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State parks still have space if you hurry
Families flocked to Caswell State Park south of Manteca and west of Ripon last Memorial Day weekend. - photo by HIME ROMEO

Planning on hitting the lake or the mountains this weekend?

There are still camping and recreation spaces available at multiple California State Parks throughout the region for the full extent of Memorial Day Weekend. 

While popular destinations like Yosemite National Park fill-up months in advance – sometimes even longer – there are more than a dozen local places that you can visit and enjoy the outdoors even if you forgot to make that reservation or just want to book out of town at the last minute. 

Here are a few places that still have availability if you’re looking to get out of the area:

u Calaveras Big Trees State Park – Located just over an hour outside of Manteca near Arnold off of State Highway 4, this unique park preserves two of California’s pristine groves of giant sequoia trees and draws a host of visitors to marvel at their beauty and majesty. 

• Lake Oroville State Recreation Area – The second-largest lake in California behind Lake Shasta, which holds water from the dammed-up Feather River, is severely-depleted from the California drought. But that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t recreational opportunities to enjoy. The trip is roughly three hours from Manteca. 

• Mount Diablo State Park – One of the most highly-regarded 360-degree mountaintop views in North America lies less than an hour away near the Contra Costa County. A popular spot with daytime hikers who ascend to the peak to take panoramic pictures of a portion of the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley, overnight camping is also available at the Juniper Campground. 

• Caswell Memorial State Park – Yes, it’s right down at the end of Austin Road. But the untouched oak grove at Caswell Park is a hidden gem among the valley and seems like an entirely different world beyond the gate. The scenery even served as an African jungle for a blockbuster Hollywood movie, so making the drive for a short weekend along the meandering Stanislaus River might not necessarily be the worst idea in the world. 

Reservations are accepted at some sites while others are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For additional information about parks and availability for the Memorial Day Weekend in Northern California visit

Those visiting lakes are encouraged to plan ahead to check boating restrictions. Additional caution is urged because of drought conditions – areas that were easily accessible a year ago might be dangerous or inaccessible this year. Use extreme caution when navigating all California waterways.