Here’s Your Best Plan B for Sold-Out Summer Campsites

If you can’t score a reservation, find a nearby alternative.

With the 4th of July just around the corner, you might be scoping out some prime camping spots in the Golden State. As many of these campsites sell out pretty quickly, there’s sometimes a need for a reliable Plan B. Sunset recently recommended a few last minute options for us procrastinators. Check out a few of our favorites:

Location: Lassen Volcanic National Park

“Juniper Lake: Tucked into the southeast corner of the park, this 18-site campground has one drawback: no running water. (So bring your own, or a purifier.) But the pluses are many: a stunning lakeside location; the nearby half-mile hike to Inspiration Point, where you’ll see half of Northern California from the summit. $10; 530-595-4480.

“Plan B: Warner Valley Campground, in the south-central part of the park, also gorgeous, is near the Devil’s Kitchen geothermal area. $14; nps.gov/lavo or 530-595-4480.”

Location: Yosemite National Park

“Yosemite Creek Campground: If you’ve been thinking, Gee, maybe it’d be fun to go camping at Yosemite this summer, conventional wisdom would answer: “Wrong-o! Too late!” But there is an exception. Yosemite Creek—a large campground 5 miles up a bumpy winding road, off Tioga Road en route to Tuolumne Meadows—doesn’t take reservations. Your pine-shaded, creekside site will put you within an hour of Yosemite Valley and a half-hour of Tuolumne Meadows. So there. $10, $20 park entry; opens early Jul.

“Plan B: The 57 sites at Porcupine Flat Campground, 3 miles farther up Tioga Road toward Tuolumne, are also no-reservation. BYO water. $10, $20 park entry; opens early July; nps.gov/yose

Location: South of Lake Tahoe

“Union Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest: Walk-in sites are scattered judiciously in the pines along the edge of a small Sierra lake, miles from the nearest store or gas station. They come with peaceful water views but without frills—frills like, say, tables, flush toilets, or trash cans. Tip: Bring a canoe and paddle your gear out to claim one of the reservoir’s small islands as your own mini kingdom for the weekend. Free; 209-795-1381.

“Plan B: Try the no-reservation campground at New Spicer Reservoir on the same turnoff from State 4. $22; no phone.”

Get more Plan B camping options here.

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