12 Best Camping Spots In California - Updated 2023

camping in california
| 4 min read

Are you a tourist who is thinking of where to explore? Or are you thinking of where to spend your camping trip? Regardless of the category that you fall in, California is one of the places you can’t afford to ignore. The state consists of 482 picturesque towns and cities, making it one of the best sites that provide you with unparalleled opportunities to learn and experience new things. Discover new cultures, admire modern architecture, see amazing wildlife, and enjoy the state’s perfect weather on your memorable getaway. Wether you’re traveling solo or planning to find romantic things to do with a partner, there’s something for everyone. With California’s recreational atmosphere, it won’t be out of place to admit that there are numerous camping grounds in the region where you can enjoy rejuvenating moments. Check out this list of the best camping spots in California, for an ideal camping experience.

1. Ventana Campground

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you want a more rugged and authentic experience, the main campground only allows tents inside and would turn guests using campers away. Each space has a picnic table, fire ring, and water faucets a short distance away. Camping in southern California has never been more fun and convenient!

Ventana Campground also has Ventana Glamping which offers premium glamping spots and amenities to help you reconnect with nature and have a fun vacation while at it! They’re definitely set to stand by their tagline, “Outdoor splendor, with a luxury twist”.

Ventana Campground

Address: 48123 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Website: Ventana Campground

2. Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Greekmatthew used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Since the Los Padres National Forest has no cabins, you’ll definitely experience more authentic camping in a state park in California. You have many options in the national forest. There are campgrounds but if you prefer to be more solitary, dispersed camping is also allowed. Dispersed camping means camping outside of designated campgrounds. If you’re camping with a group, there are also group campsites. You also have options in terms of elevation or if you’d like to be in the forest or go to a river camping spot.

Los Padres National Forest

Address: 1980 Old Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93464, United States

Website: Los Padres National Forest

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 8am - 4:30pm (closed on Sat, Sun, & Mon)

3. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park Mountains Waterfall
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BallerinaGirl2248 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Yosemite National Park, created in 1890, is a highly-regarded recreational valley where travelers, tourists and locals savor lots of exciting activities. You can decide to take a picture beside the historic El Capitan — the world’s tallest granite monolith. Take a walk around the Yosemite National Park and enjoy the comfortable and refreshing breeze created by numerous Sequoia trees. These incredible and shady trees have provided an ideal recreational spot for centuries.

Yosemite National Park

Address: California, USA

Website: Yosemite National Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: 15 - 70 USD

4. Mendocino Grove

camping in california | mendocino grove
Source: instagram

Mendocino Grove is one camping ground you don’t want to miss. It features fantastic weather conditions and ideal opportunities to revitalize your stressed muscles. Pitch your tent at one of the incredible beaches and have a feel of the cool breeze around the grove to experience beach camping in California. Enjoy your trip to Mendocino Park to the fullest by engaging in a hiking exercise that will allow you to view the eye-catching rock arches and dark hidden caves.

Mendocino Grove

Address: 9500, 9601 CA-1, Mendocino, CA 95460, United States

Website: Mendocino Grove

5. Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest is known as one of the greatest and beautiful national treasures in California due to the presence of magnificent trees. These trees, apart from their attractiveness, offer you a very comfortable space and shade where you and your family members can have a significant and fun-filled time. You should check on the mind-blowing trails of some past hikers. There are over 28 moderate hiking trails you will love to explore.

Sequoia National Forest

Address: California 93262, USA

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Christopher Michel used under CC BY 2.0

Located at the heart of the southeastern part of the state, Joshua Tree National Park is a point where two beautiful deserts — the Mojave and Colorado meet. It’s known as a site of rocks and valleys. You can engage in fun-filled rock climbing and scrambling games to get the best out of your trip to the beautiful park. Don’t forget to take pictures of a fantastic sunset at the Hall of Horror, visit the world-class Cholla Cactus Garden and explore the beautiful desert region of the park.

Joshua Tree National Park

Address: California, USA

Website: Joshua Tree National Park

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: 12 - 25 USD

7. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest parks in the state with over 2,400 acres (1012 hectares) of open fields where you can go camping at a beach in California. Visit Beachcomber Café to enjoy diverse Californian dishes. You can even choose from the myriad of intercontinental dishes offered in the ambient cafe. Take your kids to the Marine Research Facility to discover new facts about marine mammals, plankton, and Abalone. Take a break from exploring the Marine Research facility and relax at the Historic District beach or enjoy swimming in the available pool.

