It’s hard to think of a better way to experience nature in Northern California than by camping. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, many of California’s campgrounds are designated free, and some even “dispersed”; meaning that you can camp anywhere on these parcels of land without a permit.

We recently took a road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite and up through the northern coast of California in a campervan. Since we already had our tent on wheels, we researched the best places we could legally stay for free and here’s what we found!

10 Best Free Campgrounds in Northern California

10 Best Free Campgrounds in Northern California

12Camino Cove Campground – Eldorado National Forest

Nestled on the Northwest shore of the Union Valley Reservoir, the Camino Cove Campground has been deemed one of the prettiest campgrounds in the Eldorado National Forest. Open late May through October, stay at the campground while exploring all the area has to offer; including fishing, boating, and hiking the Bassi Falls Hiking Trail!

Nearest Town: Pollock Pines, El Dorado County

Amenities: Fire ring and vault toilets. No potable water, no showers.