The crackling of a fire, sticky s’mores all over your kids, dirt under their nails—if that sounds one part awesome and two parts head for the hills-intense, cabin camping—complete with some comforts from home—in California State Parks might be right up your alley. There are 104 cabins in the state parks system, 13 for online reservations last year alone, offering digs like cabins, and yurts and lean-tos to name a few. With more cabins on the way (13 cabins are planned for the rugged shores of the bay on Angel Island, as well as more along the coastal area), we’ve got you covered on your best bets to get away from it all, while having it all.
Big Basin Tent Cabins
Looking for the wow factor from those majestic redwoods? Big Basin Redwoods State Park is the kind of spot that will make your mouth drop, and your kids silent in awe (at least for a few minutes). This is California’s first State Park (dating back to 1902), with more than 80 miles of trails you can check in at the main kiosk and get the scoop from experts on which trails are kid-friendly and offer the best nature eye candy (read: waterfalls).
Each tent cabin has a wooden structure, with a soft-canvas top. Inside you’ve got two double platform beds (great for not having to change a baby’s diapers on the floor of a tent!), a table and bench, and a wood stove for warming your home away from home. Right outside of the cabin is a picnic table and fire pit. Deluxe cabins come with amenities like: beds made with sheets, comforters and pillows, a propane lantern and even washcloths and towels. It’ll feel like you never left home (except for the whole Mother Nature thing). The camp store has everything you need and more from ice cream, snacks and beer.
Reservations can be made online up to seven months in advance, and you’ll want to lock that in, as this site is super popular.
21600 Big Basin Way
Boulder Creek, Ca
Photo: Ezmerelda G. via yelp.com
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park was once a resort, called Paradise Park by the family who owned it, and it’s easy to see why. In the heart of wine country, this 1,900-acre park has it all: hiking, pickning and swimming in a spring-fed pool in the summer. There are cabins and yurts. The three larger reservable yurts sleep up to six people, and seven smaller ones can fit a family of four. Just bring your sleeping bags, utensils, clothes, food and a towel (showers are nearby, and fire pits are right out front) and you can rock a yurt. The fully restored historic cabins boast full kitchens with pots and pans, and even bathrooms with a shower—glamping at its most glamorous.
There’s even an 1846 water-powered mill nearby with tours and mill demonstrations so the kiddos can get their summer lessons on, too (for a small fee).
3801 St Helena Hwy North
Calistoga, Ca 94515
Photo: Brian Baer via Flickr
Clear Lake State Park
If the water is calling, high-tail it to Clear Lake State park, home of California’s largest freshwater lake. Catch up on swimming, fishing, boating, water-skiing and watching waterfowl glide. The eight new cabins you can reserve online offer a ‘get-away-from-it-all’ attitude, and are perched within feet of the lake. Cabins are pumping with electricity, heat and AC, lights and fans—everything to keep you calm, cool and collected. A table, benches and bunk-beds bring it all home while you will still get outdoorsy by cooking over the fire pit or BBQ.
5300 Soda Bay Rd.
Kelseyville, Ca 95451
Photo: Stan Russell
Fernwood Resort Big Sur
Big Sur is this magical blend of coastline, towering peaks, redwoods, sycamores and willow trees that’s sure to send chills up your spine. But getting a campsite at this super popular spot can be tough to say the least. Just a hop, skip and a jump away is Fernwood Resort which offers cabin camping near the Big Sur River bordering Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park—a win-win! The Meadowview and Forest cabins have a fully stocked kitchen, dining room table, living room, bedroom two bunk-beds and even a bathroom. They also have tent cabins complete with beds, and a fire pit and picnic table outside. Or you could upgrade to an “adventure tent,”with the added boost of an electric heater, lights and linens. Options, options, options!
47200 Hwy 1
Big Sur, Ca
Photo: Sean Hoyer via Flickr
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Head north of San Francisco, and you’ll find the mighty, majestic Mount Tamalpais State Park. Redwood forests, grasslands, deep canyons and a panoramic view of the sea and the Bay, that’s sure to take your breath away at a 2,571-feet high. Reserve the wooden Steep Ravine cabins, some of which date back to the 1940s, early, as they’re incredibly popular. The basic cabins don’t have running water or toilets (gasp!), but have basic toilets, running water and firewood nearby. And the cabin itself offers a wood stove, sleeping platforms, picnic table and benches and place to barbecue. A bit more on the rustic side, but totally worth it for the views!
