Backcountry Camping

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An infographic entitled "Recreate Responsibly. National Park Service." with a cartoon of a tent near trees under a moon and stars. The text includes five tips, which can be found on the park's Recreate Responsibly page.

NPS / Matt Turner

COVID-19-Related Changes to Camping Protocols and Regulations

Please read and take note of these important changes to Point Reyes National Seashore's camping rules and regulations. Unless referred to in this section, the standard camping regulations apply.

Please keep in mind that there are still Stay at Home (also known as Shelter-In-Place) Orders in place for Marin County (and for other Bay Area counties and much of the state of California) until further notice. Updates pertaining to other pandemic-related closures affecting Point Reyes National Seashore will be posted to our Current Conditions page and to the park's social media channels. Please Recreate Responsibly.

COVID-19 Precautions

  • Follow all CDC, state, and county health department recommendations and best practices for physical distancing and sanitation.
  • Use hand sanitizer after use of vault toilets and other campground equipment.
  • Bring disinfectant wipes and wipe all campsite equipment when you arrive and when you leave.
  • Bring and wear face coverings.
  • Practice physical distancing at and around your campsite.
  • Respect others by providing space when near or passing by other campers on the trail and within the campground.

Camping & Parking Permits—No Check-In Required

Campers do not need to check in at the Bear Valley Visitor Center until further notice. And, until further notice, Point Reyes National Seashore no longer has any permits that will be sold on a first-come, first-served, same-day basis. All camp sites must reserved online through in advance of arrival. All available campsites will be shown as reservable on Do not arrive or camp at Point Reyes National Seashore without a reservation.

Camping Permits

Print your confirmation email and be prepared to show it to park rangers on the trail and at your campsite. It is advisable to have an electronic copy on your phone or tablet.

Overnight Parking Permits

Place a printout of your email confirmation face up on the dashboard of each vehicle remaining overnight at park trailheads. Citations will be issued to any vehicle without a printout of a confirmation email for a current reservation.

Please note: The Palomarin Trailhead is closed until further notice. Campers with reservations for Wildcat may park at the Bear Valley Trailhead (6.3-mile one-way hike) or Five Brooks Trailhead (6.7-mile one-way hike).

One Household per Campsite

Each camping site may be occupied by only one household or living unit at a time.

Maximum Occupancy Changes for Group Sites

  • Hike in Group sites (those sites designated with an "AB" on are now limited to 12 campers, instead of 14 or 25.
  • Tomales Bay Boat-in "B" and Group permits (Marshall Beach 1, 2 and Tomales Beach Group) allow up to only 12 campers, instead of 14 or 25.

Wood fires are Prohibited until Further Notice

  • Beach fire permits are not being issued at this time and wood fires on the beach are prohibited until further notice.
  • As always, wood fires at the campgrounds (or elsewhere in the park) are prohibited.
  • Gas camp stoves are recommended for heating water and cooking.
  • Charcoal may be burned in the charcoal braziers provided at the campsite under low, moderate, and high fire danger conditions; the burning of charcoal is prohibited under very high and extreme fire danger conditions. Always ensure that the briquettes are dead cold before leaving them unattended.

Introduction to Camping at Point Reyes National Seashore

Visitors may make online reservations for backcountry and boat-in campsites in the Seashore at
How To Make A Reservation...

Point Reyes National Seashore offers year-round backcountry camping along Drakes Bay and amongst the hills and valleys of the Phillip Burton Wilderness, and boat-in camping on the west shore of Tomales Bay. Because of its location near the Metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area, the campsites at Point Reyes are in great demand. You must reserve a permit through in advance of arrival. Permits may be—and frequently are—reserved six months to the day in advance, so it's best to plan your trip well in advance.

The backcountry sites may only be accessed by hiking, riding bicycles, or riding a horse to the campgrounds. The Tomales Bay boat-in sites may only be accessed by kayak, canoe, small motorboat, small sailboat, or other small vessel; personal watercraft (e.g., jet skis) are prohibited on Tomales Bay. There is no car or RV camping available in the park. There are, however, many nearby campgrounds, located outside of Point Reyes National Seashore, that do have car and RV camping.

Hike-in camping is allowed only in one of the four established campgrounds at the numbered site specified on the permit. Boat-in camping is allowed on national park beaches on the west side of Tomales Bay north of Tomales Bay State Park's northern border (i.e., north of Indian Beach and Duck Cove). Our Campgrounds page has descriptions of the various campgrounds. Our Guide to Low Impact Boat Camping page has more information about overnight kayaking and boating on Tomales Bay. Camping rules & regulations, as stated below, must be observed. Please visit our Leave No Trace page to learn how you can help leave the backcountry in a better condition than you found it.


How To Make A Reservation:

Advance Reservations

All advance reservations are handled by Campsites may be reserved up to six months to the day in advance; for example, on February 22, reservations may be made for dates through August 22, and reservations for August 23 will become available at 7 am PST on February 23. Weekends and holidays fill up quickly, especially group sites, so reservations are strongly suggested. Reservations may be made online at Reservations may also be made by phone by calling toll free 877-444-6777 (TDD: 877-833-6777).

