As a kid, camping trips just magically happened, but now that I’m an adult it turns out there’s actually planning involved, including making campground reservations. And most of California’s popular spots fill up six months in advance, so it’s nearly impossible to find an open spot for a short weekend camping trip.
For those that are also shit at planning their summer activities in advance, there are plenty of campgrounds that do not take or require reservations to cater to last-minute campers. You can always take your chances that a reservation will cancel, which happens frequently, and you can snag a spot. If you’re wary of that gamble, some parks level the playing field by offering first-come, first-served only sites. Plan to arrive early Friday for weekend trips, as these sites still fill up fast during peak season.