California Public Hunting Campgrounds

California Wildlife Area camping locations, California Wildlife Area camping spots, California public hunting campgrounds for California hunting seasons.

On this page, you’ll find info about California public hunting campgrounds, including national wildlife refuges (NWR), State wildlife areas (WLA) and ecological reserves (ER). We also have a list of areas that either allow, restrict or prohibit camping and/or trailers. Finally, there are special rules for camping near watering areas, guzzlers, and wells.


Definition for California Public hunting Campgrounds

For the purpose of State wildlife areas, camping is defined as,

“[A]n overnight or after-hours visitor stay which may include a vehicle, trailer, motor home, boat, tent, or any other type of vehicle or shelter.” See 14 CCR § 550(b)(11).

Elsewhere, “camping/occupying” is defined as “establishing or inhabiting a camp; resting; picnicking; sleeping; parking or inhabiting any motor vehicle or trailer; hunting; or engaging in any other recreational activity for a period of more than thirty (30) minutes at a given location.” See 14 CFR § 730(a).

“Campers” are defined as a shell or shelter made to be mounted on a pickup truck.


California Public Hunting Campgrounds for Camping and Trailers

The following wildlife areas have California public hunting campgrounds. You can only use them in compliance with local restrictions. See 14 CCR § 551(m), and 14 CCR § 552 for updates.

  1. Antelope Valley Wildlife Area allows camping, but only from May 1 through October 31. Trailers are NOT trailers.
  2. Ash Creek Wildlife Area allows camping.
  3. Butte Valley Wildlife Area allows camping.
  4. Cache Creek Wildlife Area allows primitive camping. However, trailers and camping are not allowed within one-quarter mile of designated parking areas.
  5. Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area allows camping in the parking lot of the Upper Unit. It’s not allowed in the Lower Unit.
  6. Daughtery Hill Wildlife Area allows overnight parking with trailers but only in designated parking lots. Camping, though, is not allowed.
  7. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area allows camping and trailers, but only during waterfowl seasons for Ducks and Geese. You can’t park your trailer more than one week before the beginning of waterfowl season. It has to be removed within one week after waterfowl season ends. All campers have to be attached to a registered vehicle. All trailers have to be registered at the checking station within one week of placement. Campers are defined as a shell or shelter made to be mounted on a pickup truck.
  8. Grizzly Island only allows camping, but only with prior written permission from the area manager and only during the Tule Elk season.
  9. Honey Lake Wildlife Area allows camping.
  10. Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area allows camping.
  11. Hope Valley Wildlife Area only allows backpack camping, but only east of Highway 89.
  12. Imperial Wildlife Area allows limited camping in the designated areas of the Finney-Ramer Unit and the Wister Unit. However, you need a daily use permit. You can leave unattached trailers or tens on the checking station parking lots.
  13. Indian Valley Wildlife Area allows camping, but trailers are not allowed.
  14. Knoxville Wildlife Area allows camping in designated areas. Primitive camping is allowed beyond one-quarter mile of designated parking areas.
  15. Lake Sonoma Wildlife Area allows camping, but only in the Army Corps of Engineers designated campgrounds.
  16. Little Panoche Reservoir Wildlife Area allows camping, but only in parking lot. The only exception is during authorized dog trials when participants can park trailers at designated locations inside the area.
  17. Los Banos Wildlife Area only allows camping at the main office parking area, but only during waterfowl seasons for Ducks and Geese, and Pheasant seasons, and during organized events.
  18. Mendota Wildlife Area allows camping at the hunter check station, but only during waterfowl seasons for Ducks and Geese.  You need a season parking pass, which is available by advance lottery.
  19. North Grasslands allows camping, but not beyond the check station.
  20. O’Neil Forebay Wildlife Area allows camping, but only in the parking lot, and in other designated locations during authorized trials.
  21. Oroville Wildlife Area allows camping, but only in designated campsites. Building a shelter in a designated campsite is considered camping and is subject to camping restrictions provided in Subsection 550(b)(11) . The same is true for parking a vehicle equipped with sleeping accommodations. Fires are allowed, but only in portable gas stoves at sites designated for camping. The area is closed to all public uses from one hour after sunset until the legal entry time the following morning. The only exception is for the designated camping area(s), which are open 24 hours.
  22. Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge allows camping on gravel bars, but only for up to 7 days during any 30-day period. Camping isn’t allowed anywhere else on the refuge.
  23. San Luis National Wildlife Refuge allows camping, but ONLY in the parking area of the Salt Slough Unit of the North Grasslands Wildlife Area.
  24. San Luis Obispo Wildlife Area allows camping, but it’s restricted to the parking lot. The lots accommodates up to 30 vehicles except with written permission from the regional manager.
  25. San Luis Reservoir allows camping, but only the in parking lot.
  26. Shasta Valley Wildlife Area allows camping.
  27. Spenceville Wildlife Area allows camping, but only in designated campsites between September 1 and the end of the spring Turkey season. Fires are allowed, but only in portable gas stoves at sites designated for camping.
  28. Surprise Valley Wildlife Area allows camping, but in the south parking area and NOT from April 1 through August 15.
  29. Tehama Wildlife Area allows camping.
  30. Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area allows overnight camping, including trailers and motor homes, but only in check station parking lots.
  31. Volta Wildlife Area allows camping, but only in the check station parking lot during waterfowl seasons for Ducks and Geese. Boat trailers are allowed beyond the checking station, but only for the purpose of launching boats at designated areas.

