The best camping in
California

4946 Reviews 3635 Campgrounds
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.

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Recent Reviews in California
Lazy River, Redwoods, Wine Tasting

I have mixed feelings about this place. Beautiful surroundings and location, but actual campsites are meh. The campground is run by a non-profit that imposes very strict rules. Dogs are only allowed in the campsites (on 6’ leash) or on paved paths. There are sites kinda in trees up the hill that are very close together. Or sites near the pond that are very exposed but more spacious. The pond is (obviously) full of bullfrogs so the sound is either annoying or a lullaby, depending on your attitude. Site 1 is the best. It’s at the end of the park, nestled under a crown a redwood trees. 

The real selling point of this place is the location. It’s situated above a very charming summer escape town called Guerneville along the Russian River. Buy an inflatable at the 5&Dime and float down the river. Followed by a quiet night up at camp. The park is squarely in wine country so go wine tasting for lunch and get a shuttle back to camp.

Mediocre Campground in a Unique Park

This review is specific to the Juniper Lake Campground. There is no water available and no separation between sites. It is high elevation and dry so the landscape is sparse. There is a very cold lake that is lovely. Canoes and row boats available for rent. This campground would be great for RVs if you don’t require any hookups or amenities. There are other campgrounds at lower elevation that have running water and firewood available. The park itself has incredible geothermic features. The visitor center is not to be missed.

Nice setting

It is impossible to complain about the Redwoods. The park is beautiful. It is a fantastic place but crowded most of the time. It is relatively close to UC Santa Cruz so it’s full of drunk college kids. Don’t expect peace or solitude. It is best enjoyed in the off season during weekdays. There is a store and deli on site selling ice cream and sundries. There is plenty of lovely spots on the water and several little spots to swim or at least splash, depending on the time of year. Dogs are not welcome at the water.  There are sites on the hill that require a wagon to haul gear. They are an exhausting haul each time you leave the site but offer an incredible amount of privacy.

Perfect Camground

This campground is in a lush forest right next to the beach. What more could you want?

The beach is a stellar fishing spot or perfect for collecting shells or building driftwood shacks. This place is cold year round so dress in layers.Restrooms were clean. Firewood available at the entrance kiosk, which is a hell of a hike up a hill so drive there. Go for the highest number sites. The Pygmy forest trail is worthwhile and very accessible for all abilities.

Beautiful. But cold at night

Cool camping site. But, dont listen to the weather app. It said it was going to be 35 to 40. But, actually was 20 degrees. So, pack smart. Bring extra water and firewood. Store is not near.

Fun if you want to hike

Lots of trails to hike. Family friendly.

Lots of Dirt

Campground is in a beautiful location, large campground, lots of activities for kids, right on the Russian River. Friendly Staff. The entire campground is dirt !!! Sites were dirt !!! Looks like at one time years ago there might have been gravel. It rained one morning and the entire campground was mud. It was awful. Sites are close together and dirt !!! We will never camp here again only because of the lack of gravel or concrete pads.

Beautiful Redwood Setting

This is a wonderful redwood park geared toward tent camping. It not particularly well suited to RVs. There are herds of Roosevelt Elk throughout the park, grazing in the meadow outside of the camping area. The elk are accustomed to people, but keep your distance. There are nice restroom facilities with hot showers. Bring quarters. The sites are close together but there is lush greenery to create a sense of separation. The big complaint is the bear boxes. They are impossible to close quietly so be considerate and plan your late night snack and beverage needs in advance. Reservation absolutely required months in advance for the summer season. This is a great place to go off-season.

Surrounded by Joshua Trees

Black Rock is a wonderful national parks campground in Joshua National Park. It's the easiest park to get to so it can get crowded on the weekend. The camp spots have about 15 years between each one. There's a bench but no hook ups. There're water spigets throughout the campground and an RV dumpsite ($5). The store is open from 8am to 4pm. 

Hiking: There are a few hikes that leave from the campground. 

Cell Service: Roaming

The Best Group Campground!

