Are you bored of city life and on the lookout for adventure? If yes, then camping in California should be on your bucket list! Camping gives you an energy boost and jolts you out of your daily routine; it also helps attain longevity and a healthy life generally. In addition, being amongst trees is sure to release serotonin and help your body destress. So, take your friends or family along with you and head to the best camping sites you can find with our help.
With 110 state parks, most of which enjoy camping right on the Pacific coastline, campers have an abundance of choices in California. You will get various landscapes, including rugged mountains, pristine beaches, sandy deserts, and serene state parks with a mild climate perfect for camping! With such diverse options, we know it gets tricky to choose a camping site that works best for you. Don’t worry! We have got you covered! Here are some of the best camping sites in California you can visit.
Time to hit the road and enjoy s’mores under starry skies and sounds of waves nearby! In our guide, you will find everything ranging from rustic to romantic. A little advice before we jump onto our main topic, plan because campsites are reaching their maximum capacity this summer!
Before we get started with our list of camping in California, you might be interested in my articles about the best camping equipment.
List of Best Camping In California In 2021
With the mystic Coastal Redwoods river making its way through the park, you can enjoy a pacifying stroll along the riverbanks. Under the rustic hues of the redwood forest, you will have plenty of opportunities to explore wildlife. The Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is suitable for families as it constitutes all levels of hiking trails. This site has almost 200 campsites and is the biggest campground in the area. It doesn’t matter if you are camping in a car, an RV, or a tent; this state park has you covered! Cabins are available for rent at Big Sur Lodge, present within the park, which has about sixty rooms. You can explore your adventurous side by hiking, swimming, and biking in this state park in California. Access to water, showers, and toilets is available. A standard tent site costs thirty-five dollars, while a riverfront site costs fifty dollars a night and a hiker or biker site costs five dollars only. If this is what you are looking for, to sum up, your camping experience, then go ahead and book your spot!
Enriched with glaciers and granite rock, the Yosemite National Park is the best camping site you could ask! Northeast of Yosemite Valley on Tioga Road, you will find the Tuolumne Meadows Campground at eight thousand and six hundred feet. The campground is far from the bustling Yosemite Valley so that you can enjoy hours of solitude and peace. Here you will find magnificent glacial-fed lakes and Sierra Nevada Mountains’ valleys and meadows. The serene Unicorn Lake trail at Yosemite National Park goes to the Tioga Pass Trailhead, Cathedral Lakes Trailhead, and other trails directly from the campground. Tent sites and RV sites are available in the park with twenty-six dollars a night for camping. This campground remains open from July through September. Water and toilet facilities are available at the site. The campground is suitable for first-timers and expert campers and is a place you can take your family to enjoy some quality time together!
For the otherworldly experience visit, this wild desert about one hundred and forty miles east of Los Angeles: the Joshua Tree National Park. Bring your sleeping bags and lay under the majestic starry sky in the park, next to the magnanimous granite boulders and the park’s pride, the Joshua trees. For all the solitude lovers, this place is it! It has fifteen spots only and works on a first-come, first-serve basis. This campground is accessible all year round, but the best time to visit is the springs because you will spot the most wildflowers and be mesmerized. At Joshua Tree National Park, you will find 49 Palms Canyon Trail, which comes on the hot favorites list of hiking trails. It constitutes a variety of rock formations and cactus gardens. Here you will find great campgrounds, including Indian Cove and others perfect for stargazing at night. Pit toilets are available. Campgrounds are fifteen dollars for a night. So if you are looking for some peace under the stars, then go to Joshua Tree National Park.
Are you interested in a romantic getaway? Then Point Reyes National Seashore is where you should go! With elegant seals rolling on the shore and salty air breezing by, you will get to enjoy heavenly sunsets encapsulated in pastel hues. At night the Coast Campground is a cozy place to pitch a tent. It is an hour away from the north of San Francisco and is the best spot for backpacking. Water and toilet facilities are available on the site. Picnic tables are also present on the place for you to enjoy a wholesome picnic while watching the awe-struck view. If it gets cold at night, driftwood is also available for starting a bonfire, but you need to get a permit at the Bear Valley Visitor Center if you decide to build a bonfire. So for a romantic camping experience, visit Point Reyes National Seashore!
