Sunday, July 22, 2012

Camping in Butano State Park and Easy Campfire Cooking

Highway 1

On Friday at about 4:30 Nic and I hopped in the car with a large amount of stuff and made our way about an hour south from San Francisco on the highway 1 to Butano State Park.  I've only driven through this area of the coast on foggy days so it was amazing to see the cliffs, hills and ocean in the sun --- it's incredibly beautiful.

Car camping in Butano state park was delightful, cheap and ridiculously easy.  If you're looking for a reason to unplug for a night (no cell service here!) and just want to chill out in nature,  take a great hike, toast some marshmallows and sleep outside car camping is an easy way to do it.  It was so refreshing to not have internet, TV or cell phone service for night.  We spent the night playing Trivial Pursuit, nursing our beers and toasting marshmallows.  It was so relaxing.  Here are the details:

Where: Butano State Park, Ben Ries campground. Get google directions here.

Reservations:  This is a popular place in the summer so reserve a campsite in advance at  The website charges an $8 reservation fee and the cost of camping for the night is $33 but you can cancel or change your reservations easily and I like doing things on the computer.  We did a walk-in site which means you park your car and then walk about 30 meters into the woods to your site.  There are also drive-in sites that looked nice where you drive right into your spot.

My brother's awesome wedding present to us.

We were met at the park entrance by a friendly park ranger who gave us a map of the hiking trails and our campsite and told us we could buy firewood from her at 6pm at the "host" camp site.
There is a clean outhouse at the campsites and lots of water spickets with drinkable water.
Each campsite has
 -A nice fire ring with a little grill thing you can put over it.
-A bear box for you to store your food in the night
-A picnic table


If you don't have a tent/sleeping bags/sleeping pads etc, you can always rent them from REI or Sports Basement.

The Park:
Is beautiful! We took an hour hike/walk along the trails/fireroads right from our campsite in the park and could've kept going forever except that it was getting dark.  The park is heavily forested with beautiful tall trees and we saw a big stag run through the forrest along our hike.

This is the closest little town down the road and it's quite cute. Pick up provisions at the general store and make sure to hit up the farm stand. We bought some ridiculously delicious peaches and cherries on our way out of town.

What to Eat:
We brought one new frying pan from REI, some cooking spray, a spatula and stuff in our cooler to make camping nachos inspired by this recipe from this awesome Camping cooking blog, Dirty Gourmet.

Healthy Camping Nacho Recipe:
Basically we sauteed  about 7 oz of ground turkey and 1 half chopped onoin with a pack of taco seasoning, a cup of black beans and a little cheese. Once everything was hot, cooked and seasoned we scooped it into our bowls and then added jalepenos, chopped cilantro and salsa, then we ate it with salty tortilla chips, delicious and so easy!

We also brought marshmallows (little known fact they are my FAVORITE FOOD) and toasted a bunch over the fire until I finally cut myself off.

Just like at home

We didn't plan on making breakfast at the campsite (next time we definitely will since we now know how easy this all is.) So we went out to breakfast on our way back to San Francisco on the water in Halfmoon bay at Ketch Joanne's restaurant. Our omelets were delicious and the staff is friendly. It was  a rare sunny day on the bay so we took a nice walk on the beach after and even saw some seals. DE-lightful :)

Docks in front of Ketch Joanne's

The beach in Half Moon Bay

So basically our first camping trip together was a success and I'd happily recommend a night at Butano state park.  I'm pretty psyched to check out more of NorCal's coastal camping spots and hopefully get a group of friends to make a weekend of it with us next time.  So stay tuned for more camping recommendations :)


  1. We looooove camping! I'll have to try your nachos idea :)

  2. looks fun!