The West coast of the United States offers the backcountry camper destinations that will leave you thirsty for more. With hikes that take you along the coast or deep into interior mountains, there is something for everyone. So here are a few to make your planning a little bit easier. Without a doubt California has some of the best locations for hiking and camping. With the famous Pacific Coast trail dotting through most of the region, there is no shortage of places to see, stay and visit. It is an area that I need to spend more time and experience, but what I have has left me awestruck. The beauty of the parks in this region is how easily accessible they are, airports are close with lots of flights going in and out all year, it becomes a truly affordable destination for most of us with a bad case of the wanderlust.
Point Reys National Seashore – National Park Service – California
There are not many places in America that you can backcountry camp along the ocean on the beach and Point Reys National Seashore allows just that. With trails that take you along the California coast adorned with hills and valleys that give you nice wooded areas accompanied by sandy beaches. You will be able to see wildlife and natural beauties that can only be seen at this location. Like the Grey Whale migration that takes place off the coast every January – April. Or spot some Elephant seals as they sunbathe on the coast or view Tule elk as they wander in their own range. You simply cannot take a bad picture here and there is so much to see and do you will want to plan to be there for a few days. Another added benefit of this park is the fact that you get an opportunity to do something a lot of people only see in movies, you can potentially camp on the beach. A lot of beaches up and down the pacific coast do not allow that, but in national parks in designated areas it is encouraged. I personally grew up on the Coast of North Carolina where camping on the beaches is more or less forbidden in most areas…so this was something I had to experience.
Redwood National and State Parks – National Park Service/California Parks- California
We have all seen the Star Wars movies and know about the Forest moon of Endor. Now see and live for a few days where it was filmed deep in the Redwood National and State Parks. Both parks offer a ton of options for backcountry camping getaways that will place you in the heart a prehistoric forest. You will fell tiny and insignificant around the giant redwood trees that cover the landscape, dwarfing everything natural and man-made. Some of these backcountry camping destinations will take you along the Northern California coast and there you will where the giants meet the ocean. A truly breathtaking adventure that you will not soon forget. This park of course is famous for its large trees and has been home to movie productions such as Star Wars. While you visit the area you will be able to see what is quite literally a natural collection of the largest living things on planet earth. As you wander through the trees you will find yourself looking for a large Dinosaur to come peeking from around the trees, it is truly a Jurassic experience. While you are there, taking in the views of the trees remember this, most of the planet billions of years ago looked just like this, and this area appears to have been a time capsule frozen in time, just waiting for you to experience it!
Yosemite National Park – National Park Service – California
Walk and camp in the footsteps of John Muir as you wander the many backcountry trails that cover the Yosemite National Park. You will see towering waterfalls that will leave you in awe, as well as overhanging rocks towering over vistas proving the perfect view of the valleys below. A truly wild and historic place, as it is one of the first National Parks in the country. Rivers, streams, lakes, and waterfalls make this area a paradise of hidden wonder. There is no wrong direction one can take in this vast wilderness and honestly it is one of the most pristine locations left on earth. Take some time and hit as many trails as you can, you won’t want to miss a thing. John Muir is famous for spending a lot of time living and working in Yosemite. He would walk for days and sometimes weeks carrying only a few crackers and something to write on. Muir was instrumental in founding the National Parks and was able to help have parts of Yosemite be established as a National Monument. So while you are visiting the park take a walk in the shoes of John Muir and hear his words, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
One place specifically that you HAVE to see while visiting this park is Yosemite Falls, it is the tallest and largest waterfall in the park, topping out at about 2,425 feet up. As the water cascades down off the cliffs the roar and the rumble as you approach help build the anticipation. This is truly a sight to behold.
Remember when you head out into the backcountry be sure to leave only your footprints and take with you only pictures and memories. This land is your land, and the west coast has a lot to offer us in terms of backcountry camping locations so do your part to ensure you take care of it, so we all can enjoy them later. Being in the wild will bring out the best parts of you and will shed light on your soul like you never thought possible. You just need to experience it…
Born in North Carolina, raised all over the world and currently living in the Rocky Mountains above Montana. I have spent most of my life fishing, hunting, exploring and adventuring. While the adventure continues I have started to jot a few of them down and write. I Love Fly Fishing and sharing what I know with others. Fish on!