If your hobbies include bird watching, then make sure you pack some high-speed binoculars! Pinnacles National Park is home to Yellow-billed Magpie, Canyon Wren, Greater Roadrunner, Prairie Flacon, California Thrasher, and other unique beauties. At this campground, pet-friendly tents and group camping are offered. You can even park your RV at the site. It has picnic tables and fire rings for you to enjoy. Bird lovers must get packing and head to Pinnacles National Park!
If you want to camp in style, then Mendocino offers you drive-in glamping! Book your place at Mendocino Grove and breathe in an extravagant glamping destination that includes sixty spacious tents. These luxury tents have extremely comfy beds with plush linens and cozy comforters. Bring your cookware and grilling utensils and devour delicious food made on our communal gas barbecues. Mendocino Grove is close to the Mendocino’s beaches; you can easily enjoy sunsets there. If you love the waves, you can spend the day paddling along the Big River situated near the campground. Go glamping at Mendocino Grove!
If you want to see what the California coast looked like decades ago, visit the five islands that make up this offshore national park. Book a boat and paddle through Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Sana Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. At the American Galapagos, you can view four hundred and forty-five bird species. Snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking are some fun activities to do at Channel Islands National Park to give you that rush of adrenaline. In addition, you can explore sea caves around the isles. If you wish to stay the night, book boat transportation and enjoy camping in this heavenly place enriched with turquoise waters. To take in the views of the Pacific, reserve your spot at Channel Islands National Park.
If you are looking for the best weekend getaway in California, visit Crystal Cove, State Park. This park is located close to amnesties and gives you the sandy coastline experience of the Pacific Ocean. The site is perfect to beat the summer heat with adventurous activities such as surfing and swimming. If you are looking for an energy boost, hiking is one of the activities you will enjoy at this campsite. With fifty-five dollars per night, the Moro Campground is a family campsite that includes RV sites. You will have access to water and toilets. You can even book your spot online and enjoy a fun weekend getaway. So, pack your bags and load your RV and get going!
If Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park gets heavily populated, then just down the road, you will find a serene abode at Ventana Campground. This relatively obscure site is a tent-only campground situated amidst the peaceful redwood canyon. Here you will find restroom and shower stations that are comparable to good quality hotels. A luxe Airstream cocktails and snacks bar is also accessible in a makeshift outdoor lounge in the redwoods. However, if you want to kick things up a notch and opt for the extravaganza, then book glamping tents and avail the relaxing spa and pool facilities at the lavish resort next door called the Ventana resort. If you prefer the posh way of camping (known as glamping), this campground is made for you!
If you are an adventure fanatic, then you must backpack Northern California’s wondrous Lost Coast Trail. This trail gorges through the wildest areas of the state’s coastline. Due to the extremely rugged and steep landscape, you can reach the beaches on foot only. For that pump of adrenaline, you have the 25.3-mile trail of the Lost Coast, constituting of tough terrain that you will get to trek through. Ensure you keep clothing, food, and shelter because it takes about four days to complete the course. But the efforts are worth the dramatic scenery you get at completion. So, take along your friends that are always looking for adventure and have the experience of a lifetime!
Known as the largest state park in Big Sur, Andrew Molera State Park is filled with hiking trails and extremely scenic sites. Many tourists come here for the twenty miles of hiking trails. Apart from the thrilling courses, the beach is also trendy and brings in many visitors. This campground includes twenty-four walk-in tent sites, and campers have access to toilets and clean drinking water. A food locker, fire pit for a bonfire, and picnic tables are also available at the site. To have the full camping experience, head over to Andrew Molera State Park!
