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Best Spring Campgrounds around San Francisco

Best Spring Campgrounds around San Francisco

Best Spring Campground scary stories included

** Disclaimer- The below scary stories are real. The squeamish and easily scared should read with caution.


Twisting roads leading deeper into a night so dark that bright headlights only stretch as far as the next curve. Trees so tall and encompassing you wonder what prowling creatures have conquered this land.

This is the scene of your afterwork drive to an isolated campground. Just hours from the city, these campgrounds of nature's wonders are the background to a recharging weekend away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Take a trip to a simpler time and live outdoors in all of the beauty and danger that the wilderness can offer. A peaceful bliss, with loads of outdoor activities await. Here's 3 places to go, what to do, and what real life, scary stories to tell around the campfire.  

Clear Lake 

clear lake photo

Clear Lake is the largest natural lake entirely within California and is located in the town Lake County. It's surrounded by wine country, so if you get board of the below activities, you can hit up a winery. 

Find a camp ground  



geocaching, treasure found

Geocaching is like treasure hunting with GPS, but the treasures is called swag and you can't take any unless you leave something of equal or higher value. Swag is hid in caches, or waterproof containers, which also contain a log, pencil, and official stamp so hunters can log their name and the date they found the cache. The coordinates are listed on sites or in apps such as Geobeagle (for android). 

Wake Boarding 

wakeboarding at clear lake

Drinking and Boating 

 drinking and boating at clear lake


 fishing at clear lake california


 kayaking at clear lake California


Snorkeling at clear lake California

Scuba Diving 

 scuba diving at clear lake


hiking at clear lake california

Mountain Biking 

mountain biking at clear lake california

Animal Watching 

 animal watching at clear lake california

Within minutes of walking on a trail near the lake, we saw an Osprey nest with two adults and two chicks, a doe and two fawns, a green heron, a black heron, and then a little farther down the trail, a turtle sunning on a log,” one woman from Phenix noted on Trip AdvisorTake care animal watching, especially at night. This can be dangerous as you'll see in the real, scary story below. Rangers don't take hunting and trapping lightly and are highly suspicious of night life observers. 

Scary Story 

"This State Park, definitely needs an additional sign to be placed near the entrance: BEWARE OF AGGRESSIVE RANGERS, especially at night time," warned a frightened camper on Trip Advisor

After a brief dinner, Igor decided to take a short walk down to the lakeshore to watch nightlife and enjoy the stars. 

He was just 100m down from his campground on the asphalt road. It was pitch black, so he used his car's headlights to illuminate the area. He was preoccupied with a nice Jerusalem Cricket when something happened that made him wish he had never left to wonder out by himself. 

A man appeared behind his back at the road slope, roaring accusations. "Are you hunting," he bellowed. He was an armed and emotionally charged and presumably a ranger. Igor became alarmed, when he offered the man his ID. 

"When he directed his flashlight at my documents I clearly noticed that his hands were shaking. And I realized that I’m a foreigner, alone with an armed man who possibly lost his self-control, in total darkness…and I felt scared." After an emotional rant, the man drifted back into the darkness, as if he had never came. 

While his experience seems to be unique at Clear Lake, it reminds us that people can be just as scary as lurking wilderness beast or haunting ghost.


Lake Berryessa   

lake Berryessa
Lake Berryessa is the largest lake in Napa County, California. It is also close to wineries if the real life scary story drives you from the campfire. This man made lake attracts visitors who like fishing, picnicking, boating, and university students looking to get away from Davis and drink a little outdoors. 
Call 1-877-386-4383 for reservations.


hiking at lake berryessa
fishing at lake berryessa california
boating lake berryessa california
House Boat rentals are available year round. 
Wildlife Watching 
wildlife watching at lake berryessa
You won't find a lot of wildlife here, but the pup knows where to look.

Scary Story

September 27, 1969, two friendly, college students settled along the shoreline for a relaxing afternoon visit. Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepherd were laying on the floor enjoying the setting sun, when they noticed a man lingering in the shadows of the nearby trees. Suddenly the man appeared wearing a bizarre, hooded costume that had a white crossed-circle hand stitched onto the front. The mad man held the two at gunpoint, tied them up with clotheslines, and calmed the two by explaining he would rob them and leave them be. Just as the two thought the ordeal was behind them, he pulled at a 2 foot knife and sliced them open. The masked man, was the Zodiac killer, before leaving the site he vainly marked Bryan's car with his trademark symbol and wrote beneath it, "Sept 27 69 6:30 by knife." Then he left to a pay phone where he reported a double murder to the police. 

Cecelia fought for her life, but lost after a few days. Bryan survived and recounted his ordeal. At night, you might have the sense that a murderous ghost demands a life for the one he wasn't able to take. Or perhaps, like me, the scariest sensation revolving around Berryessa is the plants and fish that tickle your legs as you swim from lakeshore to shore. 

Ice House 

Ice House Campground

One of three campgrounds surrounding the Ice House Reservoir, Ice House is closest campground to the boat ramp. Even if you’re not planning on bringing or renting a boat consider this site over the Northwind campground and Strawberry point campground, which are smaller and don’t offer pipped water. Though you don't need a reservation for the ladder two campsites, which run around $10. 

Find a Ice House campsite  

Related Article: Beginner's Guide: Best Outdoor Spots to Rock Climb in SF Bay Area




 fishing/kayaking at ice house campground

Jet Skiing 

jet skiing at ice house


exploring ice house california


enjoying ice house california  

Star Gazing

star gazing at ice house

Scary Story

10 minutes from the campsite lies the boat dock. One summer day, I was walking through the woods between the reservoir and campground. Phone signal was hard to come by, but I was determined to find at least a bar. I climbed rocks 15 feet tall with no luck, so I decided to head to the water’s edge, out of the woods. When I came to my group’s boat, muddy marks streaked the interior, which had been clean that morning. Taking a step back, I saw deep paw prints in the mud that would dwarf the paw prints of my friends beagle. I look around and saw no bear, but knew it would be close and that I was alone with no communication line.

I hesitantly walked back through the woods towards the campground. Every step crackled, drawing attention to my every move. The campsite was close enough that I could see people huddled together vigilantly staring in my direction. A bear rummaged through the trash bins in front of me. As I approached, the smallness of the animal was obvious. This was only a cub, but the mama bear would surely be near. Though I never crossed her path, each night I slept, I was glad to be in an RV, as rustling noises and flashing lights constantly woke me in the night. (Not that beers use flashlights ;). 

cub at ice house



Can't get enough scary stories and camp site recommendations? Let us know in the comments below and we'll post a part 2 to this post with three more great camping locations and the unique activities and scary stories for that place.   

All photos taken from Instagram. Save this article to Pinterest by pinning your favorite photo.



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