Top 12 Best Places to Camp in California

Nguyen Kieu Trang 2 0 Error

With cliff-lined beaches, high mountain ranges, and Redwood forests, California has no shortage of scenic spots to pitch a tent. Whether you set up camp like a ... read more...

  1. Yosemite National Park, one of the best places to camp in California, offers 13 different campgrounds for tent pitchers to enjoy. The park is 95 percent wilderness, which means that there are no cars, structures, buildings, or electricity. But plan ahead and you’ll be rewarded with the best camping in the state. First-timers will appreciate the Upper Pines campground, which is open all year and sacrifices solitude for an enviable location on the valley floor, within walking distance of major attractions. Outside the valley, the 304-site Tuolumne Meadows campground sits at 8,619 feet elevation and features 'The Sound of Music' scenery as well as trails to Elizabeth Lake and the Cathedral Lakes.

    Wawona, located at the park's southern end, offers spacious campsites along the Merced River with easy access to the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove. Book any of the five High Sierra Camps, which are spaced roughly 5-10 miles apart and offer hikers tent cabins and family-style meals. Saddlebag Lake in the Inyo National Forest, east of the national park, has the highest drive-to campground in California at 10,000 feet.

    Yosemite also has a plethora of hiking trails for nature lovers. You can take a hike on the Four Mile Trail from Yosemite Valley to the top of Glacier Point or if you’re looking for something a bit more difficult, the Panorama Trail offers 8 miles of adventure.

    • Area: 3,027 km²
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.8/5.0
    • Location: California

  2. While Big Sur’s redwoods-meet-the-sea landscape is legendary, nabbing a site at one of the area’s few campgrounds is absurdly difficult. However, just down the road from the heavily trafficked Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, you’ll discover the lesser-known and tent-only Ventana Campground tucked in a quiet redwood canyon.

    Ventana's sites follow the contours of the canyon and Post Creek, preserving the canyon's natural beauty. Ventana is, in fact, one of the more opulent Big Sur campgrounds. If you prefer having access to modern comforts while camping, you’ll enjoy how strategically positioned Ventana Campground is. You'll have access to a grocery store, restaurants where you can wine and dine, and cafés where you can enjoy a hot cup of cappuccino.

    There's a sleek Airstream bar serving cocktails and snacks in a makeshift outdoor lounge beneath the redwoods, as well as hotel-worthy amenities like a hotel-worthy restroom and shower stations! In addition, before you leave, you can make a quick stop at any of the nearby gift shops to get a small gift or souvenir for someone, as well as purchase cheese and ham from any of the delis for some tasty camping snacks.

    • Area: 40 acres
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.3/5.0
    • Location: 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
  3. The five islands that comprise this offshore national park, which can be reached via a 1.5-hour ferry ride, provide a glimpse of what the California coast looked like hundreds of years ago. There is a campground on each of the Channel Islands. Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island, Water Canyon on Santa Rosa Island, and the East Anacapa Island campground are the most popular. However, this does not mean that the others (Santa Barbara and San Miguel) should be overlooked. The Channel Islands National Park website is a great place to start for information on camping and what to bring.

    For an extra touch of wilderness and adventure, campers should choose backcountry camping at Santa Cruz or Santa Rosa Islands. August through December, the pristine beaches of Santa Rosa Island are also available for backcountry camping. With 55 miles of secluded and undeveloped coastline reminiscent of days gone by, campers can experience the sense of discovery that Island Chumash and Spanish explorers may have felt.

    Although camping on all of the islands is primitive, all sites have picnic tables, food storage boxes, and outhouses. However, no supplies or equipment are available on the island. Campers should bring all of their supplies, including water and trash containers, since there are no trash services on the islands.

    It's also important to know that no fires are permitted on any of the islands, and only enclosed gas camp stoves are permitted. Campers are asked not to feed wildlife and to keep food and drink in animal- and bird-proof containers while on the island. This is especially important at Santa Cruz Island's Scorpion Ranch, where clever island foxes and ravens have mastered the art of zipper opening.

    • Area: 1.010 km²
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.7/5.0
    • Location: Ventura, CA 93001
  4. Set aside in the early 1920s by the forethought of the people of California and the generosity of the Save-the-Redwoods League, Prairie Creek is a 14,000-acre sanctuary of old-growth coast redwood. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has two developed campgrounds. The park is seldom packed, but making a campsite reservation will assure that you're not disappointed when you arrive.

    Elk Prairie is a 1930s campground located just a few steps from the visitor's center. It is open all year with limited capacity in the winter and provides tent sites, RV sites, and a few cabins with electricity, heaters, and lights but no kitchens or bathrooms. There is a bathroom and shower building at the campground, but pets are not permitted.

    Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is another camping places in California where you can camp right next to the beach. It boasts 24 tent and RV sites for campers up to 24 feet long but has no hookups, and trailers are not permitted. The wind can blow hard here, so plan accordingly if you're tent camping and pack along some serious tent stakes just in case.

