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Top Dispersed Camping near Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

10 Reviews

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Best Dispersed Camping Sites Near Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, CA (9)

  1. Camper-submitted photo from Big Cone Camp - Santa Paula Canyon
  2. Camper-submitted photo from Santa Cruz Island - Del Norte Backcountry — Channel Islands National Park


    Santa Cruz Island - Del Norte Backcountry — Channel Islands National Park

    3 Reviews
    15 Photos
    130 Saves
    Carpinteria, California


    For a truly remote getaway full of backpacking and breathtaking scenery, take a backcountry trip to Santa Cruz Island's Del Norte Campground. Del Norte is currently the only backcountry campground on Santa Cruz Island. The National Park Service opened this backcountry site in recognition of its rare wilderness values. As you explore these wild areas, please take the responsibility to help us protect and preserve these delicate natural resources for future generations. While backcountry camping is an incredible experience, it is not for the inexperienced backpacker. Due to difficult weather, rugged terrain, and off-trail hiking, backcountry camping is an arduous endeavor and should be undertaken only by experienced, well-conditioned backpackers. To reach this backcountry site, visitors will backpack along a historic ranch road/trail through a series of canyons and ridges, to a vista about 700 feet above sea level. This moderate to strenuous 3.5-mile hike from Prisoners Harbor travels through island oak woodlands and coastal sage scrub plant communities.


    From Prisoners Harbor, the shortest route to the Del Norte Campground is 3.5 miles via the Del Norte Trail. Follow the Navy Road out of Prisoners Harbor for 1.5 miles (600-foot elevation gain; strenuous). This gravel road is still used daily by vehicles, so please use caution while hiking along it. During winter and spring, visitors need to be prepared for a wet creek crossing at Canada del Puerto in Prisoner's Harbor.At the signed turn-off for Del Norte Trail, leave the gravel road and continue east (left) along the trail for 1.8 miles. The trail winds up and down two canyons (Ca__ada del Agua and Ca__ada del Muro)) to the signed junction with the Del Norte Road that leads .2 miles to the campground. The longer route (5 miles), which provides views of the south side of the island, follows the Navy Road as it climbs 1,200 feet over 4 miles and eventually reaches the junction with the Del Norte Road. At the signed junction, turn north (left) and descend 1 mile to the campground.From Scorpion Anchorage, Del Norte Campground is approximately 12 miles via the Navy Road.Beach access is at Prisoners Harbor. There is no access to the beach at Del Norte Campground.Recreational activities on Santa Cruz Island include hiking, swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking and wildlife/wildflower viewing. There are no services on the island, so all gear has to be brought to the island. Guided kayak trips and kayak rentals must be arranged before arriving on the island. For more information about recreational activities in the park, visit .


    The Del Norte Campground has four primitive campsites (four persons per site) and users must camp within these designated sites. A picnic table and pit-style toilet are provided (campers must bring their own toilet paper). Visitors are encouraged to pack as light as possible (backpacking style) as they will need to carry all of their gear, food and water to the campsite. Water is not available. Access to the island is by Island Packers Cruises or by private boat.

    Natural Features

    Del Norte is nestled in a shaded oak grove and provides scenic views of the island's pristine coastline. The largest of California's Channel Islands, Santa Cruz Island is one of the five islands that make up the Channel Islands National Park. The island is rich in cultural history, magnificent landscapes, and unique flora and fauna. Native American Indians inhabited the island for over 10,000 years and Europeans explored and ranched on the island for over 150 years. Over 600 plant species, 140 land birds, 11 land mammals and a handful of amphibians and reptiles call the island their home. The island fox and island scrub-jay are exciting finds, as they're unique to the island, found nowhere else in the world.

    • Tents
    • Group
    • Standard (Tent/RV)
    • Picnic Table
    • Toilets
    • Alcohol

    $15 / night

  3. Camper-submitted photo from Angeles Crest Overlook to LA
  4. Camper-submitted photo from Los Padres NF - Dispersed Camp
  5. Camper-submitted photo from Chorma Camp in Matilija Wilderness
  6. Camper-submitted photo from Lane Ranch Campground — Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area


    Lane Ranch Campground — Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area

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    3 Saves
    Frazier Park, California

    Hungry Valley SVRA is the third largest unit of California State Park's Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. Located in the Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles and along the Interstate 5 corridor, Hungry Valley offers 19,000 acres and more than 130 miles of scenic trails for motorcycle, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV), dune buggies, and 4x4 recreation. All levels of OHV operator skills will be challenged by the wide variety of terrain and trails at Hungry Valley SVRA.

    Elevations at Hungry Valley range from 3,000 to nearly 6,000 feet. Occasional snowfalls occur during the winter. Summers are most often hot, dry and dusty. The most pleasant times of the year for OHV fun are during the Spring and Fall months when the temperatures are mild and occasional rain showers make for good traction and reduced dust. Nighttime temperatures often drop below freezing in the Spring and Fall, as well as during the Winter.

    The wide variety of trails at Hungry Valley provides excitement for both beginner and experienced off-roaders. For experienced OHVers challenging trails can be found in the hills and sand washes of the back- country section of the SVRA. Beginners can enjoy the scenery and relative ease of the trails in the Native Grasslands Management Area. Trails in the adjoining Los Padres National Forest are recommended for experienced riders only.

    Recreational Land Management Providing long-term, sustained OHV recreation opportunity is a top priority in SVRA Management. Provisions in California law require actions to stabilize soils and to provide for healthy wildlife populations in OHV recreation areas. Projects are ongoing to stabilize soil areas by reshaping slopes, reseeding and replanting bare areas. Vegetation creates wildlife habitat while plant roots help stabilize the soil. Project areas are temporarily closed to OHV use through the use of barriers, such as fences, hay bales, brush piles and signing. Where possible, well-designed OHV trails are provided through project areas. Other project areas may be closed for a number of years before being opened again for OHV use. Your understanding and support in staying out of areas closed for restoration helps ensure OHV recreation opportunities for years to come.

    Where to get help The State Park Rangers who patrol Hungry Valley SVRA are peace officers, who are trained Emergency Medical Responders. Entrance station employees and park maintenance personnel can also summon medical help. If no State Park personnel are available, dial 911 from any telephone. Pay phones are located at many business locations in Gorman. Cellular telephone coverage is intermittent throughout most of the SVRA. There are no emergency medical facilities in Gorman. The nearest hospital to Hungry Valley SVRA is Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, located approximately 30 miles to the south in Valencia. To drive to the hospital, take Interstate Highway 5 south to the McBean Parkway exit and turn left (east) on McBean Parkway. Henry Mayo Hospital is located approximately one mile from I-5 on the left-hand side at 23845 McBean Parkway.

    • Fires
    • RVs
    • Tents
    • Dispersed
    • Toilets
  7. Camper-submitted photo from Aliklik Campground — Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
  8. Camper-submitted photo from Alamo Creek
  9. Camper-submitted photo from Cottonwood Campground — Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area

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10 Reviews of 9 Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Campgrounds