San Francisco area RV Parks
Dave and Helen Damouth www.damouth.org
(update 9 February 2010)
"What RV Park should I stay at when visiting San Francisco?"
Since I origianlly wrote the following article, a new (or at least greatly improved) website has appreared: RV Park Reviews This site is very well organized, and describes several RV Parks that are not mentioned below, in order of distance from central San Francisco. Each RV Park has a brief summary of facilities, phone number and website address, and several helpful customer reviews.
Note that parking in the central areas of San Francisco is scarce and expensive. It is worth cosidering RV Parks that are further away but have convenient access to public transportaton. For example, Trailer Villa, in Redwood City, is about 3 miles from a CalTrain station. With the available connection to BART, this can drop you at the foot of Market Street, a block or so from the California St. cable car.
There are only three RV Parks convenient to the major tourist attractions of San Francisco. These are:
San Francisco RV Resort (Previous names include "Onterra At Pacifica RV Park" and "Pacific Park RV Resort") 800 822-1250.
We've stayed at this park several times and enjoy it. Like most urban RV Parks, it is a large paved parking lot with very narrow sites. The attraction is that is it on a cliff directly overlooking the ocean. There is a path to the beach along the south edge of the property, offering access to the beach at low tide. Don't go for a long beach walk unless you've carefully checked the tide tables. The staff are competent and helpful. A convenient and comfortable desk in the spacious office is available for modem hookups, and they have recently added WiFi, operated by T-Mobile for a fee (you may be able to get a trial 24 hour certificate for free - ask at the desk). It's possible to get from the RV Park to downtown on public transportation, but it is not really convenient. Parking in San Francisco is difficult and expensive.
Candlestick RV Park 800-888-2267
Candlestick is a mixed bag. It's neat and well-maintained, conveniently located, and even fairly quiet by urban standards. But the sites are very cramped - only 15 feet wide, with insufficient space to park our truck. We've only stayed there once, but that was for over three weeks. The park was only about half full when we arrived, since there was no game at 3COM Stadium on the first weekend. The park tends to be fully reserved far in advance for 49ers football weekends, since it is right across the street from 3COM stadium. Numerous tailgate parties within the park on game day make the whole place a madhouse. (It's also expensive - $49 to $52/night depending on length, higher on football weekends, occasional promotional discounts, as of April 2004). One plus is that the RV Park offers a convenient and moderately priced shuttle to downtown San Francisco. Another plus is the adjacent State Park which provides hiking and biking trails along the bayshore. A not-very-convenient modem connection was available in the office when we were there. Since then, they've added WiFi.
Treasure Island RV Park 650-994-3266
Treasure Island is a couple of steps down in price and amenities from the above two. It's 14 miles from Fisherman's Wharf - a mile closer than San Francisco RV Resort. We haven't stayed there. Reviews are mixed.
I'm aware of four other RV Parks on the peninsula south of San Francisco, much further from the city. All three of the Half Moon Bay parks are reviewed at www.rvparkreviews.com
Pillar Point RV Park (in Half Moon Bay) 650-712-9277
Half Moon Bay is an attractive and interesting tourist destination, on the ocean about 25 miles south of central San Franciso. We haven't stayed at any of the three RV Parks, so what follows is from the comments of other RVers. Pillar Point RV Park is a paved parking lot which is part of a county-owned marina complex, takes reservations on 70% of the sites, and is often full during peak tourist seasons. When the full-hookup sites are full, a no-hookup overflow area becomes available. One California RVer says this is her favorite place. (Note added April 24, 2004: A recent EMail to me from the RV Park Manager says, in part: "The park is a self service rv park open to the public 24 hours a day. There is a self-pay registration station at the front of the park. this makes it very convient for the RV'ers to check themselves in. We have space avalible most of the time. It is seldom that we don't have space. The fishing is good and you don't need a fishing license when fishing on the jetty. We sometimes see mother whales and their calves swimming in front of the park.")
Pelican Point RV Park (also in Half Moon Bay) 650-726-9100
The park doesn't seem to have its own website, but the link above has information about the park and some reviews. We haven't stayed here, but did drive through to look it over and speak to the manager. It's almost on the ocean - separated by a fenced golf course, with the view blocked by a low hill. A walk of a few hundred yards leads to the beach. About half the sites are filled with long-term lease residents. Some of the sites are quite pleasant - concrete pads and well-tended grass. Some will hold a 35' rig.
Half Moon Bay State Beach (also in Half Moon Bay) 650-726-8819
We haven't stayed here. It has a dump station but no hookups, and is now in the state reservation system. The website says that all campsites are within 100 yards of the beach.
Trailer Villa (in Redwood City) 800-366-7880.
We've not stayed here, but did drive in to look it over and speak to the manager several years ago. It's mostly occupied by long-term residents, but does maintain a modest number of sites for transients, and is listed in some of the major RV directories. It's often full. This is about a 25 mile drive to San Francisco, but is convenient if you also want to visit Stanford University, Palo Alto, San Jose, etc. It's right on Highway 101 and hence noisy.
Note added 8 February 2010. Trailer Villa is undergoing a major renovation and upgrade, and now has its own website. Apparently, they now are much more oriented to travelers and less to long-term residents. For those of you who have rejected it in the past, it is worth another look.
We haven't investigated the RV Parks in the East Bay or to the North. Most are considerably further away and all involve an often-hectic and slow commute across one of the bridges.
One option is to leave the car home and ride BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from the East Bay. I've received brief comments about three East Bay parks that are convenient to BART:
Trailer Haven in San Leandro
"Within walking distance of BART. Park isn't great from the street, but the owners are very nice people. The park is safe and clean".
Sunny Acres Mobile Home and RV Park in Concord (925 685-7048)
Vista Del Monte Trailer Park in Concord (925 685-8698).
You can search the entire region at the California Travel Parks Association site.
The above list includes only commercial RV parks. One regional government park that's been favorably mentioned is Del Valle Lake, near Livermore. The East Bay Regional Park District site lists many East Bay public parks with camping.