Camping at Kirby Cove

Kirby Cove – San Francisco’s Hidden Gem

Shhhh… this is a secret spot. Keep it between us.

Just a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge – there’s a hidden cove at the bottom of the headlands with an epic panorama view of the GGB and San Francisco. It’s name… Kirby Cove.

Kirby Cove lies in a small cove at the bottom of the hill with beach access and is made up of 5 campsites and 1 day use site. So secluded, so close to the city, such a great view… This has become one of my favorite places to spend the day BBQing and hanging out with friends.


Kirby cove is just a quick ride from San Francisco across the golden gate bridge
Just a quick jaunt over the Golden Gate
The view of the Golden Gate bridge from Kirby cove
Epic views of the city even when Karl the Fog decides to join you

Why you should book Kirby Cove:

Part of what makes Kirby Cove such a treat is that it’s not easily accessible to the general public. Campsites are available by reservation only. The public is invited to walk the steep mile-long dirt trail down the hill from Conzelman Road to picnic on the beach or bluffs.  This is also a great place to check out by bike (keep in mind it’s a long dirt road down, so mountain bikes may fair a bit better than skinny tires on a road bike).
This is one of those campsites that is very difficult to book – so be prepared and plan ahead.
Loading up our supplies in the wheel barrows to take it to our site
Walking to the day-use site at Kirby Cove

My trick is to book the day-use site to gain gate access (i.e. the ability to drive down to the cove) and enjoy a picnic with friends. The day-use site is a little easier to get your hands on compared to a campsite and can accommodate up to 35 people but does have parking restrictions to only 4 vehicles (you’ll get a bonus if you can figure out how to fit 35 ppl in 4 cars). Campsites accommodate 10 people & 3 vehicles (each).

All campsites and day-use have access to pit toilets, barbecue pits, picnic tables, fire rings & the beach (note: there’s no potable water). There are usually wheel barrows at the parking area to haul gear – if you don’t see any go browse the area as people tend to forget to bring them back from sites for others to use.

The campground can go from sunny to foggy in a matter of seconds so pack layers! Also be prepared for wind & rain in the spring. I’ve been in both April & July and the weather was surprisingly similar both times… foggy (womp womp womp). You’re already used to this if you’re a San Francisco native. So if you can nab a reservation for the indian summer that will be incredible – but it’s beautiful no matter the season and no matter what mother nature decides to throw at you. Living in San Francisco I’ve come to find the sound of fog horns like a white noise machine to put me to sleep…not all feel the same, so pack ear plugs if you’re camping overnight.

How to book Kirby Cove:

Here’s a few tips for booking Kirby Cove campground and day-use site:
  • Open: April 1 – November 30
  • Booking window opens 3 months in advance (to the day). Mark your calendar and book in June for the SF Indian summer.  i.e. login at the crack of dawn on June 17th to book Sept 17th. I believe the reservation site goes live at 7am everyday.
  • Maximum number of nights you can book: 3
  • If you’re trying to book a weekend plan to book Thurs – Sat night for better odds of nabbing a spot (nabbing the popular weekend nights by booking your first night on the Thursday for 3 nights). Keep in mind this is probably what other’s are doing too.
  • Reservations can be made at
  • Booking Fee: $25/night campground or $35/day for group day-use site.
  • Check for cancellations…you might get lucky.
  • When you book a site you will receive an email with details with the gate code, parking passes & details for campsite area.
And lastly… watch out for the raccoons. They will run off with your chips the moment you look the other direction.
Campfires at Kirby Cove
There is a fire pit and small grill (bring charcoal) at the Day-use site
Don't forget your favorite BBQ ingredients!
Incredible views all around at Kirby Cove
Kirby Cove is the best place to watch the city sleep
Love at Kirby Cove
By | 2017-09-25T18:12:15+00:00 August 15th, 2017|All, California, Camping, Travel|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Carolyn Fries August 15, 2017 at 2:28 am - Reply

    What a beautiful spot!! So excited to follow you two on your great adventure–so exciting!!! Wishing you a fabulous time!!

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