Prohibited Camping and/or Trailers

The hunting areas listed below do not have California public hunting campgrounds unless noted otherwise. There are also notes when campfires are prohibited. See 14 CCR § 551(m), and 14 CCR § 552 for updates.

  1. Antelope Valley Wildlife Area prohibits trailers.
  2. Baldwin Lake, San Bernardino National Forest.
  3. Bass Hill Wildlife Area.
  4. Big Lagoon Wildlife Area.
  5. Big Sandy Wildlife Area.
  6. Biscar Wildlife Area.
  7. Canatra/Ney Springs Wildlife Area.
  8. Cartago Wildlife Area.
  9. Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.
  10. Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
  11. Clear Lake Wildlife Area.
  12. Clifton Court Forebay.
  13. Collins Eddy Wildlife Area.
  14. Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.
  15. Colusa Bypass Wildlife Area.
  16. Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area prohibits camping and trailers in the Lower Unit, but allows camping in the parking lot of the Upper Unit.
  17. Crocker Meadows Wildlife Area.
  18. Daughtery Hill Wildlife Area prohibits camping, but overnight parking with trailers is allowed in designated parking lots.
  19. Decker Island Wildlife Area.
  20. Delevan National Wildlife Refuge.
  21. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
  22. Doyle Wildlife Area.
  23. East Walker Wildlife Area prohibits camping and trailers, but Forest Service campgrounds are nearby.
  24. Eel River Wildlife Area.
  25. Elk River Wildlife Area.
  26. Fay Slough Wildlife Area.
  27. Fremont Weir Wildlife Area.
  28. Hallelujah Junction.
  29. Havasu National Wildlife Refuge prohibits camping and trailers on the Refuge; however, there are several campgrounds, RV parks, and hotels located near the Refuge in California (Needles); Arizona (Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City); and Nevada (Laughlin).
  30. Heenan Lake Wildlife Area.
  31. Ecological reserves (see 14 CFR 630(a)(h)).
  32. Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area overnight camping and overnight use is prohibited. However, horse trailers are allowed within the designated parking area, if space is available.
  33. Horizontal wells: camping and trailers are prohibited within 200 yards of horizontal wells (see 14 CFR § 730(a).
  34. Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
  35. Imperial National Wildlife Refuge.
  36. Kern National Wildlife Refuge.
  37. Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area.
  38. Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
  39. Laguna Wildlife Area prohibits campfires.
  40. Lake Berryessa Wildlife Area prohibits campfires.
  41. Lake Earl Wildlife Area.
  42. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
  43. Lower Sherman Island Wildlife Area.
  44. Mad River Wildlife Area..
  45. Merced National Wildlife Refuge.
  46. Miner Slough Wildlife Area.
  47. Modoc National Wildlife Refuge prohibit camping and trailers on the Refuge. However,  there are commercial campgrounds, RV parks, and hotels located in Alturas, which is three miles NE of the Refuge (see our map at the end of this list).
  48. Morro Bay Wildlife Area prohibits campfires.
  49. Moss Landing Wildlife Area.
  50. Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area.
  51. Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area prohibits campfires.
  52. Ney Springs/Canatra Wildlife Area.
  53. Perris Reservoir State Recreation Area prohibits camping and trailers in the hunting area.
  54. Petaluma Marsh Wildlife Area.
  55. Pickel Meadow Wildlife Area.
  56. Point Edith Wildlife Area.
  57. Putah Creek Wildlife Area.
  58. Rector Reservoir Wildlife Area prohibits campfires.
  59. Red Lake Wildlife Area.
  60. Rhode Island Wildlife Area.
  61. Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.
  62. Sacramento Bypass Wildlife Area.
  63. Sacramento River Wildlife Area.
  64. Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge.
  65. San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area.
  66. San Luis National Wildlife Refuge prohibits camping and trailed on the San Luis, Blue Goose, and the West Bear Units.
  67. San Jacinto Wildlife Area.
  68. Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.
  69. San Pablo Bay Wildlife Area.
  70. South Spit Wildlife Area.
  71. Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
  72. Sutter National Wildlife Refuge.
  73. Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area.
  74. Truckee River Wildlife Area.
  75. Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
  76. Waukell Creek Wildlife Area.
  77. West Hilmar Wildlife Area.
  78. White Slough Wildlife Area.
  79. Willow Creek Wildlife Area.
  80. Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area prohibits overnight parking of trailers and motor homes.


State Wildlife Areas

California public hunting campgrounds at State Wildlife Areas have a few rules to keep in mind about where, how, and how long to camp.

Designated Campsites

In general, camping in vehicles and/or boats is allowed, but ONLY in designated areas.  There may be more restrictions at specific areas. See 14 CFR 550(p).

Dogs

If you bring a dog to a campsite, it must be leashed at designated campsites and camping stations. See 14 CFR 550(m) and (n).

Duration

When camping is allowed, you can’t stay more than one week at a time, or more that 14 days total in any calendar year. The only exception is with written permission from the Regional Manager. See 14 CFR 550(p).


Watering Areas

Any time your camping near a “watering area,” guzzler, or well, there’s a few rules to keep in mind.

Guzzlers

You can’t camp within 200 yards of a “guzzler.” See 14 CFR § 730(a).

Wildlife Watering Place

You can’t camp wishing 200 yards of a “wildlife watering place.” See 14 CFR § 730(a).

Wells

You can’t camp within one-quarter mile of certain wells (e.g Butte, Schaffer, Tableland, Table Mountain, Timer and Belfast). See 14 CFR § 730(a).

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