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Camping California

Yosemite. The redwoods. Big Sur. World-famous outdoor destinations abound in California. There are so many that you couldn’t possibly explore all the richness the state offers in one lifetime. The trick when camping in California is managing so many possibilities. Once you've visited the famous sites, try some creative approaches to camping in California.

When you think Napa Valley, you think of wine, not camping. But you can plan a wine vacation from behind the flap of your tent. Set up in one of the valley’s campgrounds then visit the many casual tasting rooms that won't mind dirt under your fingernails. When you tire of drinking wine, hike Mt. St Helena, a dormant volcano. Or walk through the Petrified Forest, a forest that was turned to stone by the last eruption of the volcano. Or visit California’s Old Faithful, a nearby geyser.

Once you have found camping in California’s Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, center yourself in Tuolumne Meadows, a more remote section of the park with its own collection of charming granite domes. Here's a secret: Instead of joining the crowds of day hikers on the meadow's most popular trails, follow the backpackers north on the famed John Muir Trail. The trail meanders through meadows, along a river below alpine peaks. And best of all, the first 8 miles of this trail out of Tuolumne are flat. Hike until you find a spot to watch the marmots, then return to your campsite. For more, backpack another 23 miles to Reds Meadow where you can catch a shuttle back up to Tuolumne.

With a little effort, you can spend the rest of your life camping in California and have a new adventure every time.

Recent Reviews in California
Parking lot camping with no bathroom

Surf N Turf is basically parking lot camping across the street from the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The campground is only open from Sept thru May when there's no horse racing at the fairgrounds. The rates are $40-$50 per night depending on the length of your vehicle. There's no bathroom or showers and all sites include a 30 amp electricity connection. There's also no sewer connection. This place is perfect if you need a quick and easy place to stay in San Diego for a night. No tents.

Loved it

We spent 3 nights at this campground and had a great time. They have a camp store right in the middle of the campground that has essentials. Bathrooms were nice. Can’t wait to go back. Walking distance to the beach. Best part.

Great place for b-zone hunting!

Awesome place, amazingly helpful and kind owners, Critter creek campground is right on 36 and wildwood road. Went there for a week of hunting and the property backs up to nothing but days and days worth of b-zone land. It also was really nice to have hot showers after really long days. A+++

Desert/City Lookout

Great spot along the PCT. Our site even came with a creepy manakin… make sure to look for it and add a sticker!

Each site has its own fire pit and we did not expect to find nice bathrooms here, but they were great!

Beautiful Forest

Awesome spaces, some right next to the PCT. Try to go in fall. Seems like it’s full of great people too, everyone we met was friendly.

Alpine Lakes

This is a great glimpse at what the High Sierra lakes further south look like… but better. Dispersed camp sites all over. (Make sure to follow signs and camp appropriately distanced from the lakes)

BLM Lake Bed Boondocking

Not sure if this is the same place the rangers in Joshua Tree told us about, but if you drive North on Sunfair off of Route 62 and take a right on Sunflower, you can drive on to BLM land and find anywhere to camp on a dry lake bed. It was pretty open and incredible in late November.

Popular even in November

They weren’t huge sites and the only one available right before Thanksgiving was a small tent only site (due to cancellation).

Reserve in advance!!

Decent place

I have great cell service with T-Mobile, but not all cell carriers have such luxury. The owners of this campground are a bit older and not very friendly when youngsters like myself come to stay here, so customer service is bad but the WiFi is exceptional and you can’t beat the view coming down to the R.V Park or the little creek it has here.

We enjoyed our stay, it was peaceful, the resort put on a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. Dogs had room to run and enjoy. Laundry facilities clean and everything worked great. The staff was wonderful , loved Tiffany!

Nice stop! Space 18 in North Shore, very enjoyable. Just come prepared there is no grocery store for 30 miles. Get gas before you get to Needles or you will pay a lot more. On the river, great beach to walk on. We avoided all the bad winter weather. Would definitely go back.

Quiet retreat

The weather was perfect, the stars were amazing and the place was empty! Seriously, I think we were one of five campers on a Friday night. Cute little visitor center. There’s a kayak rental, but we weren’t that brave!

Beautiful and peaceful

For beauty and solitude alone this is a five star spot. Follow the dirt road into the little valley and soon a beautiful meadow opens up ahead with a small creek running through. Sites are located along the meadow and around a loop in the back portion of the campground where there’s a trail head into the wilderness. Camping here requires some planning ahead as there is no potable water available and only pit toilets but the trade off is the incredible scenery and peaceful surroundings. Keep your eyes open for horses and cattle!

Popular summer spot

Some great variety in this campground which includes walk in tent only sites! It’s a well laid out campground, tent only spots up front ( near the camp host and showers) and a loop around the back with some well separated sites just above the river.
Years ago this spot was a nice little secret but now it’s often packed and can get quite noisy, especially on the weekends.

Beautiful but crowded

Great family campground but if your in search of solitude this is not the spot. Situated across from the campground is the day use area which is very popular and noisy.
Facilities are clean and the campground is beautiful, great walking path too!


I have come here since I was a kid with my Dad. This was the cheapest way to stay with a family in Monterey/Carmel. You will drive through a country residential area that does not look like there would be a campground then all of a sudden you take a turn and you’re in a nice wooded, shady place on a hill. The best of both worlds in the hills outside of Carmel but still close to town and beaches. They have glamping tents, cabins, and small tent camping spots. There is not room for more than two small and medium tents. Camp sites are not very private but they are clean. Kids love the pool and game areas and begged to stay longer and come back. Bathrooms are very nice and clean with hot water. I recommend if you want to take a family trip to Monterey or Carmel to check this place out. Only downside was I missed seeing and hearing the peacocks that I remember as a kid.

