Camping Guide:Mt. Shasta

sunrise over mt. shasta

An active volcano, a national forest, and a small town all in one, Mt. Shasta stands proud at over 14,000′ in elevation, snow-capped and glacier-speckled year-round. There are two ways to approach this beautiful triangle cutting into the sky, as far as camping goes. One can either nestle into the comforts of an RV park in Mount Shasta the town, or get lost in the expansive groves of Shasta National Forest.

In either case, you’ll be poised to either revel in the gorgeousness of the mountain just slightly in the distance and explore its many secrets. Given the mountain’s many dirt roads, our Revel Class B RV rentals are the perfect home-on-wheels for discovering what Mt. Shasta has to offer.

Free RV Camping in Shasta National Forest

While the national forest, and mountain itself, are expansive, the easiest access to the best camping exists on the southwestern slopes. Three national forest “campgrounds” all sit within a few miles of one another, all within 25 minutes of town’s supplies.

All of these sites are free, have usable cell phone service, and little else in the way of amenities. Even calling them campgrounds is a stretch, they’re really just various, dispersed camping sites grouped into specific areas by name.

Bunny Flat (GPS: 41.3529, -122.2337) is the only one of these areas that has a toilet. It, along with Sand Flat (GPS: 41.3542, -122.2484), are popular “staging areas” for those brave souls looking to hike into the wilderness or summit Mt. Shasta’s mountaineering challenges. In either case, you’ll be glad you rented one of our Class B RVs, because when mountain climbing is at its peak, there is little room for big rigs left at these locations. As this is dispersed camping, don’t expect signs or picnic tables to mark each campsite. Instead, scout out an open space in the forest which has clearly been used before, to call your site. The National Forest Service, and Leave No Trace principles, require you to use previously created camping spaces in favor of trying to create a new one. Additional spots can be found along Everitt Highway (GPS: 41.346, -122.2431), which assumes a name of some amount of grandeur despite being a dirt road.

If you’ve never camped outside of designated campgrounds before, stop in at the Ranger’s Station in town (near the Burger Express) and ask for advice on how to find a great spot to explore the region.

Or if you really like the concept of a picnic table and fire ring at an established site, checkout Mcbride Springs Campground (GPS: 41.3517, -122.2836), which provides just such amenities (and a vault toilet) for $10 per night.

RV Camping in Mount Shasta, California

If roughing it way up in the woods just isn’t your cup of glacial-fed tea water, have no fear. Mount Shasta, the town, is a cute little collection of streets just off of I-5, with ample restaurants, shops and places to stock up on supplies before heading out into the wilderness.

Mount Shasta City KOA (GPS: 41.3219, -122.3173) is your best bet for full hookup camping right in town. You’ll be positioned less than a mile from eateries with names like Handsome John’s Speakeasy and Say Cheese Pizza, and the drive into the national forest is over with in under ten minutes. If you’ve never stayed at a KOA before, expect your site to have you crammed right up next to your neighbor, plenty of social activity, such as children playing to their heart’s content, and a well-stocked camp store. Kampgrounds of America are family-friendly, RV park style facilities with hot showers, flushing toilets, playgrounds and things like live music and ice cream socials on certain nights. This one also happens to be located near an active railroad track, and is one of the few places in town where towering Mount Shasta herself won’t be immediately visible. Expect to pay $20 per night for the most modest sites, though they still have hookups.

While many people envision quiet nights in the forest when they think “I’m going camping!” this is one of those towns that can be just as much fun as being in the forest itself, and is easily one of California’s gems when it comes to small communities. That you can walk to everything Mount Shasta has to offer from the KOA is just an added bonus.

Another option, if neither the mountain nor town seem as desirable as camping on a large body of water, is Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort (GPS: 41.2724, -122.3495). This is a privately owned operation on the lake of the same name, which combines both forest camping and full hookups in one package, for between $40 – $44 per night. There is a restaurant on-site, as well as a various floating waterslides and you can rent kayaks and canoes to enjoy the lake, from which you’ll have an eye-blasting view of the mountain in the distance. The facilities are a little rundown and it’s a virtual downtown campus of raucous family fun as long as the sun is shining, but the individual campsites are large and your cell phone won’t have any trouble finding a connection.

All in all, from swimming to hiking, glacial mountaintops to a cozy Main Street (officially Mount Shasta Boulevard), this “fourteener” of a paradise can provide days, if not years, of exploration and fun for solo adventurers to big families alike.

Cover photo by iwona_kellie on Flickr.