This was my first backpacking trip ever with my little brother. Was somewhere around 18 miles there and back from nira camp. The site was flat and clear but that was back in 2013. Would love to go back and check it out now. The school house is cool it’s a building in the middle of nowhere that just pops up
A big campground in Mammoth Lakes, with 77 sites in total. It can be a pretty popular sport during the summer, so you may want to make reservations or call ahead just to make sure. But it has water and flush toilets, but the down fall is no showers. Each site has a picnic table, firepit ring, and a two-locker bear storage. The campground varies in privacy so just be aware you will see and most likely hear your neighbors. There is no electric either at this campground. It is $24 a night which isn’t bad but with no showers seems bit pricey.
This campground has some great hiking trails in it, we took the Meadows trail and it did not disappoint with beautiful scenery and rivers. It also is right down the road from Mammoth Lakes which has plenty of restaurants if you are needing some non-camping cuisine. There are trails all over this area, that it would take you while to hike all of them. This is also a very popular mountain biking area during the summer with trails everywhere. During the winter it is a booming ski/snowboard town.
Figueroa Campground is a 33-35 site campground behind Los Olivos, CA. It is surrounded by live oaks and gorgeous manzanita trees, so there is a lot of shade available.
Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. There are no hook ups, and only pit-toilets are available. Note that there is NO DRINKING WATER available at Figueroa Campground, so be sure to bring plenty of water, especially if you plan to hike or backpack through the area.
There is a a lot of hiking trails available in the nearby area. Both Figueroa Mountain and nearby Grass Mountain are extremely popular hiking spots, especially in early spring when the wildflowers bloom in late March or early April . During the wildflower bloom, the sides of the hills and mountains can look solid vibrant ORANGE from afar - the wild California poppies grow dense in this area. Purple mountain lupine flowers are also found during the wildflower bloom.
If you or anyone in your party does not want to/cannot hike, the top of Figueroa Mountain is completely assessable by car - all of the big lookout points for optimal wildflower viewing are accessible by car, so the wildflowers are essentially accessible to everyone, hikers or not.
The Davy Brown Creek and Manzana Creek trails are also accessible from the Figueroa Mountain area; the area is popular for cyclists and off-road cyclists.
WARNING: You ARE in black bear country! While it is unlikely that a black bear will enter the campground, I would suggest locking your food and coolers in your car at night, as there are no food lockers in the campground. When hiking be aware of your surroundings: Black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, bob cats, and coyotes have been seen on the trails.
While the campground is fairly remote in the the hills, you are only 20 minutes away from Los Olivos, and 30 minutes away from Santa Ynez. Los Olivos has a great market with groceries, a bakery/coffee shop, a deli, and beer and local wine. There are many local vineyards, wineries, and breweries nearby. The Firestone Walker brewery, taproom, and Resturant is close-by - we highly recommend their food and beers!
Fees: $20/night (+ $10/ extra vehicle)
Plumbed Toilets: No - vault
Drinking Water: No
Picnic Table: Yes
Cooking Grate: Yes
Cell Service: No
Animal Bins/Food lockers: No
Nira is a small, primitive campground in the San Rafael wilderness behind the Santa Ynez Valley. The campground is a bit of a haul to get back to, and is often used as a base for backpackers entering the San Rafael wilderness or the Manzana Creek trail. I myself have only tent camped at Nira, just to go somewhere different - my boyfriend and his friends have backpacked out of Nira into the San Rafael Wilderness and to the Manzana Schoolhouse on multiple occasions.
Nira is the second, smaller campground back on Sunset Valley Road - Davy Brown Campground is up the road a little ways. Nira is small, with only 12 sites in a densely wooded live oak grove. The oaks provide a lot of shade and help separate the various camp sites. The Manzana Creek runs behind the campground; the main road leading into Nira is right above the campground, however, you’re pretty far back in the hills, so there isn’t a lot of noise from traffic.
Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. There are no hook ups and only pit-toilets are available. There is NO DRINKING WATER available at Nira Campground, so be sure to bring plenty of water, especially if you plan to backpack through the area.
