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Camping at Tomales Bay State Park

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Overview of Tomales Bay State Park

Tomales Bay State Park is situated along the west shore of Tomales Bay in Marin County, California. Not far from Point Reyes National Seashore, it offers a scenic coastal environment with opportunities for hiking, picnicking, kayaking, bird watching, and camping.

Camping Information

Boat-in Camping:

  • The park features boat-in camping on Tomales Bay, which is accessible only by paddling to one of the many beaches. These sites are on National Park Service land around the bay and are managed by Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • There are no designated campsites; you pitch your tent on the beach above the high tide line.
  • Campfires are only allowed on certain beaches, and a California campfire permit is required.
  • Human waste must be packed out, and campers should utilize Leave No Trace principles.

Backcountry Camping:

  • While Tomales Bay is popular for its boat-in camping, the park itself does not offer traditional backcountry camping sites on trails, as it is relatively small and more focused on day use.

Day Use:

  • The park offers several beautiful beaches for day use, such as Heart's Desire Beach which is a family-friendly spot with calm waters.
  • Day use areas often have picnic tables and restroom facilities.

Reservations and Permits:

  • Campers need to obtain a permit for boat-in camping which can be reserved through the National Park Service.
  • Reservations for boat-in camping can be competitive, especially during the summer months, so it's wise to plan and book well in advance.



  • Tomales Bay State Park has several miles of trails that meander through the park, offering views of the bay and surrounding landscapes.

Water Activities:

  • The bay is ideal for water activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and boating.
  • The relatively calm waters make it great for beginner kayakers.

Wildlife Watching:

  • The park and surrounding areas are rich in wildlife, including a variety of birds, seals, and sometimes even whales in the bay.

Facilities and Amenities

  • The park's facilities typically include restrooms and picnic areas.
  • There are no showers, RV hookups, or potable water supplies for boat-in campers, so you'll need to be self-sufficient.

Please Note

  • Before visiting or camping at Tomales Bay State Park, check for the latest information on closures, fire restrictions, and guidelines due to seasonal changes, natural events, or maintenance work.
  • Tomales Bay has sensitive ecosystems. It’s important to follow park regulations, stay on designated trails, and practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize impact on the environment.

Safety Reminders

  • Always check the weather forecast before heading out to camp.
  • Be aware of tides when selecting a camping spot to ensure your tent is not inundated overnight.
  • Wear a life jacket if you are boating or kayaking.
  • Be cautious of wildlife and maintain a safe distance.

By adhering to park rules and regulations, and preparing appropriately for the specific conditions of Tomales Bay State Park, campers can ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience.

Map of Campgrounds in Tomales Bay State Park
Campgrounds in Tomales Bay State Park
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