Crystal Cove State Park

Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, USA

Website: Crystal Cove State Park

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 5 - 15 USD

8. Big Sur

Big Sur, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Srishti Sethi used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Big Sur is another camping spot in California that allows you to see some breathtaking features including Santa Lucia Mountain, which speedily rises from the Pacific Ocean. Kick start your exploration by engaging in a four-hour hiking exercise at the Sykes Hot Springs near the Ventana wilderness. Also, experience the speedy outpouring of water from the Last Chance Water Falls. Going to the Big Sur camping spot can be stressful as there are thousands of visitors trooping into the great campground, but you are sure to have a great time. It is also a great opportunity to commune with fellow explorers and locals.

Big Sur

Address: 47225 Hwy 1 Big Sur, CA 93920

Website: Big Sur

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 10 USD

9. Cold Springs Campground

Located along the Mineral King road, 23 miles (37 km) away from Highway 198, Cold Springs Campground consists of topnotch services to ensure your maximum relaxation. Make calls with the available telephone, and also utilize the vault toilet when there is a need for it. Quench your hunger with tasty meals in a well-built restaurant which is 4km (2.5 miles) away from the campground. Explore the beaches and then head to one of the clubs around and dance the night away. The possible fun-activities are endless.

Cold Springs Campground

Address: Mineral King Rd, Three Rivers, CA 93271, USA

Website: Cold Springs Campground

10. Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State park (3762922726)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rennett Stowe used under CC BY 2.0

Located in Kern County, Red Canyon is one of the oldest state parks in California. Surprise your family by organizing a befitting picnic under well-constructed shelters available in the park. Explore your fishing skills alongside your kids (who are 16 years old and above) at the state-of-the-art fish pond. You also have the luxury of swimming in a large and well-treated pool to refresh your mind and body. Round up your day with well-prepared dishes from a restaurant created to meet visitors’ urge for tasty meals.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Address: 37749 Abbott Dr, Cantil, CA 93519, USA

Website: Red Rock Canyon State Park

Opening hours: 8am - 10pm (daily)

11. Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County is located in the southern part of California, and it has pleasant places to visit. First, pitch your tent at Leadbetter Beach and enjoy the natural wind emanating from the nearby ocean. Give your eyes a fascinating image by visiting Santa Barbara Museum, which consists of different arts, paintings, drawings and sculptures. Meanwhile, you are missing something special until you visit Santa Barbara Zoo — home to various wildlife such as gorillas, anteater, penguins and leopards. This Zoo provides your kids with an opportunity to have a view of the rare animals they only see on the television.

Santa Barbara County

Address: Santa Barbara, CA, USA

12. Tahoe National Forest

Álbum: World's Forests. Tahoe National Forest - California (USA) Photo by Raymond Gehman Pilar ;)

Posted by Lugares para perderse on Sunday, 9 November 2014

With over 70 campgrounds available for recreation, Tahoe National Forest is a must-visit spot. Pay a visit to one of the picturesque vistas in the national forest before heading to the Hidden Waterfalls to see and experience the awesomeness of the magnificent Tahoe Forest. Visit the myriad of canyons, and be carried away by their outstanding beauty. Note that winter period isn’t the best time to visit this camp spot as the surrounding is often covered with snow.

Tahoe National Forest

Address: Alan S Hart Fwy Placer, CA 95602

Website: Tahoe National Forest

Price: 75 - 80 USD

Make the best of your camping trip

California is no doubt one of the best destinations for tourists, due to the presence of several historical facilities and fantastic scenery. Camping is an excellent way of spending a great time with family and friends. Don’t miss the above camping spots in California to make the best of your trip.

Frequently asked questions about camping spots in California

1. Which state parks in California are great for camping?

Many state parks make for great campsites! Crystal Cove State Park is one such state park. You can stop by the Marine Research Facility to discover new facts about marine mammals, plankton, and abalones or head to the Historic District Beach.

2. Which beaches in California are excellent camping spots?

Imagine the sound of the waves and fresh breeze lulling you to sleep! Santa Barbara County allows camping at Leadbetter Beach or go to Mendocino Grove which features fantastic weather conditions.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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James Kure is an ardent writer from a very humble background. He loves writing about the world’s top travel destinations, especially the Scandinavian and Japanese regions. When not writing, James...Read more

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