Many camping enthusiasts have their campsite reserved months in advance, when the ground is still frosty and sweaters are the fashion choice.
And then there are those who think adventure means booking a campsite the week before the trip, only to discover the sites are all filled up.
If you’re part of the latter group, never fear. There are still some campgrounds that accept last-minute reservations, and you won’t even have to travel far to get there. Here are a few that are practically in your own backyard.
You’ve likely played at Howarth Park, walked the trail around Spring Lake, or visited the Environmental Discovery Center. But have you ever camped at Spring Lake Regional Park? A night at Spring Lake means you have access to kayaking or fishing, bike or horse trails, and a swimming lagoon. And as at every regional park, those with a membership can get one night of free camping. 5585 Newanga Ave., Santa Rosa. 565-2267. www.parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Get_Outdoors/Camping.aspx
For those who are all about convenience when camping, nothing allows for a slightly rustic experience that also includes all the comforts of home than your local KOA. Sonoma County is lucky to have two KOAs – one in Cloverdale and one in Petaluma. Along with space for your tent or RV, you can swim in their pool or lounge in their hot tub, rent a bike, or take a walk through the woods. The Cloverdale KOA has fishing and mini golf, and the Petaluma KOA has tons of adventurous activities that include a climbing wall and a giant inflatable bounce pillow to jump on. Petaluma: 20 Rainesville Road, 763-1492; Cloverdale: 1166 Asti Ridge Road, 894-3337. Website: koa.com
How about camping in the redwoods next to the Russian River at Casini Ranch in Duncans Mills is nestled within the forest and right beside the river. Campsites have picnic tables, fire pits, and nearby water, as well as hookups for RVs. You won’t have to give up your hot shower at this site, and watercraft rentals are available to enjoy on the river. They even offer free WiFi. 22855 Moscow Road, Duncans Mills. www.casiniranch.com
If waking up by the ocean is your idea of a dream camping trip, Lawson’s Landing at Dillon Beach could be right up your alley. The family-owned campground offers activities like clamming, fishing, kayaking, and other outdoor sports. Their sites range from inland on the meadow to a site along the seawall, and are open to both tents and RVs. 137 Marine View Drive, Dillon Beach. 823-2443 lawsonslanding.com
There are plenty more local campgrounds where you can reserve a site at the last minute. A great resource for camping is www.allstays.com, a website that shows just about every available campground in the United States.
Did I miss your favorite camping spot? Leave it in the comments! And for additional reader-recommended campgrounds, check out the discussion at the Press Democrat’s family site, SantaRosaMom.com.