WARNING: You ARE in black bear country! While it is unlikely that a black bear will enter the campground, I would suggest locking your food and coolers in your car at night, as there are no food lockers in the campground. When hiking the Manzana Trail be aware of your surroundings: Black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, bob cats, and coyotes have been seen on the trail. CAMPSITE SPECS
Fees: $20/night (+ $10/ extra vehicle)
Plumbed Toilets: No - vault
Drinking Water: No
Picnic Table: Yes
Cooking Grate: Yes
Cell Service: No
Animal Bins/Food lockers: No
Have a fire before the summer
Clean, spacious, and perfect
IT'S A BIG CAMPGROUND AND THERE ARE VERY FRIENDLY PEOPLE AROUND YOU AS WELL. MY FAVORITE SPACES ARE 68, 55, 133, AND 534. I GO 3 TO 4 TIMES A MONTH. I LIKE TO TRAVEL ALL OVER DOWN THE COAST, I WENT AS FAR AS VENTURE, CA THIS YEAR ALONE. HAPPY CAMPETS I WOULD SAY!!
My first visit to Chula Vista was a fantastic experience and perfect for viewing the Perseids Meteor Shower.
The campground itself is a short hike from the parking lot and is first come, first serve. Many of the campsites have fire pits, however due to the fire hazards we did not use ours. There is no trash or water, so it is necessary to pack in and pack out.
A permit is required to park in the parking lot and also if you enter the lot at night it is important to be respectful and do so with your headlights dimmed due to the area being a very popular place for stargazing.
Overall, my time at Chula Vista was fantastic. The hike to Mt. Pinos from there is short and well worth the views!
I am a native of Santa Barbara, CA, so I grew up going to Cachuma Lake. Cachuma Lake’s main recreational area is on a bluff overlooking the lake. There you can find tent sites, yurts, cabins, and full hookups for RVs. There are also smaller campgrounds at lake level - we prefer to stay in the Mohawk Shores campground, which is at lake level. The Mohawk Shores campsites are in a more densely packed oak grove, offering more shade and more privacy than the upper-level campgrounds. A few years ago they started pricing the “lakeside” sites in Mohawk more expensively than the rest of the sites in the area; ironic though, since the lake has been so empty the last few years due to the drought, and these sites are no longer lakeside.
The campsites each have their own picnic table and firepit with a grate, and water spigots are available in various places around the campground. Mohawk has its own bathroom with flushable toilets and coin-operated showers - the bathrooms and showers are kept clean. I prefer to shower in the showers located in the upper-level campgrounds, as they are in their own individual, lockable stalls, rather than the locker-room type set up in the bathroom in Mohawk. There are multiple dumpsters available for trash AND recycling around all of the campgrounds.
Caution: There is a lot of poison oak around the park!
We have rented a yurt a couple times, and hope to do so again soon. The yurts have bunk beds inside (bring your own bedding!), an overhead light, and a heater. Outside each yurt is a picnic table, charcoal barbeque, a firepit, and a water spigot.
We will often bring an easy-up to use in the day-camp areas in the upper-level of the park. There are oak trees all over the park, but if day use site with a table under a tree gets snagged, it’s nice to have the easy-up for shade - if you have one, I would recommend bringing an easy-up if you are going to camp in the upper level campgrounds, not all of the sites have shade.
A small but well-stocked general store is available, as well a small (expensive) gas station. Cachuma also has a pool (for an additional fee), gameroom, playgrounds/jungle-gyms, and disc golf courses available.
Cachuma Lake is a great place for wildlife viewing and birding. I am a photographer, and love seeing all of the birds that hang out around Cachuma - ducks, coots, Western and Clark’s grebes, loons, osprey, hawks, turkey vultures, turkeys, quail, American white pelicans, cormorants, etc. I have gotten my best birding photos at Cachuma Lake. Deer can often be viewed on the shores of the lake, and we have even seen bobcats and foxes. Pontoon boat tours to view wildlife launch every day from the marina.