    • Area: 56.66 km²
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.9/5.0
    • Location: 127011 Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy, Orick, CA 95555
  5. Joshua Tree National Park is unlike anywhere else on the planet. The park's signature trees, massive boulders, and surrounding mountains create a surreal landscape that feels like it belongs in another world. Camping here is nothing less than spectacular, with scenic campgrounds spread around massive rock formations and sites just perfect for pitching a tent or setting up an RV. However, keep in mind that the facilities are very basic, with no power, water, or other common amenities. When you need to go, expect to use pit/vault toilets.

    It's difficult to say one campground is significantly better than another, and deciding where to camp in Joshua Tree often comes down to where you want to be in the park and what is available when you arrive. Park Boulevard is the main road that runs through the park from east to west, and it is here that many of the most popular hikes and sites can be found. Some campgrounds are located along this corridor, and others are nearby. This is, by far, the best place to camp in Joshua Tree National Park.

    Along Park Boulevard, Hidden Valley, Ryan, and Jumbo Rocks are the three campgrounds most central to the main tourist attractions, and all offer outstanding scenery. Belle and White Tank campgrounds are on the east side of the park and are slightly more removed but have equally stunning settings and beautiful sites. Indian Cove is a nice campground set amid boulders, but it is off the main roads running through the park and will require commuting and possibly a wait at the entrance station to get into the main section of the park.

    • Area: 3.218 km²
    • Webiste:
    • Google Rating: 4.8/5.0
    • Location: California
  6. El Capitan State Beach Campground, one of the best places to camp in California, is located off Highway 101, 17 miles west of Santa Barbara. The campsites at El Capitan Beach are well spaced out among the trees on bluffs overlooking the beach. These beautiful campsites are among the nicest along the California coast. A bike trail leads west along the coast connecting El Capitan with Refugio Beach. Campers at El Capitan enjoy beach combing, fishing, surfing, picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing.

    There are five group camping areas overlooking the ocean (Cabrillo, DeAnza, Drake, Portola, and Ortega). They have a capacity of 40-60 people and the group sites have paved parking for cars and small RVs. A few hike-in and bike-in campsites are also available north of the group camping area.

    There are flush toilets, drinking water, coin-operated showers, a laundromat, a day use/picnic area, and a campfire center at the campground. Firewood can also be purchased from the campground host. El Capitan campground has many shady areas with oak and sycamore trees scattered throughout the park. Some of the campsites also have stunning cliff-top views. A sandy beach with tide pools and numerous hiking trails are also available. Bring your swimsuit and surfboard; the rolling tide provides the ideal setting for catching a few waves or simply frolicking in the surf. There's also a camp store with beach essentials and hot showers to clean up before a fire pit BBQ dinner.

    • Area: 10.66 km2
    • Webiste:
    • Google Rating: 4.7/5.0
    • Location: Goleta, CA 93117
  7. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is one of the few state park parks offering year-round camping in Santa Cruz County, with tent and rustic tent cabins. There are a total of 142 campsites at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, including some that can accommodate RVs up to 27 feet and trailers up to 24 feet.

    Some of the 142 unique campsites, such as Huckleberry Campground, are open year-round, while others, such as Sempervirens Campground and Wastahi Campground, are only open seasonally. There are also tent cabins and areas that can accommodate large groups of 40 to 50 people, such as Sequoia and Sky Meadow. Visitors who are traveling through the park on horseback can also stay in one of this horse campgrounds, which include a corral for their riding partner to spend the night.

    If you're looking for creature comforts, Little Basin also has a kitchen, pavilion and recreation hall that are all available to rent. For a step up from pitching your own tent, the Huckleberry Campground offers tent cabins with wooden floors, walls, and canvas roofs. They come with two double beds and mattresses, although you'll have to bring—or rent—bedding unless you book one of the deluxe cabins. There are no electrical hook-ups for RVs, but there are dump stations.

    • Area: 18,000 acres
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.8/5.0
    • Location: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006
  8. Van Damme State Park camping is certainly popular on summer weekends and holidays. Reservations are strongly advised from April through early October, particularly for weekends. Set along the fern-blanketed banks of the Little River, Van Damme State Park's year-round campground immerses visitors in the lush environs of the wild Northern California coast.

    The park has four discrete camping areas with 74 regular spots, a group camp, and a handful of walk-in spots in the fern canyon. The three main camping areas each have regularly spaced bathrooms and pay showers. Little Loop has 13 spots near the entrance. Little River Spur has 16 spots and is strung along the lower road and provides the closest access to the fern canyon. And the Upper Loop is up the hill with 43 spots.

    Van Damme has a 35-foot RV trailer limit, but a trailer that large won’t fit into many of the camp spots, especially on the Little Loop. If you have a large trailer, the park can also accommodate you at the beach, but you need to call and arrange it ahead of time. Their phone is: 707-937-5804.

    The best camp sites in Van Damme are in the Upper Loop because the area has more sunshine and a place for the kids to run around. But only choose one of the spots on the perimeter of the meadow, there are are few oddball camp spots on the road going up to the meadow and they are very tight and not level.