Call Center Hours of Operation:

  • March 1 to October 31, 7 am to 9 pm PT
  • November 1 to February 28, 7 am to 7 pm PT
  • Call Centers are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

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Camping fees

  • $20/night/site for "individual" sites of up to 6 people—all members of the group must be from the same household or living unit until further notice
  • $40/night/site for group site for 7–12 people—all members of the group must be from the same household or living unit until further notice

Discounts on Camping Fees:

Individuals who have an Interagency Senior Pass, an Interagency Access Pass, a Golden Age, or a Golden Access Pass are eligible for a 50% discount on the camping fee for an individual site; discounts are not available for group site fees. Holders of these passes should ensure that they enter their pass number in the appropriate field when making a reservation online, or to ensure that one of the first things one tells a call center operator is that you have an eligible pass, i.e., "I would like to make a reservation to camp at Point Reyes National Seashore and I have an Interagency Senior/Access Pass."

Individuals who have the following passes are not eligible for discounts on camping fees; these passes only apply to entrance fees.

Additionally, fee waivers are not available for recreational use user fees such as camping.

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Camping Permits and Parking Passes

Camping Permits:

Camping is by permit only. Print your confirmation email and be prepared to show it to park rangers on the trail and at your campsite. It is advisable to have an electronic copy on your phone or tablet.

Parking Permits:

Place a printout of your email confirmation face up on the dashboard of each vehicle remaining overnight at park trailheads. Vehicles parked overnight in the National Seashore without a valid and current confirmation printout are subject to citation. If you are starting your hike from Bear Valley, park your vehicle(s) in the gravel parking lot on the left (east) side of the access road close to the Bear Valley Trailhead.


Cancellations and No Shows

Please be courteous and cancel any nights of your reservation that you are unable to use. Review's Rules & Reservation Policies page for more details.

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Rules & Regulations

Permits are required

You do not need to check in at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Print out your confirmation email and be prepared to show it to park rangers on the trail and at your campsite. It is advisable to have an electronic copy on your phone or tablet. Campers without a valid backcountry permit may be cited.

Camp in designated areas

Camping is restricted to the four backpack campgrounds at numbered sites or to National Park beaches on the west side of Tomales Bay.

Help keep the campsites small and compact and reduce damage to vegetation surrounding campsites and at Tomales Bay beaches by:

  • At the hike-in campgrounds, set up tents and/or sleeping bags relatively close to the food storage locker, charcoal grill, and picnic table, i.e., within 6 meters (20 feet).
  • On the Tomales Bay beaches, set up tents and/or sleeping bags on the sand below the vegetation line.

Parking and overnight parking passes

Place a printout of your email confirmation face up on the dashboard of each vehicle remaining overnight at park trailheads. If you are starting your hike from Bear Valley, park your vehicle(s) in the gravel parking lot on the left (east) side of the access road close to the Bear Valley Trailhead. (Bear Valley Area Map - 427 KB PDF)

Access to Tomales Bay beaches

Campers on Tomales Bay beaches must arrive by boat and may not drive, hike, bike, or ride horses to the beaches. Overnight parking for boat-in campers is prohibited within Point Reyes National Seashore (i.e., along the Pierce Point and L Ranch Roads and at the Marshall Beach Trailhead) and Tomales Bay State Park.

Limits on the number of nights one can camp in the Seashore

Camping is limited to four nights per visit, with a maximum of thirty nights per year.

Restrictions on parties of more than six

We do not allow groups of more than six people to split up into multiple individual sites within the same campground. Groups of more than six are restricted to group sites* only, and, similarly, may not purchase more than one site per campground. Everyone associated with your party at a given campground must stay in the same, single campsite.

Parties of six or fewer people are not permitted to reserve group sites.

* Hike-in campground group sites include Coast 8, Coast 13, Sky 2, Wildcat 1, Wildcat 2, and Wildcat 3. Boat-in group "sites" include "Boat-in B Group" and "Marshall Group 1," "Marshall Group 2," and "Tomales Bay Group" for parties of 7 to 12.

Age limits

The minimum age of any camper is eighteen unless accompanied by an adult. Permits are not issued to children seventeen years of age or younger; an adult must pick up the permit at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and camp with the youth.

A cartoon silhouette of a dog surrounded by a red circle with a red diagonal line bisecting the circle.


Dogs or other pets are prohibited on almost all trails within Point Reyes National Seashore, as well as in the hike-in campgrounds and many of the boat-in camping beaches along Tomales Bay. Please refer to our Pets pages to learn where you can bring your dog in the Seashore. This prohibition does not apply to working service dogs, which are allowed on trails and in public buildings. If you have a service dog, please inquire at a the Bear Valley Visitor Center for information before setting out.

