Best Camping in 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.

Best Camping Sites in California (3,609)

    Camper-submitted photo from Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park

    1.

    Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park

    108 Reviews
    489 Photos
    1116 Saves
    Twentynine Palms, California

    Overview

    Download the NPS app prior to visiting the park ___ trail maps and more! Jumbo Rocks Campground lies amid the huge, steep rock formations for which Joshua Tree National Park is known. Close proximity to many boulders and rock formations, it is a popular camping location for families with kids. Jumbo Rocks is one of four campgrounds in the park that requires reservations year-round. To get the most out of your visit Plan Like a Park Ranger__ Travelers who enjoy warm, dry winters flock to Joshua Tree from October through May, when temperatures hover between 70-90 degrees during the day and drop to a 40-60 degree range at night. Summer is the park's off-season due to the uncomfortably-high desert heat. Jumbo Rocks is at an elevation of 4,380 feet.

    Recreation

    Rock scramblers flock to Jumbo Rocks Campground for the variety of geological formations and warmer temperatures that can be found in the interior of the park. Several hiking trails also leave from the campground. There is a short interpretive nature trail and plenty of rocks and canyons to explore within the facility. Clear desert skies are perfect for star-gazing.

    Facilities

    Rock scramblers flock to Jumbo Rocks Campground for the variety of geological formations and warmer temperatures that can be found in the interior of the park. Several hiking trails also leave from the campground. There is a short interpretive nature trail and plenty of rocks and canyons to explore within the facility. Clear desert skies are perfect for star-gazing.

    Natural Features

    Campsites are nestled on a flat, sandy surface between large boulders that tower in unique shapes over the campground and rise up from the otherwise uniform desert landscape. The rocks were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago and have been exposed and shaped by wind and water over time. They brighten with soft pastel hues during the morning and evening sunlight and low with campfire light by night. Visitors may want to keep their eyes out for typical desert inhabitants such as lizards, rattlesnakes, scorpions, ravens, squirrels and desert tarantulas during the cooler months of the year. Bobcats and mountain lions do live in the park, however they are rarely seen near humans.

    Charges & Cancellations

    Reservation Cancellations & Changes Cancelling a Reservation: Customers may cancel their reservation prior to arrival both on-line and through the call center. A $10 service fee will be withheld from any refund for a cancellation. Depending on when you cancel in relation to your arrival day, it may be considered a late cancellation (see below). Changing an Existing Reservation: When changes are made prior to the cut-off window: If a customer wants to switch dates that are entirely outside of the original reservation dates, there is a $10 change fee. There is no change fee if a customer extends or shortens a reservation, as long as the change includes dates from the original reservation. If they choose to depart early, they may forfeit the recreation fee for the day of departure. There is no change fee if the customer wants to switch sites that are the same price with the same reservation dates in the same facility. If a reservation is made that includes dates beyond the maximum booking window, that reservation cannot be changed until 18 days have passed from the original booking date.__ Late Cancellations or Cancellations within the Cut-off Window Individual Campsites: A customer who cancels a reservation the day before or on the day of arrival will pay a $10.00 service fee AND forfeit the first night's use fee (not to exceed the total paid for the original reservation). Cancellations for a one-night reservation will forfeit the entire amount paid and will not be subject to an additional service fee.__ Changes or Cancellations within the Cut-off Window: Once a reservation date has begun, customers cannot change a reservation using the online system or through the Call Center (see below for early departures). If the location is staffed, on-site personnel may or may not be able to assist with changes or cancellations (check with local staff). No-Shows Overnight Facilities: A no-show customer is one who does not arrive at a campground and does not cancel the reservation by check-out (noon) time on the day after the scheduled arrival date. Staff will hold a campsite until check-out time (noon) on the day following the arrival date.__ No-shows are assessed $20.00 service fee and forfeit the first night___s recreation fee for a campsite.__ *Note: the entire reservation will be cancelled for no-shows.__

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Standard (Tent/RV)

    $20 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Alabama Hills Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Alabama Hills Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Alabama Hills Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Alabama Hills Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Alabama Hills Recreation Area
    Camper-submitted photo from Alabama Hills Recreation Area

    2.

    Alabama Hills Recreation Area

    82 Reviews
    445 Photos
    1712 Saves
    Lone Pine, California

    The Alabama Hills are a formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the geologically complex Inyo Mountains. Both geologic features were shaped by the same uplifting occurring 100 million years ago.

