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Southern California Camping

Discover a world of natural beauty, right at the big city's doorstep!

In the slide show above, you're viewing a mix of pictures from Southern California's state campgrounds. As you can see, SoCal has beautiful campsites in both ocean and lake you'll enjoy desert and mountain campgrounds in California, as well.

SoCal Camping offers you many choices--

Beach, lake, mountain and desert camping are all possibilities!

Photo of a camping space at Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara, California
When many tourists think of vacationing in Southern California, they first imagine the many theme parks which are found here. And, with good reason---Southern California offers tourists one of the best collections of family theme parks in the world!

Other tourists think of the marvelous shopping opportunities they'll find while visiting Southern California---once again, with good reason! Between San Diego and Santa Barbara , some of the world's best high-end shopping can be found...PLUS some of the best bargain-hunting, as well!

What many out-of-towners don't realize...and Southern Cali locals knew all that right outside of the city limits (and sometimes INSIDE of town, as well) a nature's wonderland awaits visitors who'd like to relax and explore the out-of-doors. In Southern California, you can enjoy panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, bordered by white sand beaches. Or, you can amaze yourself with the variety of plant and animal life in desert terrains. Or, you can head to the mountaintops where, at elevations as high as 7,000+ feet, you can feel like you've been teleported to the middle of a Rocky Mountain hideaway.

On this page, we'll talk about the list of Southern California camp pages that are available on our website. Each of these pages is accompanied by color photos and contact information so that you can ask park officials whatever questions you might have. Hopefully, you'll find a Southern California camping ground that's just what you've been looking for! (Note: If you're specifically looking for surfing campspots, you'll find a good article about California surf camping on the website. If you're from out-of-state and you're not certain which California beaches are good surfing beaches, you'll want to check out SurfingCal's list of best California surfing beaches, too.)

Southern California Camping Choices

So Cal Beach Camping pages on this webite

Photo of the group picnic area along the Newport Bay beach; Newport Dunes RV Resort, Newport Beach, California Here's the list of Southern California beach camping grounds you'll find on our website---

* Big Sur Camping: Several Central California camping areas are covered on our website (in addition to Southern California campgrounds.) Big Sur camping is one of those; it's a very popular destination for both California tourists and residents alike. On the Big Sur camping page, you'll see pics and get info about 4 campgrounds--Kirk Creek, Plaskett Creek, Limekiln State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Here's a link to the Big Sur Camping page of our site.

* Carpinteria/Santa Barbara County: Carpinteria State Beach is the southernmost of four great California State Beach campgrounds in Santa Barbara County. As such, it's the closest of the four camping areas to greater Los Angeles, and receives a great deal of visitors from the metro area during the peak season. Nevertheless, you'll find plenty of elbow room here during the less popular camping months of the year. Plus, it's conveniently located to shopping, restaurants and freeway access. See pictures and get details on the Carpinteria Beach Camping page of our website.

* Dana Point/Orange County: Doheny State Beach in beautiful Dana Point offers you not only camping and beach fun, but also several beautiful marinas, a water-side shopping and dining area to enjoy, and the Dana Point Marine Institute where you can learn more about the ocean via educational voyages and experiences. Discover the joys of camping at the lovely Doheny State Beach by checking out the Doheny Beach and Camping page of our website.

* Los Angeles: RV camping enthusiasts may enjoy the sands of LA's Dockweiler Beach campground. Dockweiler Beach is one of the lesser-visited beaches in Los Angeles because it sits at the end of the Los Angeles International Airport's runways! The LAX airport has few "red eye flights," keeping airplane noise to a minimum during the night. So, if you're game to try this campground, you'll be able to enjoy the sands of the beach and the waters of the Pacific Ocean with a bit of elbow-room. (Dockweiler Beach also makes a great base for exploring the many attractions which the city of Los Angeles has to offer.) To discover details, you may head to the Dockweiler Beach Camping page of our website.

* Huntington Beach/Orange County: If you love beach camping accompanied by the opportunity for individual sports on a miles-long boardwalk (or in the city's famous surf;) and if you'd enjoy strolling along Southern California's longest pier, browsing through cute shops, dining out at a wide selection of beach-side restaurants, and taking Fido for a romp at Huntington Dog Beach, then Huntington Beach camping may be for you! Head to the "Huntington Beach Camping" page of this website to find out details about the 2 public camping grounds in HB (which are Bolsa Chica State Beach campgrounds and Huntington City Beach camping grounds, as well as info about the city's wonderful beachside private RV campground, Huntington by the Sea. If you'd like to learn about what there is to do in HB while you're visiting the city on your camping vacation, you may check out the Los Angeles Area Beaches page of this website to see photos of the dog beach, bike path, and more. Or, you may view the Main Street Huntington Beach page of our site to check out the shopping, dining and entertainment you may enjoy in the fun-packed district across the street from the Huntington Beach Pier.

* Morro Bay camping: Central California camping at its finest can be found in the picturesque town of Morro Bay. One of the most beautiful campgrounds in California's State Park system is here. A second state campground is not very scenic, but has terrific beach access. Discover them both on the Morro Bay State Park Camping page of our site. Also, not far from Morro Bay is the lovely Montana de Oro State Park campground which you might enjoy, too.