This campground is magic! It’s also expensive so make sure you have a big group chipping in. There are two group spots. Group A holds 50 people. There is a kitchen area with a huge grill and a large canopy covering a dining area. Group B holds 25 and has more privacy. We had Group A and had a ton of day hikers invading our site. It isn’t clear that the site is private so I highly suggest that you show up with ways to indicate that it isn’t public. We ended up making“Reserved” signs for all the tables. After a family invaded our Camp Dinner to complain, we had to rope off the stairs to the site. 

There is plenty of space to spread out and have some privacy between tents. The restrooms are well maintained. The area is gorgeous! So many trails. We visited during a rain storm so there were waterfalls everywhere.

Secluded Redwood Escape

This campground is lovely. Opened Memorial Day weekend. There are clean, spacious restrooms, showers, and even giant laundry tubs/sinks. Offers a variety of spots, from heavily forested to open meadow. The creekside sites are the best.  There are a few sites that offer privacy. I found the employees to be wonderful and most of the campers to be well behaved. This place seems to attract real outdoors enthusiasts so you may have some loud, drunk neighbors but they go to bed early so as not to miss out on fishing. Like all state parks in California, dog are welcome in the campground but not on any trails. You can’t access an of the streams legally with a dog. Heed the signs warning against RVs and trailers.

Quiet with Views

Great spot, clean vault toilets, and a good view. Only downside was the incredible high number of yellow jackets in the area and a fire restriction.

Amazing campsite!

Been coming here for years. Just 40ish minutes up from the town of Woodside. Camp sites are spacious and well kept! Bathrooms are easily accessible but showers are a bit of a walk maybe 5 mins from your site. The only reason it gets 4 starts is because the quality of the showers and bathrooms could be much better. Starting October 20, 2019, memorial park will CLOSE UNTIL SPRING 2021. They are updating the bathrooms and showers and roads. Roads were not bad in my opinion and the roughness added to its charm :) It’s a beautiful park under the redwoods and Kim the lady who runs the camp store is amazing. She has everything you could possibly need and if she doesn’t, pescadero is a 15 min drive towards the coast. There used to be a general store just up the road from memorial, but it’s been going through renovations and was not open yet. Hopefully it will still be a store! We will always come here every year.

Camping in the redwoods

Loved the redwoods and the river.

Not for those seeking quiet and seclusion

Easy to get to, but fills up VERY fast. Open spaces for large group camping. Fire pits at every campground and easy to walk to hiking trail. Most of the people camping there played loud music all night. Not exactly a get away from the city.

Very nice

A great campground for San Diego. Great, mountainous feel with pine, Sycamore and oak trees (mostly pine). Campground itself is very clean and well maintained. But there are large groups all around us partying, playing loud music and dogs barking nonstop. We’ve gotten used to dispersed camping so maybe this is just how established campgrounds are nowadays? Or maybe we just came on the wrong weekend. I’m sure midweek would be nice and quiet. It’s not that bad. It’s just really noisy.

great and they're making it better

great accommodations. the bathrooms and showers were always clean. there was some construction going on, since it was the off season. it looked like they were renovating some of the bathrooms and aisle end sites to add grass and decks. the location was close to the freeway, which was a positive and negative. you could hear some traffic from the freeway or nearby road at times, but usually not. no complaints.

Amazing, one of my favorites

This campground is always clean, it is well maintained, the camposter very helpful, you can buy firewood, and there is a 7-Eleven just at the bottom of the street that sells firewood ice and pretty much anything else you would need. I love hearing the coyotes in the camp at night they really come right into the campgrounds and they're very loud. Some sites don't have very good areas to put a tent they're very uneven small and sometimes Rocky but there are quite a few sites that are good but I'd say overall void 20,21,22

Some characters there, program local sheriff's number before going

It's a pretty nice little campground there's no water at least not that I've seen and there's a pit toilet that is probably the most disgusting toilet I've ever encountered I don't use it I don't go near it I bring a portable toilet every time I stay at this place. There can be some crazy characters and a lot of vagabonds that call this place home and sometimes you can hear some rambunctious conversations and activities which may lead you to want to call 911 but I would call the local sheriff since I'm sure they are very familiar with this campground. Lots of bugs, really nice tables, some of the spots have pretty deteriorated fire pits but they work and I'd say most of the spots have a good place for a hammock.

