Camping with Kids around the Sacramento Valley

 IMG_3363 By Heather Crivellone

The kids may be back in school, but summer weather in Sacramento lasts through September- and some years, well into October!  With several weekends left to enjoy the “summertime”, it’s the perfect excuse to head up the hill with you family and enjoy a good old fashioned camping trip. Camping is such a family favorite- it’s affordable, great for the kids and who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows over an open flame?  Our family tries to plan as many camping trips as possible- and living in Sacramento we have some great options in every direction to choose a relatively close camping destination.  Whether it’s on the sandy beach at the coast, up in the high sierras, in the middle of the redwoods or at one of the local lakes- you can be sitting next to a campfire and enjoying nature in just a few hours (give or take some “set up” time).

Here are a few of our family favorites that are within a couple hours from Sacramento:

Sly Park– 4771 Sly Park Rd, Pollock Pines.
Just up Hwy 50, past Apple Hill, is one of our favorite campgrounds.  With beautiful views of Jenkinson Lake, plenty of hiking trails and our kids love to swim and play at the beach- it’s the best way to enjoy nature while being so close to the city (it’s only about a 45 minute drive from Sacramento). Amenities include:  boating, fishing, hiking, general store close by, plenty of picnic tables, vault toilets (unfortunately, it’s not “glamping” and they don’t have flushing toilets- but, it is camping after all).

Collins Lake- 7350 Collins Lake Rd, Browns Valley.siena-paddle
This resort is a family favorite for many Sacramento residents.  Located in the Gold Country Foothills just over an hour East of Sacramento- this campground offers a wide variety of family activities.
Amenities include:  marina and boat rentals, fishing (they are known for their “big bass and trophy trout”, ice cream shop and espresso shop, children’s playground, swimming beach, general store, laundry, showers and flushing toilets.  YES- ladies, they do have showers and flushing toilets!  This is my kind of camping.
The only downside to Collins Lake campground, is that it can be crowded and on holiday weekends- you should reserve sites way in advance.

Lake Berryessa– Hwy 128, Napa
Only about an hour drive from Sacramento, Lake Berryessa is our families “go to”. We love the proximity to Sacramento and the lake (when it’s full), is absolutely beautiful and perfect for a day out on the boat. They have several campgrounds around the lake with amenities including:  hiking, children’s playgrounds, boating, fishing, and vault toilets (sorry ladies).

Fallen Leaf Lake– 2165 Fallen Leaf Rd, South Lake Tahoe.
This campground is a little bit further from Sacramento, but being “deep in the woods” as my daughter would say, gives you a bit more of the “camping feel”.  They have bear lockers to store your food- and if you are lucky enough to leave your scraps behind, you may just have a visitor in the middle of the night!  The seclusion makes you really enjoy nature rather than just “hopping off the freeway”.

Amenities include:  general store, showers, flushing toilets (Hooray for flushing toilets!), and if you wanting more of a “Glamping” experience- they rent Yurts that have electric heather and lamps, futons and even bunk beds!

These are just some suggestions of the many different areas to choose from.  Camping is a great family activity and with some preparation ahead of time, you can enjoy a relaxing weekend away in nature while creating lifelong family memories.

Camping in Sac


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