* Newport Beach/Orange County: Though the city of Newport Beach doesn't offer much in the way of public family camping (the city's Crystal Cove campground is a hike-in camp,) there IS a very popular private campground called Newport Dunes here, on the shores of the quiet Newport Bay. You'll discover a different kind of beach camping at Newport Dunes, where the waveless bay water makes activities like kayaking and peddal boating possible options for family fun. Interested? The find out more on the Newport Dunes Camping page of this website.

* Pismo State Beach: For some fun Central California beach camping, why not give Pismo Beach a try? The lively Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Park is nearby, where daring ORVers have some fun on wheels on the oceanside dunes! But, everyone from toddlers to seniors love Pismo Beach camping...and the Pismo State Beach campgrounds are a favorite among senior snowbirds during the winter and spring months. To discover camping at this lovely California State Park, please see the Pismo State Beach Camping page of our site.

Picture of tent campsites lining a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean; San Elijo State Park in San Diego County, California* San Diego county: Both the city and county of San Diego offer some great Southern California camping experiences at their beaches. On the San Diego Beach Camping page of our website, you'll discover a number of oceanside gems where camping includes feeling the ocean's spray, smelling the marvelous salty air, and being lulled to sleep at night by the sound of the ocean's roar. On the "San Diego Beach Camping" page, you'll see photos and learn details about San Elijo State Beach and South Carlsbad State Beach (both of which are "favorites" with tent campers...and they accept RV's, as well.) You'll also discover details about a private campground at Mission Bay---the Mission Bay RV Resort, which is conveniently located not far from SeaWorld and the malls of Mission Valley. And, you'll discover the joys of camping at Silver Strand State Beach in southern SD County, as well. Plus, if you're wondering what attractions you might enjoy while camping in San Diego, head to the San Diego Embarcadero & other attractions page of our website, where you'll find plenty of options for creating your family's well-rounded beach vacation.

* San Simeon Camping: Central California has a wonderful state park which offers campers a choice of 2 different campgrounds---one just across the street from the beach, and another nestled up in the hilltops. Situated between the scenic town of Cambria and the popular Hearst Castle tourist attraction, either one of the San Simeon campgrounds makes a nice base for exploring this enchanting area of the Central Coast. To see pictures and get info, please see the San Simeon Camping page of our site.

* Santa Barbara: If you browse through the Santa Barbara Beach Camping page of our website, you'll see pictures and discover info about several California State Beach campgrounds, and one private camping area. This page focuses on the lovely Regugio State Beach north of Santa Barbara...but you'll get some quick into about camping at the lovely and convenient El Capitan State Park campground; Carpinteria State Beach campground; and the more-isolated Gaviota State Beach camping ground. Since state beach campsites fill up quickly during the busy summer camping season, info is also included about the new Ocean Mesa campground, which just opened in 2006---and has sparkling restrooms and enhanced amenities that the public campgrounds don't offer. (Note: Carpinteria State Beach now has its own campground page! See its listing above on this page, under "Carpinteria.")

* Ventura: Ventura County campgrounds offer outdoors enthusiasts a fairly isolated coastline, while being closer to the greater Los Angeles attractions (for those who use their campgrounds as a touring "base of operations" in their sight-seeing plans.) On the Ventura Beach Camping page of our website, you'll see images and get details for planning your tent or RV camping trip to the McGrath State Beach campgrounds, to Emma Wood State Beach, and to Point Mugu State extremely lovely and isolated setting just perfect for nature-lovers.

Southern California Camping: Lake and Mountain Campgrounds

Photo of a woodsy campsite at the Upper San Juan campground in Southern California On our website, you'll find pages describing lake and mountain camping in the following Southern California areas---

* Lake Arrowhead Camping: San Bernardino, California is famous for its dramatic mountain backdrop, which can be seen from any point in town. Climb that rugged hilltop, and where do you arrive? At scenic Lake Arrowhead! Learn about camping fun you can have at the beautiful, woodsy (public) Dogwood Campground near Lake Arrowhead Village. Fishing and water sports enthusiasts will much prefer camping at the bustling Silverwood Lake SRA, which allows these activities (which Lake Arrowhead, a private lake, does not.) You'll get details about both of these different styles of camping experiences by viewing the Lake Arrowhead Camping page of this website.

* Big Bear Lake Camping: Nestled high in the mountains, you'll enjoy an alpine-style camping experience centered around a stunning deep blue lake---Big Bear Lake, of course! In the summertime, you can take a break from the heat of LA and Palm Springs by "heading for the hills," where temperatures are likely to be 20 degrees (or more) cooler than in the valleys below. In fact, you'll want to take warm clothing with you year-round if you camp at Big Bear Lake---just in case the wee hours before dawn get to feeling a little nippy! To see pictures and learn info about the beautiful (public) Serrano Campgrounds which sit lakeside, and several private campgrounds nearby, head to the Lake Big Bear Camping page of our website.

