Logo for Visit Gilroy organization

A Guide to Camping in and around Gilroy

Are blue skies, green vistas, and fresh air calling you? Look no further than one of the scenic county parks surrounding Gilroy, California. Bring along your tent or trailer, or rent a yurt for an easy and fun “glamping” experience. Whether you want to wake to looming redwoods, a bubbling creek, or a sparkling lake, you will find your perfect spot to camp here in Gilroy.

Mt. Madonna County Park yurt surrounded be redwoods


Coyote Lake Harvey Bear County Park

Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park sign

This expansive county park is located in the eastern foothills of the Diablo range and offers 6,695 acres of beautiful land to explore and enjoy, along with the 3-mile long, 449-acre reservoir, Coyote Lake.

Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park sunny campsite with trees and picnic table, bathrooms in background


This park has 73 total campsites for tents and RVs, with each site offering a paved slip, fresh water, table, grill/fire pit, and food storage locker. The 18 RV sites also have electricity, water hook-ups, and a dump station nearby. All campers can utilize the three restrooms or the hot showers available.


Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park campsites with large tree and green grass area


Although the lake is currently closed due to low water levels (check the Santa Clara County Parks website for updates), it normally offers power boating, jet-skiing, waterskiing, sailing, canoeing/kayaking—but no swimming. You can still enjoy lakeside fishing, which is open year-round. 


Coyote Lake with green grass around it and trees


To explore the oak-dotted hills, choose from 35 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails that crisscross this vast park. You can also spot a variety of wildlife, including black-tailed deer, turkeys, and bald eagles. This beautiful spot is the perfect place to take your family camping while still remaining close to the city of Gilroy.

Man riding his bike on a trail at Harvey Bear Park

Insider Tips: 

  • For a simple, 2-mile paved path that’s perfect for kids, try the Martin Murphy Trail at the Bear Ranch site. 
  • At the visitor center, you can see wildlife exhibits and live reptiles, amphibians, and fish.


Coyote Lake Visitor Center


Know Before You Go: 

  • Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park has three entrances: Bear Ranch, Mendoza Ranch, and Coyote Lake entrance. 
  • The visitor center is 1 mile inside the Coyote Lake entrance. 
  • Group campsites are available. 
  • Dogs are allowed on leash. 
  • The park is open all year.

Mt. Madonna County Park

Mt. Madonna County Park rustic sign

If you are looking for a camping spot surrounded by the giants of the forest, make a reservation in the redwoods of Mt. Madonna County Park. Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains off of Highway 152 (Hecker Pass Highway) on the drive from Gilroy to the coast, Mt. Madonna County Park is a beautiful spot for a retreat in nature. 

Mt. Madonna has 4 campgrounds with 118 reserveable campsites. Each one has a bbq pit, food locker, and picnic table. For those bringing an RV, there are 17 partial hook-ups. Free showers are available for campers. 

A campsite at Mt. Madonna County park surrounded by tall redwoods

For an interesting alternative, you can rent a yurt—a domed, tent-like structure with wooden floors and 10-foot ceilings. They come in several sizes and contain bunkbeds, futons, and wraparound decks. Mt. Madonna has yurts that can sleep up to 6, 8 or 10 adults or children.

Mt. Madonna County Park yurt with deck for camping

Mt. Madonna County Park offers 4,605 acres of redwood trees, oak woodland, dense chaparral, and grassy meadows, with 20 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. There are also incredible ocean views from the top of some trails. For a shorter, historical hike, take the one-mile option that goes past the Henry Miller house ruins. You can also stop by the visitor center and learn about the park’s geology and natural and cultural history.

the brick ruins of the Henry Miller house with trees behind them at Mt. Madonna County Park

Insider Tips: 

  • You can do a horseback trail ride through the park with Mt. Madonna Stables nearby. 
  • This park also has an archery range and an amphitheater that can be reserved for weddings and special occasions.
  • If you are planning to take the “CA Newt Trail” hike in the park, you can download a free mobile educational game that you can use interactively while hiking. You have to answer questions regarding the area, and if you finish the whole game, you can receive a prize (details on that are in the app.) Be sure to download the “Agents of Discovery” app before driving to the park, as you will most likely have little reception there.
  • The amphitheater  features live music and slide shows from Memorial Day through Labor Day. These free shows are provided by park docents every Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Know Before You Go: 

  • Pack warm layers and check weather before going. This county park, with a higher elevation and surrounded by trees, can be much cooler than inland, especially at night. 
  • Reservations are required for all campsites; they are no longer first-come, first-served. 
  • Group campsites are available. 
  • Dogs are allowed on leash. 
  • The park is open all year.

Uvas Canyon County Park

Uvas Canyon County Park sign

If you are looking to camp in the woods, this is the place to go. Uvas Canyon County Park, tucked into the eastern Santa Cruz Mountain foothills, has 1,147 acres of woods and water, with 7.2 miles of hiking trails. 

Uvas Canyon County Park campsite with trees, table, and food locker


There are 25 individual campsites at this park, and showers are also available. There is a group camping area, The Upper Bench Group Camping Area, for up to 50 people. No RV sites available.


Uvas Canyon County Park campsite with leaning trees, table, and locker close up


Insider Tips: 

  • In the winter and early spring, when water levels are high, you can hike past Swanson Creek and several waterfalls along the 1-mile Waterfall Loop Trail. View the Waterfall Loop Nature Trail Guide brochure to learn more.

Know Before You Go: 

  • This park is very popular with local residents. You must make a reservation in advance before you enter this park, even if it is just for the day. 
  • As you drive on Croy Road to get to the park, you will pass through Sveadal, a private resort belonging to the Swedish American Patriotic League. Please respect their privacy and speed limits when driving through there. 
  • Be prepared for a longer, slower drive with many curvy turns on the road to this park.
  • Dogs are allowed on leash. 
  • The park is open all year. 
  • There are no biking or equestrian trails.

Camping Reservations & More

Pick your perfect camping spot and come visit Gilroy! For more information on parks in and near Gilroy, check out the Outdoor Adventures page on the Visit Gilroy website. Make camping reservations online at the Santa Clara County Parks website.  


RV trailer and orange tent at a camping ground surrounded by large trees


Camping with Your Dog in Gilroy

Each of these county parks is dog-friendly! Check out other blogs on Dog-Friendly Hiking and Parks in Gilroy and Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Wineries in Gilroy to find other places to enjoy in Gilroy with your furry friend.

Beyond Camping: More to See and Do in Gilroy

Gilroy provides plenty of camping options—and there are many other things to do here as well! Consider your campsite your “home base” in an area loaded with great opportunities for other activities. 

Be sure to check in at the California Welcome Center Gilroy (located in Gilroy Premium Outlets) to get started with some brochures and suggestions for things to do. If you’ve got kids in tow, you’ll definitely want to go to California’s only horticultural family theme park—Gilroy Gardens—and pay a visit to feathered and furry friends at the Gilroy Ostrich Farm. You can shop at the Gilroy Premium Outlets or choose from a variety of restaurants, wineries, and other exciting places to explore. For more inspiration, check out 33 Things to Do in Gilroy on the Visit Gilroy website.