    Alabama Hills camping offers touring film sites, photography, rock climbing, exploring natural arches, and viewing the swaths of wildflowers that bloom every spring. Horseback riding and mountain biking are popular activities.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Dispersed
    • Toilets
    • Alcohol
    Camper-submitted photo from Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park

    3.

    Pinnacles Campground — Pinnacles National Park

    83 Reviews
    383 Photos
    96 Saves
    Pinnacles, California

    Overview

    Pinnacles Campground is located in the unique Pinnacles National Park, 32 miles south of Hollister, California. The park encompasses 26,000 acres of spectacular rock formations and remnants of an extinct 23 million-year old volcano. Hiking and rock climbing are very popular activities in Pinnacles, as is watching for the majestic California condor overhead. Pinnacles National Park is a nesting place for the endangered soaring bird, the largest in North America.

    Recreation

    Pinnacles National Park has more than 30 miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. Many trails intersect, allowing for a short loop or a longer all-day hike. Popular destinations include Bear Gulch Reservoir, High Peaks and the Balconies area. The Bench Trail provides direct access to the park from the campground. Visitors enjoy exploring Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave, which houses a large colony of Townsend's big-eared bats. Bring a flashlight! Rock climbers flock to Pinnacles for the variety of climbing routes that range from easy top-ropes to the multi-pitch climbs along Machete Ridge.

    Facilities

    Pinnacles National Park has more than 30 miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. Many trails intersect, allowing for a short loop or a longer all-day hike. Popular destinations include Bear Gulch Reservoir, High Peaks and the Balconies area. The Bench Trail provides direct access to the park from the campground. Visitors enjoy exploring Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave, which houses a large colony of Townsend's big-eared bats. Bring a flashlight! Rock climbers flock to Pinnacles for the variety of climbing routes that range from easy top-ropes to the multi-pitch climbs along Machete Ridge.

    Natural Features

    The campground is situated in a rolling landscape dotted with shady Valley Oak, Blue Oak and Coast Live Oak trees. A gentle, seasonal creek runs through the grounds. Springtime finds Pinnacles bursting with a wide variety of vivid wildflowers that line every trail and fill entire meadows with color. Deer and wild turkeys roam the area, and condors can be viewed from within the campground. The park ranges in elevation from 824 feet along South Chalone Creek to 3,304 feet atop North Chalone Peak.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group

    $129 - $154 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from South Carlsbad State Beach Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

    4.

    South Carlsbad State Beach Campground

    73 Reviews
    162 Photos
    975 Saves
    Carlsbad, California

    For many, once the sun comes out and summer rolls around, it can be hard to resist the urge to get outside and soak up some fun. If you relate, and you just need to unplug for a minute, Carlsbad camping offers some of the state’s best camping sites around. When your work has stacked up and you’re overloaded, it’s time to gather your camping gear, and head to Carlsbad State Beach camping for solitude and relaxation.

    This San Diego beach and campground feature camping, swimming, surfing, skin diving, fishing and picnicking. The campground is especially popular in the summer, thanks to its scenic location which overlooks the picturesque Carlsbad Beach below. Even better, the campground offers direct access to the beach via a set of well-kept stairs. As a result of the popularity, the campground is reservation only, so don’t show up without one or you’ll likely be unable to stay.

    When you’re done with the beach, check out the nearby California geography and some of the trails within the park. If the ocean isn’t your thing, a number of Campfire Programs, Junior Ranger Programs, and Nature Walks may be offered. That said, program availability changes with the season, so be sure to check signs posted on the restrooms and at the entrance station regarding park information during your visit.

    At night, campers are gently caressed to sleep by the nearby ocean tide, lapping upon its secluded shoreline. There is plenty of privacy throughout, thanks to the large selection of flora and fauna throughout the campground. The campsites themselves are also spacious, with roughly half of them featuring electric hookups. Additionally, All restrooms and shower buildings have accessible facilities. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the unit Supervising Ranger.

    South Carlsbad State Beach Campground is perfect for campers and individuals who love the ocean and the outdoors. Whether you’re looking surf the rolling waves, or paddle board out and take part in all that the north county coastline has to offer, you’re sure to have fun here.

    • Pets
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs

    $650 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

    5.

    Elk Prairie Campground — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

    64 Reviews
    234 Photos
    630 Saves
    Orick, California

    Meadow Cabin Colony

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Electric Hookups
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access

    $100 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park

    6.

