The best camping near
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, CALIFORNIA

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Camping California Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
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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.

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

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 😉

Great for beginners

It's easy to get yourself into nature out here near Ojai and this spread out campground is also easy to get to. Right off a main road just out of town, with running water and bathrooms.

This site allows both fires and pets. Plenty of spaces for all types of campers.

It gets three stars because it's usually crowded and can be loud at night depending on road traffic and other campers

Beautiful beach and sunset

Beautiful Beach to camp with the family. Perfect for kids to have fun in the waves. The sand is a bit rocky so you have to be careful and wear sandals. There is hiking trail nearby that lets you appreciate the ocean’s beauty. I would have given it 5 stars but I was disappointed about the fact that the car noise on the highway overshadowed the serenity of the waves. The headlights of the trucks shining on our pop up camper disturbed our sleep. It can get very very windy at night so for those with tents and pop ups it might be a little frustrating.

3 min Hike Camping

When you can’t do a 2h hike before setting camp, but you also don’t want to camp close to your car, Millard campground is perfect. The parking lot is just behind the corner out of view. The only downside is that there are a couple of holiday houses in the surrounding forest and there is the trailer of the camp manager. Also don’t go during week ends cause families bring their kids to camp. Besides that it’s a really chill and nice camp. There is a stream of water that flows close to the campground and there are toilets (no water).

Beautiful get away

Santa Cruz Island is a beautiful place to get away. We practically had the campground to ourselves. The campground is in good shape. There are yellow jackets swarming each water spigot but they don’t prevent you from filling up and they go away at night. It was very windy; lots of dirt blew into our tent at night. Bathrooms were okay… still give it 5 stars and can’t wait to come back!

First to Review
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.

First to Review
Quiet except for trains

Stayed here a few times — quiet except for trains electric and sewer hook ups

Nice hike and camp site

Very nice hike and camp site

Scenic and off the grid-ish

The drive in through BLM land is breath taking. 40 minutes of curves and turns and aw! I loved every minute. Then camped next to a creek that babbles and bounces through the campground. Is this a Laura ingles wilder book?! Tiny adorable bar and grill run by the locals, right at the foot of the camp makes for a not-so-off-the-grid trip if you choose to partake. Camp hosts - best I’ve ever encountered. I will 100% be back.

Perfect nature getaway from the city

If you are looking for gorgeous mountains, green trees, safe and comfortable camping, this place is for you. Perfect for friends, families, and dogs! It was quiet at night although our spot was right next to the road and we heard every loud car and truck drive by but that’s okay, the sound of the creek was just as loud! Very happy I chose this campground.

Beach close by.

Walking distance to beach. Taken well care of. Nice store on grounds. Pool and spa on site.

First to Review
Nice and lonesome

Beautiful drive down grade valley to get to this awesome site. We were looking for a more remote place to camp and this site satisfied all our needs. We were the only ones there and the scenery was pleasing. There is access to some nice hiking trails of Los Padres National Forest. There was some water still available in the nearby creek.

Truly serene and self reconnection spot.

This place is very peaceful. We stayed at campsite 33. We were so close to the shore that the waves blocked any city noise. You are unable to go into the water because its rocky but the view is breathtaking. Dolphins and whales were our neighbors. Only negative thing for this campground no bathrooms, hookups, and lurking thieves at night. Just lock up everything valuable and enjoy the waves lullaby.

Tons of fun, tons of bugs!

Our first time here and just like previous reviews state, there are alot of bugs and they want to kiss you. Of course fire, candles and bug spray help but because of the nice creek nearby its kind of unavoidable. With that said, the bugs go night night at dark and a big fire helps. Pretty quiet site, the creek is easily accessible and great for photos. The restroom situation wasn't the best, but was expected from previous reviews and the website stating no running water. We brought 5 gallons of water for dishes/hand washing and 5 gallons of water for drinking. The sites are a little on the small side, however we did book two sites next to each other for two families of four. I suggest you bring wood, it's a little expensive in the campground and in town.

Across the street from the campground theres a store that has trail maps, information and little dry goods and toiletry. They also sell really neat Crystal's, arrowheads and bumper stickers. About 4 or 5 miles up the road there's a nice 15-20 min hike to a nice waterfall.

