Thinking about camping in Sonoma County this summer? If so and if you 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 summer campsites 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.
" Doran Beach, Stillwater Cove and Gualala fill up every weekend in summer," said Ranger Susan Bechtel, referring to the parks in Bodega Bay and on Sonoma's far north coast. "It's a little more open during the week, but in July, we’re often full even in mid-week, so it's definitely a good idea to book early.”
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.
"We encourage people to look at the campground map," said Ranger Jeff Taylor who manages campgrounds at Spring Lake Regional Park and backpacking sites at Hood Mountain Regional Park. "We want everyone to have as much insight as possible before making the reservation."
If you're not a planner, the parks also have a limited number of first-come, first-served campsites. "We can't hold the sites over the phone," Taylor said, "but campers can call to see if we have any available at that time. We can't promise the sites will still be there when they arrive, though. We give those sites to whoever gets there first."
A few reminders from rangers:
- If you have specific questions about a site or campground, call Regional Parks' office at (707) 565-2267 Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 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 or in person.
- 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 8 people per campsite (except for group sites.)
- 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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Note: This post was originally published in 2016.