Keep in mind that you CANNOT SWIM in Cachuma Lake. Silly, I know, but they justify it because Cachuma lake is Santa Barbara’s drinking water source. You are allowed to boat, kayak, and fish on the lake, but no swimming! Motor boats and pontoon boats are available to rent, and now they even have kayaks to rent hourly! My dad has a small 14 ft fishing boat, and we enjoy taking the boat out on the lake to fish and sightsee.
There are endless trails around Cachuma Lake in Los Padres National Forest. There are some mellow hikes around the perimeter of the lake itself, offering nice views of the lake and the surrounding Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountains.
Figueroa Mountain is near Los Olivos - Grass Mountain and Figueroa Mountain are both beautiful hikes, especially in the spring when the wild flowers are in bloom. Both are strenuous, steep hikes, but the views are totally worth the effort.
Cachuma lake is about a half an hour from the city of Santa Barbara, 15 minutes away from Santa Ynez (if you like to gamble check out the Chumash Casino), 20 minutes away from Solvang, and 20 minutes away from Los Olivos. There is fantastic wine tasting available in any of these small towns, and everywhere in between - you are in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country! There are endless tasting rooms available inside the towns, and countless vineyards that you can visit to wine taste. A popular wine trail is on Foxen Canyon Road - it is a lovely drive on a country road with some really beautiful and quality wineries and vineyards.
Solvang is a fun town to visit - it was originally a community full of Danish immigrants, so the Danish theme has stuck. It is very touristy, but even as a native, I still enjoy going to Solvang. There are a lot of shops, antiques, candy stores, restaurants and tasting rooms to visit. We are partial to the Solvang Restaurant, and for more than just their Danish Aebleskivers. If you don’t know what an aebleskiver is - its DELICIOUS. Aebleskivers are round Danish pancakes that are shaped like a ball - they serve them with amazing homemade raspberry jam and powdered sugar. Everything at the Solvang Restaurant is good, from their traditional breakfasts to their Scandinavian offerings to their sandwiches.
More Food Recommendations:
Cold Springs Tavern is a historic site dating back to the 1880s when it was a stagecoach stop. Cold Springs Tavern has a full bar and serves some quality meat selections, including famous Santa Barbara style tri-tip. If you are there on a Sunday, they start serving traditional tri-tip sandwiches around 11am - BEST tri-tip sandwiches around! They cook up the meat on giant barbeques outside, and serve the sandwiches hot off the grill - just tri-tip and fresh garlic bread, YUM. They have homemade salsa and homemade BBQ sauce to dress the sandwich with. Sundays at Cold Springs Tavern is a popular spot for locals to go have a beer or a drink with tri-tip, and there’s always a fun atmosphere.
If you are in the mood for some quality Mexican food, Dos Carlitos in Santa Ynez is a favorite spot.
Los Olivos Grocery has a great deli with delicious sandwiches - both hot and cold - and a good selection tasty deli side dishes. The store also has a good selection of local wines.
**Plumbed Toilets: Yes
**Drinking Water: Yes
**Showers: Yes (coins needed)
**Picnic Table: Yes
**Cooking Grate: Yes
**Cell Service: Yes - Limited
Animal Bins/Food Lockers: No
CAMPGROUND REVIEW: Coldwater Campground, Mammoth Lakes, CA
A beautiful 77 site campground nestled in at over 9,000 ft in the Inyo National Forest of the Eastern Sierras.
Amenities: large sites, modern restrooms spaced throughout the camp (two unisex doors, includes one sink with running cold water, a flush toilet, and metal mirror), water spigots near the latrines.
Each site has a large picnic table, a fire pit with sliding cook grate, a double door bear cabinet and small paved parking pad.
We chose site 66, as it sprawled to s mountain stream, nestled in shaded pines, had a couple flat tent spots and was relatively close to restrooms and water.
No electric, no showers (nearby Twin Lakes Campground Store rents shower time at $7.00…one person per shower.
Coldwater Campground is a short drive from Mammoth Lakes, which has all you should need or desire.