    Indian Cove Campground — Joshua Tree National Park

    60 Reviews
    293 Photos
    452 Saves
    Twentynine Palms, California

    Overview

    Download the NPS app prior to visiting the park ___ trail maps and more! Indian Cove Campground lies amid the huge, steep rock formations for which Joshua Tree National Park is known. Because of its proximity to many rock climbing routes, it is a popular camping location for climbers. Indian Cove Group is one of three group campgrounds in the park that can be reserved year round. To get the most out of your visit Plan Like a Park Ranger__ Travelers who enjoy warm, dry winters flock to Joshua Tree from October through May, when temperatures hover between 70-90 degrees during the day and drop to a 40-60 degree range at night. Summer is the park's off-season due to the uncomfortably-high desert heat. Indian Cove is at an elevation of 3,200 feet.

    Recreation

    Rock climbers flock to Indian Cove Campground for the variety of routes and warmer temperatures that can be found in the interior of the park. Several hiking trails also leave from the campground. There is a short interpretive nature trail and plenty of rocks for the non-climber to explore within the facility. Clear desert skies are perfect for star-gazing and night photography.

    Facilities

    Rock climbers flock to Indian Cove Campground for the variety of routes and warmer temperatures that can be found in the interior of the park. Several hiking trails also leave from the campground. There is a short interpretive nature trail and plenty of rocks for the non-climber to explore within the facility. Clear desert skies are perfect for star-gazing and night photography.

    Natural Features

    Campsites are nestled on a flat, sandy surface between large boulders that tower in unique shapes over the campground and rise up from the otherwise uniform desert landscape. The rocks were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago and have been exposed and shaped by wind and water over time. They brighten with soft pastel hues during the morning and evening sunlight and glow with campfire light by night. Visitors may want to keep their eyes out for typical desert inhabitants such as lizards, rattlesnakes, scorpions, ravens, squirrels and desert tarantulas during the cooler months of the year. Bobcats and mountain lions do live in the park, however they are rarely seen near humans.

    Charges & Cancellations

    Individual Site: A $10.00 service fee will apply if you change your reservation. Cancellations more than 48 hours in advance of arrival date incur a $10 cancellation fee. Within 48 hours of arrival, a $10 cancellation fee and the first night's fee are charged. Group Site: Customers who cancel a group overnight reservation less than 14 days before the arrival date will pay a $10.00 service fee AND forfeit the first night's use fee. No-Shows__ Overnight Facilities: A no-show customer is one who does not arrive at a campground and does not cancel the reservation by check-out (noon) time on the day after the scheduled arrival date. Staff will hold a campsite until check-out time (noon) on the day following the arrival date.__ No-shows are assessed $20.00 service fee and forfeit the first night___s recreation fee for a campsite.__ *Note: the entire reservation will be cancelled for no-shows.__

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group

    $50 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground
    Camper-submitted photo from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground

    7.

    Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Campground

    59 Reviews
    182 Photos
    1102 Saves
    Big Sur, California

    Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground features 189 RV and tent sites are situated on or near the Big Sur River. There is a Campfire Center that offers evening programs on the weekends during peak season.

    Each campsite includes a parking area for at least one car, a fire pit with half-grill and picnic table. No hookups are provided at any site. Fresh water, hot showers and toilets are a short walk.

    All incoming campers must check in at the entrance kiosk. Camper vehicles must display vehicle tag (proof of reservation) in the windshield. Vehicle tags are also valid for day use entrance into other area state parks.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • Tents

    $60 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park

    8.

    Jedidiah Smith Campground — Redwood National Park

    55 Reviews
    181 Photos
    515 Saves
    Hiouchi, California

    Situated in a magnificent old-growth redwood grove on the banks of the wild and scenic Smith River, this campground offers hiking trails, swimming, fishing, and seasonal campfire programs. Cabins available.

    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group
    • Cabins
    • Standard (Tent/RV)
    Camper-submitted photo from Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park
    Camper-submitted photo from Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park

    9.

