Mount Diablo State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Mount Diablo State Park is an amazing place that has something for every RV traveler who is looking to do some exploring. Located on the eastern fringe of the San Francisco Bay Region, Mount Diablo State Park is situated just over five miles southeast from Walnut Creek, California. The 20,000-acre state park was founded in 1931 and boasts incredible scenery, as well as panoramic views from the top of Mount Diablo, which towers 3,849 feet into the sky.

Mount Diablo itself is considered a spiritual place by some 25 Native American tribes in the East Bay Region of California including the Bay Miwok, Northern Valley Yokuts, and Ohlone. The mountain is revered in native mythology as the point of creation where the Coyote and Eagle-man formed the beginning of Native Americans. During the 1870s, toll roads were opened to stagecoaches who ferried visitors to the top of Mount Diablo. Once on top of Mount Diablo, the vistas are truly spectacular where you can view 40 of the 54 counties in California. The unique landscape contains plenty of fossilized rock that has been tilted upside down. As you travel to the top, the ancient sandstone rocks actually become older because of this natural phenomenon. The elevation in the park ranges from 300 to 3,849 feet, which creates a wide variation in temperatures from the lower altitudes to higher altitudes.

Whether you are a first time RV traveler or an expert, there are plenty of activities in the park that you will love, including nature viewing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing. One of the more popular things to do in Mount Diablo State Park is to view the fossil remains from the ancient sea beds that are now visible throughout much of the park. Rock City is another popular area of the park, where you can explore unique rock formations and caves.

This stunning landscape provides a perfect setting for a truly memorable RV getaway. If you want to stay the night at Mount Diablo State Park in a rented or your own rig you can, thanks to the 64 RV friendly campsites that are spread over two campgrounds.

RV Rentals in Mount Diablo State Park

Transportation in Mount Diablo State Park

Driving

There are two main entrances to Mount Diablo State Park, which are the North and South Gate Roads. North Gate Road allows for access to the park for travelers coming via Walnut Creek, as well as nearby Clayton. South Gate Road is accessed from Mount Diablo Road just northeast of the town of Danville. Once inside the park, driving can be challenging for all drivers with numerous hairpin turns and steep inclines. Visitors can expect a slow drive with numerous advisories for blind curves and drivers cutting corners. The Mount Diablo Scenic Highway is closed to all vehicles over 20 feet in length, and visitors pulling trailers cannot make the drive to the top of the mountain.

Driving challenges are compounded by a number of bicyclists and hikers that occupy the roads throughout the park. Drivers along the North Gate Road to the Junction Ranger Station will find switchback and more than twelve blind curves to maneuver. Along the South Gate Road to the Junction Ranger Station, drivers experience a steep road with more than fifteen blind curves. The two roads converge at the Junction Ranger Station. The Summit Road from the Junction Ranger Station takes visitors to the top of Mount Diablo by navigating nine blind curves and is the steepest part to drive.

Since there are so many mountainous, narrow, and curvy roads in this park, it might be easiest to park your rig at the campground and explore on foot, bike, or even horseback. There are tons of trails to explore all over the park. Pick up a park map at the Visitor Center or print it out from the park's website.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Mount Diablo State Park

Campsites in Mount Diablo State Park

Reservations camping

Juniper Campground

Located two miles south of the Mount Diablo summit, Juniper Campground is a great choice to stay if you are wanting to see the views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Juniper Campground has 36 campsites situated within one loop. RVs are limited to 20 feet in length, and trailers are not advised due to driving conditions on the main road. There are no campsites that offer hookups for RVs.

The campground has flush toilets and showers, depending on water restrictions. Potable water is available for RVs and trailers at the Lower Summit Parking Lot and the Upper Summit Parking Lot. There is no potable water available within the campground.

Campsites are equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. Each campsite is furnished with a paved pad which may require leveling devices. Generators may be used during the day. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times. Reservations are available up to six months in advance.

Live Oak Campground

Located one mile north of the South Gate Entrance Station near Rock City, Live Oak Campground is the smaller of the two RV-friendly campgrounds that you can call home during your stay to Mount Diablo State Park.

The Live Oak Campground boasts 22 campsites within a single loop. RVs and trailers are limited to 20 feet in length. There are no hookups available or potable water within the campground. The campground has flush toilets and showers, depending on water restrictions. Each campsite is furnished with a picnic table and fire ring.

