By Suzie Rodriguez
Escape to the coast or bed down in Wine Country – camping in Sonoma County offers a wide range of options to pitch a tent or park an RV.
If you’re thinking of camping and want to nab the best spot, or any spot, you should reserve your campsite today.
Sonoma County Regional Parks' 200-plus campsites on the Sonoma Coast and in Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley can be reserved up to one year in advance. That means campsites for summer or holidays can get booked well in advance. So the earlier you reserve, the better your chance of ending up with a campsite that matches your needs.
Traditional campground are available at Doran Beach, Stillwater Cove, Gualala, Westside and Spring Lake, and they tend to fill up every weekend in summer. There may be availability during the week, but in July, campgrounds are often full even in mid-week so it's definitely a good idea to book early.
Hood Mountain Regional Park in the Mayacamas Mountains offers backpacking sites that can be reserved, but the park has been damaged by recent wildfires and is closed until further notice.
The 24/7 reservation system makes selecting a site a simple process. You enter the dates you intend to camp, as well as the desired campground, and within seconds, a color-coded campground map appears, allowing you to see which sites are available.
When you click on a specific site, you’ll see comprehensive information, including size and number of tent pads, RV parking dimensions, the distance to the showers and restrooms, and much more. You can even view a photo of a specific site. Once you determine the dates and campsite you want, you move on to completing registration and payment—and that’s it.
Looking at campground maps can offer some good insight. Parks staff wants campers to have as much knowledge as possible about options before making the reservation. And, before you go, it’s always a good idea to check the Regional Parks camping page to make sure conditions haven’t changed.
A few reminders from rangers:
- During the pandemic, campers must follow social distancing protocols and safety rules.
- If you have specific questions about a site or campground, call Regional Parks' office at (707) 565-2267 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday to talk to a reservations agent.
- Remember, a Regional Parks membership includes one free night of camping, which is a $35 value. To reserve your free night, you'll need to book by phone.
- One family can book two campsites under the same name. If you're hoping for two sites next to each other, you'll definitely want to book as far ahead as possible.
- Occupancy is limited to eight people per campsite.
- Each site can accommodate two vehicles, and cars must be parked on pavement.
- Dogs on leash are allowed with a $2 fee per dog per night.
- You can use this online chart to quickly compare campground features.
When it comes to making a summer camping reservation in Sonoma County, that old adage is true: The early bird really does get the campsite.
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Suzie Rodriguez is a Sonoma-based writer, editor, lifelong outdoors enthusiast and past president of Bay Area Travel Writers.
Published/Updated June 2020