: 15 people
  • Amenities: Picnic table, pit toilet, pets allowed
  • Why you should camp here: Lakeside camping spots…did somebody say twilight canoeing?
Photo by Katie Corley

5. Love Creek Sanctuary near Auburn

A 501c3 nonprofit in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, Love Creek Sanctuary is home to 50 rescued alpacas, pigs, peacocks, and more, all of whom guests can interact with. Large groups of up to 40 can rent out the entire 12-acre property at a group rate.

Book here: Love Creek Sanctuary

  • Capacity: 40 people
  • Amenities: Water, hot showers, picnic table, wifi, pets allowed, private gas BBQ and fire pit
  • Why you should camp here:  This animal sanctuary offers a memorable experience for kids with the opportunity to feed donkeys, chickens, pigs, and more. (Adults will love it too.)
Photo by Brian Chorski

6. Earth Castle Empower Retreat Secluded Yurt for Groups near Nevada City

Relax and recharge at this Northern California gem in the mountains of Grass Valley on the edge of Tahoe National Forest on the way to Lake Tahoe. For larger groups, there’s plenty of space to pitch additional tents next to the yurt.

Book here: Earth Castle Empower Retreat

  • Capacity: 24 people
  • Amenities: Water, outdoor shower, bath, compost toilet, camp kitchen, picnic table, king-size bed, futon, cookware, electric burner stove
  • Why you should camp here: For those wanting a unique glamping experience, this yurt with easy access to the Yuba and American rivers fits the bill. Did we mention the Host offers astrology readings? And if you want to check out some charming Gold Rush towns, you can make the 20-minute drive to Grass Valley or Nevada City.
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Southern California

Photo by Kirsten Barrie

1. Circle X Ranch Group Campground, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Tucked in the canyons above Malibu not too far from Los Angeles, this Southern California gem boasts mountain vistas and sunlit sandy beaches. The group campground is the only site, so you’ll have plenty of privacy.

Book here: Circle X Ranch Group Campground

  • Capacity: 75 people
  • Amenities: Vault toilet, picnic table, grill, drinking water, pets allowed
  • Why you should camp here: Highlights include the Batman-esque caverns and creekside picnicking spots.

2. Holiday Group Campground, Los Padres National Forest

Located in a densely forested canyon of trees and wildflowers, this site is cloaked in seclusion by the abyss that is the Los Padres National Forest.

Book here: Holiday Group Campground

  • Capacity: 50 people
  • Amenities: Vault toilet, picnic area, grill, pets allowed
  • Why you should camp here: Hidden creeks and fishing holes make for a quiet cove of relaxation away from the congestion of the city.
Photo by Loretta Richert

3. Bluff Mesa Group Campground, San Bernardino National Forest

Among mixed conifer forest and grassy meadows, this site is situated at almost 7,000 feet and under an hour from both Santa Barbara and Ventura. Accessed by dirt roads, the grounds have lots of large open space and a large camp circle area ideal for your next camping trip.

Book here: Bluff Mesa Group Campground

  • Capacity: 40 people
  • Amenities: Vault toilet, grill, picnic table, pets allowed
  • Why you should camp here: Bluff Mesa is conveniently located just 20 minutes from the shores of Big Bear Lake.

4. Wooded Hill Group Campground, Cleveland National Forest

Enveloped in an underbrush of oak and pine, this site is situated in the Laguna Mountains at 6,000 feet. Gravel roads lead to this sheltered refuge for up to 110 people.

Book here: Wooded Hill Group Campground

  • Capacity: 110 people
  • Amenities: Vault toilet, picnic table, drinking water, parking
  • Why you should camp here: With an extensive network of trails surrounding the big camping area, this is a great place to go hiking or biking with a group. If the sky is clear enough, you’ll also find phenomenal stargazing.

5. NightJar Oasis near Apple Valley

This is a fun, funky spot for campers who want their own space in what truly feels like the middle of nowhere. Those interested in off-grid living can book a Host-led tour of the grounds, which are also home to a research facility focused on sustainable living.

Book here: NightJar Oasis

  • Capacity: 52 people
  • Amenities: Water, pit toilets, showers (for a fee), camp kitchen, picnic tables, wifi, private fire pits, pets allowed, firewood and ice available for purchase.
  • Why you should camp here: If backcountry camping is your thing (think open skies, miles and miles of open roads, and mountain views), make your way to the NightJar Oasis. Set up around the fire pit with your crew and catch an amazing sunset.

Still looking for the perfect group campsite?

Risa Johnson is a freelance writer based in San Luis Obispo, California, who is obsessed with all things travel. Risa was raised in the Southern California desert and once lived in a small town near Rome, Italy. Some of her favorite travel spots include Iceland, Germany, and Norway. On a day off she can often be found out on a trail run, checking out a new coffee shop, or hanging at home with her dog, Ellie.

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