Best Campsites in California
California is an incredible state full of beautiful wetlands, rolling hills, and large forests. This makes camping in California an incredibly popular activity enjoyed by not only locals but also tourists and travelers alike.
With several rivers such as San Joaquin River and Sacramento River running along the western border, the Salton Sea on the southeast of Desert Shores and 20 National Forests including the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, no matter what part of California you are in, you will be able to find an incredible camping experience.
In this article, we have rounded up some of the best campsites in California to help you find the perfect spot for your next camping trip.
1. Yosemite National Park
This beautiful park in California has 13 campgrounds available for campers from across the world. Most of these are first-come, first-served campgrounds but it is a good idea to make reservations to avoid disappointment. If you plan to spend your night in your recreational vehicle during your stay, 10 campgrounds in this park accommodate RVs. You must, however, camp at a designated campsite. Besides camping, other activities you can enjoy in this park include paddling, auto touring, biking, climbing, boating, and swimming. Parking along the roadside or parking lot is not permitted.
2. Joshua Tree National Park
Several campsites within Joshua Tree National Park offer campers unforgettable camping experience. Some of the popular sites include White Tank Campground, Ryan Campground, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Indian Cove Campground, Hidden Valley, Cottonwood Campground, Black Rock Campground, and Belle Campground. All campgrounds usually fill October through May. During holidays and from mid-February to mid-May, all campgrounds usually fill throughout the week. You will need to reserve a site or visit the park during the off-season if you want to improve avoid disappointment. Some of the activities you can enjoy at the park include horse riding, biking, hiking, climbing, and wildlife watching.
3. Crystal Cove State Park
This park is conveniently located on 8471 N. Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach. The park stretches 3.2 miles of Pacific coastline alongside offshore waters, open bluffs, and wooded canyons. There are two categories of campgrounds in this park: the backcountry hike-in campsites and Moro campground sites. Most of these campsites have picnic tables and BBQ grills. Besides tent campsites, the park also features RV and trailer sites.
4. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
The Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is also another good place for camping enthusiasts. The two campgrounds in this park are Gold Bluffs Beach and Elk Prairie campgrounds. As a camper, you will have a chance to explore the park through a 19-mile bike loop, 75 miles of hiking trails and three scenic drives. You do not need a tent or a recreational vehicle to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The park offers you access to rental cabins located within Elk Prairie Campground. Those cabins have electricity, heaters, and lights but they do not have a bathroom or kitchen.
5. Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground
If you are looking for a great spot for all types of campers, then the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is a good place to be. This campground is located within Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, a state park that covers more than 1,000 acres of land. It is open from May through October but reservations fill up six months in advance, even in the winter. The campground offers visitors a chance to have brilliant views of the blue Lake Tahoe. You can choose to stay in a tent or an RV.
5. Sonoma Coast State Park
This park is located a few hours’ drive north of the San Francisco Bay area. Several campgrounds within this park offer residents and visitors a chance to escape from the heat of summer. Some of the popular campgrounds in the park include the Wright’s Beach Campground, located right on the edge of Wright’s Beach and Bodega Dunes Campground located on the north side of the Bodega Harbor. These campgrounds offer amenities like showers and dump stations. Reservations are recommended if you are planning to visit the campground during the busy months.
7. Minaret Falls Campground
You can start the high season in style during the summer months by visiting the Minaret Falls Campground. This campground is located on the shores of the San Joaquin River, next to the picture-perfect Minaret Falls waterfall. You do not need to make a reservation because it’s a first-come-first-served campground. Amenities at this campground include a general store, water station, pit toilets, and pack station. While camping at Minaret Falls Campground, drivers may bypass the Reds Meadow Shuttle Bus but are still required to pay the entrance fee.
8. Butte Lake Campground
This camping site is located in the northeastern part of Lassen Volcanic National Park, along the shores of an alpine lake. Campers get access to few amenities such as vault toilets and metal food lockers, and several recreation opportunities such as hiking, stock use, swimming, backpacking, night-sky viewing, and non-motorized boating. Although recreational vehicles are allowed in the campground, there are no hookups. It is open from June to October. Make sure you make a reservation online a few months in advance.
9. Cold Springs Campground
Cold Springs Campground is located within the Sequoia National Park, almost two hours away from the main park entrance. The campground is surrounded by groves of aspen and evergreen trees. There are more than 40 campsites available for tents only on a first-come, first-served basis. There are reservations available. There are 31 regular sites and 9 walk-in sites. Recreational vehicles and trailers are not permitted in this camping site. Some of the amenities and services offered at this campground include a pay telephone, vault toilets, potable water, and trailheads.
10. Tuolumne Meadows Campground
Another campground that made into this list of the best campsites in California is the Tuolumne Meadows Campground. This campground is located within Yosemite National Park, a place that is best known for its rock formations. The campground, which is open July through September, has tent sites and recreational vehicle sites without hookups. Some of the amenities available for campers include flush toilets, water, and a large food storage locker. It is family-friendly and pet-friendly and good for all types of campers.
11. Inn Town Campground
Inn Town Campground is located on 9 Kidder Ct, Nevada City, California. Camping at this site not only brings you closer to nature but it is also a great way to make lasting memories with your family and friends. While you are there, check out the site’s historic Chinese cemetery or take in a summer movie night on the outdoor screen. Some of the amenities available at this site include swimming pool, a reading nooks, BBQ area, laundry, camp store, kitchen, cable TV, Wi-Fi, showers, foosball and ping pong table, and outdoor dishwashing stations. Booking services are available.
12. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
There are several campsites located within the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Each campsite has pay showers, a picnic table, a dump station, a fire ring and restrooms with flush toilets. Some few campsites have water faucets. There are no hookups. Reservations are necessary if you are planning to visit the park during busy months. Dogs and other pets are allowed in various campgrounds but they are restricted to the paved roads, picnic areas, campgrounds, and Cuyamaca Peak Fire Road.
13. New Brighton State Beach Camping
This campground is located next to the New Brighton State Beach. Several recreational trails connect the camping sites to the beach. Available spaces for various campsites fill up quickly because of their high demand. If you are planning to go camping with your family or a group of friends, group sites are available for you.
14. Yosemite Creek Campground
Located along Tioga Road in the northern area of Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Creek Campground offers everything for all types of campers. Each campsite contains a food locker, a picnic table, a fire ring, and a vault toilet. If you are planning to use stream water during your trip, make sure you treat it before drinking. No potable water is available. You do not need to make a reservation because it is a first-come-first-served campground.
15. Taboose Creek Campground
You can also escape the hustle and bustle of your home by camping in the Taboose Creek Campground. This campground has more than 50 campsites scattered along the creek. These sites offer spectacular views of the clear night skies and the High-Sierra Mountains. Campers also get a good chance to explore the surrounding public lands that offer biking, climbing, hiking, hunting, and ATVs touring. Several nearby trails provide access to the striking scenery of the Sierra High Country. If you are looking for a family-friendly camping experience, Taboose Creek Campground is the best place to visit.
These are a few camping sites that we believe are the best in California. If you are tired of the city life or ready for an adventure, a visit to one of these campsites in California will help you reconnect with nature.
If you have any campsite in mind that you want us to review, feel free to include it in the comment box below.