I wouldn't mind coming back especially since I know what to prepare for next time and it's so close to Los Angeles.

Small tent site with a picnic table

It's a very nice small camp site

Great fun little trial

Me and my girlfriend decided to go on this trail with our two doggos on a hot 95 degree day and we had such a good time the waterfall trail is nothing but shade provided by the trees foliage and the creek kept our dogs cool as they would jump in and out of the small pools we had a great time we hung out at the waterfall as it's a gorgeous spot to hang out we were also the only ones there the trail is only half a mile but we definitely took our time as it's a gorgeous trail would recommend it to anyone

Great Campground

A nice alternative to the higher campgrounds near Mt Pinos. Went on Labor Day weekend and surprisingly there were not that many other campers. Nice well separated sites with awesome views of lock wood valley and Frazier mountain. Area is a great for star gazing and ohv riding. Took a great scenic drive up to Frazier mountain lookout. Bathrooms and camp sites were clean. Great scenery all around and overall a beautiful campground.

Busy!

This is a huge campground on pyramid lake! The sites are small and close together. The lake levels are always a little low and this lake is especially muddy. Wear water shoes here! The camp sotes are pretty standard, however there are good amenities, like a volley ball court, horseshoes. It is not very shaded, bring a canopy. It's often very dry so I don't do campfires here. Full hook ups available. Good fishing.

Bring your camera!

This place is amazing! First take a small ferry to the island, then you walk about a 1/4 to a1/2 mile from the dock to the campsite. These sites are reservable! Only $15 a night. There are water spigots, vault toilets, picnic tables and for storage boxes. There is a ton of wildlife on the island. A lot of foxes, that's why you should bring your camera. There are so many hiking areas, amazing views, and a fantastic place to spend a weekend. Pack it on and out. Absolutely no fires, at anytime, ever, on the island. Have fun!

Sunsets and Sand

Quick and easy is my trips to Thornhill Broome!

5 miles north of Neptune’s Net, Los Angeles/Ventura county line at Point Magu Rock! 

Depending on the time of year, the beach may be very rocky or it may be smooth. This is not a great beach to swim and if you tent camp, be sure to know where the high tide line is!  

The bathrooms are out houses. No showers but there is water facets scattered across the road.  This is dry camping only but you can dump after your stay at Sycamore Cyn campground which is only a mile or so away. 

This campground is a line of spaces right on the beach and up against PCH. The car noise does slow down at night so you can hear the waves crashing!

The winds can kick up pretty good here also!  Be prepared to baton down the hatches!  

There are dolphins and seals that swim back and forth. Pelicans and sea gulls. If you’re really lucky, you might see whales!  

There’s a camp host selling wood but nothing around unless you drive back to Neptune’s. 

Dogs need to be on a lease…despite my video!  LOL 

You will be sited if they catch your dog off lease!

USFS developed campground

Beautiful area. Spring and early summer water is in the 2 small lakes or hike to the Rose Valley Water falls. Hiking, biking or just hang out. Gateway to some beautiful hikes in the Los Padres National Forest. Plenty of trails to explore.

Lots of stuff to do. Great staff.

Can be hot in summer but water park is great way to cool off. Fishing, boating (rentals avail.), hiking, biking, picnic and playground areas and a model plane airport. Great burgers at the restaurant. Small store for all the stuff you usually forget or don’t have time to pack like ice, firewood, propane. Great staff!

Remote, upgraded primitive campground. Great for a full moon hike. Views.

Seasonal spring for water (Bring a filter). Locals have upgraded by making benches out of downed trees. Great views and starry nights. A favorite.

Pretty but disappointing

Thorn Meadows Campground is definitely a journey to get to. You have to have a 4WD or AWD and it has to have good clearance. I also recommend someone with experience driving on rough roads. Once you get to the camp, there is a fairly nice horse corral if you have horses. There is no water at the camp, it is currently all dry and the only water I encountered was a small stream on the road a ways before you get to camp. The creek bed that is there is pretty deep and you have to jump in and out of it to even get to camp. The campsite itself is nice, although the bathroom is pretty much destroyed. It has been shot up so much by past people. If you are looking to hike to thorn point, I'd say dont waste your time. About 3/4-1 mile, the trail just ends. If you are looking for secluded camping and beautiful views on the way in and where you're camping, thorn meadows is for you.