Ranger Review: Morsel Sporks XL at Pismo State Beach Oceano Campground

[ PROS]

  • Super close to the beach! There are a couple beach trails that lead you right to the ocean.

  • Love that you can walk to the dunes and spend the entire day there.People bring the craziest beach set ups and have bonfires and cookouts here. Souped up trucks with ATVs roll through and drive right along the beach. It’s quite the sight to see.

  • Very convenient location to ATV rentals, beach/convenient stores, and a few eateries.

  • Fantastic park rangers serveiling the campgrounds every hour. The ranger presence definitely keeps the rowdy crowd here in check.

  • There looked to be a very nice Visitor Center. For some unknown reason, they were closed both days that we were there.

  • Really big and clean showers and restroom facilities. They were very well maintained considering how packed and heavily used they were. Toilets ran out of toilet paper so make sure you come prepared.

  • We saw tons of cool birds around the campsite. My favorite of the weekend were the swallows that flew around dusk. They fly like bats! We also enjoyed seeing a couple ospreys by the beach. We even saw one catch a fish!

  • Campfire is sold here for$8/bundle at the camp host.

  • Each site comes with a picnic table, fire ring, and 2 parking spot. Our neighbors had 3 cars so we let them use one of our parking spots since it was a madhouse here.

**[ CONS]
**

  • Hard to find availability. This place is usually pretty booked up.

  • Very, very crowded campsite. Sites are extremely close together so there is very little privacy. It feels like a giant parking lot

  • Sites are small so setting up two tents feels very cramped already. Luckily we just stayed in our tent trailer on a parking spot so we felt like we had a little more space.

  • Loud campground! This place attracts a party crowd so be prepared to listen to people roll in with their loud souped up trucks and blast music on speakers throughout the day. Hope you like listening to hip hop from 10am-9pm!

  • It doesn’t seem like the 8 person max/site rule was regulated. People had upwards of 12 people at a single campsite so you can imagine how crowded the place was.

  • There was constantly a long line for the showers throughout the day.

Overall, this is not my favorite place to camp by far. It feels more like a giant tailgate party than it does camping. We were looking for a nice relaxing weekend by the beach so had an unexpected weekend. This is one of the few places left in California that allow cars, trucks, RVs, and ATVs to drive right on the beach. It’s pretty weird to see. They also allow people to have bonfires right on the sand so be careful where you walk. There’s ash and coal everywhere. And sadly, also lots of trash left behind from people.

Disconnent from Reality😁

Hot spring campground in the Anza desert. Such a great place to come and reset from busy day to day hustle. Peaceful and clean, with cabins for those who dont tent or trailer camp.

Beautiful camp

Don’t believe the rangers if they say it’s full or if the full sign is up - it’s often not accurate or updated daily.

This campground was my favorite in JT - the sites are well spaced offering privacy and quite.

Regular NPS campground, pit toilets abound, table and fire ring per site. The usual.

Location is great and close by to al the main attraction!

Nice and quiet and beautiful under the moonlight

We came here because Dardanelle was closed down and we are absolutely grateful for that. This quiet piece of gem sits next to the river which shone so beautiful under the silky moonlight. It is clean and well maintained.

So pretty

I loved this campground! So many wild animals

WTC Navigation Campground

Indian Cove has served as the annual outing for the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course to teach its students land navigation. I took this course in 2016 and recommend it to anyone interested in learning how to backpack the back country or just want to feel more confident in the wilderness. The campground ihas a number of sites to choose from, although they aren't always clearly defined. There's also a few table picnic tables to use.  There's no electricity and cell service was limited as I recall. There are also a number of good trails nearby.

Crowded and No Privacy

The campground is in a great spot but it has alot of traffic and minimal privacy

Desert Bliss

This campground is awesome, it is perfect for roaming the desert in peace. The dirt road is well maintained and my dogs were able to explore our whole loop.

Awesome location no privacy

This campground is cool because you can literally take a bus to it. It is right outside of Avalon and walking distance to everything. This is where the TCT begins.

Lovely little campground

This is a hike in campground that has stoves and a creek running through. The sites are nicely spaced and there is plenty of shade. Perfect little backpacking trip.