Cooking dinner on the grill, falling asleep under towering redwoods, waking up to miles of premier trails to explore: that’s state-of-the-art camping at Butano State Park in the Ben Ries Campground, which just re-opened (April 1) for the season. Located on the San Mateo coast, the campground is set in a canyon canopied by second-growth redwoods that quietly creak their welcome when you arrive.
The walk-in sites are ideal for a car-camping experience that doesn’t resemble a tailgate. A 50- to 200-foot walk to your site is just enough to feel like you’re roughing it without the constant hum of RV generators. Butano is home to a variety of trails that make exploring easy and accessible. Talk to the friendly camp host for the full beta on where to go and what to do. The 5-mile Mill Ox loop hike is a classic, passing through redwoods, climbing to views of the Pacific, and—especially after rains—crossing paths with a slew of banana slugs and newts.
Make reservations at reservecalifornia.com or by calling 800-444-7275 (be prepared for a long message before getting to an actual person). You can also try first-come, first-served availability by showing up the day you’d like to camp (though there’s no guarantee you’ll get a spot, especially on a weekend). Dogs are allowed at the campground but not on the trails.