The trails from the back of Coldwater Campground go up, up, up…but offer spectacular mountain views, glacier lakes, picturesque alpine meadows, waterfalls and cascades. A short drive and bus ride away are trails to Iconic Rainbow Falls and Devil’s Postpile, among other ridiculously beautiful mountain trails!
Mountain bike trails are innumerable…and the paved multi-use trails are stellar and travel for miles. https://www.visitmammoth.com/blogs/top-5-xc-mountain-bike-trails-near-mammoth-lakes
There are rentals nearby for every sportsman. This is the active person’s Mecca! Also close-by is Mammoth Ski area that offers the downhill mountain bikers absolute Nirvana, during summer months.
At $24 a night, this seems to be the standard rate for this region…and that without showers.
Note: Even during hot summer months, it gets chilly at night. August 6, it was 50 degrees at night. A 40 degree dip from the cloudless daytime temps.
It did not take long to fall in love with the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. I would not hesitate to camp here again, and am already planning a return visit.
This a a very nice campground nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara county. The sites for dry camping are the largest that I have every come across in 50 years. The full hookup sites are your standard size that you see at most rv parks. The lake is nice but is at an all time low water level because of the ongoing drought. The Danish town of Solvang is 12 miles away and there must be 50 places that you can go wine tasting in the area if that is your thing.
This Campground belongs to the Thousand Trails network. We use it quite often as it is only 2 hours from our house. The campground is nice. There are wild turkeys that wander thru the campground and you will see an occassional deer or 2. Good & bad is that your wifi, cell service is very limited here. If you want to get away from that hectic "connected 24/7" life this is a place you can do it. If you need that constant connection you won't like it.
Chorma Camp is the first spot you will encounter on the hike south through Cherry Creek. Situated high on a bluff it gets lots of wind, and with very little shelter around to break it, if you camp here you will get the brunt of it.
There are no amenities at any of the campsites in this area, they are all primitive dispersed camp areas.
Continuing on past Chorma if you can make it to Maple it is better campsite down in the valley.
Chula Vista is a short hike from the parking lot (1/4 mile), but it is quite a way off of the 5 up more than one windy road. Mt. Pinos stands at almost 9,000 feet, one of the highest in the area, so if you are subject to altitude sickness be aware.
The camp area itself is semi dispersed, there are fire pits and picnic tables as well as an older pit toilet.
It has been one of our favorite places to Snow Camp every January, as it is relatively close and even during the drought there was usually a little bit of snow at the top. There are many places to make snow runs down the slopes, build snow caves, etc.
A wilderness permit may be required, the area is first come first serve, and there is no water nor trash so pack it in pack it out.
If you enter the parking lot at night be aware that it is a popular place for stargazing, so enter with your headlights dimmed and be respectful and cautious.
Carrizo Plains National Monument is the largest single native grassland remaining in California in SE San Luis Obispo, and my husband and I have been wanting to visit. We found Kern Cattle & Land Ranch which has now been turned into a campground for people to enjoy.
[ PROS ]
- FREE camping is the best camping! It’s first come first serve, but there was only one other camper there the weekend we visited.
- There are about 12 dispersed sites and all of them are under or near eucalyptus trees that offer really lovely shade from the harsh sun.
- Each sites comes with a picnic table, fire ring + grill, 1 parking spot, and gear pole with hook (for hanging lanterns/trash bags/food/etc.)
- There are 2 gender neutral vault toilets that are clean. The restroom is stocked with toilet paper and there is hand sanitizer available. No sink.
- So much nature to see around! We saw kangaroo rats, bats, hawks, rabbits, ground squirrels (that are going extinct), and lots of fun insects. In the evening we heard lots of coyotes in the distance.
- The evenings here are spectacular -- very little light pollution so you get a clear view of the night sky and all of the stars. The Milky Way was so vivid and we saw shooting stars the entire evening.
- I’ve been wanting to see an owl in nature for so long, and I was able to see one in broad daylight. It was so insane and magical. We heard the owls all night (they are very loud) but I love falling asleep to the sound of nature. The owl sighting was the highlight of my trip!
