Shasta Camping

Diverse Shasta Camping Options Combine Nature and Recreation


Shasta camping

Shasta camping ranges from posh to primitive, with plenty of opportunities for water play on Northern California’s Shasta Lake. We offer tips on choosing a campground and list several we think you’ll like.

A Shasta Camping Trip Offers Many Opportunities for Fun on the Lake

If you’ve got your heart set on prime Northern California camping, Shasta camping is as good as it gets!

Imagine waking up somewhere along the 370-mile shoreline of beautiful Shasta Lake, the third largest lake in California and the largest man-made reservoir in the state. Surrounding you is the 2.1 million-acre Shasta-Trinity National Forest and its snow-capped crown jewel, 14,179-foot Mt. Shasta. With Shasta camping, nature takes a starring role, inviting you to unwind and unplug.

What will you do once you roll out of your sleeping bag and boil water for your morning coffee? Rent a boat and spend the day water skiiing? Find a quiet cove to fish for bass? Explore the fascinating underground world of Shasta Caverns? It’s all possible with Shasta camping.

But how do you begin to choose a campground? Shasta camping can be confusing because the lake has so many arms, inlets, and secret coves. Not only that, you have several Shasta camping options to sift through. What’s your style? RV camping at a park full of amenities that’s close to Interstate 5? Tent camping in a remote spot that’s only accessible by boat? How about staying overnight in a yurt, a modern version of the ancient shelter used by Central Asian nomads? Or you could really go out on a limb and camp out at an old fire lookout station. Shasta camping offers it all!

But don’t be overwhelmed. We’re here to help you plan your Shasta camping trip with helpful tips designed to narrow your search, plus a list of campgrounds we think you’ll enjoy.

First things first:

Which Shasta Camping Location Best Meets My Needs?

Depending on how much convenience (or peace and quiet) you want, different areas around Shasta Lake cater to particular types of campers. Here are some to consider.

Lakehead area: Easy access to I-5, close to services and shopping

O’Brien area: Close to services and shopping, central access to all the lake’s unique regions

Salt Creek area: Close to I-5 but less convenient access to services and shopping than Lakehead; more peaceful

Gilman Road/McCloud Arm area: Great for boaters who want to park their boat in the lake overnight (but not very close to stores)

Jones Valley area: Perfect for bass fishing and wildlife viewing. Many coves offer seclusion for water activities, and there are stores and restaurants on the way in.

Whom Do I Call for More Info on Shasta Camping?

Shasta Recreation Company is the concessionaire to the U.S. Forest Service and operates the public campgrounds around Shasta Lake. They can answer any specific questions you have about Shasta camping. Call them at (530) 275-8113. Another good source on Shasta camping is the Shasta Lake Visitor Information Center, (530) 275-1589.

You Want Shasta Camping? Check Out These Campgrounds 

Shasta camping comes in all stripes. Whatever your style, there’s a campground to suit your needs. Some campgrounds are open year-round, others are seasonal. Some require reservations, others are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some provide direct access to Shasta Lake, others are tucked away in the forest or located conveniently near “civlization.” Some boast all of the comforts of home, others offer opportunities for truly roughing it. Some are public, some are private. Whatever your preference, Shasta camping promises loads of fun, old-fashioned family bonding, and an affordable way to vacation. Here are a few of our recommendations for campgrounds:

Antlers Campground
Situated on a bluff overlooking the Sacramento arm of Shasta Lake, Antlers Campground is one of the most popular Shasta camping choices. Campers give it a thumbs-up for its proximity to a public boat ramp and convenience to the city of Lakehead, which is just off I-5. Here you’ll find picnic tables, food-storage lockers, tent pads, flush and vault toilets, an amphitheater, grills, and a grocery store. But if you’re the kind of camper who requires a daily shower, you’re out of luck. No showers here! Reserve by calling (530) 275-8113.

* Please note that an additional $8 is required to use any public boat ramp.

Bailey Cove Campground
This campground on the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake is surrounded by forest, yet is still conveniently close to I-5. There’s a public boat ramp adjacent to the campground, and a nice 3-mile trail that hugs the shoreline. For hikers and mountain bikers, that makes a Shasta camping trip all the sweeter! Reservations can be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-977-444-6777.

Lakeshore East Campground
With two public boat ramps nearby, Lakeshore East, located along the shore of the Sacramento arm of Shasta Lake, is perfect for when you want to combine Shasta camping with water activities like boating, fishing, and waterskiing. Or take a tour of the nearby Shasta Caverns. Each site has a picnic table, raised fire ring, and paved parking spur. If you don’t want to mess with a tent, there are three yurts available for rent year-round. The campground can accommodate trailers, but note that there are no electrical hookups or dump stations for trailers. Call (530) 275-8113 to reserve, although walk-ins are welcome year-round.

Ellery Creek Campground
If your Shasta camping trip involves a boat, this campground is a good choice. It’s close to the shores of Shasta Lake and boats can be moored on the shore within sight of the campground. All campsites include a picnic table, tent pads, fire rings, bear boxes, and paved parking spurs. Reserve with the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777.

Dispersed Camping
A number of Shasta camping spots offer the chance to really get away from it all and enjoy your own private section of Shasta Lake. These campsites, operated by the USDA Forest Service, offer few or no permanent facilities and have “pack-it-in, pack-it-out” policies. Some are accessible only by boat. Here are some you might want to check out: Arbuckle Flat Boat-In Campground, Beehive Point Shoreline Campground, Gooseneck Cove Boat-In Campground, Green Creek Boat-In Campground, Gregory Beach Shoreline Campground, Jones Valley Inlet Shoreline Campground, Lower Salt Creek Shoreline Campground, Mariners Point Shoreline Campground, and Ski Island Boat-In Campground.

Hirz Mountain Lookout
A truly unique Shasta camping experience! Stay overnight in a 20-foot lookout tower perched atop a sharp peak offering a 360-degree view of Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, and the McCloud arm of Shasta Lake. This place is hard to get to, though — it’s on a single-lane dirt road best navigated by a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The last quarter-mile section of the road is foot traffic only. Call 1-977-444-6777 to reserve.

Private Campgrounds and RV Parks

Shasta camping doesn’t always mean having to rough it. At some of Shasta’s private campgrounds and RV parks, you need never stray from satellite TV, hot showers, and indoor arcade games. If that sounds more your style, here are a few to consider:

Lakehead Campground & RV Park
Located one quarter mile from a public boat ramp, restaurants, and gas stations, this campground includes tent camping, RV sites with full hookups, three cabin-tents (with beds, electric lights, and fans), and the “Lil Kabin,” which sleeps two to six people and has a kitchen. Amenities include pool, rec room, DVD player, microwave, free WiFi, small country store, laundry facilities, volleyball, horseshoes, basketball and badminton. Looks like they’ve thought of everything to ensure a fantastic Shasta camping vacation! Call (530) 275-1589 for reservations.

Bear Mountain RV Resort and Campground
Shasta camping Bear Mountain-style gives you the option of tent camping, RV camping, or cabin camping. Cabins have bathrooms with showers, air conditioning, small fridge, microwave, and coffee table. (No TV.) Bring your own linens. Campground amenities include a swimming pool, playground, hiking trail, hot showers, and laundry. To reserve, call (530) 275-4728.

Fawndale Oaks RV Park & Campground
This Shasta camping destination wins our “kid-friendly” award. It’s close to Water Works theme park and has a pirate ship-themed play area. There are RV and tent sites, plus a pool, basketball court, tetherball, hiking trails, and a rec room. It’s located in Redding. Call (530) 275-0764 for reservations.

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