* Castaic Lake/LA County: Beautiful Castaic Lake seems like it belongs far aways from the city in its own secret hideaway...yet this gem in the California State Park system is minutes from Interstate 5 and the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park. See pictures of Castaic Lake and its camping ground, plus get details for planning your campout on the Castaic Lake Camping page of our website.

* San Diego County: Metro San Diego is backed by a chain of towering mountains---and THAT affords camping enthusiasts a number of places to indulge in their love of nature. On the Lake Jennings Camping page of our website, you'll discover one of the most popular of the San Diego County camping parks. Lake Jennings makes a great getaway for hiking, fishing and boating. Or, it may serve as a base for out-of-town visitors touring the area because of its proximity to San Diego and its suburbs.

Another great mountain camping location exists in the hills east of San Diego...and that's the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Actually this unit of the California State Park system features 2 different campground locations. One is the Green Valley campground; the other is the lovely Paso Picacho campground. To learn more this scenic, tree-enshrouded campground, please head to the "Paso Picacho Campground" page of our site.

Southern California Camping: Desert campgrounds

So far, there are only two Southern California desert camping pages on our site. Our newest page is about Death Valley Camping, where you can pitch your tent...or park your North America's lowest, hottest point! Hiking, horseback riding and golf are some of the fun activities here. But, of course, you'll want to spend time in the visitor's center so you can discover what makes the geology of this stark landscape so unique.

The other page we have is about camping at Joshua Tree National Park, a favorite area of both rock-climbers and lovers of desert flora and fauna. Though summertime temperatures soar above 100 degrees in this Palm Springs-area campground, it's a popular place to camp from late fall through spring. You may head to the Joshua Tree NP Camping" page of our website to see photos and get the details you need for planning your desert camping vacation.

Snowbirds touring around the Southwestern USA might also enjoy wandering over the state border into Arizona. You can see pictures and get info about some of our favorite winter campgrounds in AZ on the following pages: (1) the attractive Lake Pleasant Campground on the outskirts of Phoenix; (2) the well-situated Picacho Peak State Park Campground, located halfway between Phoenix and Tucson; and (3) the Gilbert Ray Campground just outside of Saguaro National Park in Tucson.

Some western USA campgrounds you also might like

In addition to the California camping pages on our site, we've been to some of the Western US national park campgrounds. Although they're kind of off-topic for this page, we thought you might find it interesting to camp in some of the west's most spectacular national parks. So, here's the list--

Picture of a pull-thru campsite in the Grand Canyon National Park's Mather campground

  • Camping at Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone NP is known world-wide for its amazing geysers and other geothermal features. It's also got wildlife-viewing in abundance, as well as opportunities for fishing and hiking. Twelve developed campgrounds are spread throughout this huge reserve, and where you choose to camp really depends on which of the park's features you'd like to be near, and how much elbow-room you want to have. Because of the park's size and variety of camping choices, it's a destination that's good to put some thought into before you make the trek to Wyoming.

  • Camping at Mesa Verde National Park: Located in southwestern Colorado in the "four corners" area, Mesa Verde NP is quite a bit closer to SoCal than Yellowstone is. Mesa Verde's size is much smaller than Yellowstone, and your camping choices are limited to either the one in-park campground...or else a selection of private camping areas outside the park. Still, it's worth the trek. The park is designed to showcase ancient cliffside dwellings, and once you see them, you'll know why this national park has ALSO been designated a World Heritage site.

  • Camping at Grand Canyon National Park: The state of Arizona's most popular tourist attraction is close enough to Southern California for a long-weekend campout...and yet is spectacular enough to draw visitors from around the globe. The park's large Mather Campground puts you close to the heart of the action...including visitor's centers, ranger talks, stores and restaurants. On the other hand, if you want elbow room and quiet contemplation of nature, the park's developed Desert View campground can give you that kind of experience, instead.

  • Las Vegas mountain camping in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area/Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest: Las Vegas may be famous for its neon cityscapes, but that doesn't mean the city doesn't have any natural wonders in store for you. When you're camping on nearby Mount Charleston, peace & quiet reigns...and you'll forget that the hubbub of this international tourist destination is only an hour's drive away.



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    Explore other California camping experiences:   Overview: Southern California camping overview ::   Beach Camping: Big Sur Camping ::   Carpinteria Beach Camping ::   Dockweiler Beach Camping ::   Doheny Beach ::   Huntington Beach camping ::   Morro Bay SP camping ::   Montana de Oro camping ::   Newport Beach Camping, ::   Pismo Beach Camping ::   San Diego Beach Camping ::   San Simeon Camping ::   Santa Barbara beach camping ::   Ventura Beach Camping ::   Desert Camping: Joshua Tree NP Camping ::   Lake & Mountain: Big Bear Camping ::   Castaic Lake Camping ::   Lake Arrowhead Camping ::   Lake Elsinore Camping ::   Lake Jennings Camping ::   Paso Picacho Campground ::   Outside of California:   Grand Canyon Camping ::   Las Vegas Camping ::   Mesa Verde Camping ::   Yellowstone Camping

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