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All-New California Camping -- Never Get Stuck Again!

California Camping California Camping, The Complete Guide

944 pages, Avalon Travel Publishing 2009

No. 1 Outdoor Book in the World, Parks and Recreation, - 2000.

Read the article -- New California Camping book details hidden spots -- Never Get Stuck Again!

Tom Stienstra, the nation's top-selling outdoors writer, invites you to spend the night under the stars with the latest edition of Moon California Camping. Extremely comprehensive and packed with useful information, Moon California Camping covers more than 1,500 camping options throughout the state, from sites nestled among towering redwoods to remote backcountry destinations in the High Sierra to sun-drenched, beach-side campgrounds. Detailed descriptions, directions, contact information, and Tom's signature "scenic rating" are provided for each site. Tom also includes lists of the best campgrounds, such as Best for Hikes with Views and Best Family Destinations, as well as sixty pages of helpful camping tips. With Moon California Camping, seasoned outdoors enthusiasts and camping novices alike can experience the best of the great outdoors in the Golden State.

Covering every worthwhile destination in California, this is the camper's guide to finding the best spots in the Golden State. Families, day-trippers, and seasoned campers looking for a change of pace will all find the perfect campground among the options selected by renowned outdoor enthusiast Tom Stienstra. Destinations vary from the Mojave Desert in the south to Redwood forests in the north, and beaches along the Central Coast. This guidebook provides updated, easy-to-use region and trail maps, descriptive keynotes for every geographical region, and facility and fee information. Detailed descriptions let campers know when they're near a waterfall, scenic overlook, or wildflower field. California Camping has the details on the best California camping available.

Every word has passed through my keyboard. Every page has been reviewed for accuracy by a ranger, recreation officer or park owner, and then again by myself, two research editors, Stephani Cruickshank and Pamela Padula, and two editors, Rebecca Browning and Karen Bleske. We challenged each other to achieve the best, to produce the most accurate, up-to-date, easy-to-use and complete outdoor guide ever published in America.

The reason we have gone to these lengths is this mission to make California Camping your book of choice, the book you will trust, the book you always keep on your dashboard or front seat during your upcoming getaways.

The primary value of the book is simple: You will never get stuck for the night again. Never. With this book, your days of being a prisoner of hope are over, that is, praying you'll find a spot for the night.

Instead, as you roam about and learn the state as I have in the past 25 years as a full-time outdoors writer, you will discover the hundreds of little known lakes, streams, trailheads, and coastal parks that can help transform your life into one of wonder, adventure and happiness.

All-new format for easy use
If this book looks different than anything you have ever seen, that's because it is. We started this new book by breaking the state out into 16 distinct geographic zones. Each of these zones represents a chapter, almost as if it were a miniature book on its own. Then, within that chapter, we split the zones into detailed maps, with an easy-to-follow numbering system so you can find any location in California in a matter of seconds. That is accomplished with the chapters and maps numbered serially, somewhat like a textbook. This is a new format and I believe it will help make this book a landmark in guidebook publishing in America.

My first intent was to capture what I've seen and learned in 25 years of roaming around as a fulltime outdoors writer, covering nearly 1 million miles in California alone. That includes exploring all 58 counties, 20,000 hiking miles, a thousand lakes, the entire coast, 20 national forests, 50 wilderness areas, and 250 state, national, regional and county parks. I'm always looking for another place to go and then capture the outdoor experience, and there always seems to be another place to discover and explore.

I also want the book to be easy to use. It's always bugged me when people provide imprecise directions, especially for professional use. So for this book, I transformed how directions are written with a new master style for all 1,500 campgrounds in California: Every direction in the book is written as if a person in the right seat of a car is reading it to the person who is driving. This, I admit, a huge improvement over anything I have previously published, especially for the central Sierra and Southern California.

One note is that the prices listed for each camp were provided to us for the 2003 season. Over the course of seasons and years, prices go up. Count on it. If price is a bottom-line concern, call the contact number listed before planning your visit.

"No place left to go?"
The way this book came about is filled with irony. It started when I kept hearing people complaining, "There is nowhere left to go in California." I used to think that myself. In the 1980s, I even started planning to move to Alaska or the Northwest Territories to be a bush plane pilot and guide. In the process of being certified as a pilot, I looked down on the vast California landscape and started seeing another world out there, a world outside the tunnel of freeway traffic, where all things great and wonderful seemed possible. My mission suddenly changed. I wanted to explore all of these great places that were being unveiled to me from the air.

This book largely details that life-long adventure:

  • 384 lakes you can drive to, including 190 without boat ramps, where with a canoe, kayak or inflatable you can create your own personal paradise, often for free or very low cost.
  • 800 national forest campgrounds, including 600 not listed on any reservation service, often remote and beautiful spots at lakes, rivers or trailheads.
  • Every national park, state park, county park, regional park and city park with campgrounds, including little-known sites that have space available on even three-day weekends, and secrets for how to even find space at California's most popular destinations.
  • 20 million acres of national forest, 17.5 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, 1,100 miles of coast, a dozen islands, 55 prominent wilderness areas, and every landscape form that exists, coast, bays, rivers, lakes, and estuaries . . . mountains, valleys, wetlands, desert, forest and ocean.
  • 600 boat ramps, 280 lakes with swimming, 130 lakes with power boating, 45 rivers with rafting or canoeing.
  • Detailed and fact-checked information about each camp's setting, facilities, fees, reservation policies and nearby recreation.
  • Helpful and anecdotal information about how to put the fun into every trip, including tips on catching fish, dealing with bears, and finding the best camp tents, bags, food, water purifiers and more.
  • Icons that quickly identify activities at each camp.
  • Telephone numbers listed that we have personally phoned - every one!
  • 60 detailed maps.
  • Directions that are the easiest-to-use (and fact-checked) of any outdoor book in the state.
  • Suggestions from readers incorporated to make it the book they want it to be.

    The best time to go is now!
    As you might figure, this is not a hobby for me, as it is for some part-time writers who publish books. Between my job as outdoors columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and putting together guidebooks, this is my full-time job - and has been for 25 years. I spend 150 days a year in the field, traveling an average of 30,000 to 40,000 miles per year; it works because I often fly to cut time, and don't commute to a job or watch TV to cut wasted time. That has given me year's-worth of extra time in the outdoors. In the process, I see first-hand how seriously people take their fun, what they need to know to make their trip work, as well as their underlying fears that they might get stuck for the night without a spot. Sound familiar?
    My advice to solve that is to never go anywhere without this book sitting on your front seat!
    The outdoors is good for the soul, especially when shared with the people you care most for. There's no better time than right now to enjoy the outdoors. See you out there!

    --Tom Stienstra

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