Campers are encouraged to bring their own drinking water. RVs and trailers can fill their tanks with potable water at the Lower Summit Parking Lot or Upper Summit Parking Lot. Campsites have paved parking pads which may require leveling devices. Generators are limited to use during daytime hours. Pets must be restrained on a six-foot leash. Reservations are available up to six months in advance.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Junction Campground

While there is no RV campground available on a first-come, first-served basis, you can go tent camping. The Junction campground has six campsites for tents within a wooded area of the park that are open on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is situated at the junction of South Gate Road and North Gate Road. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. There are no hookups within the campground. Potable water can be found at the Lower Summit Parking Lot and the Upper Summit Parking Lot. Campsites have paved parking pads which may require leveling devices. Generators usage is limited to daytime hours. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash.

Seasonal activities in Mount Diablo State Park

In-Season

Picnicking

Mount Diablo State Park is one of the most well-equipped parks in California for picnicking. This is in thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps, who built over 50 picnic areas during the 1930s and 40s. Most of the picnic areas are quite small but they do come with some amenities, including a couple of picnic tables and stoves done in a rustic style. There are no reservable picnic shelters at Mount Diablo State Park so your picnicking will be on a first-come, first-served only basis.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbers flock to Mount Diablo State Park because of the challenging sandstone formations. Two of the best places in the park for rock climbing are Castle Rock and Rock City. Castle Rock jettisons 972 feet into the air and is accessed from the Little Pine Creek Trail in the northwestern portion of the park. Rock City is situated near the Live Oak campground and contains large sandstone formations. Two intriguing climbs at Rock City are Boy Scout Rocks and Sentinel Rock. If you do plan on climbing during your visit make sure that you bring all of the gear you need to be safe.

Hiking

Mount Diablo State Park is a hiker’s paradise. There are more than 50 trails for hikers that are perfect for all abilities, from novices to experts. A superb trail for beginners is the nearly one-mile Fire Interpretive Loop Trail and Fossil Ridge Road near Rock City. Expert hikers looking to summit Mount Diablo on foot should try the Summit Trail. More adventurous hikers will relish the challenge of Eagle Peak Trail that extends to the summit of Mount Diablo. No matter which type of trail you aim to tackle, make sure you back a good park of hiking boots in your camper.

Biking

One of the more popular things to do in Mount Diablo State Park is bicycling. Bicyclists are allowed to ride on all paved roads, authorized trails, and maintained fire roads. Paved roads include the Summit, South Gate, and North Gate Roads, which are popular with road cyclists. Mountain bikers will find challenging trails like Mother’s Trail from Angel Kerley Road to Burma Road, the Summit Trail from South Gate Road through Dan Cook Canyon, and the North Peak Tail starts at the Summit Road at Devil’s Elbow and continues to Prospector’s Gap.

Off-Season

Birding

Along with having amazing views, Mount Diablo State Park has many different habitats that are perfect for birding. These habitats (chaparral, oak woodlands, grassland, and rock outcrops) have attracted over two hundred bird species that are a mix of rare and common birds to the area. These include the hermit warbler, prairie falcon, Hammond's flycatcher, calliope hummingbird, sage sparrow, and black-chinned sparrow. If you decide to go birding during the wintertime, make sure that you wear appropriate clothing since high winds can occur anytime.

Mount Diablo State Park Visitor Centers

Mount Diablo State Park features several interpretive centers for visitors. The centers concentrate on teaching visitors the ecosystem of the area and the natural as well as cultural history of the park. Each of the visitor’s centers offers numerous interactive exhibits, lectures, and special events. Visitors will find a museum at the summit along with the Summit Building that was constructed in the 1930s by the California Conservation Corps. The interpretive center at Mitchell Canyon offers guided hikes by naturalists, as well as at Diablo Valley Overlook.

Horseback Riding

If you are itching to get our on horseback during your RV trip to Mount Diablo State Park then you are in luck! Horseback riding is a great activity to do within the park and can be done all year round. The park sports 41 trails for horseback riding that range in length up to six miles long. Macedo Ranch Staging Area is an ideal place to start your adventure which provides access to Mt. Diablo Road, Wall Point Road, and BBQ Terrace Road. Another nice horseback ride within the park is the Mitchell Canyon Fire Road, which provides a good staging area to begin your ride at the Mitchell Canyon Interpretive Center and Ranger Station.

Photography

Mount Diablo State Park offers panoramic vistas of 40 counties within the state of California. There are stellar locations like the Diablo Valley Overlook, which boast views of the Golden Gate Bridge. On the summit of Mount Diablo visitors can view the Farallon Islands to the west and Mount Loma Prieta to the south. To the north is Mount Saint Helena within the Coast Range, as well as Mount Lassen in the Cascades Mountain Range. The east sports views of the Central Valley of California. Viewing is often better during the winter months which offer less foggy conditions. On a good day, you can see Half Dome in Yosemite National Park with a pair of binoculars. So bring your photography gear to Mount Diablo for some of the best views in the entire state of California!

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