The San Joaquin River Gorge Management Area is a great campground to relax in on public land without paying too much for camping. Previously it was free but now they charge. However the charge is minimal. It is about $10 for a single campsite or about $15 for triple campsites. If you have a group the group campground is about $175. This makes it quite a bit less expensive than many other options.
This is located in Auberry and some of the amenities at the campsite are horse corrals, restrooms, bicycle trails, hiking trails, horse trails, birding trails, and best of all a paved road so virtually any vehicle can easily drive here.
There are two camping areas here. The first is a group camping area that has about two walk-in tent areas that can hold around 300 people. This is the approximately $175 a night place which is quite reasonable. The other camping area is right at the trail head. It has half a dozen tent sites for single tends. They also have some double and triple sites. There is a great little trail to get from the paved parking lot to the camping ground. There are many many trails all around the camping trail with about 14 miles of trails that are great for cheap fitness- aka trail running. If you have not been trail running it truly is a fun and very freeing experience for people of all ages.
During the spring the wildflowers are amazing and blooming from around March to around May. During the summer and spring there is often great fishing. Hiking and camping is available year round however it gets extremely hot so it may not be too enjoyable to go hiking during the summer.
You reach this by going about 2 miles northwest of Auberry and turning on Smalley Road which is just off of Power House Road. The trail head and parking lot are about 6 miles from the Smalley Road and Power House Road intersection on the Fresno side of the river.