Indian Grinding Rock Campground is a great location for camping with kids. Our story and links provided as well as my campground review at the end will help make this camping trip easy and fun (kids' behavior pending).
This story takes place in the middle of a hot Sacramento summer when our little family was eager to get out of the heat. (Please note: turns out this is NOT the ideal location to go for cooler temperatures. I suggest the beach or Alaska.)
Wyatt, our youngest kiddo, was just mastering the art of walking, so we needed a place that didn't have rushing waters or steep hills. Our oldest, Nolan, was 5 1/2 and needed entertainment and excitement. Nyah, our middle child, finds joy in whatever we do. Our solution? Indian Grinding Rock. This park was ideal for everyone in the family (again, though, go in the fall or spring!).
We packed up a lunch, got in the car, and set off on our adventure. The drive took a little over an hour, which was perfect for me. Trips that take much longer than that generally result in a left eye twitch, likely caused by listening to too much Raffie.
Indian Grinding Rock is the site of an ancient village of the Sierra Miwok. There's a museum on one side of the park, with a meadow shaded by oak trees just below it. Beyond the meadow, on the southern-most end of the park, is Indian Grinding Rock Campground.
We parked the car by the museum since we wouldn't be staying the night. Once let free from the car, the kids ran down the slight slope into the meadow to discover "funny holes" (which turned out to be bedrock mortars) covering a huge limestone slab. They were curious about the feature but didn't quite understand what it was. Nolan asked, "why the heck would you need to grind acorns? Couldn't you just go to the store?" The museum helped explain some of this to him, but I think he was still bewildered by it all.
Nearby, Nyah (our 3-year old) found a reconstructed bark teepee to be a fun hiding space. "You can't see me!" she would shriek from inside. "Here I am!" This hide-and-seek game thrilled her for a full three minutes.
After exploring the museum and the curiosities of the meadow, we found a shaded table for our picnic. Campers played bocce ball and frisbee while Ryan and I waited on our three littles.
Ryan visited this campground the previous winter to take photos for Campgrounds 360. I was eager to walk around the camp and see what I really thought of it - so, during this lovely picnic, I escaped for a quick "bathroom break."
The campground is situated under the dense shade of oaks, pines, and a few maple trees, making it an ideal location for hammocking. When we visited in the summer, the majority of campers were tent campers. Trailers or RVs up to 27 feet are permitted (but there are no hookups).
The entire camp is on a slight slope with a paved camp road and parking spurs. The sites themselves are well-maintained and spaced close together, but not on top of each other. Most sites are small to medium in size, with enough space for just one tent.
For me, the most glorious feature of this campground was the bathroom. Get this- they have separate stalls with flush toilets AND two sinks outside for washing hands. The camp also has coin-operated showers available. Considering how clean and well-maintained the entire campground is, I'm certain the showers are fit for royalty.
What to Bring:
- Hiking shoes
- Star chart
- Corn hole
- Picnic blanket
Click here to review our to-scale campground site map and 360 photo tour.
In the Reviews:
Rated as a 4.6/5 on Trip Advisor. Campers warned about the yellow jackets which tend to swarm around campers during meals. Everyone agreed the camp was clean and well-maintained. One of the reviewers was mobility impaired and thought the campsite accommodated well for his needs.
- Hiking: There are two short, easy hiking trails from the camp. The north trail has a portion suited for those with disabilities (closed right now for ADA upgrades, 2019). The shorter south trail is a nature trail. Go to All Trials and you can find other hikes a short drive away such as the Lake Tabeaud Loop.
- Star Gazing: Lay down on the meadow floor just outside from the campground to stare at the Milky Way.
- Museum - learn about the Sierra Miwok tribe
- #10 (right by the meadow for stargazing)
- The cluster of #12, 14, 17, and 9 all back up to each other for camping with multiple families.