    • Area: 7.41 km2
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.7/5.0
    • Location: 8001 CA-1, Little River, CA 95456
  9. Russian Gulch Campground offers a beautiful and nearby 5.4-mile hike to a 36-ft waterfall, the Devil's Punch Bowl and multiple sea caves to explore, and 27 secluded campsites with clean bathrooms and showers.

    Just two miles north of Mendocino, you'll find this beautiful, well-maintained park that features a little bit of everything. The campsite is situated between a rugged beach and a stunning 36-ft waterfall, giving you plenty of easy and fun options. There are many beautiful redwoods throughout the campground and the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek is nearby. The campground is open for overnight camping from early May through mid-September (sometimes mid-October).

    There are also 4 horse camps located on the northeast edge of the park. Corrals and water troughs are available. You can make a Russian Gulch horse camp reservation by calling 707 937-5804.

    The campground can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs (up to 24 feet). There is also drinking water, flush toilets and showers. Hike/bike and equestrian campsites are also available. Each campsite has a table, food storage locker, fire ring and grill. Russian Gulch State Park is unquestionably one of the best places to camp in California.

    • Area: 1,000 acres
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.8/5.0
    • Location: CA-1, Mendocino, CA 95460
  10. Once a private resort frequented by Bay Area elite from 1935 to1959, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park camping is ideal for those looking to hike, swim, picnic, and perhaps even head out to explore the local wineries. The park offers nine walk-in campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis, one hike-and-bike site for travellers on the go, one group campsite for up to 30 people, and three 3 ADA accessible drive-in sites.

    Amenities include fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and a swimming pool. Not sure you’re up for a night of tent or RV camping? Bothe-Napa Valley campground surely has something for you. Give glamping a go in one of the park’s yurts, each equipped with a queen-sized bed, two cots, a table and chairs, outdoor fire pit, picnic table, keyed entry, and nearby bathrooms and showers. Or, consider staying in one of the park’s restored historic cabins. Sleeping up to six people, the cabins offer natural gas heat, full kitchens with dishes and cooking equipment, a bathroom with shower, and a deck.

    There are 45 tent and RV-friendly campsites inside the park’s campground, as well as one group site and ten furnished yurts. Most of the yurts and regular campsites are by reservation only, though there are nine walk-in sites and one hiker/cyclist site on property that are first-come, first-served.

    • Area: 8.057 km²
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.6/5.0
    • Location: 3801 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515
  11. Minaret Falls Campground is located in the Inyo National Forest in the Sierra Nevada along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. The campground is located at 7,400 feet in Reds Meadow Valley and sits in a beautiful alpine setting. This is a very popular campground because it is located along a creek and picture-perfect waterfall. Minaret Falls is located a short distance from the campground.

    Minaret Falls Campground has 26 first-come, first-serve campsites. Each campsite has a table, fire ring, grill, and food storage locker. The campground has drinking water and vault toilets. Keep in mind that although the sites can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs, you’ll need to drive down a narrow/one-lane road to the campground and you may have some difficulties if you have a large trailer or RV.

    Outdoor recreation includes fishing, backpacking, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, stargazing and wildlife viewing. The town of Mammoth Lakes is about 12 miles away should you need an supplies. You can also take a shuttle if you don’t want to drive. There is also a small store and restaurant close to Reds Meadow.

    • Area: N/A
    • Website: N/A
    • Google Rating: 4.6/5.0
    • Location: Reds Meadow, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
  12. Sequoia National Park is a place where time seems to have stood still for centuries, you can wander around the base of giants from another age, and camp in the surrounding forest. If you have an opportunity to camp here, you should seize it. After touring the park and hiking among the giant sequoias, there is no better way to cap off the day than to pitch your tent below towering pines and set up a chair under the night sky. Campgrounds in the park, particularly those close to the giant sequoia groves, are wonderful places to appreciate nature and soak up the tranquil environment.

    The park offers multiple campgrounds within the park, including Lodgepole Campground, which is one of the most popular camping spots for both tent sites and RV spots. Visitors will find a picnic table and a fire ring at their campsite, which is a short distance from one of the forks of the Kaweah River. Lodgepole Campground is also within walking distance to Lodgepole Village, which offers a visitor center and camp store and shower and laundry facilities.

    Another option for Sequoia National Park camping is Dorst Creek Campground. Camping here puts visitors just ten miles from the Giant Forest, where hikers can see the impressive sequoia trees that the park gets its name from. Like some of the campgrounds in the area, Dorst Creek Campground closes seasonally for the winter.

    • Area: 1.629 km²
    • Website:
    • Google Rating: 4.8/5.0
    • Location: California

Toplist Joint Stock Company
Address: 3rd floor, Viet Tower Building, No. 01 Thai Ha Street, Trung Liet Ward, Dong Da District, Hanoi City, Vietnam
Phone: +84369132468 - Tax code: 0108747679
Social network license number 370/GP-BTTTT issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications on September 9, 2019
Privacy Policy