Pantoll Campground in Mount Tamalpais (Mt. Tam) State Park is situated at 1,500 feet high, located on a heavily forested ridge on the southwestern slope of Mt Tam. Pantoll Campground is located at an amazing spot near the coast where eight hiking trails intersect, some of which you can follow all the way down to Stinson Beach, Muir Woods, and Steep Ravine Campground which has amazing panoramic views.

Pantoll Campground is a walk-in, first-come, first-served campground that is one of the most convenient campgrounds to reach from San Francisco, making it a great last minute camping option for Bay Area residents. While Pantoll Campground is a first-come, first-served campground, you can call the Pantoll Ranger Station ahead of time and check availability, which is a luxury for many campsites like this.

Each of the 16 campsites at Pantoll Campground include a fire ring, barbecue grills, and stone-built Diablo grills, which date back to when the campground was first built, food locker, and access to drinking water. Each campsite has access to flush toilets, and a centrally located “community” sink for dish washing. 

Pantoll Campground – Bottom Line

If the campsites at Pantoll Campground were spaced out more, and offered better privacy, we would LOVE Pantoll Campground. The biggest negative for us was that the campsites really are right on top of each other. Beyond this drawback, the campground is beautiful and makes you feel like you are really out of the city, but in reality are only a few minutes away. We do like that Pantoll is a walk-in campground because it limits the noise in the campground, which is important with the proximity of the campgrounds to each other, also it tends to discourage massive families from bringing a ton of crap to their campsite that serves to annoy other campers. However, most of the campsites are only very short, and slightly uphill, walk from the Pantoll parking lot.

While all of the campsites offer the stone-built diablo grills, we would recommend not to use them. Given that the diablo grills look like they are a hundred years old, and the metal grills are covered in rust, you would be lucky not to get hepatitis if you use them.

Some of the campsites at Pantoll Campground are more private and larger than others but most campsites are decently sized for a few campers. En-route camping is available to self-contained vehicles in the parking lot. The ranger station offers maps, hiking suggestions, and firewood from 8:30 AM until 6:00 PM.

The best campsites are 1, 6, 7, 15, 16.

Pantoll Campground Features

Campground Type: Organized
Number of Campsites: 16 Campsites
Cost: $25/Night
Use Level: Medium
Dogs Allowed: Yes – Only in campground
Fire Rings: Yes
Drinking Water: Yes
Toilets: Yes
Showers: No
Trash/Dumpsters: Yes
Hiking Access: Yes
Beach/Lake Access: No
RV/Trailer Length: 22 Feet – En-route camping only
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: Possible from major carriers, but spotty
Wifi: Yes
Operating Season: Campground open year round
Other:

Getting There

Address: 801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Geo Coordinates: 37.904048,-122.603802
Nearest City/Town: Marin City, California
Elevation: 1800 Feet
Location: Marin County, California
Paved Road Access: Yes
Proximity to Stores: 10 miles to Marin City, California
Directions: From San francisco, head north on US-101 across the Golden Gate Bridge, exit onto CA-1 N toward Mill Valley/Stinson Beach, travel for about 1 mile. Turn left to remain on CA-1N, travel for 2.6 miles and turn right on Panoramic Hwy, travel from another 2.6 miles and keep left to stay on Panoramic Hwy. Travel for 2.8 Miles and Pantoll Campground will be on your left.

Connect

Phone: 415-388-2070 Facebook: Mount Tamalpais State Park Facebook Page
Web: California State Parks Twitter:
Reservations: Not Accepted – Contact Ranger Station day of arrival to check availability (415-388-2070)

 

When To Go

Late Spring – Campsites are often still available on Friday night, but Pantoll Campground is usually completely booked by Saturday afternoon.

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Winter average temperatures have lows in the mid-high 30’s, and highs in the low 60’s. Summer average temperatures top out around 80 degrees with lows in the mid-50’s.

What To Do

Hiking – Pantoll Campground is criss-crossed by 8 hiking trails that can vary in difficulty and lead down to the beaches as well as throughout the rest of Mt Tam state park, including the popular Dipsea Trail.

Stop for Drink (and lunch) – The Mountain Home Inn, is located a couple miles south of Pantoll Campground, across from the Alice Eastwood Group Camp parking lot. Mountain Home Inn, is a few stories tall, but the lobby is on the top floor, which is street level thanks to the steep terrain of the ridge line which Panoramic Highway runs along. Just off of the lobby is a small restaurant and bar, with an equally small deck, however, the deck has an amazing view of the bay and San Francisco through the very tops of nearby redwood trees.

Hike for a Drink – While you are parked at the Alice Eastwood Group Camp parking lot, or take the Dipsea trail from Pantoll, hike down to The Tourist Club and have a drink. The Tourist Club is the San Francisco branch of the worldwide Nature Friends organization, which strives to  promote nature appreciation, outdoor activities, conservation, and international friendship and understanding. The Tourist Club pours beer & wine and offers light snacks, with amazing views of Mount Tam State Park, just be sure to check their calendar, as they are only open to the public on certain weekends of the month.

Fun Facts

During the Gold Rush of 1849, San Francisco was growing and people started to use Mt Tam for recreation. They began to develop and cut trails, a wagon road, and a railway through the area. The railway was known as “The Crookedest Railroad in the World.” It was abandoned in 1930 due to damage from a wildfire.

Pantoll Campground Pictures

Image Credits: Justin Wilson

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Justin is an IT Professional, focused on cloud, mobile, and infrastructure management and security with his consulting business, as well as chief bottle washer for this website. In addition to NextCampsite.com, Justin also runs and writes for the technology infrastructure-focused blog OddJobsInTech.com, and the mobile device-focused blog EnterpriseMobileDevice.com.

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