Be entranced by the hues of the redwood forest at this campsite just two miles from Lucia. Limekiln State Park is famous for providing majestic forest views and a hundred-foot-tall sparkling waterfall, and of course, the historic ruins of the lime kiln. This park was once home to a lime kiln operation, and now visitors come to explore the ruins of the lime kiln found here. You can explore thirty-three sites in this state park located among redwoods.
This stunning ski destination at Mammoth Lakes region looks majestic in the summers. Located in the Red’s Meadow Valley situated east of the Sierra Mountains, you will find the breath-taking Minaret Falls campground named after the Minaret Creek cascading nearby. Here you can hike to see the majestic views at Rainbow Falls as well as the scenic Devil’s Postpile, which is a unique geological formation that resembles crumbling columns fitted into a cliffside. For magical views, visit the Minaret Falls campground.
The Giant Forest that anchors the roots of the world’s largest tree, General Sherman, is amongst the forty groves of redwoods that make up the Sequoia National Park. You can camp at the riverfront Lodgepole Campground which is near the visitor center. In addition, you can avail of the free shuttles that provide easy access to attractions at the park, including the Giant Forest and Wuksachi Lodge and Restaurant, and other sites. So, have fun at Sequoia National Park with like-minded people.
While the area near the Shasta Cascade region features four kinds of volcanoes, Lassen Volcanic National Park also has pristine lakes, biking paths, lovely wildflowers, and pearly stargazing. Manzanita Lake has huge campsites, as well as glamping cottages and a museum. You may also hike around the lake on a leisurely one-and-a-half-mile route with a magnificent view of Lassen Peak. The Manzanita Lake Camper Store also rents stand-up paddleboard and kayak equipment. For majestic views, head over to Lassen Volcanic National Park and spend the night counting stars.
El Capitan is one of a handful of campgrounds along the Santa Barbara coast that provides amazing campgrounds on a seaside ledge. During the day, you can stroll down the driftwood-strewn beach, which has some of the best tidepools in the area. Bring your swimwear and surfboard; the undulating surf is ideal for frolicking or catching a few waves. And there is a camp store with beach supplies and hot showers to tidy up before a fire pit BBQ meal.
The seasonal Eagle Point Campground, located over a forested slope facing the pristine Emerald Bay, comes with 100 campsites connected to the beaches and trails, including the spectacular Rubicon Trail. In addition, a rental vendor provides kayaks for paddling out to Fanntte Island, Lake Tahoe’s isolated island, in the summer. So stock up your kayak with camping equipment and proceed to the cozy, lakeside boat camp on the bay’s northern banks for further adventure and serenity.
Simply put, we are in California, so get your surfboard and travel south to San Elijo State Beach, which is near the San Diego seaside towns of Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Cardiff by the Sea. This place is just one of California’s most renowned surf places, and the campsite provides convenient access during dawn patrol. In addition, there are several volleyball grounds, picnic areas, showers, and a camp store near the area where you can get firewood, surfboards, and other supplies. So if you are ready for action-packed camping, then San Elijo State Beach should be your pick!
Leo Carrillo State Sand near Malibu has 1.5 miles of beach for viewing coastal caves, tidepools, and reefs, as well as surf fishing and windsurfing. It also had back-country hiking and sycamore-shaded camping. The famous park is adjacent to the country lines of Los Angeles and Ventura and the famed seafood restaurant Neptune’s Net, where the shots from the film Point Break starring Keanu Reeves were filmed. When you have had enough of the beach vistas (which you won’t), the posh stores and restaurants of Malibu are only down the coast. Once you visit this campsite, you would not want to come back to the rut of city life.
It is time to make your pick, whether it is an adventure you seek amongst the redwoods or a posh weekend retreat in the form of glamping near the coastline. Book your place ahead of time and start planning for the perfect camping trip to mark your summer vacation. After the year we have had such an exciting trip is a must! Away from the city buzz and into the serene wildlife will help eliminate quarantine blues haunting us.