801 Panoramic Hwy
Mill Valley, Ca 94941
Photo: Treebones Resort
If you’ve never stayed in a yurt, reserving one at Treebones Resort at Big Sur is a big time treat. A yurt is a tent-like circular structure with wood lattice frames, cute on the outside, but oh, the inside! Plush queen-sized beds with cozy, comfy comforters, heat, lighting, a sink with hot and cold and even a vanity. Top it off with polished pine wood floors and French doors that open to a redwood deck with fantastic coastal views. Sign us up, stat! Good things to know about this spot: they’re not suitable for infants and toddlers, they have strict two people per yurt rules though they do have two yurts that will hold up to six guests—kids will have to be six or older to stay here.
There are showers and bathrooms nearby, and even a self-serve breakfast.
71895 Hwy 1
Big Sur, Ca
Photo: Miguel Vieira via Flickr
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
If you’re looking for that mix of adventure meets low-key camping, don’t skip Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Shady strolls through those giant Redwoods, right next to Lagunitas Creek, can quickly change to show-stopping views of Marin County on Barnabe Peak. These new cabins boast electricity, platform bunk beds with mattresses, wood floors, covered porches and even a heater leaving you to just bring yourselves (and sleeping bags, food and pots and pans). There is a $100 cleaning deposit required on check-in. The catch? There are only four of these coveted cabins, so you’ll want to reserve online fast (you can do it seven months ahead of your trip).
8889 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Lagunitas, Ca 94938
Photo: jshyun via Flickr
It may be a hike to drive to this spot, but it’s well worth it. Situated in the foothills of the Cascades up towards the Oregon border, the 129-foot picturesque waterfall is one of the best across the whole state (and we’re guessing this year with heavy rains, could be quite a show-stopper). The second park to enter the California Parks system, this place has it all. There are tons of things to do up here: hiking (ever wanted to try a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail? It runs through the park), canoeing, horseback riding, fishing to name a few.
You can reserve one of these 24 insulated, beautiful cabins (only 10 years old!) with bunk beds, propane heat (tho no electricity or plumbing, you’ll have to head to nearby bathrooms instead) and even room outside near the fire pit for another tent. You can even bring your four-legged-friend with you (Note that there is an additional deposit if you bring a dog).
24898 Highway 89
Burney, Ca 96013
Photo: Phae via Flickr
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras Big Trees may only have four cabins reservable online right now, which are converted buildings that have been there for years, but Parks and Rec plans to add 10 to 15 more of them. These cabins are everything: furnished two-bedroom rustic mountain homes have bathrooms with tub-showers, kitchens with a fridge and appliances like a microwave, gas stove even coffee maker, a dining nook even a mud room. But don’t think this is the Ritz of camping—there’s no Wi-Fi, lnternet, TV or cell service so you’ll still get to detach. And with two giant Sequoia groves, nature trails and even a campfire center with summer evening programs thesis the perfect place to unplug in style.
1170 East Hwy 4
Arnold, Ca 95223
Photo: Martin Sikora via Flickr
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Want to hang out in the old growth redwoods, minus the drama of a tent? Check out the cabins at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Though—you’ve heard this before— reserve early since there are only four of them. These cabins have heaters and lights (but sorry y’all, no kitchens or bathrooms) plus bunk beds and room outside for another tent if someone in your group wants to ‘rough’ it.
1440 US 199
Crescent City, Ca 95531
Photo: lori05871 via Flickr
Hendy Woods State Park
Hendy Woods State Park is another one that isn’t long on the list of number of cabins you can reserve (there are only four of them), but beautiful scenery combined with being in the heart of the Anderson Valley wine region make this one a solid option. With groves of towering redwoods, some more than 300 feet tall and 1,000 years old, and five miles of trails, Hendy Woods is a fantastic forest-fun playground.
18599 Philo Greenwood Rd.
Philo, Ca 95466
From plush digs, to more bare bones structures, which cabins are calling your name?