Off The Grid

I prefer primitive or dispersed camping because I usually like as much privacy as I can get when I'm camping, but with current fire restrictions I was limited to developed campsites if I wanted a campfire (and what's the point of camping without a campfire?). I was also planning the trip on short notice, so developed, reserveable campsites were in short supply. Then I found Reyes Creek.

The campground is very isolated. It's about a 40 minute drive from the nearest town (and therefore the nearest gas station or market - plan ahead). There is no power, or water. There's no cell service in the camp, but a 5 minute drive up the mountain there's a dirt lot they call the 'phone booth' that gets decent reception. The camp hosts were super friendly and helpful. There are 2 loops for campsites - the center of the main loop seemed pretty flat, but all the sites were visible to your neighbors. Sites on the outside of the main loop offered more privacy, but most appeared to not be very level, and not necessarily well laid out. I stayed in site 11 on the outside of the loop which was large and fairly quiet, but my 6 person tent just barely fit in between some trees which offered some shade and was only on a slight angle. The one downside was the bathrooms - vault toilets that varied in condition, but none that I used were particularly good. If bathroom condition is a major sticking point with you, you may want to look elsewhere.

As an added bonus, as isolated as the place is, right outside the entrance to the campground is a bar & grill called the Camp Scheideck Lodge. They have a full bar and great food (and the customer-only bathroom is a great step up from the campground). It just changed owners last month (second time in a couple years) and the new owner, Devin, is friendly and welcoming.

The temperature varies greatly from day to night (90's to 50's when I was there) and there are bugs a plenty, so bring repellant. Firewood is available at the camp, and ice is available at the lodge.

So if you want a little isolation with privacy, a campfire, and a friendly bar within walking distance, this place is for you. I'll definitely be coming back.

If you can go, go!

Parson's Landing is a super unique campground.  I would say it's the only TRUE beach camping I've ever been able to find.  You have to coordinate the ferry to Two Harbors on Catalina Island and then hike about 8 miles to the far end of the island.  It's not a bad hike, just long and around the perimeter.  You can plan ahead to have a bundle of wood and a gallon of water waiting for you in a locker.  The campground is a secluded beach with a rock wall on one end.  Site 1 is tucked around next to the wall - very cool!  Site 2 is great too but a little more exposed.  After that the other sites are basically spots spread out on the beach and designated by a picnic table.  The beach in narrowish and rock - a lot of the sites have rock walls built up to protect the fire pit from wind.  Unfortunately a dead seal had washed up on shore near site 1 and when some people tried to push it back into the ocean it released the most horrid smell ever.  There's hiking around that end of the island but beware that it is extremely steep in some areas!  We only did a couple miles and going down the trial/roads were scarier than going up.  Also, almost stepped on a rattlesnake.  I promise you though that this is a special place and a trip you will never forget!  Just be prepared to rough it.

It’s okay...

Your camp site will be small, and close to one another. You can not swim where you’re camping. If you’d like to swim you have to drive all the way across the lake to swim in the designated area, and hope they’re open that day. Also, there is absolutely NO drinking alcohol allowed. I went there a couple times with my family and it seems there’s a lot of homeless living there. They’re up late at night walking around, fighting with their significant others and sometimes the police are called. Every night I stayed there the police would casually drive by everyone’s spot. There aren’t any good pictures of the sites…but try to imagine a street with parking spots on both sides, each parking spot is a campsite. Some areas have grass and some don’t. Good thing is all spots have a picnic table and a bonfire hole and bathrooms are pretty clean. You’re close to your car and the view of the water is a plus too.

Not my favorite

We went with friends and picked this site because it s close to LA and has electric hook up for their RV. The campsites are way too close to each other? While luckily it did feel relatively private, it definitely felt very crammed. There are flush toilets, but they are not the cleanest and didn’t always flush properly. There s plenty of water source for dishes, including a big sink, as well as coin operated showers and a small laundry area. There’s very little shade though, and if you go on a hot weekend, like we did be prepared to sweat! There is the lake which can be refreshing,but sadly, because of the drought the level was very low and the mud and slime made it somewhat unappealing. There is, however a small convenience store at the dock as well as boat rentals, should you want to be a bit more adventurous. Also there’s no cell service, unless you are with AT&T, so plan accordingly.