- There are tons of trails and places to explore. We even got to explore the last standing structure of the original ranch. You can visit the San Andreas Fault Line, Soda Lake, and Painted Rock which are all driving distance.
[ CONS ]
- The drive to and from KCL campground is a little rough. At some point you get on a dirt road that is quite bumpy and has potholes.
- It’s super hot in this part of California during the summer so make sure you pack LOTS of water. There is no water available on the campgrounds or for miles.
- No showers, obviously since there isn’t any water available.
- TONS. OF. FLIES. EVERYWHERE. It’s a little unbearable during the day having to spend the majority of your energy swatting flies. It is so arid out there that flies are constantly landing on every part of your body to lick the sweat off of you. The toilets are clean, but TONS OF FLIES. Not little house flies, but super juicy big fat flies. Luckily they go away when the sun sets.
- No fires allowed! They have fire pits, but you’re not allowed to burn wood. I believe you can use the fire pit with coals since there is a grill provided.
- No gas stations, stores, shops around for miles. Make sure you come prepared with everything you need unless you’re prepared for a long drive on the dirt roads.
Note: Pack in. Pack out. Please folks, remember to take your trash with you and leave the place better than you found it. It was sad seeing beer bottles and bullet shells littering the area. We did our best to pick up what we could and take it with us, but LNT!!
This place is nice because it’s huge! Many different camp areas with bathrooms and overhangs for shade, no hook ups for RV’s though. If you have dirt bike’s or quads bring them with because the riding is great. I would not camp here in the summer it gets to hot but fall, winter, spring camping is great!
The campsites are close together, but almost every spot has a tree to hang a hammock and for shade. Super kid friendly, with shows, events, daytime activities. They have showers, water, and also a pool. Minutes drive to wineries in the area. Nice views of lake Cachuma (although no swimming). Also disc golf course is cool and challenging
The place is essentially a wilderness theme park for serious and novice off-roaders of all types. Bikes, Jeeps, Trucks, ATV’s you name it there is a course for your to try out your skills and develop new ones.
the sites were pretty small, just barely able to fit four 2-person tents, and you have to drive to get to the nearest lake, but it’s very close to Crystal Lake and a bunch of pretty trails. The bathrooms are clean but no showers or anything.
We only stayed a quick overnight on our way up the coast. The sites are close together, so you see and hear everything going on in the campsites next to you. It’s fine for car camping because you can drive right up to your sight. Bathrooms have flush toilets and are close.
A canopy of sprawling oak trees covers almost all the campsites, growing in a ring around an open grassy field. This USFS campground accomodates any type of tent or camper up to 40 feet wIth the standard forest servIce amenities - table, grIll and fire pit. Water spigots are communal, as are the primitive bathrooms. ReservatIons are taken through the RecGovCamp app and websIte for assorted sItes whIle the others are walkup only. ParadIse Is located 25 drivIng mInutes to lovely Santa Barbara, where It is a delIght to shop for provisions, hit the beach or club and enjoy a top notch nIght out. The Santa Ynez rIver is a short hike away and typIcally is flowIng in the wInter and sprIng- a good place to splash around! Be very cautious wIth fire as the flora is always tinder dry. We have been evacuated twice due to wildfire incidents in the Los Padres Forest. If the campground is full you’ll have other USFS campgrounds nearby to land a spot.
rv camped. but could’ve tent camped in our spot, closer to the water. sites are HUGE! rv hookups lots of trees. water has enough pools to chill in. short walk upstream, gives you option for rafting back down to your camp. very enjoyable couple of days. oh! and super close , for a run into Sequoia for the day ( we did that!) we also reserved our spots, so our whole caravan of rvs would be together!
Nice, clean group campground with three sites. If all three sites are reserved together, it can accommodate a large group. If planning to sleep in car instead of tenting, make sure to bring levelers as ground is not leveled. Clean restrooms with water, picnic tables with shelters are available. Firewood can be purchased from camp host located in a non-group campground.