Surf, Sand and Camp

If falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing sounds good to you, then El Capitan State Beach is for you. There are around 120 camp spots to choose from. The bathrooms are clean but the showers are not working. There's also a few RV spots but not many. Make sure you reserve a spot of you plan on visiting over the weekend.

There's a nice campground across the Fwy 101 and a small store and restaurant. There's a few hikes that leave from this campground. A fire recently scored the hills but the campground was untouched.

Good little campground

Came here in mid November for a picnic and rest from our off roaring adventure. There are no amenities at this site, but it is maintained, and good for a day picnic or a pct resting spot. Bugs weren’t bad and tables were surprisingly spider web free. We had the whole place to ourselves

Desert treasure

First come first serve

Definitely would advise getting here early if camping during a holiday weekend. Great spots, spaced out. Wonderful desert views all around! Rangers host an astronomy night and guiding hike! Running water and vaulted clean toilets

Family friendly

Had a great time here. Booked last minute and loved our spot! Kiddos had a great time riding their bikes around the sites. Also, great trails nearby!

Sand Dunes for Miles

North Pismo State Beach is a good campground right on the beach and next to a Monarch park. The bathrooms are clean and have showers. The showers take tokens which you can get from the machine next to the bathrooms. The sites are all drive thru. 

The campground is about a mile from downtown Pismo and is a great place to have lunch or dinner.  To the south is Pismo state beach where you can actually drive your car on the beach for $5. Can't beat that deal.


I have to admit, I didn't even know Pinnacles NP exsisted. I'm glad I saw the sign and venture to check it out. It’s a beautiful park and has the largest population of California Condors in the world.

The campground is situated about 2.3 miles from the main trailheads. There's tent and RV campsites. It's a good campground with the NP visitor center located within the campground.

Note: There's only 30Amp service at the RV sites. Bring an adapter if you only have 50 or 20Amps.

Childhood campground

This is my favorite campground. It’s the one I grew up going to and it is just so beautiful and relaxing. Highly recommend!

Quiet and peaceful

Nice drive good place for hard core campers lots of hiking trails to hike up and down lots of places to explore in the falls are really cool good cold water coming off the mountain this is my new spot to camp in until I find another one ! THE SEARCH CONTINUES ! 😎

Good camping!

We brought the rpod. Left it in the camp and explored lava tubes and sand dunes near by. NO more water! Used to have water but they broke and no plans to fix. Very windy. We went 10/18/19 Lots of hunters! Deer season

Some good camping for California.

Kinda hard to get to the beach, camp sites are nice and have a table. Bathrooms can be far, we scootered to them

Pretty neat spot

Walk to the beach is kind of long. Camp is on the bluff! We tent camped and had a good time

This Park is now The Cove RV Resort

This has been the Cove RV Resort for three years. 500 Rivera DR. On the south side I-10

Fun place for young kids!

We recently stayed here, for the 1st time, last week. We decided to leave the travel trailer at home, and change it up! We stayed the 1st in a large teepee. It had beds for a total of six people. It was hot in the daytime, and got really cold at night, so we switched to a Glamping tent. The Glamping tent was nice! It had a very confortable queen bed, 2 lamps, a fan, a heater, a mini fridge and a microwave. It also had a futon type couch that made into a bed. Loved the Glamping tent.

Only downfall was, that the place does not enforce it quiet time rules. 10pm to 8 am. Late night loud groups, carrying on until 2 in the morning, loud obnoxious kids screaming at 6:15 in the morning…😩they have many beautiful Peafowl, and they can be loud too, but I only heard them once. The place has very nice tiled showers, with good water pressure, clean bathrooms, a big beautiful pool, but it was closed for the season.

There are fire pits throughout the 76 acre park, it was nice having a campfire, since so many places don’t allow them anymore…they have a very large jumping pillow for kiddos, my 6 year had a blast playing on it. They also have a zip line, but it was damaged in the large fire last year, and is being fixed currently. There is a stream that runs thru the property, it was fun to explore. They have a rock climbing wall, that is brought out on holiday weekends.

Lots of fun activities for kids, like crafts, making your own rocket to launch, etc. It is not the place to come, if you want a quiet, mellow place to read a book! It is busy, and loud. They do not have any laundry facilities, nor do they have a little store. The prices on everything are going up 10% on everything, next year. This means that most campsites with full hook-ups with be $ 71 a night, ( not bad ) but the large teepees will cost about $ 200 a night, and the Glamping tents, about $ 180 a night.

You can buy a KOA discount card, for just $ 30 bucks, and it gets you 10% off, each stay for a year. Valid at all KOAs in America, and some in Australia! We had a good time, and plan to go back in the summer next year. Hopefully, with our travel trailer, it will be less loud 😉

Camping and Horses

The fairgrounds RV park is located as the name suggests on the Monterey Fairgrounds. It's centrally located and allows for easy access to the town via Bus Route Jazz A or B or a local bike path down the street. The RV spacing is tight so you will get to know your neighbors. Beware the park is next to the airport. The staff has been really friendly. I gave it 4 stars because its an interesting place to stay. 

There's a Dennys, Sushi and Italian restaurant within walking of the campground.

Peaceful Campsite

This secret campsite is located in a beautiful aspen grove! It is about 1/2 an hour from great hot springs. No cell service helps provide the off grid feeling.