Fifteen Favorite State Campgrounds

The following list was compiled through informal polling of "public inquiry offices" at the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

1. Lava Beds National Monument (outside Tulelake, 250 miles northeast of Sacramento); telephone (530) 667-2282, Internet "Sweeping views of the Great Basin and Range country." Cost: $10 per night peak season. No reservations.

2. Redwood National and State Parks, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park campground (off California 199 near Crescent City, 100 miles north of Eureka); tel. (707) 464-6101, camping reservations (800) 444-7275, Internet "Classic car camping in the redwoods and along the Smith River." Cost: $16 per night peak season. Reservations Memorial Day through Labor Day.

3. Lassen Volcanic National Park, Manzanita Lake Campground (50 miles east of Redding on California 44); tel. (530) 595-4444, Internet "Alongside a shallow lake in the shadow of a dormant volcano." Cost: $14 per night. No reservations.

4. Kings Canyon National Park (80 miles east of Fresno); tel. (209) 565-3341, Internet "Four campgrounds in cedar grove, deep in a canyon and along the Kings River." Cost: $12 night for individual sites; no reservations.

5. Mojave National Preserve, Mid Hills Campground (100 miles east of Barstow off U.S. 40); tel. (760) 733-4040, Internet "A 5,000-foot-high desert campground." Cost: $10 per night. No reservations.

6. Trona Pinnacles (about 20 miles east of Ridgecrest); tel. (760) 384-5400. "Tufa formations along a salt lake, surrounded by desert mountains." Free. No facilities.

7. McCain Valley Resource Conservation Area (off U.S. 8 at the town of Boulevard near the Mexican border); tel. (760) 337-4400. "Campground at 3,500 feet, great wildflower country." No running water. Cost: $6 per night. No reservations.

8. Corn Springs (off U.S. 10 east of Desert Center); tel. (760) 251-4800. "Campground in a palm oasis." Cost: $6 per night. No reservations.

9. Blue Point Campground, Los Padres National Forest (north of Lake Piru, 15 miles northeast of Fillmore); tel. (805) 646-4348, Internet "Mountain canyon near the condor release site." No drinking water. Cost: $16 per night. Reservations encouraged.

10. Wheeler Gorge, Los Padres National Forest (off California 33 north of Ojai); tel. (805) 646-4348. "Up a windy mountain road, along a creek known for thermal springs." Cost: $12 per night plus $8 reservation fee.

11. Inyo National Forest (180 miles east of San Francisco); tel. (760) 873-2400, Internet "Campgrounds along a stream below Tioga Pass, backed by Yosemite mountains." Cost: $7 to $11 per night. No reservations.

12. Big Basin Redwoods State Park (20 miles northwest of Santa Cruz via California 9 and 236); tel. (408) 338-8861. Camping reservations at (800) 444-7275; tent cabin reservations at (800) 874-TENT. "Camp among the redwoods in California's oldest state park." Cost: $17 per night weekdays, $18 per night weekends peak season.

13. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (due east of Julian, off California 78 at Borrego Springs); tel. (760) 767-5311, camping reservations (800) 444-7275. Cost: $15 to $22 per night.

14. Carpinteria State Beach (12 miles southeast of Santa Barbara, off U.S. 101); tel. (805) 684-2811, camping reservations at (800) 444-7275. Cost: $17 to $28 per night; $1 more Fridays, Saturdays.

15. Millerton Lake State Recreation Area (20 miles northeast of Fresno via California 41 and 145); tel. (209) 822-2332, camping reservations at (800) 444-7275. "Camping along a reservoir in the Sierra foothills." Cost: $16 per night peak season.

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