Aside from Ion's answer (I always got the impression that there are serious access issues on some rivers in the central area, never mind wild camping), there are some other useful things to know:Mark R wrote:Anyone know the Californian attitude to riverside wild camping, e.g. on private land/parks etc?
In most of the forestry areas and even state parks there is relatively cheap "basic" camping (composting toilets but no running water, except the river) beside many rivers. All of them are run slightly differently, typically you take a blank permit from a wooden box, fill it in as best you can and post it in another box along with the correct fee, or what you think is the correct fee. Usually the ranger turns up before you leave and explains which bits you filled in wrong and how you should have calculated the fee.
For multiday paddles in such areas you will need to get a campfire permit (and carry a fire pan) which involves a simple test to check if you know how to keep a camp fire under control and put it out. You need to check with local ranger stations for permits and info about whether there are designated camp spots or if you can camp anywhere. I think by definition this can only be done where there is no vehicular access, so not an option as part of the day to trip road trippin' element.
In Yosemite you can only camp on the organised campsites, and you need to book in advance, probably last month (bearing in mind some may still be snowed in....). There is a campsite at Red Bud by the Merced - my memory of that is that we blagged in without a booking and had to be extra well behaved, if it's run by the same ranger he flies a bear republic flag from his camper so is presumably a character. The bonus is that it's right by the river. There is also a hostel a few miles away (something bug?) which does food, I don't think we stayed there but it looked OK.
For the lower Tuolumne we used the commercial campsite/caravan park just outside of Groveland although I think there may be a forestry site of some kind at the put in?
Chamberlain falls has a campsite at the put in, Goodyear bar has one at the takeout, the Kern has about 3 along it (and another at the hot springs below lake Isabella) - there really are loads of cheap riverside spots, I don't think wild camping from the car would really be necessary?
And if you are camping wild or in forestry sites, best find a picture of some poison oak to show the first timers before they get covered in the sap....