    Upper Pines Campground — Yosemite National Park

    57 Reviews
    201 Photos
    769 Saves
    Yosemite Valley, California

    Overview

    Upper Pines campsites are available to reserve up to five months in advance on the 15th of each month at 7:00 a.m. PST. For example, on January 15, arrival dates for the period May 15 to June 14 become available to reserve, and therefore, the full arrival date window would be from January 15 to June 14.__ Reservation Tips! Campsites in Yosemite are extremely popular and typically sell out in minutes. Login to your account or create a new account before the 7:00 a.m. (PST) release time. You may only add reservations to your cart and proceed with your reservation if you are logged into your account. The recreation.gov call center does NOT have access to additional sites or additional information beyond what is published on recreation.gov.__ Upper Pines Campground is located in breathtaking Yosemite National Park in Central California's rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain Range at an elevation of 4,000 feet. The site is situated in the heart of Yosemite Valley, an awe-inspiring landscape containing many of the famous features for which Yosemite National Park is known. Within Yosemite, visitors can gaze upon waterfalls, sheer granite cliffs, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, vast wilderness areas and much more.__ Yosemite National Park Campground Reservation Dates__ For additional park information, call (209)372-0200 or visit www.nps.gov/yose__

    Recreation

    Yosemite's trails, cliffs, roads and rivers provide endless recreational activities for any kind of visitor. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, rafting, auto touring, cross-country skiing and photography are all very popular activities within the park. Hiking trails range from the easy paved, two-mile roundtrip walk to Mirror Lake/Meadow, to the grueling but rewarding 14- to 16-mile trek to Half Dome (permit required). Both of these trails begin near the Pines Campgrounds, and there are many additional trailheads within Yosemite Valley. Rafting the Merced River is a fun way to cool down on a summer day when water levels are sufficient. Yosemite Valley also offers numerous guided bus tours, educational programs, museums, ranger-led activities and an art center with workshops.

    Facilities

    Yosemite's trails, cliffs, roads and rivers provide endless recreational activities for any kind of visitor. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, rafting, auto touring, cross-country skiing and photography are all very popular activities within the park. Hiking trails range from the easy paved, two-mile roundtrip walk to Mirror Lake/Meadow, to the grueling but rewarding 14- to 16-mile trek to Half Dome (permit required). Both of these trails begin near the Pines Campgrounds, and there are many additional trailheads within Yosemite Valley. Rafting the Merced River is a fun way to cool down on a summer day when water levels are sufficient. Yosemite Valley also offers numerous guided bus tours, educational programs, museums, ranger-led activities and an art center with workshops.

    Natural Features

    Yosemite Valley is forested with a diverse mix of California black oak, Ponderosa pine, incense-cedar, White fir, and Whiteleaf Manzanita, which offers a pleasant combination of sun and shade. Through the trees, Yosemite's telltale granite cliffs peek through, and the gentle, refreshing Merced River flows nearby.

    Nearby Attractions

    Glacier Point offers sweeping views of Yosemite Valley, Little Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and Clouds Rest, among other notable landmarks. The Tioga Road offers a 39-mile scenic drive past forests, meadows, lakes and granite domes. Beautiful Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is home to spectacular scenery and numerous wilderness trailheads.

    Charges & Cancellations

    Cancellations more than 48 hours in advance of arrival date only incur a $10 transaction fee. Within 48 hours, $10 and the first night's fee are charged (Exception: 1 night reservations do not incur an additional $10 fee, but do not receive a refund). No-shows will be assessed a $20 service fee along with the loss of the first night's fee.

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Group

    $36 / night

    Camper-submitted photo from Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach
    Camper-submitted photo from Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach
    Camper-submitted photo from Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach
    Camper-submitted photo from Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach
    Camper-submitted photo from Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach
    Camper-submitted photo from Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach

    10.

    Oceano County Campground — Pismo State Beach

    59 Reviews
    236 Photos
    52 Saves
    Grover Beach, California

    Oceano Camp (sites 1-42)

    • Pets
    • Fires
    • Phone Service
    • Reservable
    • ADA Access
    • RVs

    $50 / night

Showing results 1-10 of 3,609 campgrounds

Pet-friendly camping in California

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Frequently Asked Questions

What camping is available in California?

According to TheDyrt.com, California offers a wide range of camping options, with 3609 campgrounds and RV parks in California and 391 free dispersed camping spots.

Which is the most popular campground in California?

According to TheDyrt.com, the most popular campground in California is Jumbo Rocks Campground — Joshua Tree National Park with a 4-star rating from 108 reviews.

Where can I find free dispersed camping in California?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 391 free dispersed camping spots in California.

What are the best parks in California?

According to TheDyrt.com, there are 53 parks in California that allow camping, notably Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Point Reyes National Seashore.