A cartoon silhouette of an unmanned aerial vehicle (a drone) surrounded by a red circle bisected by a red diagonal line.


Launching, landing, or operating a remotely operated aircraft (aka "remotely piloted aircraft," "unmanned aircraft," or "drone") from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore is prohibited.


Glass Containers

Possession of a glass container within fifteen meters (fifty feet) of any riverbank, lakeshore, or beach, or on the water, or in a vessel is prohibited. This restriction is necessary to reduce the amount of injurious trash in the park and for the protection of visitors who frequent these areas in bare feet.

Leave No Trace

Follow Leave No Trace principles.

Disposal of human waste

Use the toilets at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, Five Brooks, or Palomarin trailheadsor the Limantour Beach parking lot before starting your hike. Toilets are also available at Divide Meadow, in addition to at all four hike-in campgrounds.

If one needs to urinate or defecate while traveling to a campground and there are no toilets nearby, urinate or defecate at least 60 meters (200 feet or 75 adult paces) from water, camp, or trails.

  • Urinate in rocky places that won't be damaged by wildlife who dig for salts and minerals found in urine.
  • Carry a small garden trowel or lightweight scoop for digging a cat hole in which to bury feces.
  • Deposit human waste in cat holes dug 15–20 cm (6–8 inches) deep.
  • Cover and disguise the cat hole when finished, or pack out solid waste.
  • Use toilet paper sparingly and pack it out along with sanitary napkins, and tampons in an airtight container. Consider using natural "toilet paper" such as a smooth rock or soft pine cone.

Campers at the hike-in campgrounds and at Marshall Beach and Tomales Beach are required to use the vault toilets at those locations for the disposal of human waste.

Boaters must remove human waste from the park, unless they are camping on Marshall Beach or Tomales Beach. Disposing of human waste in the bay or onto park beaches is prohibited, so campers must bring portable toilets or limit camping to Marshall Beach and Tomales Beach, where vault toilets are available.

Fires and fireworks

Wood fires are prohibited in the hike-in campgrounds. Only gas stoves, charcoal, or canned heat may be used for cooking.

Beach fires

Beach wood fires are prohibited until further notice.

Charcoal fires

In the backcountry, charcoal fires are only allowed in the park-provided grills at designated campsites. Completely extinguish the briquettes before going to sleep or otherwise leaving the grill unattended.

Fire bans

Visitors planning to cook food over a beach fire or barbecue briquettes should come prepared with an alternative means (i.e., self-contained gas stove) of cooking in the event of a Winter Spare the Air Alert or high, very high or extreme fire danger.


Fireworks and other pyrotechnic/incendiary devices are prohibited.

Weapons and hunting

All weapons (including, but not limited to, B-B guns, slingshots, bows and arrows, or any object capable of discharging a projectile—with the exception of firearms), as well as weapons prohibited by the state, are prohibited.

Hunting is prohibited.

Food and scented items storage

Store your food and other scented items** properly in the food storage lockers provided at the campsite. There are no food storage lockers on the beaches of Tomales Bay so boat-in campers will need to bring their own portable animal-resistant food storage containers, i.e., bear canisters.

While the food storage lockers prevent larger animals from getting properly stored food, mice can gain access into the lockers through small drain holes. Campers may wish to use steel wool to plug these holes during their stay. (Please remove the steel wool upon departure.) Or store food in light-weight hard plastic containers or in a bear canister within the food storage lockers.

Do not leave any food or scented items unattended outside of the locker or stored in your tent. Raccoons, foxes, and skunks are plentiful and aggressive. Do not feed wild animals.

** Scented items may include, but are not limited to: soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, toiletries, feminine products, lip balm, deodorant, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, gum, candy, first-aid kits, pots, pans, plates, bowls, cups, forks, spoons, knives, clothes in which one has cooked or eaten, and wash basins (e.g., the kitchen sink). As a general rule, if you put it in your mouth or on your skin or if food comes in contact with it, it should be stored in an animal-resistant food storage container.

Quiet Hours

Quiet hours are from sundown to sunrise. Respect your neighbors, the wilderness, and natural quiet.


Campsites should be left clean. Do not leave anything behind. If garbage and recycling receptacles near the vault toilets are full, pack out your trash.

Campers must vacate their campsite by noon on their day of departure, but are welcome to continue hiking and exploring the park after noon. Campers do not need to return to the Bear Valley Visitor Center in order to check out.


Maximum number of horses or pack animals in any campground is eight. Horses are not allowed at Glen Camp. Pack animals and horses must be tied to hitch rails.


NPSWilderness has produced three videos entitled Wilderness Calling: Point Reyes, Wilderness Motion: Point Reyes, and Wilderness Visions: Point Reyes featuring images and sounds from the Phillip Burton Wilderness within Point Reyes National Seashore, in addition to two videos about NPS wilderness: America's Wilderness and Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics which hikers, campers, and other visitors to Point Reyes may find of interest.

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Last updated: July 12, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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